Tigers Blast Bulldogs 6- And Claim State Title
Massillon Gridders Battle Big Canton Team To Standstill
By LUTHER EMERY
Massillon today hailed the Washington high school champions of Ohio as fans still recounted and praised the deed of the gallant orange and black team in its 6-0 victory over Canton McKinley at Fawcett stadium Saturday afternoon in what was one of the most bitter and hardest fought contests in the 55-year-old series.
Fifty-four games have been played since the schools first met in 1894 and the Tigers’ triumph Saturday whittled the McKinley advantage for the series to one game. Massillon has now won 24, Canton 25, while five ended in tie scores.
“Still champs!” were the words chanted by Tiger supporters as they milled around the stadium after the game and headed for Massillon in what seemed to be an endless horn blowing parade.
The defensive battle – a direct opposite of the offensive duel the teams were expected to wage – was marked by hard play from the opening kickoff until the final gun.
No one was certain of victory until the final gun sounded.
Tiger fans nervously watched the seconds, which seemed like hours, being ticked off by the clock, wondering if the Tigers could preserve the six-point lead they had gained in the third quarter.
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CANTONIANS were under the same tension, only the clock seemed to be moving too fast for them as each second meant less time for their Bulldogs to catch up with the Tigers. The Bulldogs never did, and as hearts pounded like tom-toms in accompaniment to the heat of battle, the gun sounded, ending hostilities and signaling an outburst of enthusiasm such as only a traditional rivalry of this kind can develop.
Fans leaped the walls and made a race for players, hoisting them to their shoulders. Other members of the team grabbed Coach Chuck Mather and carried him out. The parade of victory had started and the locker room rang with enthusiasm as fans swarmed in to extend greetings.
The Tigers deserved all honors heaped upon them for they had just conquered a heavier opponent and had in the eyes of Massillonians and most sports writers present retained the state championship that was voted them after their 21-12 defeat of the Bulldogs in 1948.
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EVERY MEMBER of the squad shared in the glory, but Irvin “Ace” Crable, was given the biggest pat on the back for having scored the only touchdown of the game and for having prevented a Canton McKinley touchdown with a hard driving tackle that caused Louis Mariano, the Bulldog ace, to fumble on the four-yard line where End Don Slicker promptly pounced on the ball for Massillon.
It was the Bulldogs’ only threat of the game, but would have meant a tie score or possibly a Canton victory had Crable not caught the hard running Canton halfback.
In scoring the only touchdown, Crable set some sort of a record for himself for he was the only Tiger to cross the goal line a year ago. He scored all three of Massillon’s touchdowns in the 1948 finale.
Congratulated after the game “Ace” modestly replied, “I couldn’t have done it without the help of the other 10 guys.”
The touchdown came like a bolt out of the blue. Somehow or other Massillon fans felt that sooner or later one of their backs would break through – they had come close so many times, with just a tick by one Canton player stopping what would have been long touchdown runs. But the hopeful fans feared for the worst for there seemed to be one Bulldog always left to get the ball carrier when a runner was on the loose.
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THE PAYOFF came on the 35-yard line with fourth down coming up and three yards needed for a first down. The play was called by Quarterback Don James as the Tigers elected to carry the ball instead of punt. It was handed off to Crable who shot through his left tackle and streaked for the north sideline. Don Slicker threw the key block on Don Killins of McKinley and not a hand was laid on Crable as he raced for pay dirt with the roar of 23,000 fans ringing in his ears.
Then came the try for the extra point. It was won and lost Canton games on occasions in past years and older Massillon fans, remembering these one point decisions, were apprehensive when the wind blew Jerry Krisher’s boot wide of the cross bars. It was a good kick. The ball had started out all right but insufficient allowance had been made for the strong gale.
It was only the middle of the third quarter and few folks had expected the six points to stand, but they got bigger and bigger as the game grew older and stood imposingly on the score board as the second hand completed its last circuit.
The Bulldogs, in fact, never made a serious threat to tie the score. Only once did they get over the 50-yard line, thereafter a fourth period effort moving the ball to the 38 where the Tigers braced, threw them backward and forced them to punt with six and one-half minutes remaining to be played.
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THOSE LAST six and one-half minutes were the ones that seemed like time eternal.
