Coach Ralph “Hap” Fugate
1909 – 1911 [Won 19, Lost 8, Tied 3]
The Beginning of the Massillon Tiger Football Tradition
Massillon High School football started in 1894, and the first official team was organized in 1904. The Tigers played their games at a number of locations including the old North School, the Driving Park, Agathon Field, Jones school, and Massillon Field. The first winning season for the Tigers came in 1909, with nine victories and a scoreless tie with Akron Central. This team played under the first recognized coach for the Tigers, Ralph “Hap” Fugate. Fugate coached the 1909, 1910 and 1911 seasons and had a record of 19 wins, 8 loses, and 3 ties.
Happy Fugate, late of Salem, and later of Canal Dover, came to Massillon under the divine guidance of some favorable constellation. He has done several things during his short but eventful career, one of which has been to play football. Sometime before the flood he used to represent Salem high school on the gridiron, but tiring of academic toils he cast his lot with the cold world. He confesses he hasn’t played in a real serious game of football since the five-yard rule went out of business, but prior to that time he picked up the game by various and sundry experiences with Salem’s professional team and others. Not more than several dozen months ago he went to Dover, learned a bunch of Wightman’s best, and then hit the pike for Massillon to revolutionize the world. He said, “Now, if you fellows want me to come up here every night and coach this team, I’ll come, and if you don’t want me you can say so and I’ll get out.” He stuck. He looked over the situation, manufactured the choicest lot of plays ever seen in this neck of the woods, picked the stars out of the subs and shifted the lineup to consummate perfection. He stayed to the end, and through it all he was not a coach or a trainer, but one of the fellows. And when the big “M’s” and the sub “M’s” had been given out and honors passed and the manager called him up before the assemblage and handed him a little wad of fifty bucks he said that was the least he got out of it.
Coach Fugate was presented a purse of $50 at the assembly following the 1909 season
The school team of 1909 claimed the championship of northwestern Ohio, winning all its games but one – a tie game with Akron Central High School. That team was one of the first self-supporting Massillon High School football teams, and even turned some money into the school treasury!
Ralph "Hap" Fugate - Massillon Record