Senior QB passes for 316 yards in 40‑9 win
Spielman’s record night paces Tigers
By ROLLIE DREUSSI
Independent Sports Editor
“Did you get the gist of our offense tonight?” asked Massillon assistant coach Charles “Sonny” Spielman after the Tigers blitzed Mansfield Senior 40‑9 Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“Pass, pass, pass.”
Spielman was referring to the school levy which will be voted on Tuesday. Massillonians haven’t passed a school levy since 1969.
But if Tigertowners take their cue from senior quarterback Rick Spielman, son of Sonny, the levy will be a cinch.
The younger Spielman became the first quarterback in the history of Massillon football to pass for more than 300 yards.
He completed 15 of 24 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns, and got a standing ovation from the crowd of 7,863 when the feat was announced over the public address system.
The Tigers’ team total of 348 yards passing is also a record, and it was the first time in Tiger history that two players each gained over 100 yards in pass receptions.
Junior wide receiver Jim Geiser hauled in six passes for 111 yards and a TD and halfback George Roknich caught four passes for 108 yards and a TD.
Halfback Robert Oliver had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and also scored on a one‑yard run. Fullback Greg Grimsley tallied twice on two‑yard runs.
The Tigers, leading only 7‑3, blew the game open late in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns to take a 20‑3 halftime lead.
They then added three more scores in the third quarter en route to piling up a season‑high 466 yards in total offense.
“Well we said we’d throw, but we didn’t think we’d throw that much,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said afterwards.
“But they had seven guys on the line and they kept blitzing,” he explained.
And since the Tiger offensive line was able to pick up the blitz, Spielman had receivers open all over the field, though he did complete several key passes on the run.
Spielman took his feat in stride.
“If it wasn’t for my offensive linemen and receivers I wouldn’t have done it,” he said.
“I wanted 1,000 yards going into the McKinley game (he needed 148), but I didn’t expect to get as much as I did.
Asked why he went to Geiser so frequently, he said: “We made adjustments at halftime according to their defense, and he was the guy open.”
Geiser had only caught three passes for 50 yards and a TD going into the game. His effort helped him become the sixth Tiger this season to top the 100-yard mark in pass receiving.
Roknich, meanwhile, takes the team lead in receiving with 14 catches for 339 yards and four touchdowns.
Spielman’s stats on the season going into Saturday’s game in Canton against McKinley are: 62 completions in 127 attempts (49 percent) for 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns.
That would place him third on the all-time regular season list behind Brent Offenbecher’s yardage totals of 1369 in 1977 and 1,322 in 1978.
We really wanted to get Rick over 1,000 yards so he wouldn’t have to worry about it next week,” Currence said, referring to the McKinley game.
“And if he gets 300 yards next week and we get 400 on the ground we’ll be alright,” Sonny Spielman pitched in.
“The most exciting week of the season is here,” Currence said. “We’ve got to start out by passing the levy on Tuesday, then we’ll have the parade on Friday and we have to beat McKinley on Saturday.
“We have to continue to think pass,” he added, getting back to the levy, which has already been turned down twice by voters in the past year.
“If we don’t get the levy, they’ll probably cut our supplemental contracts. People think I can do the job with five or six assistant coaches. Most people don’t know the Booster Club raised $8,000 to pay for six junior high and three varsity coaches,” he said.
He admitted passage of the levy would be a real boost to his team going into Saturday’s game against the undefeated Bulldogs, ranked first in the Division 1, Region 3 computer poll.
Spielman’s passing is also a boost, since it will give the Tiger offense some confidence. Of course, it will need more than confidence against the McKinley defense, which yielded its first two touchdowns of the season last week in a 23‑14 win over Warren Harding.
“I was pleased with the way we threw the football,” Currence said, “but that was all they left us. A lot of our game tonight was not sharp. I don’t think a game like this is really good for you. We’ve got to realize it’s not going to be as much of an offensive game next week.”
Actually, Friday night’s game didn’t start out as much of an offensive game either.
The Tigers drove 73 yards to a touchdown the first time they had the ball, with Grimsley scoring. Tim Manion’s kick made it 7‑0 with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
However, the next three times the Tigers had the ball they fumbled, punted and lost it on downs.
