Tigers hang tough for 14-6 win
Massillon dominates kicking game to give Maronto first victory
By STEVE DOERSCRUK
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Nobody with better than better than 20‑20 vision is ready to call them The Big Orange Machine yet, but hey, the Tigers weren’t bad Friday night.
Not great, no sir. Better than they were in the scrimmages? The difference was as pronounced as that between the Saints and the 49ers.
“The main thing is that it goes in the column on the left,” said John Maronto, the new head coach of the Massillon Tigers, who seemed as happy be could be with his boys’ 14‑6 victory over Akron North before 9,933 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
OK, so it got scary.
It was nervous time when the Vikings, trailing by that 14‑6 score, hooked up on a 15‑yard pass that gave them a first down on the 15-yard that gave them a first down on the 15-yard line with three minutes to go.
And it got hairy when Troy Campbell, the North quarterback, pitched a pass inside the 10 that hit Dan Boyes in the hands, then caromed toward the hands of another North receiver, Dan Boyes.
But the pass pinballed off Boyes’ mitts, too, and Jerrod Vance, a Tiger inside linebacker, picked it out of the air, returned it to the 20, and brought a giant, happy sigh out of the west stands.
It was a win, and it came against a pretty good team in a pretty tough situation, that of a team which was unsure of itself in the scrimmages and was adjusting to a new head coach whose system is all new.
“We weren’t mentally up for the scrimmages,” said Mark Harder, a senior linebacker. “But this week, we had some super practices, and everybody was real psyched for tonight.
“Last night, Coach Maronto told everybody on the team to close their eyes and think about the game. It got us in a good frame of mind.”
One thing that promoted PMA (positive mental attitude) Friday was GFP ‑ that’s good field position.
Akron North outgained the Tigers 192‑191 in total yardage, but the Tigers’ superior field position on their offensive drives made it appear that they dominated the game.
What they really dominated was the kicking game.
Mike Norris’ kickoffs were out of this world … almost out of the end zone. Ken Hawkins, a 6‑foot‑6 junior punter physique made in heaven, punted well.
But the Tigers’ kick coverage teams played … well, they were the difference.
They staged swarming rushes on North punter Jim Bouhner, who also had to deal with a rash of bad snaps from two different centers, both new on the job this year.
Field position and the kicking game figured in both Massillon touchdowns, both in the second quarter.
The touchdown drives started at the 34‑ and the 1‑yard lines.
The 34‑yard drive started after a punt which Wes Siegenthaler returned 33 yards for an apparent touchdown. It was called back because of clipping. The Tigers scored anyway, with junior tailback Michael Harris going in from the 2 at the end of a sever‑play surge.
Norris boomed the ensuing kickoff and the Vikings started from their 20 after a touchback. They stalled and had to punt, and when the snap sailed over Bouhner’s head he ran back, picked it up and tried to kick it, but Hoagy Pfisterer stormed in to block the attempt.
The ball squirted backward. Bouhner stumbled as he arrived at the ball, which squirted inches into the end zone. His body was sprawled at the 1, and he made the mistake of pulling the ball out of the end zone and cradling it in as Pfisterer piled on top of him.
Instead of North taking a safety, the Tigers had the ball at first and goal, a few inches from a score.
Quarterback Paul Fabianich sneaked in on the first play. Norris’ conversion kick, a dandy that sailed over the end zone seats, made it 14‑0 2:08 before halftime.
Then North came up with a drive that kept the game suspenseful until the end.
Lawrence Moore, the major college prospect who is North’s tailback, broke loose on a 51‑yard run. It set up a North touchdown on the last play of the half, a five‑yard pass from Campbell, who was falling out of bounds as he threw, to Moore.
North tried to heighten the stun factor by faking a kick and going for two on the conversion, but a pass to Moore fell incomplete.
The only serious scoring threat of the second half was the one ending with Vance’s interception.
It was a happy ending for Maronto, the 42‑year‑old coach who pulled up stakes after 11 years at De La Salle High School near Detroit.
“I didn’t really feel that different on the sidelines,” Maronto said, “Coaching is coaching, and it always feels great to win.
“This is a great community. The support from everyone, teachers, community members, administration and students, is tremendous.”
Maronto’s evaluation of his team’s first game?
“We started from day one working to refine two things that can win for us, defense and the kicking game,” he said. “I think you saw some of the fruits of that tonight.
“I realize that it would take our offense a lot of time. But it’ll be there.
“Credit our defense, and the coaches … Brandon Oliver, Jim Letcavits, Tyrone Partridge, Butch Hose, Mike James. They had it ready.
“Our defense was physically tough. They just played one heckuva game.”
Moore gave the Tigers the most trouble. The 5-10, 185‑pound senior rushed 18 times for 120 yards, accounting for all but 72 of his team’s yards.
“Lawrence is the best back in the area,” North coach Charley Marquess said. “I don’t think anyone else can compare.”
