Blunt Registers Only Touchdown
19,500 Fans Pack Stands to See Massillon Capture 34th Straight Victory in Thrilling Football Show At Tiger Stadium
By Luther Emery
Washington high’s victory record of 33 consecutive games, hung in the balance at Tiger Stadium Friday evening while 19,512 fans gasped, but by the narrow margin of six points and six inches, the string was lengthened to 34 at the expense of Weirton, W.Va., and the Tigers congratulated themselves for escaping unscathed.
The six points represent a tremendous effort by the veteran Massillon fullback Fred Blunt when he carried the ball over the Weirton goal from the eight-yard line in the third quarter for the only touchdown of the game and Massillon’s only serious threat. The six inches represent the scant margin by which Weirton missed two touchdown passes in the last minute.
The Great Show
So the Tigers won 6-0, a thrill packed victory that was commensurate with the thrilling performance by the Weirton and Tiger bands that made your spine tingle with patriotism and love for a country in which people of all races and nationalities will rub elbows and rise as one in a salute to America.
You asked for them, and you are going to get them – close scores. There will be no parading out of the gates at the end of the half this year – there was none last night.
Right down to the last five seconds the teams battled and the result hung in the balance to the very last play. Massillon fans were glad to settle for six points, though Coach “Bud” Houghton and his staff had hoped to win by two or three touchdowns, even though they did truly respect the ability of the enemy.
Weirton Passes Just Miss the Mark
Twice in the last minute, once with five seconds remaining to be played, Weirton nearly scored touchdowns. With slightly better passing it would have succeeded, for its men sneaked beyond the Tiger secondary and there was nothing left to stop them.
But Kevie Bray, who played a fine defensive game all evening, leaped high in the air to pull down one of Guido De Veechis’ long passes. Six inches higher and he couldn’t possibly have reached it and it would have been an easy catch for Pete Zinaich, Weir quarterback. Again with only time left to run a play, a pass to Kraina was a bit short. Had he caught it, he too, would have crossed the goal.
It was the first time since the Washington high Tigers’ 6-0 defeat of Canton McKinley in 1935, that Massillon fans have been pulling for the timekeeper to shoot his gun.
Tiger football lovers have been accustomed to seeing the kill in the first quarter, and have turned out in record crowds despite their protests of large scores.
Things will be more interesting from a rivalry standpoint this season, judging from last night’s game, and the stands should be crowded most of the season, with neighbors and opponents bringing their dollars, hoping to be on hand when the Massillon record ends.
But this year’s Tiger team is going to take a lot of hammering before it ever goes down. Last night’s games was the first for 10 members of the starting lineup, and although there were noticeable weaknesses, they were not flaws but what can be corrected with more attention and experience.
There’s the making of a good team there and don’t sell them short. “We learned a lot tonight,” Coach Houghton said after the game, “and we will be out to change things around next week.”
Faults Easy To Correct
Most noticeable was the weakness of the secondary against passes, poor ball handling, partially accountable to uncertain passing from center, and jittery fingers.
The coaches should have no great difficulty overcoming all three and when they do – watch the score mount.
The ball handling caused frequent interruptions in the timing that were just sufficient to throw the offense off balance. Coach Houghton had seen it coming. He expressed the belief as early as Monday that his team was going a bit stale. Apparently it reached its peak a week ago and had been sliding backward since. “That one will do us all a lot of good,” he said.
The Tiger team was under more pressure last night than any eleven in the history of Massillon. It had a record to maintain, a record of 33 consecutive victories that had helped net six straight state championships. It had to perform before the largest opening night crowd in Tiger football history and 10 of the 11 men in uniform had never before started a game.
Teams Gunning for Them
The players knew too that with the loss of 10 of their 1940 starters and their entire coaching staff every team on the schedule would point to overthrow them. These conditions, too, may have been part of the cause for jittery fingers that lost the ball four times on fumbles and slowed the offense with bobbles before the ball carrier could pick up his blockers.
But the Tigers got by last night and beat a toughie, too. A team that lived up to the prediction of being one of the hardest marks on the schedule.
The Red Riders were high for the game. They tackled fiercely and hit hard, and on the admission of their own coach are a vastly improved ball team over that of last year. “We have spirit this year,” said Carl Hamill. “Of course we wanted to win badly and we nearly got our touchdown with those last minutes passes, but we don’t mind losing to you. I think both teams are good teams and are the kind that will improve as the season ages.”
The game produced what the Siegfried and Maginot lines were supposed to do in this second World War. It was a battle between two defensive bulwarks that would smear gains with counter attacks that frequently ended in net losses.
Good Defensive Team
The Tigers in all their championship years never looked better defensively than they did last night save for their forward pass defense. The line charged hard, tackled fiercely and held Weirton to a net gain of 24 yards for its 31 ball carrying attempts.
