Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Winning Tigers Replace Niles On ‘Cloud 9’

Record 28,169 Watch 48-Game Streak End


Cloud 9, the nimbus heaven reserved for great moments, lost its most recent occupant today as the Massillon Tigers began preparing for Friday’s game against the Mansfield Tygers at Mansfield.

The Tigers reached the heights Saturday night in defeating Niles McKinley 14-8 at the Akron Rubber bowl. Massillon came from behind to dump last years state champions and snap a Red Dragon 48-game undefeated streak started in 1959.

The crowd, a record 28,169 attendance for a high school game, sat throughout a tense and bruising battle and watched as Niles threatened to tie and possibly go ahead with 2:21 remaining. But the Tigers held, and again lived up to a rich and proud tradition of being the best in Ohio schoolboy football.

“I’ve seen it so many times before,” said a visiting newspaperman, well-acquainted with the Tigers. “Your boys come up to the BIG game with poise and confidence, no matter how much of an underdog they happen to be.”

And the 1964 Tigers had plenty of both as they halted the Niles streak that threatened to beak the 52-game undefeated streak compiled by Massillon in the late 30’s and early 40’s.


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BOTH TEAMS had the ball twice in the first quarter with the Tigers losing it the first time on a fumble at the Niles 28. Niles was unable to move the ball past its 38 and punted to the Massillon 33. The Tigers, who wound up with a minus 2 yards in the first quarter, booted out to the 32 after failing to make a first down.

Niles took possession of the ball and started a 15-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that extended into the second quarter. With Mel Dixon and Cee Ellison, the 215-pound, honorable-mention All-Ohioan fullback carrying and quarterback George Infante connecting with passes of 16 and 11 yards to Dixon and McQueen, respectively, Niles moved to the Massillon 6 at the end of the first quarter.

Ellison cracked the Tiger line for 3 yards and tried a second time for no gain. Dixon then took the ball to a foot from the goal line. With fourth and inches to go Ellison went over his left guard to score for Niles with the clock showing 10:12 in the second quarter. Ellison ran the 2 points on a pitchout around his right end, shaking off a neck tackle, to make the score 8-0 in Niles’ favor.

Massillon took the kickoff on its 15 and Dave Sheegog, junior, quarterback, ran it back to the 38. Ed Herring advanced it 3 yards to the 41, Jim Lawrence, who rejoined the team last week, moved the ball another 3 to the 44. Halfback Bob Hewitt picked up another 3 but the Tigers were forced to punt. While the series of plays did not gain much yardage it was important in one phase. The Tiger backfield found its timing, something it lacked in its first game against Cleveland East. Kanner punted to the 30 to end the drive.

Niles picked up a first down in 3 plays and then got 2 more on the ground before Infante had 2 incomplete passes with safety-man John Frieg breaking up the second. Infante, punted to the Massillon 28 from where Sheegog ran it back to the 39, and the Tigers were on their way.


KANNER THREW a quick 13-yard pass to end Rick Paige for a first down on the Niles 48. Herring slashed into the Niles line for 7 yards to the 41and Hewitt picked up 3 more to the 38 for the first down.

On the next play, Lawrence started wide around his left end, evaded 2 Niles tacklers at the line of scrimmage and set sail down the sidelines for a 38-yard touchdown run. The last Niles defender was cleared out of the way at the 2 by a jolting block thrown by 160-pound guard Tom Whitfield. Hewitt picked up the 2 extra points over his right side to tie the score at 8-all with 2:52 remaining.

Massillon’s Dave Paul booted to the 12 and Niles brought the ball out to the 25. The Dragons picked up a yard as the Massillon defense held on. With second and 9, Ellison started around the Tiger left end. Wes Goodnough grabbed onto the big fullback’s elbows and as more Tigers hit him Ellison fumbled and the ball bounced loose on the 27 where linebacker John Muhlback and safety John Frieg recovered.

A quick pass to Paige from Kanner for 5 yards. Lawrence hit into the line for a first down on the 16. Kanner then found Paige all alone in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. A run for the extra points by Herring was short and the Tigers were ahead 14-8 with 59 seconds in the half.

The third quarter found both teams shoving each other between the 30-yard lines. Massillon fans had a few anxious moments when the Tigers went for a 4th and 1 situation on their own 47 and failed to make the yard. Niles tried 3 straight passes and all were incomplete. A short kick gave Niles the ball on their own 44 after the Tigers failed to move. Halfback Phil Ziegler picked down with an 8-yard pickup. Ellison got 8 and Dixon 4 more for another first down on the Massillon 33.


THE TIGERS DEFENSE stiffened as 2 tries at the Massillon line yielded 5 yards. On a 3rd and 5 situation Niles tried a pass that was incomplete. Niles relied on Ellison with 4th and 5 but he was able to get only a yard against the Tiger defense.

With Sheegog replacing Kanner at quarterback after the senior signal caller suffered leg cramps, the Tigers held the ball (unreadable) plays and picked up 3 first downs in moving to the (unreadable). With 4th and 7, Sheegog was thrown for a 6-yard loss, giving the Dragons the ball on their own 33 with 4:26 remaining.

