The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1903 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship (OIC). As the name implied, its teams were based in Ohio, and is the direct predecessor to the National Football League of today.
A proposal to add teams from outside Ohio, such as the Latrobe Athletic Association, to form a formal league known as the "Football Association" fell through prior to the 1904 season.
Though a champion was declared by the group throughout its existence, a formal league was not founded until 1920, when several Ohio League teams added clubs from other states to form the American Professional Football Association. In 1922 the APFA became the National Football League.
|1902||Akron East Ends|
|1903||Massillon Tigers||8||1||0||def. Akron East Ends, 11-0|
|1904||Massillon Tigers||7||0||0||def. Akron East Ends, 6-5|
|1905||Massillon Tigers||10||0||0||def. Canton Bulldogs, 10-0|
|1906||Massillon Tigers||10||1||0||def. Canton Bulldogs, 13-6|
|1909||Akron Indians||9||0||0||def. Shelby Blues, 12-9|
|1910||Shelby Blues and Shelby Tigers||14||0||1||def. Akron Indians, 8-5|
|1911||Shelby Blues||10||0||0||def. Canton Bulldogs, 1-0 (forfeit)|
|1912||Elyria Athletics||8||0||0||def. Akron Indians|
|1913||Akron Indians||8||1||2||def. Shelby Blues, 20-0|
|1914||Akron Parratt's Indians||8||2||1||def. Canton Bulldogs, 21-0|
|1915||Youngstown Patricians||8||0||1||def. Washington Vigilants, 13-7|
|1916||Canton Bulldogs||9||0||1||def. Massillon Tigers, 24-0|
|1917||Canton Bulldogs||9||1||0||def. Detroit Heralds, 7-0|
|1918||Dayton Triangles||8||0||0||def. Detroit Heralds|
- Akron Pros
- Cincinnati Celts
- Cleveland Panthers (debuted 1919, mainly played non-Ohio teams)
- Cleveland Tigers
- Coleman Athletic Club
- Columbus Panhandles
- Franklin Athletic Club of Cleveland
- Ironton Tanks (consolidation of Irish Town Rags and the Lombards)
- Shelby Tigers (merged with Shelby Blues in 1911)
- Toledo Maroons
- Youngstown Patricians
- Zanesville Mark Greys
- The Detroit Heralds, though based in Michigan, played many of its games against Ohio teams.
- Canton Bulldogs-Massillon Tigers Betting Scandal
- New York Pro Football League, another NFL predecessor
- NFL.com history pages: 1869-1910 and 1911-1920
- Sye, Roy. www.geocities-dot-com/krd4052/FootballResearch/ohio/ (Sye is the head of the Professional Football Researchers Association committee in charge of researching professional football prior to 1920.)
- Massillon won by tiebreaker of common opponents. While both Massillon and the Shelby Blues went undefeated and played each other once to a scoreless tie, Shelby tied the Columbus Panhandles, while Massillon had defeated Columbus twice.
- Both teams finished undefeated, but shared so many players that it was impossible to stage a true championship game. Their records were added together and the two organizations shared the title and officially merged in 1911. The Tigers name was spun off to another team.
- Against Ohio teams only.
- The Professional Football Researchers Association lists 1915 as "no clear champion" and discounts Youngstown's competition as subpar. Canton and Massillon, the next two contenders, tied at 5-2-2.