Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Fabianich: “We’re a team”
Tigers bounce back in Rubber Bowl vs. Magics

Independent Sports Editor

AKRON ‑ Maybe Saturday night’s 30‑20 victory over the Barberton Magics doesn’t mean it’s time for fans of the Massillon Tigers to get carried away.

Or maybe it does.

“I can feel McKinley week coming on,” tailback Michael Harris said in the locker room at the Rubber Bowl, where the gleeful Tigers were bouncing off the walls.

“This is the kind of game that gets you psyched,” said fullback Derick Newman, who scored three touchdowns and hammered out 123 rushing yards.

“This is the greatest feeling,” said quarterback Paul Fabianich, who engineered the Tigers’ march to a 4‑1 record, the same mark with which Barberton was left. “We’re a team. We’ve finally come together.”

Just when it looked as though the season was falling apart.

The first half had the orange army in the east stands feeling blue. Barberton scored touchdowns with 31 seconds and 14 seconds left in the half to take a 20‑9 lead.

The pleasant autumn evening which drew 12,500 to the Rubber Bowl seemed to belong to the Barberton offense.

A rerun of 1981 was developing. That season, Barberton handed the Tigers their second loss, putting the season on the skids.

In the bowels of the Rubber Bowl, Tiger head coach John Maronto did a “gut check” while the bands blared away on the artificial rug outside.

“Coach told us to keep our heads up, and we had ‘em up,” Newtown said.

“We worked to hard all summer to be down,” added Wes Siegenthaler. “We knew at halftime that we had to come together and beat somebody’s butts as a team.”

The road back took most of the third quarter to bear fruit. With 3:41 left in the period, Fabianich sneaked in on first and goal from the one. Newman took a quick handoff and went straight up the middle on a two point conversion run.

Now it was 20‑17.

Barberton wasn’t dead.

A 40‑yard kickoff return set up the Magics in good field position. They made a first down as they crossed midfield. But on first down, Tiger tackle Duane Crenshaw sacked Magic quarterback Joe Underation, setting up a Barberton punt.

The boot pinned the Tigers at their own 15 with the third quarter running out.

Things didn’t look good when tailback Mike Norris was thrown for a yard loss. But the Tigers came right back to Norris on a pitch left, and he broke into the clear for a 55‑yard gain that may have been the game’s biggest play.

Norris’ run served as a comment on the Tigers’ depth at running back. Norris was in the game because Harris had suffered a hand injury on the previous series. Harris started the game because Cornell Jackson remained sidelined while recovering from knee surgery.

The 55‑yard gain was followed by a no‑gain play to Crenshaw.

The second and 10 pickle spawned another big play.

Fabianich rolled right and looked for split end Bart Letcavits, who broke wide open on a flag pattern near the right corner of the end zone. A well thrown ball and a lunging catch resulted in a 30‑yard gain and a first down at the 1.

Crenshaw flew into the end zone on the next play. The PAT kick failed, but the Tigers led 23-20 with 10:39 left in the game.

Massillon got the ball back two plays later on Ettore Scassa’s fumble recovery at the Barberton 41. The Tigers stalled and had to punt, setting up Barberton’s chance for a last hurrah.

The Magics took over on Massillon only punt of the night at their own 17 with 5:40 left. They needed three to send the game into overtime and a TD for the win.

Pat Boone, a speedball tailback, immediately rushed 13 yards to the 30. But then Boone was stuffed for no gain, and Underation threw incomplete.

On third and 10, Underation bee-lined a strike to Charlie Ries over the middle, but the ball hit Ries in the chest and bounced away incomplete at the 45.

The Magics had to punt, and that’s bad news just about any time Siegenthaler is on the receiving end.

Siegenthaler turned what looked like nothing into a 26‑yard punt return, and the Tigers set up camp on the Barberton 36 with four minutes left.

Tigers bounce back, win

Newman plowed for two short gains before taking a third‑and‑five pitch over the right side for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Todd Manion’s kick made it 30‑20 at the 2:34 mark, and those wearing purple jackets started a mass exodus.

They missed out on some mass confusion. With less than half a minute left, Siegenthaler was roughed up after carrying for a yard. He came up, swinging, touching off a wild brawl that carried on for three minutes.

