Tigers Beat Bulldogs 21-12 To Win State Championship
Massillon Gridders Outclass Heavy Canton Eleven All The Way
By LUTHER EMERY
The old adage “ox cannot lick tiger” was proved conclusively again Saturday afternoon in Tiger stadium before a crowd of 22,000 spectators as the Washington high school Tigers defeated the Canton McKinley Bulldogs 21-12 to win the mythical Ohio high school football championship. Today still found Massillonians and students celebrating the fruits of victory.
Hats off to Chuck Mather and staff and their Tiger football players! Battling against tremendous odds in weight they out generaled and out charged the McKinley Bulldogs as they sped to their ninth victory in 10 games, their first victory over Canton since 1943 and their first state championship since that same year.
Rolling to touchdowns in three of the four periods, and narrowly missing a couple of others, the Tigers demonstrated to the spectators their right to claim the state title as they handed the vaunted McKinley team its first loss of the season. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the Ohio scholastic football poll last week and Massillon No. 2. The order should be reversed this week.
It was asking a lot and it took hearts on the part of the Tiger players to overcome the 15-pound per man weight advantage of the Canton team, but the Massillon gridders played courageous football and dented the anatomies of the Bulldogs as they beat the Cantonians to the charge.
Just for example, little Bill Morrow a 153 pounder was pitted against 200 pound John Kostas and moved him around at will most of the afternoon. And there was Pat Ebbert , 155 pounds, getting a head start on every defensive play, smashing through the center of the Bulldog line from his line-backing position to stack-up McKinley ball carriers.
Bob Willison, president of the Tiger Booster club, has called a meeting of all Booster club members for 8 o’clock tonight in the Washington high school auditorium to celebrate the Tigers 21-12 defeat of the McKinley Bulldogs Saturday and the winning of their first state championship since 1943.
Coach Chuck Mather will be present at the meeting and will show motion pictures of the game.
In fact, a couple of pinch-hitters, Ebbert and Irvin Crable were most important cogs in the Tiger victory. Pat went in to fill limping Jack McVey’s shoes on defense and Crable replaced the injured Clarence Johnson at right halfback and roared to all three of the Tigers’ touchdowns.
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BUT YOU couldn’t pick any two guys out of Saturday’s game and say they carved the bacon. Give credit to the whole team, and to Capt. Al Brown, who played his heart out in what was the greatest game of his three years of football, and who fell hysterical on the sidelines when removed in the last minute of the contest. Al and the other seniors wanted to have a victory over Canton McKinley written in the records of their high school athletic careers and they gave their all to accomplish it in their last chance Saturday. That goes for Mike Takacs, Bill Paul, Ben Roderick, Joe Jones, McVey, Jack Houston, Jack Hill, Art James, Eddie Bush, Jim Campbell, Chuck Crone and other seniors who didn’t get into the contest, but who wound up their high school football careers with the defeat of Canton and the winning of a state championship.
No wonder hysteria broke loose in the Tiger dressing room after the game. It began when substitutes at the crack of the final gun streamed from the bench to the playing field to embrace other members of the squad and join them in hoisting Coach Mather to their shoulders and carry him to the dressing room. You could hardly get into the room as fans streamed in – proud fathers to congratulate their sons; Boosters with broad smiles and hoarse voices; old alumni, including many former Tiger players now in college; as well as former Massillon men who are coaching in other cities and who arrange their schedules so that they can be home for the annual Canton-Massillon classic. Signs reading “state champs”, printed in advance, were hoisted immediately in the dressing room to resounding cheers.
It was an outpouring of spontaneous enthusiasm such as this city hasn’t seen in a long time and a deserving recognition to a great team.
The classy Tiger gridders were into the game up to their necks every minute, but as it turned out, they had the victory all the way. They controlled the ball, rolled up more yards, made more first downs, scored more points, gave Canton McKinley but two scoring opportunities both of which the Bulldogs cashed in on, and they were hammering at the red and black’s goal line all afternoon, narrowly missing two other touchdowns, one by a step and the other by a trip.
