Tigers breeze past Mansfield 37‑14
Preliminaries’ over as Massillon coasts 37‑14
By MIKE HUDAK
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ “Everything up to this point has just been a preliminary drill for next week,” said Massillon head coach Mike Currence. “Next week’s Massillon McKinley game is … well, it’s the season.”
Not only the season, but the final roadblock to a perfect 10‑0 regular slate and a sure trip to the post‑season playoffs.
Friday night’s game against Mansfield Senior at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium indeed amounted to a drill, and for the invading Mansfield Senior Tygers, a drilling.
The final 37‑14 score was hardly indicative of the one‑sided nature of the contest. As the visiting scribe from Mansfield pointed out, the Tygers may have had a 6‑2 record, but their victims had amassed only 10 wins among them going into Friday night.
It was obvious within seconds that this wasn’t going to be a repeat of 1949, when Mansfield, coached by 1945 wartime Tiger coach Augie Morningstar, defeated mighty Massillon 16‑12. (Making Morningstar the only former Tiger coach to ever defeat his old team.)
Massillon recovered an opening on‑side kick attempt on its own 30 after it squibbed through the first two lines of the Massillon specialty unit.
On the first play, Chris Spielman broke off a 15‑yard run through the right side of the Mansfield fine. On the second play, Jim Bushe went through the left side and raced 55 yards for a touchdown, with 11:18 still showing on the clock. Bronc Pfisterer who enjoyed a big night of his own ‑ added the extra point and, the rout was on.
Mansfield promptly used the famous “Cha‑Cha Offense” ‑ one, two, three, kick ‑ and this time the Tigers used the airwaves to score, moving 67 yards in five plays.
Quarterback Brian DeWitz started the drive with passes of 25 and 12 yards to fullback Tom Gruno. On the following play, Gary Conley turned the defensive back around in the end zone but couldn’t contain the ball. But after a short running play, DeWitz tossed a short pass over the middle to Bushe, who glided through the defense for a 25‑yard score. After the kick, Massillon led 14‑0 with 7:37 remaining in the quarter.
After forcing another Mansfield punt, the Tigers tried to be charitable as Spielman failed to see a teammates’ fair catch signal and fumbled the kick away. But Mansfield tried to pass on first down, only to have it picked off by Tommy Manion and returned to the Massillon 35.
The Tigers scored in four plays this time. A 24‑yard pass from DeWitz to Conley set up the ball at the six, with Spielman breaking through the line for the score on the next play. Pfisterer’s kick again split the uprights, and Massillon led 21‑0 in the first quarter.
It stayed that way until early in the second quarter ‑ a point of time which also marked the first trickle of a never‑ending flow of Tiger reserves for the remainder of the game.
Senior Jeff Boerner set up the next Tiger tally with a 30 yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and finished the drive with an eight‑yard burst up the middle with 9:50 left in the half.
The Tigers’ next possession saw Brad Offenbecher at the controls. Massillon started on its own 25‑yardline and marched all the way to Mansfield’s two before settling on a 20‑yard Pfisterer field goal, making the score 31‑0.
Pfisterer’s kick set a Tiger record for field goals in a season, four. The previous mark was three held by five former Tigers, including Tim Manion last year.
The half ended with a Spielman interception which he almost returned for a touchdown.
At halftime, the Tigers held a 341‑54 advantage in total yards, including 102 yards in the air, all in the first quarter and the reserves had already played half a period!
Tygers learn ‘y’ Tigers 9‑0
Mansfield was able to rack up some yardage in the second half as the Tiger youngsters gained valuable experience for the future. The visitors scored on their first possession of the quarter as a 43‑yard run by Pete Webb set up a 10‑yard scoring run by Bobby Taylor, with quarterback Craig Leedham’s kick good.
But the Tigers came right back again with Pfisterer, a junior, at the controls, and he provided one of the night’s most spectacular moments.
After a flurry of penalty flags, the Tigers found themselves in a third‑and‑30 situation on the Mansfield 36. Hopeless? Not for Massillon!
Pfisterer hit Boerner with a screen pass, and the fleet running back raced through the defense for the final Tiger touchdown with 10:38 left in the game.
It was a big night for Boerner, who led Tiger rushers with 97 yards in 10 carries, plus made the big touchdown catch.
“That was the most playing time I’ve gotten yet,” he said afterwards. “The running play that I had success running was the counter‑6 and counter‑7 play; it seemed to work every time. It all boiled down to our line just blowing out their line.” (But give Boerner an inch of daylight, and he has the raw speed to cover quite a distance quickly, which he proved more than once Friday.)
In the end, Massillon outgained Mansfield 477‑221 in total yardage. Boerner’s rushing totals were tops, but Bushe and Spielman both helped their averages, as Bushe ran three times for 68 yards and Spielman toted the leather four times for 46 yards. Junior Mark Smith added 65 yards in seven carries. Vernon Hairston led Mansfield with 64 yards in 16 carries.
DeWitz was five‑of‑seven passing for 102 yards, giving him 68 completions on the ‘Year, just one short of fifth place on the all‑time Tiger single‑season completion list behind Chris’ older brother, Rick Spielman. The receiving was spread out as Tom Grotto caught two passes for 44 yards, and seven other receivers caught one each.
“Mansfield’s not quite as tough as some of our other foes, but they put up a good fight,” said a generous Currence afterwards.
“Massillon’s just a first class outfit, what can you say?” said second‑year Mansfield coach Harold Dean. “They’re just a good, good team. About the best you can say for us is that we didn’t quit the second half; we kept plugging away.”
Needless to say, next Saturday’s contest will have a bit more intensity than Friday’s “controlled scrimmage”.
First downs rushing 13 9
First downs passing 7 2
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 20 12
Yards gained rushing 314 204
Yards lost rushing 10 13
Net yards rushing 304 191
Net yard. Passing 173 30
Total yards gained 477 221
Passes attempted 13 11
Passes completed 8 4
Passes int. by 2 0
Yardage on pass int. 49 0
Time. kicked if 7 3
Kickoff average 49.4 33.7
Kickoff return yards 25 137
Punts 1 6
Punting average 30.0 27.3
Pont return yard 28 0
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumble 3 4
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 6 3
Yards penalized 80 15
Touchdowns rushing 3 1
Touchdowns passing 2 1
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 52 45
Time of possession 23:32 24:28
Massillon 21 10 0 6 37
Mansfield 0 0 7 7 14
M ‑ Bushe 55‑yard on (Pfisterer kick)
M ‑ Bushe 25‑yard pass from DeWitz (Fosterer kick)
M ‑ Spielman 6‑yard ran (Pfisterer kick)
M ‑ Boerner 8‑yard ran (Pfisterer kick)
M ‑ Pfisterer 20‑yard field goal
Mn ‑ Taylor 10‑yard run (Leedom kick)
M ‑ Boerner 35‑yard pass from Pfisterer (kick failed)
Me ‑ Webb 25‑yard pass from Leedom (Leedom kick)