On paper, Massillon is expected to field another outstanding football team, with a 3-year starter returning at quarterback, two wide receivers expected to eventually land at major D1 colleges, a huge offensive line and a pair of running backs that will keep the pressure off the QB.  The defense also returns solid players at many key positions, while the kicking game has no apparent weaknesses.  Plus, the Tigers had the opportunity last year to play five additional games as they advanced through the Division 2 playoffs to the state finals.

But once again Massillon will need to navigate a formidable schedule in order to secure a playoff spot for a fourth consecutive year.  Included in this year’s slate are ten teams that last year posted a combined record of 69-31, with six qualifying for post-season play.  In addition, two of the opponents are outstanding squads from the same league in Pennsylvania.  And these are not “Sun Valley” teams, folks.  Finally, four of the games are on the road and each of these could cause Massillon to stumble.  It should be a great season ahead.

Here is a quick rundown of the Tigers and of each opponent:

 Massillon

  • 5-year regular season record: 36-14
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 4 / 7-4
  • Playoff division: 2
  • Notes: The Tigers advanced to the Division 2 state finals in 2018, losing to Akron Hoban.

Akron St. Vincent

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 21-6
  • Last year’s score: 35-7
  • 5-year regular season record: 37-13
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 4 / 9-4
  • Playoff division: 3
  • Notes: The Irish lost in the Division 3 state semifinals in 2017 and this will once again be an entertaining opener for both teams.

Canton GlenOak

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 11-4
  • Last year’s score: 49-0
  • 5-year regular season record: 24-26
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 2 / 0-2
  • Playoff division: 1
  • Notes: New coach Beau Balderson hopes to return the Golden Eagles to competitive status.  But GlenOak’s first four games may be insurmountable with opponents including John Adams of South Bend, Indiana, Massillon, Austintown Fitch and North Canton Hoover.

Warren Harding – A

  • Game location: Away
  • Series record: 54-25-3
  • Last year’s score: 51-21
  • 5-year regular season record: 31-18
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 3 / 3-3
  • Playoff division: 2
  • Notes: Harding is 2-4 against the Tigers in the latest series.  A Week 1 game against Canton McKinley will provide an idea of this year’s potential.

Harrison City Penn-Trafford, PA

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 0-0
  • Last year’s score: n/a
  • 5-year regular season record: 46-4
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 5 / 6-5
  • Playoff division: AAAA (similar to Ohio D2)
  • Notes: The Warriors have lost only four regular season games in the last five years, but have struggled in the playoffs.  They face Tiger opponent Gateway in Week 1.  Last year Penn-Trafford lost to Gateway, 27-7.

Akron Firestone

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 8-0
  • Last year’s score: 42-0
  • 5-year regular season record: 15-35
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 0 / 0-0
  • Playoff division: 2
  • Notes: A welcome breather for Massillon.

Austintown Fitch

  • Game location: Away
  • Series record: 17-8
  • Last year’s score: 42-14
  • 5-year regular season record: 34-16
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 3 / 1-3
  • Playoff division: 2
  • Notes: The Falcons have won two of last three meetings at home.  In addition, the score was tied in the 2017 game at 28-all with 4:30 remaining.  But the Tigers scored the final ten points to secure the victory.  This will be a formidable test and a potential trap game.

Monroeville Gateway, PA

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 0-0
  • Last year’s score: n/a
  • 5-year regular season record: 34-16
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record:  3 / 8-3
  • Playoff division: AAAA (similar to Ohio D2)
  • Notes: The Gators have found much success over the past two years, with a regular season record of 19-1 and a playoff record of 7-2.  Gateway was ranked 16th among all Pennsylvania teams last year by CalPreps.com (5th in AAAA).  Expect another strong test for the Tigers.

Barberton – A

  • Game location: Away
  • Series record: 37-7-1
  • Last year’s score: n/a
  • 5-year regular season record: 39-11
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 3 / 2-3
  • Playoff division: 2
  • Notes: The Magics return to the schedule after an absence of 24 years.  But the Tigers will face a much better team this time around, in spite of Barberton losing stellar running back Kyrie Young, who transferred in from Akron St. Vincent, but has since moved on to Akron  Buchtel.  That’s because Barberton returns a wealth of skill talent on the heels of three straight playoff appearances.  They also compiled a regular season mark of 28-2 during that time, including a current 25-game regular season winning streak.  More importantly for Barberton is that the game against the Tigers is at home.

Louisville

  • Game location: Home
  • Series record: 1-0
  • Last year’s score: 41-0
  • 5-year regular season record: 36-14
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 2 / 1-2
  • Playoff division: 3
  • Notes: The Leopards have struggled with a much tougher schedule since being booted from the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, boasting a record of just 18-12.  Last year they were thrashed early by Massillon at home, but hope to keep it closer this time around.  Only, the game will be held at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, which will be a tall challenge in itself.

Canton McKinley

  • Game location: Away
  • Series record: 71-53-5
  • Last year’s score: 24-17
  • 5-year regular season record: 32-18
  • 5-year playoff appearances / record: 3 / 1-3
  • Playoff division: 1
  • Notes: The Bulldogs are considered a regular qualifier for the D1 playoffs, but still struggle to beat the Tigers, having dropped the last three contests and seven of the last eight.  But they are once against expected to give Massillon their best game of the season.