As Dave Stewart, who himself coached Washington high to a state championship in 1922, said after the game, “That’s one of the finest Massillon teams it has been my privilege to see.” Dave came over from Sharon, Pa., for the contest.
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MOST OF all the victory was a tribute to the coaching of Chuck Mather and his assistants, Paul Schofer, Carl Schroeder, Lauri Wartiainen, and Dave Putts, who have scouted McKinley every game, who figured out the Bulldog’s weaknesses and how to take advantage of them both on offense and defense.
They met Canton’s vaunted power with a four-man line which looked like a five-man line with Ebbert as a crashing line backer, who got a head start on most every play.
They went through the Bulldog defense through the execution of reverses and trap plays that drew the red and black out of position and permitted ball carriers to get into the secondary time and again.
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THE TIGERS won without the ball carrying services of Clarence Johnson, their leading ground gainer of the season who has averaged almost three more yards per try than McKinley’s John Colceri, who likewise was unable to lug the leather because of injuries. Johnson got in only to kickoff a couple of times and boot the Tigers’ three points from placement.
McKinley undoubtedly would have had more offense with Colceri in the backfield, but whether he would have made any difference in the outcome of the game is a subject for folks to debate the next 12 months of the year.
The breaks of the game were fairly even. The Tigers recovered two McKinley fumbles and intercepted on pass, but the Bulldogs got the biggest break of all when Ben Roderick after leaping high in the air to snare a pass, came down with a foot out of the end zone that cost the Tigers a fourth touchdown.
The local gridders lost what might have been a couple of others when in the second quarter with the ball on the 13-yard line, Crable tripped over Jack Hill’s foot on a statue play and fell with an open field ahead of him on his left flank. Again in the third period he picked up a bounce fumble of his own and ran 25 yards to the McKinley 17 where he was ticked on the leg by a Canton tackler that threw him just enough off balance to cause him to stumble and fall. No one was between him and the goal posts.
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THOUGH STATISTICS were 18 first downs to 11 in the Tigers’ favor and yards gained 317 to the Bulldogs’ 185, the outcome was hanging in the balance until the Tigers’ scored their third touchdown with only one minute and 36 seconds left to play.
The air was tense when the Bulldogs struck back after each Massillon touchdown to match the Tiger’s goal line efforts, and Massillon fans grew uneasy while Canton partisans’ hopes were buoyed as Quarterback John Rogers pitched a fourth-down touchdown pass to End Elijah Lipkins to bring the score to 14-12.
Coach Mather sent in his offensive substitutes but before doing so wrapped a big arm around Capt. Brown. “Al, you gotta hold that ball. Anytime Canton gets it we might lose this game. You gotta go all the way, Al, all the way.”
Here the Tigers demonstrated their greatest courage of the game. Against a suddenly inspired McKinley team they took the kickoff on their own 20 and methodically pounded all the way to their third touchdown. They used up six minutes and 47 seconds in the drive, and crossed the Bulldog goal with only a minute and 36 seconds remaining to be played.
That last touchdown drive was a clear cut demonstration of the championship caliber and determination of the Massillon team.
There were those at the half who thought Bulldog power and weight would surely be a deciding factor before the end of the contest, but in the Tigers final march to points, they actually beat the Cantonians down to their size and appeared the stronger team at the final gun.
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DESPITE the hard play of members of both teams, none was seriously injured. Members of the local eleven came out of the contest in as good a condition as they entered it.
Dick Jacobs took as hard a beating as anyone, and several times was the victim of a pileup that knocked the wind out of him.
Both teams were strictly offensive minded all afternoon and as a result each punted only once. The Bulldogs in their desperation to catch the Tigers were thrown back once on fourth down when they failed to make yardage on the Tiger 39. But on another occasion while back in their own territory and 11 yards needed for a first down, they caught the Tigers napping and fired a long pass that started them on the way to their second touchdown.