Harris led the Tiger ground gainers with 67 yards in 13 carries. Fullback Derick Newman was the workhorse, rushing 16 times and gaining 50 yards.
Tiger quarterback Paul Fabianich was broken in slowly in terms of passing. He threw the ball only six times, completing three for 26 yards.
Six passes is believed to be the lowest number in a game for the Tigers in the last 10 years, dating all the way back through Mike Currence’s run‑and‑shoot offense.
Marquess was as impressed with the Tigers as he was with Moore.
“I can’t pick out any weakness that they have,” he said. “They played well. They played enthusiastically.
“We had problems on our snaps, but what are you going to do? Those kids tried. Generally, our kids answered the bell pretty well today, ”
Field Position? The Tigers’ first-half possessions started on their own 28, North’s 12 (ending on down’s at the 2), their own 48 (ending on downs at the 8), North’s 34 and North’s 1.
A win in hand, the Tigers begin preparing for next Friday’s game against Akron Garfield.
“Garfield has beaten us twice in a row,” Maronto said. “We’ll work on changing that.”
Winning start for new coach
By Roland Queen
Beacon Journal staff writer
Massillon’s first‑year coach John Maronto paced the sidelines like a caged tiger Friday night just before the opening kickoff at his new home, Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
He looked nervous about his first day on the job before the 9,933 Tigers fans who showed up for the unveiling of the Maronto Era at tradition‑rich Massillon.
“No, I wasn’t nervous at all,” Maronto said. “I was just anxious to get going so I could find out more about ourselves.”
Maronto found out his team’s defense was good enough to lead the Tigers to a 14‑6 victory over the visiting North Vikings and their exciting tailback, Lawrence Moore.
“From Day One I said that for us to win we needed a good defense and kicking game,” Maronto said. “We realized that tile offense would take a little time to come around. But that’s how you win early in the season.”
The Tigers couldn’t hold Moore completely in check. He led all rashers with 120 yards on 18 carries, including a 51‑yard run in the second quarter that set up North’s only touchdown.
However, Moore got 87 of his yards in the first half. He was contained better by the Tigers in the second half.
“Our defense was just physically tough,” said Maronto. “They played one beck of a football game.”
North also came up with a spirited defensive effort. Three times in the first half the Vikings held Massillon on downs deep in North territory, once at the 3‑yard line.
The first quarter was scoreless. But Massillon finally broke through in the second quarter after a 19‑yard punt by North’s Jerry Dixon, who was victimized four times by high snaps that threw off his timing.
Massillon took the ball on the North 34 and scored in seven plays, the touchdown coming on a 3‑yard run by junior Mike Harris, Mike Norris’ extra point made it 7-0.
Massillon held North on the next series. This time, Dixon set up to punt from his 29. But the snap sailed over his head and before he could recover, he was buried at the 1.
Massillon quarterback Paul Fabianich scored on a sneak and Norris’ kick made it 14‑0 with 2:08 left before halftime.
It again appeared that North would be bottled up in its end, but on third‑and‑4 from the North 24, Moore cut back against the grain and rambled 51 yards to the Massillon 25. From there, it took the Vikings five plays before quarterback Troy Campbell hit Moore in the back of the end zone with a 5‑yard scoring pass on the final play of the half. That turned out to be the final score of the game.
The second half was a defensive struggle, although North, drove to the Massillon 15 late in the fourth period before a pass from Campbell ricocheted off two of his receivers and into the hands of Massillon’s Jerod Vance.
North coach Charlie Marquess said his team had an uphill fight the whole first half because Massillon dominated the field position.
“If you give a team like Massillon enough chances inside your 30, they’re going to score. They definitely capitalized on our mistakes.”
But Marquess managed a smile when Moore’s name was mentioned.
“Lawrence Moore has got to be the best back in the area this year,” Marquess said. “I don’t think anybody can compare to him.”
The final statistics reflected how even the game was ‑ minus a fumble, interception and the bad snaps on punts by North. The Vikings won the yardage 192-191.
AKRON NORTH 6
First downs rushing 9 5
First downs passing 2 2
First downs by penalty 1 2
Total first downs 12 9
Yards gained rushing 174 169
Yards lost rushing 9 18
Net yards rushing 165 151
Net yards passing 26 41
Total yards gained 191 192
Passes attempted 6 9
Passes completed 3 4
Passes int. by 1 1
Times kicked off 3 1
Kickoff average 56.3 52.0
Kickoff return yards 20 29
Punts 2 6
Punting average 39.0 18.7
Punt return yards 25 1
Punts blocked by 2 0
Fumbles 1 2
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 4 6
Yards penalized 41 29
Touchdowns rushing 2 0
Touchdowns passing 0 1
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 54 42
Time of possession 23:44 24:16
NORTH 0 6 0 0 6
MASSILLON 0 14 0 0 14
M ‑ Michael Harris 2 run (Mike Norris kick)
M Paul Fabianich 1 run (Norris Rick)
N ‑ Lawrence Moore 5 pass from Troy Campbell (pass failed)