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The History of the Ohio Cardinal Conference

The Ohio Cardinal Conference was initiated when the athletic directors and principals from Ashland, Lexington, Madison, Mansfield Senior, Orrville, West Holmes and Wooster High Schools met in Mansfield, Ohio in 2001 to discuss the possibility of an area league. Ashland, Lexington, Madison, Mansfield Senior and Orrville were members of the Ohio Heartland Conference. Wooster High School was a former member of the Federal League. West Holmes High School was a past member of the Mohican Area Conference. After several developmental meetings, a league constitution was created and ratified in 2002. OCC competition began in the 2003 – 2004 school year. In the fall of 2003, Clear Fork High School, also a past member of the Mohican Area Conference, became the eighth member of the new conference and entered league competition in the fall of 2004.

In 2002, a month-long contest to determine the name and logo for the Ohio Cardinal Conference was held. The contest was open to students and residents of the seven founding districts and drew more than 100 entries.

The winners of the naming contest were Greg Cooper, Jessica Peterson and the husband and wife team of Phil and Pat Bush. Cooper was a junior at Wooster High School. Peterson was a sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School. Pat and Phil Bush were teachers in the Madison School District. Cory Hosfeld of Ashland won the logo design contest. The winners received lifetime passes to all OCC games.

In November 2002, high school football official Ron Dessecker, from Orrville, was hired as the commissioner of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Following the 2015/16 school year, Orrville withdrew from the Ohio Cardinal Conference for the Principals Athletic Conference. In 2016 Mt. Vernon was voted into the OCC to become the eighth member after leaving the Ohio Capital Conference. They competed in all sports except football in the 2016/17 season. They entered football competition in the Fall of 2017. Clear Fork withdrew from the OCC in 2017/18 to enter the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leaving the Ohio Cardinal Conference a seven team league.

In April of 2020, New Philadelphia was voted into the OCC making it an eight team conference once again.  New Philadelphia will begin competition in the fall of 2022.

Mount Vernon notified the OCC that they were leaving the conference in October 2022.  For the 2024-25 school year the OCC would have seven
schools.  In December of 2023 Dover City Schools was voted into the OCC.  Dover will begin competition in the 2025-2026 school year in all sports
except football.  In the Fall of 2026 Dover will be a full member in all sports.


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