Tiger opener provides early gauge on season
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
Independent Sports Editor
A Tiger opening football game is usually used to tune up the Washington High School team, but tonight’s go with the Middletown Middies is anything but, folks.
Some 12,000 fans are expected to see the veteran charges of Middletown mentor Jack Gordon provide one of the stiffest tests of the season for the young pupils of new Tiger Coach Mike Currence.
IF THE Orange and Black can get by this one, they’ll get a big boost. But if not it could be a long fall for Currence, who came here in May for Lakewood St. Edwards.
“It (tonight’s game) is darn important,” said the brown-haired skipper. “If we win, we’ll be a contender in the All-American Conference. It (the opener) is a gauge for the whole season. This is probably the most important opener we’ve had here in years. I don’t think we’ve ever met a team ranked as high as Middletown in an opener.”
Currence hopes the Middies will not be ready mentally, but he says the Tigers will be.
The game shapes up as a David-vs.-Goliath affair offensively because Middletown’s offense averages 204 pounds, compared to the Tigers’ 178. However, the Orange and Black’s offense has a slight advantage: 193-185.
The big differences show between the Middies’ 215-pound offensive line and the Tigers’ 187-pound defensive line and the Massillon 206-pound offensive line and the Middletown 194-pound defensive line.
“MIDDLETOWN WILL try to come right at us and push us out of there with their weight,” Currence said. “They will also try to throw a bit to keep us loose when we get up there real tight and then come back up the middle again.”
Currence expects Gordon to throw on first and 10 or second and one on two situations to keep the Tigers off guard. Middie junior quarterback Jackie Gordon is rated great by Currrence on the basis of reports from Gerry Faust, coach of defending state Class AAA champion Cincinnati Moeller which plays Middletown every year.
“Gordon’s real threat is probably with the pass and not the run,” Currence said. “He throws a tough possession pass which we’re worried about. He has thrown mostly to the wingbacks and split end in scrimmages but has also used a tailback who can catch the ball well.”
Currence says Middletown has consistently run 8, 10, 12, 14 yards at a clip so the Tiger skipper knows the Middies have a good blocking line led by senior tackle Tim Sorrell (6-3, 238).
“He’s quick enough to play defense and big enough to be a good offensive tackle,” Currence said.
ENDS – Sam George (5-11, 165, Sr.); Rick Chovan (5-11, 171, Sr.).
TACKLES – Tim Tournay (6-2, 270, Sr.); Tim Daniels (6-7, 230, Jr.).
GUARDS – John Hauser (5-11, 211, Sr.); Mark Lauber (6-1, 212, Sr.).
CENTER – Mike Ramsey (5-8, 180, Sr.).
QUARTERBACK – Bret Traylor (5-10, 159, Sr.).
HALFBACKS – Jay Harper (5-5, 160, Sr.); Greg Carpenter (6-1, 188, Jr.).
FULLBACK – Rich Cleveland (6-1, 180, Soph.).
ENDS – Gene Miller (5-10, 170, Jr.); Dave Engler (5-9, 180, Jr.).
TACKLES – Randy Laase (6-5, 211, Sr.); Jesse Toles (6-0, 190, Sr.).
MIDDLE GUARD – Carl Dorsey (5-9, 185, Jr.).
LINEBACKERS – Kurt Walterhouse (6-0, 170, Jr.); Gary Border (6-0, 203, Sr.).
SECONDARY – Anthony Grizzard (5-9, 168, Sr.); Randy Lash (5-8, 165, Sr.); Bill Henderson (5-9, 160, Sr.); John Letcavits (6-0, 155, Jr.).
ENDS – Ron Gregory (5-11, 180, Sr.); Tom Dorn (6-1, 185, Sr.).
TACKLES – Greg Tigg (6-3, 248, Sr.); Tim Sorrell (6-3, 238, Sr.).
GUARDS – Todd Ramsey (5-11, 214, Jr.); Lucious Ramsey (6-3, 247, Sr.).
