See below for article by Rob Hamilton of the Morrow County
Click here to view article by Denny McPherson of the Marion Star.
Wharton Writes Book on Six-Man and Eight-Man Football
By Rob Hamilton,
Morrow County Sentinel
Have you ever
heard of 6-man or 8-man high school football?
father, grandfather, uncle or another relative played it; or
unless you’re over the age of 65, you probably haven’t.
who had two stints as sports editor for the Morrow County
Sentinel in the 1990s, has just the thing for you if you’re
curious about the sport played by Edison, Chesterville, Marengo,
Sparta or Johnsville high schools between 1947 and 1961.
second book “Morrow County Football; 6-Man and 8-Man Style” is
to be released later this month in conjunction with the opening
of the 2010 high school football season.
something that I wanted to do,” said Wharton, a Marengo or
Sparta resident on and off since 1978 and a historian of Central
Ohio football and basketball for 40-plus years. “The younger
generation of football players needs to know how the game of
football was played by their forefathers.”
published his first book ‘Harvesting Champions: From The Ground
To The Crown, The Story of Highland High School Basketball’ in
1998 after the Scots won the state championship, interviewed
over150 people for his latest endeavor.
“If I’ve said
it once, I’ve said it a thousand times since I started the
project in January,” said Wharton, elected in 1995 to the Ohio
Prep Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame, “and that is they
don’t remember their touchdowns, but they sure tell some great
First, we need
to lay the foundation for 6-man and 8-man football.
While the game,
designed for smaller schools which had considerably fewer
players to pick from, was first ‘devised’ in the mid 30s, Ohio
didn’t pick up on it until around 1940. The game came to Morrow
County in 1947 when Chesterville and Johnsville fielded their
first teams. Marengo, Edison and Sparta began playing in 1948.
The schools that still had the sport switched to 8-man in 1959.
The final year of playing football with less than 11 players per
side was 1961.
years, the Morrow County schools played in the Double-M League,
which, for most of those seasons, included Marion County
schools. Three ‘outsiders’ – Waldo, Magnetic Springs and
Prospect played in the league on and off for some of those
deals with the Morrow County schools, its players, coaches,
cheerleaders, homecoming queens and their community support
“I’ve talked to
all types,” said Wharton, who spent 26 years as either a sports
writer, a sports editor or publisher before joining the Ohio
High School Athletic Association staff in 1995. “I found three
old coaches, one former principal, some cheerleaders, a couple
of queens. If they had a football story to tell, I listened.
“Edison is an
interesting story,” continued Wharton, who searched for and
found every score of every game ever played by the five Morrow
County schools. “They only played football at Edison one year.
That amazed me when I dug that up. How strange!
another wild one,” continued Wharton, who retired two years ago
after spending close to 14 years on the OHSAA staff. “They’re
getting ready for the 1957 season; out there practicing in late
August without a coach hired, and all of a sudden the
superintendent said ‘that’s it, no football this year.’ They
never had football again.”
newspaper accounts of all the games and mixed those stories –
big or small – with the thoughts of the players and/or coaches.
While the score of every game was uncovered, many ‘box scores’
were never published in newspapers.
“You name the
town, and I’ve been in the newspaper microfilm and public
library there,” said Wharton, who began digging into central
Ohio football and basketball history in 1969 when he first
joined the sports staff of the Columbus Dispatch. “As I finished
the book, I swear I could recite the names of every player at
every school. If somebody would tell me so-and-so played for
this school or that school, I sometimes said ‘no, don’t have
that name.’ More often than not, I was right.”
yearbooks, which Wharton said were not readily available for
Marengo or Sparta, provided some help, but not much.
I’ve seen, and the Chesterville and Johnsville libraries have a
complete collection from their respective schools, have pictures
of each football team,” said Wharton. “But in many, many cases,
there is no identification for the players in the picture.”
Help from a
couple of graduates of each school allowed Wharton to track down
whitepages.com,” said Wharton. “I found a lot of them, all over
the country, by going online. When I started the project, I had
no thought of being able to talk to former coaches or parents of
players. But I had some interesting conversations with a couple
of players’ mothers, and I found three former coaches; I even
found a former Marengo principal right here in Mt. Gilead.”
fared best on the gridiron in those years?
“They all had
their cycles of success,” said Wharton, who has been the
announcer for Sparta Highland football and both boys’ and girls’
basketball for several years. “But we’ll leave the answer to
that question for the readers to determine.”
is now available. Send a check or money order payable to: Jim
Wharton, % JDW Publishing, P.O. Box 68, Marengo, OH 43334. The
cost is $35.95, which includes shipping.