This is the 4th part of a 7 part series that relives some of the greatest Massillon Tiger victories in the Massillon vs. Canton McKinley rivalry. These games were chosen by the writers as critical games throughout Massillon’s football history.
The Tigers fell 16-7 in the regular season showdown at Massillon, but the Tigers got revenge in 1980 on their way to an appearance in the 1980 State Championship.
Tigers beat McKinley 14-6 for first state playoff win
By ROLLIE DREUSSI
Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers had the last words Friday night before an overflow crowd in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
“Massillon Tigers No. 1! Massillon Tigers No. 1!” Players and coaches shouted it out over and over in the jubilant Massillon lockerroom after the Tigers won their first playoff game in history by defeating the McKinley Bulldogs 14‑6.
“I couldn’t believe our defense,” said Tiger Coach Mike Currence, who brought his team back from the ashes of last Saturday’s 16‑7 loss to these same Bulldogs in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I don’t know what the difference is,” he said, referring to the way the Tiger defense halted the Bulldogs on all five of their second‑half possessions, four of which carried into Massillon territory. Last Saturday, the Tigers’ defense yielded over 300 yards and allowed McKinley to control the ball game.
Friday night it was a slightly different defense, and a whole new story.
“We just wanted the ball game more than they did,” Currence said. “It was unbelievable.”
Currence said the win, which gives the Tigers the Division I, Region 3 championship and advances them to the state playoff semifinals, was his most important in five years as the Tigers’ coach.
“This is the biggest one,” he said. “because we did something no other Massillon team ever did: we won a playoff game. And beating McKinley made it doubly nice.”
The Tigers’ next opponent in the playoffs will probably be Willoughby South which defeated Cleveland St Joseph 14‑3 Friday night. There’s also a good chance the game will be played Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl. The semifinal games were supposed to be played on Friday night but the Akron City Series game was already scheduled for that night in the Rubber Bowl.
The final decisions on who Massillon will play, and when and where will be made Sunday by Ohio High School Athletic Association officials.
Back in the Tiger lockerroom Currence continued his praise of the defense.
“I thought our offense was going to give it away there. Thank God the defense wanted it.”
He revealed that two starting defensive players suffered injuries in last week’s game and were unable to play, Linebacker John Mayles broke his hand, and defensive end Bob Dodd tore ligaments in his knee.
“We had to go with some more quickness in there. It was a combination of the injuries and putting quicker kids in,” Currence explained. “But we didn’t know if the younger kids could do the job.”
William Askew took Dodd’s place at defensive end, and Rick Spielman took over Mayles’ linebacker spot. Mark Haubert also played some linebacker. All are juniors.
The Bulldogs still managed to run the bill effectively – except on fourth down attempts ‑ but their passing game just wasn’t the same as it was last week.
“We put a little more pressure on (Rick) Worstell,” Currence said, “and we had better coverage by our secondary. Paul Turner did a great job on Todd Fisher, and clinic tip with the big interception.”
A big play by linebacker Tim Manion set up the Tigers’ first touchdown in the second quarter.
McKinley had driven into Massillon territory, when Mike Lynch was hit by middle guard Jeff Grove and fumbled the football at the 41. Manion scooped the ball up and raced 40 yards to the McKinley 19.
Quarterback Dave Eberhart hit Mike Feller with a 12‑yard pass for a first down at the seven. Two plays later a pass interference penalty gave the Tigers a first down at the three. An offside penalty against Massillon moved the ball back to the eight, and Eberhart ran a keeper to the left on the next play. He was hit at the three yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone where fullback Don Fulton pounced on it for a touchdown with 9:31 to play in the half. Eberhart booted the conversion for a 7‑0 lead.
The Bulldogs came right back with a 74‑yard drive that took 15 plays and consumed 7:51 on the clock. Worstell scored from a yard out with 1:40 left in the half, but a pass for the extra points failed and the Tigers took a 7‑6 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
The Tigers took the kickoff to open the second half, and drove 80 yards ‑ with the help of three Bulldog penalties ‑ for the game’s final touchdown.
Eberhart hit Mike Reese with a pass over the middle from the Pups’ 12 yard line. The senior wide receiver caught the ball at the three, sliced past a defender and fell over the goal line with 7:19 to play. Eberhart added the extra point for a 14‑6 Tiger lead.
The drive was aided several times by the penalties against McKinley.
On second‑and‑10 from his own 20, Eberhart hit halfback Mike Jones with a 16‑yard pass for a first down. Fifteen more yards were added on when a Bulldogs player was called for a personal foul, putting the ball on the McKinley 49.
Two plays later, the Bulldogs were called for pass interference, giving Massillon first down at the 36. The Dogs were also called for an offside penalty later in the drive, and for another personal foul on the touchdown play, with the yardage being assessed on the kickoff.
The Bulldogs then took the ensuing kickoff and started driving again, Their drive started with 7:19 to go in the third quarter, and they had the ball at Massillon’s 15 yard line on fourth‑and‑two when the period ended.