The Tigers took Palumbo’s short punt on their 27 and marched the ball up the field with Don James tossing to Don Slicker for a first down on his 38 and Jacobs fumbling forward and recovering for another first down on his 49. The Tigers charged forth to what would have been another first only Gene Laps was charged with holding and a 15-yard penalty set them backward. Even so Crable nearly got away on a fake kick, the last man again getting him. Jacobs, with a minute and 50 seconds of the game left, was forced to punt. Rogers returned the ball 10 yards to his 25. The Bulldogs moved forward to a first down on their 41, smartly running the ball out of bounds each time to stop the clock.
They had a minute left now. Quarterback John Rogers tried a pass to Killins that Slicker knocked down. Fifty-five seconds remained. The Canton quarterback tossed a screen pass to End Elijah Lipkins that gained three yards and he ran out of bounds to stop the clock with 34 seconds left to play. Rogers threw another pass that Joe Gleason knocked down and the clock showed 30 seconds to play and fourth down coming up.
In another desperation pass, Rogers tried to hit Killins again, but Slicker tipped the ball and Jacobs cutting over, caught it and brought it to midfield. It was all over for McKinley for only 15 seconds were left, and James following out the orders of Coach Mather took the pass from center, held it and kept backing up until the gun sounded, ending the game.
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WHEN THE FIRING was over, the Tigers, much to the surprise of fans, were the stronger team. Canton, heavier and deeper in reserve strength was expected to wear down the Tiger Massillon team, but the Bulldogs were getting up slower than the local boys after fourth period scrimmages, with one or two being injured on almost every play.
None was seriously hurt, however. In fact, Jim Reichenbach, Tiger guard, possibly received the hardest blow of anyone, a rap on the head early in the game. He did not regain his senses until near the end of the contest, sitting out the greater part of the last three periods on the bench and in the locker room.
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WHIILE the Bulldogs only got by the 35-yard line once during the game, the Tigers were playing in Canton territory much of the time. They crossed the midfield stripe twice in the first quarter but didn’t get far. Early in the second quarter, however, they marched to the 19 where Jacobs missed getting a first down by inches and Canton took over.
At this point the Bulldogs launched their only prolonged drive of the day, as they reeled off four first downs in a row before Mariano shook himself loose for the 18-yard jaunt that left only Crable between him and the goal line. His fumble of the ball when tackled viciously by Ace, ended the threat and before the quarter was over the Tigers had again carried the ball over the 50 and were down to the 25-yard line on a first down when a desperation pass with 32 seconds left was intercepted by Don Killins in the end zone.
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THE MASSILLON gridders took the kickoff at the start of the second half and starting from their 25, whereas Jacobs almost got away, marched to the Canton 25 where Crable lost the ball on a fumble with what appeared to be a clear field ahead of him. Petroff covered for Canton.
Jim Schumacher covered a Bulldog fumble on his own 46 that set off the Tigers’ touchdown drive. Johnson toured left end for seven yards and Jacobs made it a first down around right end on the Canton 42. Jacobs went for three and Johnson raced well for a first down only to have the ball called back and the Tigers penalized five for offside. Johnson and Jacobs gained nine yards and with the ball on the 35 and fourth down coming up with three to go, Crable broke through for the touchdown.
The Tigers got into Bulldog territory once in the fourth quarter but were stopped on a
15-yard penalty holding and forced to punt.
But while the Tiger offense was reeling off a net gain of 279 yards the teams’ defense was surprising everyone by holding the Bulldogs in check and limiting them to the net sum of 166 yards, fewer than most of the locals’ opponents registered during the season.
Coach Mather and staff devoted considerable time to their land and air defenses and both proved successful. A big hunk of credit should be given to the three line backers, Dick Shine, Ray Lane and Joe Gleason, who worked behind the forward wall composed mostly of Don Studer, Jerry Krisher, Jim Reichenbach, Jim Schumacher and Clarence Johnson. When Reichenbach was injured in the first half of the contest, Leland Stanford replaced him.
Slicker, teaming in the secondary with Crable and Jacobs, did a good job on pass protection, with the latter two each intercepting a Canton pass to take the ball away from the Bulldogs.
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MATHER USED only a few substitutes. Aside from his usual exchange on defense, Mike Turkal and Glenn Tunning got a shot at defense, and little Gene Laps took over for the injured Reichenbach and did a whale of a job bumping the heavier Bulldogs out of the way.
The locals came up with several new plays, including a flake kick and a delayed trap with Crable carrying the ball, and a pass by Johnson off a reverse, all of which worked for sizeable gains. They only attempted six passes, completed three and had two intercepted.
