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

Nonetheless, the Suburban League, which began play in 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 first took place.

"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.

Nordonia, led by seventh-year head coach Jeff Fox, advanced to the Division II playoffs last year. The Knights finished 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the National Conference in 2018.

Fox said his team has a small senior class. But that low number hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

"It's really special to be a part of the game and coach in our town," Fox said. "Our four senior leaders are excellent football players and more importantly, they are hard workers."

Fox praised his Suburban League comrades and got a lesson on his favorite sport at a recent event in Canton.

"The game of football is thriving in our communities right now," Fox said. "[Twinsburg head] Coach [Mike] Bell and I were both at an event put on by the NFL [Tuesday]. And there is all this talk about making sure the game is growing … grasswork roots and player protection.

"We're at the forefront of it. It's so exciting to hear what the NFL had to say about making sure we do those things. Some of us are doing those things in our community now."

In recent years, due to some controversies, the NFL’s popularity has taken a bit of a hit.

Nonetheless, Fox believes the game itself, particularly at the high school level, continues to be an attractive, must-see event.

"Football is alive and well and it's exciting to see what's coming down the pipe with Nordonia youth football and Nordonia Middle School football and all of those things," Fox said. "We're going to continue to grow and work that way."

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