Nineteen seventy-eight marked the 25th Anniversary of the Northern Football Conference. To commemorate the occasion the NFC revitalized their league logo. The Northern Football Conference looked forward to a prosperous future but all would not be well.
The league quickly expanded to a high of seven teams by the 25th Anniversary year of 1978 by adding three new teams, the Etobicoke Argonauts, the Oakville Longhorns and the Stoney Creek Patriots. Etobicoke lasted only one season as they withdrew to compete in the Ontario junior league for the 1979 season and set the tone for the many changes over the next few years in the Northern Football Conference. The 1980 season saw the Orillia team cease operations and the North Bay team change its name to the Northmen who then ceased operations after the 1982 season. The 1982 season also saw the Stoney Creek Patriots move to Hamilton and become the Wildcats. There was some expansion as the Brampton Bears under the tutelage of Rick Morenz entered the loop in 1985. By its 35th Anniversary, 1988, the Sault Ste Marie Steelers folded before the start of the season and the league had again declined to three teams, Sudbury Spartans, Oakville Longhorns and Brampton Bears. The addition of the Brampton Bulldogs in 1989 and their subsequent move to North Bay for the 1991 season stabilized the league somewhat.
Despite the concern in some quarters that the southern teams would dominate the league the Plaunt Memorial Championship Trophy bounced back and forth between northern and southern teams during the 14-year period. Stoney Creek Patriots and Oakville Longhorns each captured three titles and the Brampton Bears captured one championship for southern teams while Sudbury captured six more titles, including four in a row, and Sault Ste. Marie Steelers captured one title for northern teams. The Plaunt Memorial Trophy traveled between north and south equally proving no one region of Ontario could dominate senior football.
The Northern Football Conference also instituted new awards and expanded the all-Conference team to include Special Teams performances. The new awards recognized Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in 1981 and in order to enhance the excitement of the Championship Game the league awarded Championship Game Most Valuable Player recognition in 1982. Also, commencing in 1985 the Northern Football Conference formed a Hall of Fame to recognize players of outstanding merit over a period of years, as well as honouring coaches, officials as well as club and league administrators whose contributions to the league over a period of time was seen as being of a consistently high level.