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THE TIGERS appeared tense when the game got underway. They won the toss and elected to receive, but the Canton kickoff bounced around through the Massillon team and Capt. Brown fumbled on his first attempt to pick up the ball. When he finally did get it, Canton tacklers were upon him and he was downed by Mariano on the two-yard line.
Massillon folks breathed heavily, but Al on second down got out to his 13 for a first down which at least gave Jacobs some room to punt when the Tigers gained only seven yards. Dick, booting against the wind, got the ball to his 39-yard line where it rolled dead.
Then the Tigers got a break that made up for Al’s fumble of the kickoff. Mariano, on first down fumbled and old reliable Mike Takacs pounced on the ball for the Tigers.
The Tigers launched their first touchdown march. After Brown got but two yards at right end, Hill dropped back and shot a long pass that Ben Roderick took to the Canton 38. Jacobs came right back to circle his right end for another 13 yards and a first down on the Canton 25, McKinley took time out but it did no good, for on the next play Jacobs again wormed through for a first down on the Bulldog 12. Crable got four, but Brown failed to gain. Then the Tigers came up with their double reverse that has thrown other opponents out of position this season. It worked perfectly and Crable, led by a wave of blockers, cut to his left and raced down the sideline for six points. Johnson went into to blast over the extra point.
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THE BULLDOGS took the kickoff and came roaring back for six points themselves. With Mariano and Tony Ranalli doing most of the leather lugging, they started from their 33 and 12 plays later were on the one foot line as the quarter ended.
Came the second period and on the first play, Rogers bucked the ball through center for six points. Ernie Ghezzi tried to kick the extra point but missed and the Tigers led 7-6.
The Massillon gridders took the kickoff and struck back into Bulldog territory. Starting from the 34, Jacobs went for 10 yards and a first on his 44. When two plays gained but a yard, Hill pitched the ball to Jacobs for a first down on the McKinley 44. Brown went through on the next play for another first on the 32 and Jacobs on a trap went on to the 20. Hill lost four yards when a play backfired, but Jacobs went to the 13. With third down coming up and three yards to go, the stage was set perfectly for a statue play. The entire Bulldog team was sucked out of position, but in the handoff, Crable tripped over Hill’s foot and fell for a seven-yard loss. Not discouraged Hill shot a pass to Roderick in the end zone on fourth down that Ben took in a leaping catch, but when he came down his foot was out of the end zone and the Tigers had lost a touchdown.
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McKINLEY took over on the 20 and got by the midfield stripe before Crable intercepted Rogers pass on his own 31. Three plays later the Tigers had a first down on their own 45 and when two plays only gained five yards, Brown passed to Eddie Bush for a first down on the Canton 22. The Tigers thought a double reverse might fool McKinley more than a forward pass in the final seconds but Crable was caught as the half ended.
McKinley received to open the third period, Mariano making a great return of the kickoff and almost getting away to take the ball to the Tiger 48. Three plays gained seven yards and the Bulldogs tried to run the ball on fourth down. The Tigers were equal to the occasion, however and Ranalli was thrown before he could make the necessary yardage.
Taking the ball on their own 39, Crable went for eight yards and Brown made it first down on the Canton 43. Crable dribbled the ball but picked it up and got to the Canton 17 where the safety man barely ticked his foot enough to throw him off balance and he fell with an open field ahead. The Bulldogs threw the Tigers back two yards on the next four plays and took over on the 19. The locals held and forced Mariano to punt. Jacobs caught the ball on the run and made a fine 22-yard return to the Canton 23-yard line. Roderick was stopped without gain, but Crable was turned loose for a touchdown and Johnson kicked the extra point to make the score 14-6.
Canton took the kickoff and assisted by a 15-yard penalty and a 10-yard run by Mariano got to its own 42 where Rogers’ fumble was recovered by the Tigers. On fourth down, Brown got loose for a first down on the Canton 21, but the Tiger attack was stopped again by the Bulldogs who took over on their 24 and began a touchdown drive of their own. They got up to their 44, where they were stopped cold for three downs. Behind by eight points, they gambled on fourth down with 11 yards to go and won. Rogers shot a long pass to Louis Scrimo who got to the Tiger 29. Mariano immediately got loose to the six-yard line and the Tigers put eight men on the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs failed twice on line plays and a pass was batted down. On fourth down, however, Rogers tossed quickly over the line of scrimmage to Lipkins for the red and black’s second touchdown. Ghezzi again failed to kick the extra point and the Tigers led 14-12.
