Two Division 2 Regional Champions from 2017 squared off on Tuesday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in a much-anticipated matchup.  If you were keeping score, it was Massillon getting the better of Avon 16 touchdowns to 2.  But in reality a score doesn’t mean much in a first scrimmage.  It’s more important for the coaches to evaluate all of the players and also to find out what the key takeaways are as they prepare for their respective openers.  Nevertheless, several hundred Massillon and Avon fans were able to get an early football fix during the nearly 3-hour scrimmage.

The format for both the varsity and JV teams was a minimum 10-play series starting at their own 35 yardline, with the ability to keep the ball as long as first downs were attained.  After several reps, the teams practiced overtime simulations.  Here is how it all played out:

Varsity – Down and Distance

  • Avon – Stopped on a fumble at the Massillon 20.
  • Massillon – Stopped on downs at their own 43.
  • Avon – 18-yard touchdown pass.
  • Massillon – 24-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Luke Murphy.
  • Massillon – 21-yard touchdown run by Zion Phifer.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 39.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 39 again.
  • Massillon – 70-yard touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Aydrik Ford.
  • Massillon – Stopped at the Avon 35.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 45.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Avon 35.
  • Massillon – 23-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Heath Manson.

Varsity Overtime Simulation

  • Avon – 12-yard touchdown pass.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown run by Zion Phifer.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Jayden Ballard.
  • Massillon – 3 yard touchdown run by Jamir Thomas.
  • Avon – Missed 32-yard field goal.
  • Avon – Stopped at Massillon 30.
  • Massillon – Lost ball on fumble.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Luke Murphy.
  • Massillon – Stopped on pass interception.

JV

  • Down and Distance: Massillon outscored Avon 4-0.
  • Overtime Simulation: Massillon outscored Avon 4-0.

The biggest takeaway for Massillon was the level of depth exhibited at each of the different offensive and defensive positions on the field.  This asset was prevalent throughout both the varsity and JV squads.  The coaches constantly shuffled players in and out and the Tigers did not miss a beat with their progress down the field.  Couple that with great athleticism and speed at the skill positions and you have the potential for something special this year.

Scheme-wise, the offense has been expanded a bit in two particular areas, both on account of the talent at the running back position.  The first is an occasional split back formation in the backfield, giving the QB two options in the running attack, as opposed to a single back with the fullback pushed up towards the line.  The second is the ability to float the ball to a back out of the backfield, now that there is better speed at that position.  Both of these techniques resulted in good success throughout the scrimmage.

Defensively, the Tigers utilized their traditional 3-4 alignment.  However, the speed and aggressiveness has definitely improved over last year.  Avon had only modest success on the ground and needed to rely on a very good quarterback to move the ball in short bursts.  But still Avon had great difficulty scoring in the red zone.

Massillon will be back in action on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. when they visit Berea Midpark and then at Lake St. Edward the following Friday at 7:00 pm.

Jamir Thomas (16) heads through the line on one of his few carries. Also shown are Deon Williams (50), Justin Gaddis (52) and Alejandro Salazar (72).

Jayden Ballard makes a leaping catch for a first down.

A Massillon receiver looks for running room after catching a pass over the middle.

The pass is just over the outreached hands of the Tiger receiver.