CENTER – Dave Rhea (6-1, 195, Sr.).
QUARTERBACK – Jackie Gordon (6-3, 210, Jr).
HALFBACKS – Jim Thompson (5-10, 170, Sr.); Rick Clements (6-2, 170, Sr.).
FULLBACK – Lawrence Mack (5-10, 185, Sr.).
ENDS – Joe McMonigle (6-2, 200, Jr.); Frank Armstrong (5-11, 185, Sr.).
TACKLES – Sorrell, Ed Brown (5-11, 205, Sr.).
MIDDLE GUARD – Chris Jones (5-11, 175, Sr.).
LINEBACKERS – Todd Bell (6-1, 180, Sr.); Jim Irwin (6-1, 175, Jr.).
SECONDARY – Joe Merritt (5-9, 160, Sr.); Eric Cresham (5-8, 165, Sr.); Clements Gregory.
offense (line 296, backfield 171, overall 193).
defense (line 187, backfield 162, overall 178).
offense (line 215, backfield 184, overall 204).
defense (line 194, backfield 167, overall 185).
Series – First Game.
Referee – Edward Feils.
Umpire – Arthur Burton.
Head Linesman – Leonard Brudzinski.
Field Judge – Henry Miesle.
Back Judge – Glenn Halm.
Middies, rain dampen Tiger hopes
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
Independent Sport Editor
“It won’t rain for all of them.”
You’re right, Mike Currence. There are better times coming for the Tigers.
HAMPERED BY wet weather which is not the best thing for run and shoot football – the Tigers’ new offense – but is great for power control up the middle, which the Middletown Middies ran Friday night, the Washington High gridders went down 6-0 before the veteran visitors from southwestern Ohio.
But 12,154 fans saw the Orange and Black put up a tremendous defensive battle against a team which outweighed them by an average of 26 pounds per man. They held the Middies to 121 yards but managed only 74 themselves – a figure which hasn’t been seen here in years.
Currence even tried using some straight-T football in order to help things.
Rain came down before the game and during the third quarter, making for a wet ball which caused nine fumbles by each team. The Tigers lost five and the Middies one.
So the defense continually had to bail the offense out. There were some bad snaps on both sides which caused havoc with punters, but the Tigers got the words of this too.
“WE ALMOST has this one in the rain against a much bigger team and a much more experienced team,” said Currence. “People told me the way these kids are down here,” he added. “My goodness! Look how we played! A group of kids with two years’ experience. You can’t tell me these kids didn’t give me 100 per cent tonight. It was just inexperience with the ball that killed us. We did a pretty good job defensively.”
The Tigers almost scored in the third and fourth quarters at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Junior quarterback Marc Longshore had the ball slip from his hands as he was running, preparing to pass on fourth down from the Middleton 11 in the third quarter.
Bret Traylor tried to hit Longshore, playing end in the fourth quarter but the wet ball slipped from Marc’s hand on the Middletown 40 with the agile junior in the clear.
Middletown’s lone touchdown came in the second quarter on the end of a 47-yard drive when 5-11, 170-pound senior tailback Jim Thompson scored on a 20-yard draw play. Jackie Gordon’s conversion kick was wide left with 10:08 left.
THE MIDDIES threatened in the first quarter after recovering Traylor’s fumble on the Orange and Black’s 28-yard line but Jesse Toles halted the drive on the two when he recovered Lawrence Mack’s fumble and raced to the 10.
Middletown drove to the Tigers’ 22 in the second period but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a punt.
After Mark Westover fumbled a snap in the third quarter and punted only five yards to the Tigers’ 44, the defense hit hard, causing two Middie fumbles – both recovered by the foe – and got the ball back on downs at the Middletown 46.
However, they lost it two plays later when sophomore Rich Cleveland fumbled while running a draw and Dale Hopper got it for Middletown on his 45.