Following a 32‑yard field goal by Mansfield quarterback Jim Bishop with 4:34 left in the half, Spielman passed the Tigers 71 yards to another Grimsley touchdown.
Spielman hit three‑of‑four passes in the drive, moving the ball from his own 34 to the Tyger two on passes of 12 yards to Geiser, 31 yards to Roknich and 21 yards to Geiser, who made a great diving catch on the right sideline. Manion added the point after and Massillon led 14‑3 with 2:46 on the clock.
Bishop went to the air on second down, and linebacker Mark Haubert tipped the ball and halfback Dave Spuhler intercepted it at the Mansfield 24.
Spielman wasted no time getting another six points as he hit Oliver In the end zone with his first TD pass of the night. The kick failed and the Tigers led 20‑3 with 1:33 left in the half.
The Tigers took the kickoff to open the second half and went 66 yards in three plays with Oliver scoring from a yard out with 10:50 still on the clock.
How did they get to the one yard line so fast – Spielman’s right arm, of course. He hit Roknich over the middle with a pass and the senior halfback made a great run, turning it into a 37‑yard gain.
His next pass to Oliver covered 28 yards to the one. After the touchdown, Manion’s kick made it 27‑3.
It took the Tigers a whole five plays to score the next time they got the ball, with Spielman finding Geiser wide open in the right corner of the end zone.
The 78‑yard drive started out with Roknich ripping off 35 yards (he totaled 38 on three carries to lead the team).
On a third‑and‑six play, Spielman connected with Roknich on an 18‑yard completion to set up the TD toss to Geiser. The kick failed but the Tigers were out front 33‑3 with 6:33 left in the third period.
Mansfield scored its only TD of the night when Bishop hit wide receiver Chris Elswick with a 22‑yard scoring pass, capping a 65‑yard drive. A pass for the extra points failed.
Bishop completed 15 of 30 aerials for 158 yards, and almost all of that went to Elswick, who led all receivers with 10 catches for 116 yards.
The Tigers then finished off the scoring for the evening by traveling 60 yards in five plays. Spielman’s third completion of the drive, 23 yards to Roknich, produced the TD. Greg Radtka booted the point after for a 40‑9 lead with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
That was Spielman’s last action of the night, and when it was announced he had gone over 300 yards, Roknich and center George Nikitanko hoisted him into the air to acknowledge the standing ovation from the Tiger partisans.
So the Tigers finish the first season 7‑2. The second season ‑ McKinley Week ‑ is now underway,
A school levy and the Bulldogs in the same week is a tough schedule. And it’s going to take a heck of a lot of passing to pull through those two successfully.
First downs rushing 5 4
First downs passing 15 6
First downs by penalty 1 4
Total first downs 21 14
Yards gained rushing 147 75
Yards lost rushing 29 24
Net yards rushing 119 51
Net yards passing 340 158
Total yards gained 466 209
Passes attempted 27 30
Passes completed 17 15
Passes int. by 1 0
Yardage on pass int. 4 0
Times kicked off 7 3
Kickoff average 45.7 36.3
Kickoff return yardage 31 81
Punts 2 8
Punting average 37.0 34.8
Punt return yardage 41 0
Fumbles 5 2
Fumbles lost 3 2
Penalties 5 4
Yards penalized 75 41
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 3 1
Number of plays 52 60
Time of possession 20:37 27:23
Mansfield 0 3 6 0 6
Massillon 7 13 20 0 40
MASS ‑ Greg Grimsley 2 run (Tim Manion kick)
MANS ‑ Jim Bishop 32 FG
MASS ‑ Grimsley 2 run (Manion kick)
MASS ‑ Robert Oliver 24 pass from Rick Spielman (kick failed)
MASS ‑ Oliver 1 run (Manion kick)
MASS Jim Geiser 21 pass from Spielman (kick failed)
MANS ‑ Chris Elswick 22 pass from Jim Bishop (Bishop kick)
MASS ‑ George Roknich 23 pass from Spielman (Greg Radtka kick)