It has been part of northeast Ohio for more than 70 years.

Nonetheless, the Suburban League, which began play since 1949, shows no signs of slowing down.

Several coaches, administrators and players got together for the fifth annual Suburban League Football Kick Off Luncheon Wednesday at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium.

The Suburban League enters its fifth year as a two-conference, 15-team league.

Former Cuyahoga Falls assistant football coach Tom DiFrancesco hosted the event. The league is sponsored by Blind and Sons of Barberton.

Suburban League commissioner Keith Walker didn’t shy away from talking about the league’s success since the two-conference format was first introduced.

"Twelve stadiums now have artificial turf," Walker said. "We had seven students at Suburban League Schools who earned OHSAA and NEDAB (Northeast Ohio District Athletic Board) academic scholarships.

"We also have an amazing group of bands. There are about 2,300 band members who support our football teams. There is nothing like Friday night football in Northeast Ohio."

Just three Suburban League teams reached the playoffs in 2018 after seven league members advanced to the postseason the previous year.

The Suburban League has been handing out all-sports competition trophies since 1976. Recipients of this prestigious award were Wadsworth for the National Conference and Highland for the American Conference.

Walker also welcomed some new faces to the luncheon as teams from both conferences switched administrators and coaches.

Cuyahoga Falls, on the other hand, will be led by a familiar face.

Third-year head coach Shane Parker’s Black Tigers haven’t won a ton of games in recent years. But such a fact has done nothing to diminish Parker’s enthusiasm about his alma mater’s future.

"It is very special for me to stand up here," the 2004 Falls alum said. "It’s so special to represent the school I play for."

Falls’ four senior captains joined Parker at the luncheon. Parker acknowledged his four leaders’ commitment and dedication in their attempts to reverse the Black Tigers’ losing ways.

Falls, which picked up its first career National Conference victory last season, last reached the playoffs in 2001. The Black Tigers finished 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the conference in 2018.

"These guys are a big reason why our culture is changing," Parker said. "They accept every single challenge I’ve thrown at them. They understand the purpose behind it."

Parker also acknowledged his players’ work off the field.

"We do a lot for our community," he said. "They’ve picked up trash and do all kinds of things. Our weight room numbers have never been higher.

"The number of players in the youth camp has never been higher. A large part of that is our seniors hold themselves and their buddies accountable."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.