The final tune-up of the preseason pitted 2018 Division 2 State Runner-up Massillon against 2018 Division 1 State Champion Lakewood St. Edward.  This was a great match-up in that both of these teams are ranked nationally and expected to contend once again for their respective state titles.

The scoring part of the venue involved a half of regulation football and the Eagles came out on top 14-0.  But for the Tigers, it was turnovers and missed opportunities that defined the night, at least from a fan’s observation.  From a coach’s perspective, however, it was a great opportunity for the Tigers to face one of the best teams in the state with the goal of exposing their weaknesses.  This will only make Massillon better as they prepare for next week’s opener against Akron St. Vincent.

Massillon led in total offensive yards, 163-152, so play was fairly even throughout.  However, there were those missed opportunities that kept them off the board.  The Tigers had a golden opportunity on St.  Ed’s first possession when Preston Hodges went high to tip a bubble screen pass and Isaiah Roberson snagged the ball, returning it to the Eagle 15.  However, a fumble at the eight negated the opportunity.  Later in the scrimmage, Massillon drove to the red zone, but fumbled a pass reception into the end zone.  Finally, with 50 seconds remaining, St. Edward scored on a 1-yard run, capping a 38-yard drive, which was set up by a pass interception off a tipped ball.

After a short intermission, the two teams traded 10-play series starting with the first teams and progressing through the JV players.  For Massillon, Jayden Ballard caught a 51-yard touchdown pass and Andrew Wilson-Lamp hauled in a 70-yard TD pass, both coming from Aidan Longwell.  Alex Bauer kicked a pair of extra points.  St. Edward scored once, on a 7-yard run.

It should be noted that the Massillon quarterback was “hands off” and the referee was quick to whistle Longwell down, many times before the receiver patterns were fully developed.  Also, any attempt by Aidan to run the ball out of trouble was quickly halted.  Such is life in a scrimmage.

Offensively, Massillon had difficulty running the ball against a very veteran Eagle defensive front, which returns several starters from last year.  It didn’t help that running back Terrence Keyes was not in uniform, although Zion Phifer and Preston Hodges ran as well as expected.  In the passing game, St. Eds had the speedy athletes to stay with Ballard and Wilson-Lamp on the deep routes and few of these passes were successful.  However, Longwell and his receiving corps did an excellent job with the shorter passes and ended up with 116 yards in this area.

Defensively, the Tigers played physically, but at times were often overwhelmed by the size of the St. Ed’s line (note that big Manny McElroy was held out) and vulnerable to quarterback keepers (different scrimmage rules for the Eagles).  Nevertheless, the secondary continues to show improvement.  St. Edward finished with 72 yards rushing and 80 yards passing.

The following is the drive sequence for the regulation part of play:

  • St. Edward – Started at their own 30.  Interception returned to the 15.
  • Massillon – Started at the St. Edward 15.  Fumbled at the 8.
  • St. Edward – Started at their own 8.  92-yard drive for a touchdown; pass of 11 yards.
  • Massillon – Started at their own 30.  3 and out, punt.
  • St. Edward – Started at their own 28.  3 and out, punt.
  • Massillon – Started at their own 30.  35-yard pass from Longwell to Ballard to the 16.  Pass reception at the 5, but fumbled into the end zone and lost.
  • St. Edward – Started at their own 20.  Advanced to the Massillon 43 and punted.
  • Massillon – Started at their own 20.  Lost ball on downs at the St. Edward 28.
  • St. Edward – Started at their own 28.  3 and out, punt.
  • Massillon – Started at their own 19.  Interception at their own 38.
  • St. Edward – Started at the Massillon 38.  Touchdown drive; 1-yard run with 50 seconds remaining.
  • Massillon – Started at their own 30.  Advanced to the 45 and ran out of time.