As shown by the statistics they beat the Bulldogs at almost every turn, making 14 first downs to eight, out gaining them both on the land and in the air, and had a slightly better average for punting, 34 yards to 32 yards, for their two punts. The Bulldogs punted six times.
They held Canton’s two offensive starts, Mariano, and Sam Parks, well in check. Mariano got away to a couple of 18-yard runs but his average for the day was 5.7 while that of Parks was only 2.3.
Leading ground gainer, of course was Crable who averaged 8.5 yards per try and made one beautiful 32-yard return of a punt in which he reversed his field to outrun every Cantonian save Rogers who made the tackle. Crable carried the ball 16 times, while Jacobs had it 19 times and averaged 4.2 yards per try. His best run came on a 34-yard jaunt, the first time he carried the ball. Johnson had a five-yard average for the five times he carried the ball. It would have been much better, except that twice he had good gains called back because of offside penalties. James carried the ball on a quarterback play, the first time it was tried this season, and gained five yards. He also took it on the last play of the game, to finish with an average of two yards.
The start of the game was delayed for several minutes when Coach Mather got into an argument with officials over the coin toss. The officials grabbed off Massillon co-captains and held the toss without Mather’s knowledge. Canton won the toss and chose to receive. The Tiger co-captains forgetting about the high wind, chose to defend the west goal because they considered the east goal their lucky goal line. As a result the Bulldogs had all the advantage at the start, receiving with Massillon kicking into the wind. Krisher saved the day by getting off a booming kick and Mariano helped out by fumbling the ball long enough to enable the Massillon backs to get down and nail him to the turf without a return.
As it turned out, it was all right for the Tigers had the wind to their backs at the end of the game. But Mather still argued the officials were wrong for holding the coin toss without saying anything about it to him or without asking him who was his captain. He naturally would have advised his captains to defend the east goal and kick with the wind.
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THE TIGER victory spoiled another possible undefeated record for McKinley’s coach Bup Rearick but with nine victories and a loss he still has possibly the best record of any high school coach in the state over his period of coaching years.
Bup has only lost one game a year since taking the gridiron helm at McKinley.
Canton missed a possible undefeated season by one tackle and that of Irvin Crable and yet on the same last man tackle basis, the Tigers could just as well have won by three or four touchdowns – considering the number of times local ball carriers were felled by the last Bulldog between the runner and the goal line.
Massillon Tigers proclaimed this year’s Canton team as the toughest aggregation they faced all season. “No doubt about it,” local players commented in the dressing room after the game. The thought Parks and Mariano to be hard runners and were particularly complimentary to the hard play of Henry Palombo, Ernest Ghezzi and Tom Weber, Canton linemen.
ENDS – SLICKER, GLEANSON, Studer.
TACKLES – KRISHER, SCHUMACHER, Tunning, Stanford.
GUARDS – SHINE, REICHENBACH, Laps.
CENTERS – PATT, Turkal, Vliet.
QUARTERBACK – JAMES.
HALFBACKS – JACOBS, JOHNSON, Lane, Grier.
FULLBACK – CRABLE.
ENDS –KILLINS, LIPKINS, Mozzacco.
TACKLES –GHEZZI, WEBER.
GUARDS – PALOMBO, JIM KOSTAS, John Kostas, Gelal, Wildes.
CENTER – PETROFF.
QUARTERBACKS – ROGERS.
HALFBACKS – PARKS, MARIANO, Popoff.
FULLBACKS – STOSIC.
Score by periods:
Massillon 0 0 6 0 6
Massillon – Crable.
Referee – Brubaker.
Umpire – Russ.
Field Judge – Lindsay.
Head Linesman – McPhee.
Statistics Of The Game
First downs 14 8
Passes attempted 6 10
Passes completed 3 4
Had passes intercepted 2 2
Yards gained passing 49 45
Yards gained rushing 274 150
Total yards gained 323 195
Yards lost passing 7 0
Yards lost rushing 28 29
Yards lost punting 9 0
Total yards lost 44 29
Net gain offense 279 166
Times punted 2 6
Average punt (yards) 34 32
Yards punts returned by 49 21
Times kicked off 2 1
Average kickoff 43 57
Yards kickoffs returned by 22 1
Fumbles 4 2
Lost ball on fumbles 2 2
Times penalized 4 5
Yards penalized 30 33