This line will absorb a lot of beating. It will be to the Tigers what a good pitcher is to a baseball team, and may be able to make up for the deficiencies of the offense.
Guido De Veechis was a good halfback. He was unable to play in the Tiger game last year because of injuries but was picked out at that time by Paul Brown in a scouting trip as the outstanding ball carrier on the Red Rider team. He ran hard and fast but was held to the low average of one yard per ball carrying attempt. Fans feared he might break loose at any moment, and he was just that dangerous, but the Tiger linemen never let him get away.
Weirton’s forward wall was almost as good. The Tigers gained more yards through it, a total of 126 in fact, but the Red Riders were on top of everything, were over-shifting to break up Tiger blocking assignments, were hopping seven men into the line most of the night and were high as a kite.
Weirton didn’t come to Massillon last night just to play a ball game and walk home with a sack full of dough. The Riders were here to win and they came closer to it than any team since New Castle last twisted the Bengal tail in the middle of the 1937 season. To be truthful it was the first time a Massillon team failed to score in the first half since the 1937 New Castle game.
It may have been smart football on the part of individual players but more than likely it was the result of careful planning by Coach Hamill, that the Red Riders appeared to know where the Tigers were moving all the time and what to do about it. The Massillon offense wasn’t new to them. They used virtually the same system themselves, and the fact that both teams were using the same plays may in some way account for the defensive work excelling their offensive efforts.
Bray Save the Day
To Bray, a lean junior assigned the task of backing up the line, goes credit for saving the ball game, for Massillon. Twice he leaped high to intercept Weirton passes within the shadow of his goal that had “touchdown” written all over them.
Early in the game he pulled down one of De Veechis’ passes on the 10-yard line. Had that one connected there’s no telling what the result might have been for it came on the Riders’ first series of plays.
Late in the game he made an even greater interception, after committing the unpardonable mistake of allowing the receiver to get behind him. Bray saved his skin with a leaping catch on the nine-yard line that would have been a sure-fire touchdown for Weirton.
Offensively neither team had anything to crow about. Weirton made three – touchdown bids, and the Tigers one.
The local team had the edge in punting and through two fine boots by Dick Adams, and a defense that seized the advantage, the Tigers worked themselves out of a hole they got into on a fumble by Bob Graber on the third play of the game.
It took a period and a half to do it, but a booming, 49 yarder grounded the pigskin back on the Weir 18-yard line and forced the Riders into their own back yard the rest of the half.
The Tigers never threatened the first half. In fact, if you want to know the cold truth, they only made one first down to Weirton’s three.
Massillon Offense Perks Up
In the second half it was a different story. The Tigers showed improvement from the start of the third period until their offense took on new strength. The blockers hit harder and a well-placed punt by Adams that went out of bounds on the Weir three-yard line put the Riders in a hole. J. Kraino punted out poorly to the 24, but Adams fumbled and Torchip flopped on the ball on his 24. R. Kraino fumbled on the next play, however, and the break this time went to Massillon with Chub Paulik covering the pigskin on the Weir 21. It set up the touchdown. White picked up two yards at left tackle. Adams passed over the goal, but in a second attempt tossed an accurate shot to Fred Cardinal who took the ball on the 15 and advanced to the eight for a first down.
With their backs to the goal, Weirton went into an eight-man line, three backing it up. The ball was snapped to Blunt, the Tigers charged, and right over right guard Pokey raced to pivot and whirl his way for the only touchdown of the game. Adams’ attempted kick for the extra point was blocked. Massillon fans would have felt a lot more comfortable in the closing stages of the game had the kick been successful, for the one point could have meant a lot had Weirton ever got over the Tiger goal.
The Tigers staged one other offensive effort in the last quarter, but only got to the 30-yeard line when Weirton braced and forced them to punt.
Next week the local eleven will face Marblehead, Mass., in Tiger stadium. Tickets for the game are now on sale at the high school ticket office. Marblehead opens its season this afternoon and two Tiger scouts, Jim Hollinger and Tom Evans, Lorin Andrews and Longfellow coaches, will be in the stands for the game.
A Close Shave
Massillon Pos. Weirton
Bray LE Torchip
De Mando RE
Cardinal QB P. Zinaich
Graber LH De Vecchio
White RH J. Kraino
Blunt FB R. Kraino
Score by Periods
Massillon 0 0 6 0 – 6
Substitutions – Massillon Adams lb;
Weirton – Mest,?? g; Zgueski, e; E. Heaton, lb; Bouyoueas, qb; Garan, lb; and Haun, l.
Touchdown – Blunt
Referee – Slutz
Umpire – Gross
Head linesman – Schill
Field judge — Howell