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EIGHT MINUTES and 23 seconds of the game remained to be played when Mariano kicked off to Massillon. Brown brought the ball back to his 20 and the Tigers began their determined and deliberate 80-yard touchdown march. Crable went for six yards and Jacobs moved for 18 to a first down on his 44. Crable made two and Brown bulled his way to a first on the Bulldog 43. Jacobs got eight yards at center and then piled through for three more and a first on the Canton 32. Crable made eight at left tackle and t hen was freed through center for a first on the McKinley 19. Hill, Crable and Brown carried to another first down on the nine-yard line.
The Massillon captain struck for five more to put the ball on the four-yard line and hit again only to have the ball called back and the Tigers penalized five yards and back to their nine for being offside.
That didn’t stop Brown. Mather had said, “all the way” and that’s the way it was going to be. He smashed through for four yards and on the next play Crable ran his right end for the final touchdown of the game.
Johnson missed his first try for the extra point but Canton was offside so he booted it over in a second attempt to bring the final score to 21-12 with a minute and 36 seconds remaining to be played.
Krisher kicked off to Canton’s Sam Parks who came back to his 31. Rogers tossed to Scrimo for a first down on the 50, but another attempt was grounded and he was hit hard by a flock of Tiger tacklers for a 13-yard loss when he tried another pass. He tossed one to Scrimo on his 42 as the last seconds of the game expired.
ENDS – RODERICK, HOUSTON, Slicker.
TACKLES – KRISHER, TAKACS, Jones, Schumacher, A. James, Campbell.
GUARDS – MORROW, REICHENBACK, Paul, Ebbert.
CENTER – McVEY.
QUARTERBACKS – HILL, D. James.
HALFBACKS – JACOBS, CRABLE, Johnson, Bush, Crone.
FULLBACKS – BROWN, Shine.
ENDS – WEBER, LIPKINS, Mozaco.
TACKLES – GHEZZI, O’BROVAC, McCullough, Scrimo, Ripper.
GUARDS – JOHNS and JIM KOSTAS, Byers.
CENTER – PUCCI.
QUARTERBACKS – ROGERS, Prandine.
HALFBACKS – RANALLI, MARIANO, Parks.
FULLBACKS – STOSIC, Palombo.
Score by periods:
Massillon 7 0 7 7 21
McKinley 0 6 0 6 12
Massillon – Crable 3.
McKinley – Rogers; Lipkins.
Points after touchdown:
Massillon – Johnson 3 (placekicks).
Referee – Titus Lobach.
Umpire – C.W. rupp.
Head Linesman – Verlin Jenkins.
Field Judge – Ralph Shafer.
Statistics Of The Game
First downs 18 11
Passes attempted 6 6
Passes completed 3 3
Had passes intercepted 0 1
Yards gained passing 59 52
Yards gained rushing 285 164
Total yards gained 344 216
Yards lost 37 31
Net yards gained 317 185
Times punted 1 1
Average punt (yards) 20 32
Times kicked off 4 3
Average kickoff (yards) 47 51
Yards punts returned by 22 0
Yards kickoffs returned by 39 70
Times fumbled 1 2
Lost ball on fumble 0 2
Times penalized 3 1
Yards penalized 25 2
Carried Gained Lost Net
Brown 22 105 1 104
Jacobs 11 90 10 80
Crable 17 112 10 102
Hill 3 3 5 -2
Roderick 2 1 0 1
_____ _____ _____ _____
TOTALS 55 311 26 285
Mariano 16 93 1 92
Ranalli 11 46 0 46
Rogers 5 11 0 11
Stosic 4 18 3 15
____ _____ ____ ____
TOTALS 36 168 5 164