In 2017, a youthful Massillon squad faced off against a powerful Lakewood St. Edward team in the final scrimmage and was pasted quite handily in one half of football, 31-0. This year however these same Tigers, now older and loaded with talent and experience, returned to the field against the Eagles and came away a 21-14 winner. What a difference a year makes. Throughout the scrimmage, Massillon was able to effectively go toe-to-toe with St. Eds and looked at least on par with a team that is considered as a contender for the Division 1 state title.
Both offenses came out ready to showcase their explosive offensives and they didn’t disappoint. On the first play from scrimmage, the Eagle running back broke through the Tiger line and raced 65 yards to the Massillon five. From there, St. Eds scored on a 3rd down 5-yard pass that just crossed goal line, going up 7-0.
But the Tigers came right back, driving 70 yards for their initial score using a combination of Jamir Thomas runs and short-to-mid range passes from Aidan Longwell to a variety of receivers. It all culminated in a leaping catch in the end zone by Tre’von Morgan, which covered 11 yards and knotted the score at seven apiece.
St. Edward’s next drive was stopped on fourth down at the Massillon five, in spite of a 38-yard run on the first play of the series. However, Massillon failed to score and punted from the 14. The Eagles then drove rapidly down field, but a Tyree Broyles interception in the end zone of a 32-yard pass brought an early termination the threat. Unfortunately, the Tigers gave it right back after a pass bounced high off the hands of Aydrik Ford, with the defender timing the hit perfectly, which resulted in an interception. It took just a couple of plays for the Eagles to cross the end zone, making the score 14-7 in their favor.
The Tigers, however, came right back and moved 70 yards for the tying score, coming on an 18-yard pass from Longwell to Morgan. Tre’von ran a very good post pattern and was hit right on the numbers at the goal line in front of several defenders.
After both teams punted twice, Kyshad Mack came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, picking off a pass at the 25 and racing untouched into the end zone. That made the final score 21-14, to the delight of the couple hundred Tiger fans in attendance. The score came with just 24 seconds left on the clock.
After the break, both first units played one more series each, with Massillon gaining 25 yards and St. Edward failing to move the ball. Overall, during first team action, Massillon led in total yards 204 to 186.
Then the backups took over, during which the Zach Catrone tossed a 21-yard pass to Andrew Wilson-Lamp and another TD pass to Darien Williams.
Offensively, Massillon showed a balanced attack with several players making key plays throughout. The entire offense seems to have picked up where it left off at the end of last year. Thomas ran harder and looked quicker than last year. Longwell is bigger and stronger and has improved his accuracy. Particularly effective was the bubble-screen to Ford, who has a knack for juking out the first potential tackler and gaining at least ten yards aided by a serious block from Morgan before being stopped. In fact, all of the receivers showed that this group is a very dangerous lot.
Defensively, the long runs were the result of over-pursuit, something that was corrected by the second quarter. In fact, the defense look stronger as the scrimmage progressed to the point where they were completely shutting down the Eagle offense near the. In fact, during the last four series, the Tigers surrendered just 28 yards. This is a unit that is much quicker and more physical than last year.
Massillon will open the season next Friday as they host Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Lake St. Edward will face Mentor.