Middletown threatened again with 1:17 left in the game when a Traylor to Jay Harper pitch went awry on the Tigers’ 19 and Todd Bell recovered. But time ran out with the ball on the eight.
“Tonight was made for our offense,” Middletown Coach Jack Gordon said, “but we had hoped to throw the ball.”
GORDON COMMENTED that his offense is big and strong up front, but the Tigers are a very quick team, which bothered the Middies. However, they were able to follow their game plan of controlling the line of scrimmage.
Two of their backs Mack and Thompson – gained 152 total yards. Mack picked up 89 in 24 carries, losing only one yard. Thompson got 63 in 15 tries with no losses.
“I think Mike (Currence) has done a fantastic job of putting in a new offense in three short weeks,” Gordon said. “I’m very impressed with their spirit and desire.”
He felt that the fact that he had experienced players in his lineup helped tremendously.
“It was a great defensive game for both sides,” Gordon said. “They have great traditional football up here. To come up in the Tigers’ den and open up with a win has got to be a great win for us.”
Middletown downs Massillon, 6 to 0
By Hymie Williams
Plain Dealer Bureau
MASSILLON – The coaching debut of Mike Currence of Massillon High was foiled by the Middletown Middies, 6-0, on a water-soaked Paul Brown Tigers’ Stadium gridiron before 12,154 fans Friday night.
Heavy rain before the game and also in the third period made for an extremely slippery gridiron that stymied the running and passing games for the two clubs.
Currence was coach of Lakewood St. Edward last season where his team went 10-0 and lost out to Cincinnati Moeller, 14-12, in the state AAA championship game.
Currence inherited a rookie team at Massillon, with not a single returning offensive regular. The Massillon mentor tried both Bret Traylor and Marc Longshore at the quarterback spot, but neither had much success.
The Tigers attempted 18 passes and completed only three.
The Middletown team, with veteran talent at most positions scored the game’s lone touchdown at 10:08 of the second period when running back Jim Thompson found an opening in the Massillon forward wall and raced 20 yards for the score. The drive covered 43 yards. Jack Gordon’s attempt for the extra point was wide. Gordon is the son of the Middletown coach.
MIDDLETOWN 0 6 0 0 6
MASSILLON 0 0 0 0 0
Middletown – Jim Thompson, 20 run (kick failed).
First downs rushing 6 5
First downs passing 2 0
First downs penalties 1 1
Total first downs 9 6
Yards gained rushing 100 156
Yards lost rushing 72 38
Net yards gained rushing 28 118
Net yards gained passing 46 3
Total yards gained 74 121
Passes completed 3-18 1-2
Passes intercepted by 0 0
Times kicked off 0 3-45
Kickoff returns (yards) 66 0
Times punted 6-26 6-30.5
Punt returns (yards) 0 27
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 9-5 9-1
Yards penalized 4-20 3-35
Touchdowns rushing 0 1
Total number of plays 59 60
Total time of possession 22:23 25:37
To the Editor of
The Evening Independent
My wife and I attended the football game last Friday and stayed overnight in Massillon. Our son is a Middletown player and our daughter is a cheerleader.
I think I can safely speak for all Middletown fans, coaches and players when I say that you showed us how a real championship town performs.
Many things impressed us, the drive through your handsome downtown and every window with a “Sink the Middies” poster, that enormous gold “Ohio Scholastic Champions” flag on top of the bank, our entrance into your fine stadium with 12,000 people there in a driving rain and what must be the largest American flag in the state unfurling for the National Anthem.
Your enormous marching band played beautifully and put on a fine show before the game. Their routines and music at the half marked them as truly big time.
And what a football game! It wasn’t over until the final seconds ran out on a super-gutty team. Your boys never quit; they were still hitting hard on the last play.
But the people we met impressed us most. You all were pleasant, unfailingly kind, smiling and gracious, even as we left the stadium. Anybody can be a good winner, but the real champ is a good loser.
You are quality folks. Please invite us back again soon to show us how high school football should really be played and enjoyed.
September 12, 1976