“They were taking their shots, and one guy chopped me in the throat and kicked me in the stomach after the tackle had been made,” Siegenthaler explained. “I got up, and people were coming from everywhere.”

When the smoke cleared, the officials wisely elected to end the game even though there were 10 seconds left.

In the end, there was no love lost between the teams. The players were ushered off the field, but some of the coaches stuck around to shake hands. When two Barberton coaches refused to shake hands with two Massillon coaches, angry words exchanged by the rival brain trusts.

“It was an unfortunate way for the game to end,” said Barberton head coach Jack Foltz. “But these two teams have been meeting for a long time. Feelings can run pretty hot.”

The brawl seemed to heighten the ball the Tigers had in the locker room.

The noise was deafening.

“We made a couple of bad mistakes in the first half,” Moronic said. “But we stuck with the game plan. We never compromised, and we got some tremendous efforts.

“I knew that if we were going to be a good football team we’d have to show a lot of maturity, and we showed that tonight.”

Barberton lived up to advance bill as an outstanding offensive team early, driving 71 yards in eight plays for a score after taking the opening kickoff. A fake kick backfired, and the missed PAT left the score at 6-0.

Bart Letcavits’ interception set up a 56‑yard Massillon march that produced a 23‑yard field goal by Manion on the final play of the first quarter. The score stood at 6‑3.

The Magics then started on their own 20 but were stuffed and had to punt from the 10. Siegenthaler’s 16‑yard return gave the Tigers the ball on the Magics 32. Seven runs by Newman and Harris punched the ball into the end zone, Newman going in from the one. Manion’s PAT kick was wide right, but the Tigers led 9‑6 with 7:36 left in the half.

The Magics then launched an impressive, 77‑yard drive that took 16 plays and ended with a five‑yard TD pass from Underation to Boone. Underation’s kick made it 13‑9 Barberton with just 31 seconds left in the half.

Disaster struck as Siegenthaler fumbled while returning the kickoff, giving Barberton the ball at the 21. On the first play, Underation zipped a perfect pass to Ries in the end zone.

Underation’s PAT boot gave Barberton a stunning 20‑9 lead with 14 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers dominated the statistics, leading 314‑210 in total yards, 13‑9 in first downs and 284‑97 in rushing yards.

The rushing total was a reflection of the Tigers’ offensive line playing its best rest game.

The beneficiaries were Newman, who gained his 118 yards in 23 carries, Harris, who rambled 78 yards in 14 carries, and Norris, who traveled 75 yards in seven trips.

Boone picked up 69 yards in 16 carries and fullback Roy Ferguson added 50 yards in 12 totes for Barberton.

And now, the schedule gets interesting.

The Tigers face a four‑game home stretch against Austintown‑Fitch, Cleveland St. Joseph, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Perry, then head to Fawcett Stadium to take on McKinley.

The win over Barberton was electrifying.

But the Tigers will need to produce some magic of their own to keep their loss total at “l” when McKinley week arrives.

Massillon beats Barberton

Massillon outscored Barberton 21‑0 in the second half to gain a come‑from‑behind, 30‑20 non‑league victory in high school football Saturday night at the Rubber Bowl.

The Magics, ranked third in the Beacon Journal’s Division I‑II poll, suffered their first loss of the season after four victories. Massillon, ranked 10th in the poll, is also 4-1.

Barberton took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards touchdown on a 4‑yard run by Pat Boone.

The Tigers came back for a 9-6 lead on a 23‑yard field goal by Todd Manion and a 1‑yard touchdown ran by Derick Newman.

Barberton regained the lead when quarterback Joe Underation threw a 5‑yard touchdown pass to Boone with 39 seconds left in the first half. The Tigers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Barberton’s Jeff Graves recovered at Massillon’s 21‑yard line.

The Magics capitalized the next play with a 21‑yard touchdown pass from Underation to Charlie Ries with 14 seconds left, giving Barberton a 20-9 halftime lead.

However, Massillon took control of the game in the second half. Tigers quarterback Paul Fabianich scored on a 1‑yard run in the third quarter, and Newman rushed for two TDs in the fourth quarter. Newman rushed for a game‑high 118 yards on 23 carries.

Duane Crenshaw