Massillon cashes in on Viking miscues
Tigers beat back North 12-0
By STEVE DUNGJEN
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Mark Twain once wrote that there were three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
And so it was Friday night when host Massillon blanked Akron North, 12‑0, to open its season at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium before 9,605 fans. A glance at the stats didn’t tell the tale.
The Vikings outgained Massillon in total yardage, 161‑133, but the Tigers played the role of opportunists to the hilt. When North made a mistake, Massillon was there to cash in.
Considering that North held a decided advantage in playing experience, 18 returning starters as opposed to Massillon’s two, the Tigers took the first step ‑ a big one ‑ in earning their stripes.
The first North mistake occurred midway through the first period when quarterback Charles Marquess had a pass intercepted by Tiger Pete Johnson.
Johnson, whose older brother Craig made his mark a year ago as a Tiger running back, returned the interception 38 yards to the North seven where Marquess dragged him down from behind.
Two rushing plays netted the Tigers four yards, but a delay of the game penalty pushed Massillon back to the eight. On third down, quarterback Wes Siegenthaler made like a belly‑dancer in finding his way into the end zone.
The kick after sailed low and lathe right, but the Tigers were on the board with a 6‑0 lead at the 4:00 mark.
Late in the second quarter, the Vikings committed their second miscue when Lawrence Moore fumbled when it appeared North was on its way to paydirt.
Moore’s bobble was pounced on by Bruce Spicer at the Tiger five yard line.
But the most damaging blow to North came at the start of the second half when Moore fumbled Todd Manion’s kick off. The recovery was made by Tiger Chris Slinger, and gave Massillon a first down at the Viking 24.
Tiger Cornell Jackson gained four yards on the first play following the turnover, and then was stopped for no gain. However, North was hit with a face mask penalty.
With the ball now on the 10, Jackson’s number was called again. This time he responded by following blocks by Jared Mayle and Jim Thorne to the end zone. Massillon’s bid for a two‑point conversion failed, but the Tigers led 12‑0.
North knocked at the door only twice, the first time Spicer closed it behind him with his timely fumble recovery. The second time was late in the third quarter when the Vikings did something neither squad had done up to that point ‑ mount a drive of any proportion.
Taking over at their own 39 following a 21‑yard punt return by Brian Sanders, the Vikings rolled up three first downs and found themselves at the Tiger 13.
A pair of running plays netted three yards and on third down Marquess went back to pass. He was greeted by a host of Orange and Black uniforms and was sacked for a seven‑yard loss. Marquess’ pass on fourth down fell harmlessly to the stadium turf.
As evidenced by the final score, neither team made much of an offensive showing. The Tigers had just six first downs, and converted on only one of 11 third‑down tries. The Orange and Black also completed just two of 10 passes for 24 yards, and the leading rusher was Siegenthaler with 40 yards on seven totes.
And the final stats were just as uninspiring on North’s part. The Vikings notched nine first downs, and also converted just once in 11 third‑down attempts. They fumbled six times, losing two.
A tell‑tale sign of ineffective offenses is the number of punts. In this case, both sides punted eight times.
Massillon returns to Tiger Stadium next Friday for a grudge match of sorts with Akron Garfield, the only team to beat the tigers a year ago.
Tiger ‘D’ earns its stripes
By STEVE DUNGJEN
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON‑ The Tiger defense earned its stripes Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium before 9,605 fans who gathered together to usher in yet another season of Tigertown football.
Even long‑time Tiger rooter Cy Witmer had cause to smile following the 12‑0 blanking of visiting Akron North. Witmer’s been coming to Massillon home games since 1922, and the sparkle in his eyes gave away his pleasure with the outcome.
Opportunists, that’s what the Tigers were against North. An interception by Pete Johnson led to the game’s first score, and a fumble recovery by Chris Slinger opened the door to the second TD.
A second fumble recovery, this one by Brian Spicer, stopped a potential North scoring drive in the second quarter. The senior defensive back pounced on the loose ball at the Tiger five.
And then there was the gang-tackle turned in by the trio of Duane Crenshaw, Scott Byelene and Pat Spicer that tossed North’s quarterback for a seven‑yard loss when the Vikings had a third and seven at the Tiger 10 late in the third quarter.
Then, to top things off, there was the heads‑up play turned in by Tiger halfback Irwin Hastings, who took a Massillon fumble right out of the hands of a North defender on the third quarter’s final play. Had Hastings not come up with the play, the Vikings would’ve had a first down at Massillon’s 30.
Such was the play of the Tiger defense, which had come under a certain amount of criticism during the scrimmage season. Even head coach Mike Currence had said he expected opponents to score points.
But, against North, the defense was where it had to be at the right time.
“I was really impressed with our defense,” Currence said in the noisy locker room. “Also, I have to compliment our punter, Scott Byelene. We were in some situations where if he gets a real bad punt we were in trouble. It all comes together, the whole thing, the whole package ‑ a good punting game, a good kicking game and a good defense.
“I was really surprised and pleased,” Currence said when asked about the low score of the game. Many expected the scoreboard to change at a rapid‑fire pace.
“I thought they were a good enough offense to score, good enough with speed, a big enough line, but our coaching staff‑did a tremendous job. I think they are to be commended for shutting them out,” he said.
Against North, the Tiger defense truly rested its case. However, it was the offense which was expected to move up and down the field. They had done so in scrimmages, but the Vikings were a most formidable foe as they prevented Massillon from getting its highly‑vaunted speed around the corners.
“We would’ve been better off had we punted on first downs sometimes,” Currence said. “Here I am, I know we’re not throwing the ball well or catching it well and we had our backs to the goal line.”
Although Currence expressed some concern with the offense, he knew it had poor field position most of the night. The Tiger grid boss was pleased with poise shown by junior quarterback Wes Siegenthaler, a move‑in from Green High School.
“One thing he did tonight is that he may have lost some yardage, but he didn’t put the ball up for grabs. That could’ve won us the game. If he had put the ball up for grabs, with the field position we had most of the night …”
Currence didn’t finish the statement. He didn’t have to. That’s because the Tigers didn’t self-destruct. The victory may not go down as the most artistic success, but it was a win.
Considering the youthfulness of the squad, just two starters back from last year as opposed to 18 for North, it was a good feeling to get off on the right foot.
Next Friday is the biggie – Akron Garfield. Are your guys ready, coach?
For the first time since 1939, Russ Ramsey Sr. wasn’t at the game. The Tiger press box manager had his spot taken by his grandson Mike Ramsey. Russ is recovering from a heart attack he suffered while on a trip to California. Mike reports his grandfather is doing just fine.
AKRON NORTH 0
First downs rushing 5 5
First downs passing 0 4
First downs by penalty 1 0
Total, first downs 6 9
Yards gained rushing 135 113
Yards lost rushing 26 37
Net yards rushing 109 76
Net yards passing 24 85
Total yards gained 133 161
Passes attempted 10 11
Passes completed 2 4
Passses int. by 0 1
Times kicked off 3 1
Kickoff 54.0 34.0
Kickoff return yards 6 47
Punts 8 8
Punting average 36.8 31.3
Punt return yards 10 39
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 2 6
Fumbles lost 1 2
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 43 35
Touchdowns rushing 2 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 41 51
Time of possession 19 48 28:12
AKRON NORTH 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 6 0 6 0 12
M ‑ Wes Siegenthaler 3 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Cornell Jackson 10 run (run failed)