Tigers look to roar in new stadium, conference


NORTH BALTIMORE — North Baltimore is set to play the football season in a new stadium and are now members of the Northwest Central Conference after going 2-8 last season while not playing in a conference.

Freshman Luke Long will be behind center for the Tigers. Long is a young player that coach Wade Ishmael sees as someone who can do the right things to win games.

“We have a new quarterback as a freshman. He’s very strong-willed and ready to do the things to win games,” Ishmael said.

The Tigers also have some leadership coming back on the field. Senior Andre Johnson, a lineman who plays both sides of the ball, and senior Rowan Tackett, who plays receiver and defensive back, will both be much-needed leaders for the Tigers.

“I got some returning leaders, Andre Johnson. He’s a lineman, an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman.” Ishmael continued. “Then Rowan Tackett is coming back as a senior receiver and defensive back. He is a very talented kid who loves the game. and understand the game very well.”

That veteran leadership will be needed as North Baltimore saw the team’s roster size grow heading into this fall from 20 to 23 players.

“The number of players is good. It will be better for the team to be able to get the kids fresh on the field. You know, rest some kids and keep everybody fresh for most of the game.” Ishmael said.

With enrollment up and the leaders set, the culture for the Tigers is the biggest cornerstone to make sure the program continues heading in the right direction for years to come.

“Yeah, the veteran leadership is huge, with the upperclassmen being able to show the younger kids the way and teach them the culture that we’re trying to have here. So having leaders that are very good role models for the younger kids that haven’t been on the team is very important,” Ishmael said.

The program will also be experiencing a new frontier as they join the NWCC after being independent last season. That is something Ishmael hopes will be a good experience for his players.

“When it comes to joining the NWCC, I have zero expectations. I want our kids to go out and do their jobs and have fun. With all that, hopefully everything goes our way,” Ishmael said.

There will be some travel in the NWCC with most schools located outside Lima, but North Baltimore athletic officials believe it is the best-fit competition wise for their school.

North Baltimore will compete in the NWCC for all sports starting this year. There are plenty of non-league match-ups on slate with schools from its former league, the Blanchard Valley Conference.

Another new thing for the Tigers this season is a stadium — all set to host its inaugural season this fall, something special for this year’s team.

“I think it’s great — something for the kids to be proud of. Being back home and actually playing a home game in front of a home crowd is going to be amazing,” Ismael said.

For Ismael, running this program has been an “amazing” experience since growing up in the area and playing for North Baltimore his freshman and sophomore years before moving to Oak Harbor and playing for highly successful coach Gary Quisno.

“I actually played my freshman and sophomore years here before moving to Oak Harbor. I love this town and have always loved this town. My goal is to see North Baltimore succeed, and I will do anything I can to make it happen. I’ll do it,” Ishmael said.


Aug. 18 @ Vanlue

Aug. 25 @ Hardin Northern

Sept. 1 ELGIN


Sept. 15 @ Waynesfield-Goshen


Sept. 29 @ Ridgedale


Oct. 13 @ Crestline


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