Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo


Showing a decided lack of actual combat experience Washington high school’s orange and black football team Saturday went down to defeat before Akron East 6 to 0 in the opening contest of the 1926 scholastic campaign on Massillon Field. Cold winds and intermittent showers cut down the opening day attendance but the stands were fairly well packed when the rival aggregation took the gridiron for the initial whistle.

Scoring a touchdown late in the second quarter on a series of desperate line plunges after a Massillon fumble had put them within the local team’s 20-yard line Akron East’s gridders annexed the only points scored during the contest and romped off the field with a victory over Coach John H. Atkinson’s warriors. Outside of the time when Akron East scored neither team threatened the others goal line to any serious extent and the game for the most part was devoid of any thrills, both aggregations adhering largely to straight football.

The field was a bit soggy but the footing firm. The rain however, made the ball slippery and hard to handle and a strong wind, driving across the field from the north, made punting difficult for the team which was defending the south goal. Fumbles, blocked punts and penalties worked a hardship upon the inexperienced Massillon eleven, a fumble giving Akron East a chance to score while several 15-yard penalties halted Massillon’s offense on several occasions when it seemed the orange and black was on its way to points.

A defeat is always a bitter pill to swallow but when time is taken out to analyze the Massillon eleven which took the field Saturday against Akron East it can be seen that even in defeat the orange and black gave a good account of itself and displayed enough ability to indicate that it has good possibilities of being drafted into a formidable machine as the season progresses.
The Massillon eleven which made its 1926 debut last Saturday was almost as green in actual playing experience as the grass under its feet. The team took the field with only two veterans from the 1925 aggregation in the lineup. And one of these did not become a regular until the last two games when an eligibility ruling knocked out several backfield stars and gave him a chance.

That player was Art McConnell who directed the team’s offense from the quarterback position. The other veterans, Fritz Gump at left end, acting captain in the absence of Bill Price who is laid up with a broken collar bone; “Whitey” Laughlin, plunging fullback, got into the game for a few minutes but was forced out with a bad knee which he had injured in practice last week.

With the exception of McConnell and Gump the team was made up of reserves from last year or players indulging in their first contest as varsity performers. And their experience weighed heavily against them. They fought gamely enough but fighting ability is not always enough. It was not Saturday.
Had Captain Bill Price been able to be in the game the line undoubtedly would have not wilted under Akron East’s pounding in the second quarter when the touchdown was scored. Price’s fighting spirit and his ability to plug up a hole in a crisis probably would have kept Akron from scoring but Bill, with his arm in a sling, had to watch the game from the bench. And if Laughlin had been at his best and able to stay in the game throughout a different offense also would have resulted.

It was only during those few fatal seconds in the second quarter that the Massillon line wilted. During the rest of the game it out played the Akron forward wall and continually stopped the visiting backfield in its tracks. However, it needs to be more aggressive. What the local team’s offense would have accomplished had its attack not been cut down by penalties is a matter of conjecture.

It showed flashes of power both at line plunging and end running and several times opened up with well executed forward passes. It missed a chance to gain heavily in the fourth quarter when two well hurled passes by McConnell were fumbled by the lads on the receiving end. McConnell also lacked experience in directing the team but Art, having passed through the heat of one battle as field general, should develop rapidly.

A number of McConnell’s punts were blocked Saturday largely because he did not drop far enough behind his line when kicking. The inexperienced Massillon line was not able to hold out the rushing Akron warriors long enough for Art to get his kicks away from a short distance back of the center.
Massillon received to open the contest and from the way it started off it looked like curtains for Akron. One first down was made on an end run and an off tackle buck and the orange and black was driving up the field when a 15-yard penalty took the steam out of its punch. Then McConnell’s punt was blocked and Akron got the ball on Massillon’s 22-yard line. But East couldn’t gain and a field goal failed.

Once again Massillon’s offense started well. McConnell made six and then heaved a pass to Briggs for six more. Two more line plays netted five and then McConnell hurled a pass to Matthews for 26 yards but East stopped the drive by intercepting the next Massillon pass.

The orange and black however held and Akron punted. Again the local team started to travel up the field but a 15-yard penalty again halted the march.

Fumbles began to make their appearance in the second quarter and McConnell fumbled on an end run, Akron covering the ball on Massillon’s 28-yard line. But once again the green Massillon line could not be dented and another attempt by Akron to score through a field goal failed.

Massillon got the ball on its 20-yard line and on the first play fumbled. Crisp, of Akron, plunged on the ball on Massillon’s 17-yard line. Then came Akron’s best offensive of the game.

With Keeney, flashy Akron quarterback and the individual star of the game, smashing through the Massillon line or off tackle Akron carried the ball to the seven-yard line on four plunges. Akron kept hammering the inexperienced Massillon line which was slowly but surely giving ground and three more plays took the ball over, Keeney going through the center of the line for a touchdown. He failed to add the extra point.

Neither team was able to do much in the third quarter but when the final period opened the orange and black, six points behind, started off with a desperate drive that cracked the Akron team wide open. Getting the ball on Massillon’s 32 yard line McConnell and Briggs smashed through tackle and around the ends for three first downs in a row. It looked like the Massillon march could not be halted but a penalty had to bob up and a 15-yard loss stopped the rush.

However, the orange and black got a break in luck but it could not take advantage of it. When McConnell punted an Akron man held Gump while the ball was in mid air and the oval was given to Massillon on Akron’s 28-yard line where the penalty occurred. But by this time Akron had regained its breath and held the Massillon backs, getting the ball after Massillon failed to make the required yardage in four plays.

A short time later McConnell opened up with passes but Smith and Briggs fumbled two well heaved passes. Either one of them would have enabled Massillon to get deep into Akron territory. As the game ended Akron was once more hammering away at the Massillon line and had worked the ball within the Massillon 30-yard line.

Although defeated, Massillon out played its Akron rival. The local team made eight first downs to six for Akron and completed three passes while Akron completed but one. Three of Massillon’s passes were grounded while Akron intercepted on. Akron only tried three forwards.
Erie Is Next
Massillon – 0 Pos. Akron East – 6
Gump LE Porosky
Ott LT Bell
Spencer LG Crisp
Potts C Wilson
Price RG Bergey
Benson RT Growden
Fulton RE Morgan
McConnell QB Keeney
Matthews LHB Coudriet
Briggs RHB Thomas
Foster FB Johnson

Score by quarters:
Massillon 0 0 0 0 0
Akron East 0 6 0 0 6

Massillon – Laughlin for Foster, Smith for Matthews, Foster for Laughlin, Carroll for Benson, Bickel for Briggs.

Akron East – Averitte for Porosky, Leibowitz for Johnson, Porosky for Averitte.

Touchdown – Keeney.

Referee – Maurer.
Umpire – Jenkins.
Head Linesman – Tompkinson

Time of quarters – 12 minutes.

Bill Price