In 3 plays Niles had a first down on their 47. A 6-yard run by Zielger moved the ball to the 46. Two incomplete passes made it 4th and four. Infante found Mel Dixon all alone up the middle for a 22-yard gain, the Tiger secondary bringing the speedy back down on the 24 with 2:21 remaining.

Ellison picked up a yard and Dixon gained 7 to the 16. Dixon picked up a first down to the 13. Niles tried the pass up the middle and almost made it but the ball was a little too high for the receiver.

With second and 10, Infante went back to pass but found tackle Jim Binge looming in front of him and tried to run to the left where Larry Larsuel knifed through and dropped him for a 5-yard loss to the 18, with 1:28 left in the game. Niles tried 2 more passes, both of which were incomplete and Massillon took over on its own 17 and ran out the clock for its second win of the season.


THE MASSILLON dressing room was a scene of bedlam when Tiger fans and well-wishers were admitted after the game. Coach Earle Bruce, whose first Massillon team hurdled the defending state champs in the second game of the season, said he felt “like somebody gave me a million dollars.” Bruce termed Lawrence’s touchdown run the key play of the game and said the Tigers stopped the powerful Niles running attack by hitting hard.

In the Niles dressing room, Coach Glenn Stennett, who took over when Tony Mason left for the University of Michigan, was downcast as were his boys. Stennett said, “Massillon played a great game. We have no excuses. Our kids played a good game, but not good enough. My congratulations to Massillon.”

While the Massillon victory was really a team effort, there were several standout performances as the game films showed. Co-captain John Muhlback earned the player-of-the-week award by getting his man 72 per cent of the time. On defense Muhlback made 13 individual tackles and had 5 assists.

Lineman honors went to guard Larry Larsuel who got his man 65 per cent of the time and who on defense freed Muhlback by handling the Niles tackles. Backfield honors went to Bob Hewitt for his blocking and running.

The movies also showed guard Tom Whitfield as one of the out-standing 2-way players. Dave Whitfield came in for a share of the honors on defense as did Jim Binge. Terry Manson and Ed Herring also did well on blocking assignments and Herring kept up the fine running he displayed in the East game. Offensive tackles Dennis Rambaud and Dennis Morgan also were praised.

BRUCE ALSO credited Sheegog and Gene Biddle for the job they did in replacing injured regulars. Sheegog played quarterback after Kanner went out with leg cramps and Biddle took over at linebacker when Paul Marks also left with leg cramps.

Special credit went to the sophomore team which last week ran the Niles offensive and defensive patterns in scrimmage.

Saturday’s game was the fifth meeting between the schools. Massillon has won all 5, scoring 160 points to Niles 14.

Mass. Niles
First downs—rushing 6 8
First downs—passing 3 3
First downs—penalties 0 1
Total first downs 9 12
Yards gained rushing 150 132
Yards lost rushing 20 15
Total number of plays 45 61
Net yards gained rushing 130 117
Net yards gained passing 48 67
Total yards gained 178 184
Passes attempted 5 19
Passes completed 4 5
Passes intercepted by 0 0
Yardage on passes intercepted 0 0
Times kicked off 2 2
Kickoff average (yards) 46 46
Kickoff returns (yards) 36 36
Times punted 4 4
Punt average (yards) 30.3 32
Punt returns (yards) 31 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 2 3
Lost fumbled ball 1 2
Penalties 1 2
Yards penalized 15 10
Touchdowns rushing 1 1
Touchdowns passing 1 0
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous 0 0

Ends – Garcia, Franklin, Gilmore, Paige, Goodnough, Williams, McGuire.
Tackles – Morgan, Binge, Paul.
Guards – Larsuel, T. Whitfield, D. Whitfield.
Centers – Muhlback, Rambaud, Biddle.
Backs – Kanner, Sheegog, Pribich, Frieg, Manson, Marks, Schenkenberger,
Herring, Lawrence, Conti.

End – Miller, Gibson, Fasanelli, Cella, Courtney, Petrella.
Tackles – Corrado, Sprague, Berenics, Ferro.
Guards – Krok, Lukz, Morrison.
Center – Watterson.
Backs – Infante, Dixon, McQueen, Zielger, Rowbotham, Butto,
Murray, Croft, Biviano, Ellison, Brutz.

Massillon………….0 14 0 0 – 14
Niles……………….0 8 0 0 – 0

Niles – Ellison (run, 6 inches).
Massillon – Lawrence (38-yard run), Paige (16-yard pass from Kanner)

Points after touchdown:
Niles – Ellison 2, run.
Massillon – Hewitt 2, run.

John Agnone (Youngstown) referee.
Joe Romano (Mansfield) umpire.
Jim Langhurst (Williard) field judge.
John Holzback (Youngstown) head linesman.
Bill Shaughnessy (Akron) back judge.

John Mulbach