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 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.

Mike Bell enters his fifth year as Twinsburg’s head coach. The Tigers finished 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the National Conference in 2018.

"I just want to recognize all of the hard work our young men are doing," Bell said. "One thing we've talked about quite frequently during the entire offseason, is to become elite.

"Elite doesn't mean what most people think elite means. For us, it simply means trying to become the best version of us that we can possibly become. Our guys are encouraged to be better today than they were yesterday and to build on becoming better tomorrow than you are today."

Bell learned some valuable lessons about becoming elite at a recent get-together in Canton.

"[Nordonia] Coach [Jeff] Fox and I attended a Hall of Fame NFL high school football program [Tuesday]," Bell said. "There were probably close to eight schools there. It offered various programs to our players.

"I was certainly thrilled to death to be a small part of this with about 15 of our players and all of the other coaches and the players they brought to the program. We're all very busy this time of the year, but I would encourage all of the coaches from all of the programs to attend this if you can. In my opinion, it's well worth it."

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