The Bulldogs’ first play of the final period set the tone for the rest of the game, when Grove and Spielman stopped the Pups’ Mike Simms for only a one‑yard gain, with Massillon taking over on downs at their own 14.
Eberhart wasted no time in going straight to the air, but his first two passes were batted down (by Gary Pounds and Troy Sanders), and one was almost intercepted.
On third down, Scott Dixon sacked Eberhart back at his own four yard line. Eberhart then punted the ball out to the 41.
Again McKinley mounted a drive. This time, on fourth‑and‑one at the 14. Spielman and defensive end Paul Spinden stopped Lynch for no gain and the Tigers took over.
But on third down, Eberhart was intercepted at his own 24 yard line by Chris Wade. Following an incomplete pass Grove sacked Worstell for a four‑yard loss. On third down, Worstell hit Fisher, but the play netted only four yards. On fourth‑and‑10, Worstell passed to Sidney Lewis coming out of the backfield, but defensive back Mike Loretto knocked him out of bounds two yards short of the first down at the Tiger 16.
The Tigers couldn’t move the ball again, and this time Eberhart punt went off the side of his foot and out of bounds 26 yards downfield at the 44.
On first down, Worstell’s pass was intercepted at the 40 by Turner, who returned it to the McKinley 30. A clipping penalty brought the ball back to the Tiger 41, and with just 2:42 left to play the Tigers looked like they had it in the bag.
However, on fourth down from midfield, Eberhart’s punt was blocked by Wade, and the Bulldogs had life at their own 49 with 1:03 to play,
The Tiger secondary was ready for the final challenge, and Worstell threw three straight incompletions.. He had a man open out of the backfield on second down, but good pressure by Askew forced a bad pass.
On fourth down, Spielman sacked Worstell when he couldn’t find an open receiver and that was the ball game.
We tried hard and we played very bad a downcast Terry Forbes said of his team’s effort. “You have to hand it to Massillon’s defense for hanging in there,” the Pup coach added.
So it won’t be a long, cold winter for Tiger fans after all. It may have been a miserable six days, but it’s like the sign – the one on the hoop the Tigers ran through before the game ‑ said: “ Win the One That Counts.”
They did, and that’s why the Tigers will be playing in the playoff semifinals next weekend while the Bulldogs will be staying home.
Massillon 0 7 7 0 ‑ 14
McKinley Senior 0 6 0 0 ‑ 6
Mas ‑ Don Futton covered fumble in end zone (Dave Eberhart kick)
McK ‑ Rick Worstell 1 run (Pass failed)
Mas ‑ Mike Reese 12 pass from Dave Eberhart (Dave Eberhart kick)
Att ‑ 20,000 (est.)
First downs rushing 3 11
First downs passing 5 2
First downs penalty 3 1
Total first downs 11 14
Rushes‑yards 32‑64 44‑142
Passing-yards 72 69
Return yards 66 33
Passes 6‑8‑1 8‑16‑2
Punts 2‑37 1-34
Fumbles‑lost 1‑0 2‑1
Penalties‑yards B‑70 8‑83
RUSHING ‑ Massillon, Oliver 9‑29, Fulton 6‑17, Jones 5‑7, Eberhart 9‑7, Huth 3‑4.
McKinley, Simms 16‑86, Randle 11‑34, Lynch 5‑20, Snell 1‑6, Worstell 8‑minus‑2, Lewis 3‑minus‑2.
PASSING ‑ Massillon, Dave Eberhart 6‑8‑1‑72
McKinley, Worstell 8‑16‑2‑69.
RECIEVING ‑ Massillon, Jones 3‑32, Feller 2‑28, Reese 1‑12.
McKinley, Fisher 4‑44, Lewis 2‑15, Giavasis, 1‑9, Dixon 1‑11.
Tiger pride comes
alive in playoff win
McKinley 14‑6 victim
in regional title game
By ROLLIE DREUSSI
Independent Sports Editor
“This is what it’s all about,” Doug Eberhart screamed above the happy mayhem in the Massillon Tigers’ lockerroom.
The senior center was holding up a T‑shirt with lettering that read “MASSILLON TIGERS” across it. And in between was the word “PRIDE.”
That’s what produced the Tigers’ 14‑6 win over the Canton McKinley Bulldogs before over 20,000 fans in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium Friday night.
The Tigers were still smarting from last Saturday’s 16‑7 spanking at the hands of the Pups, but they had the desire it took to change the outcome this time.
It was a gutsy performance. One earned more on emotion and desire than on talent and execution.
The Tigers’ defense, embarrassed last weekend in the loss to the Bulldogs, turned in a simply incredible performance.
Five times in the second half they turned back the Bulldogs. Twice on fourth down and short yardage inside their own 20 yard line.
“Unbelievable,” Tiger Coach Mike Currence said.
He could offer no explanation for his defense’s dramatic turnaround, except to say his players simply wanted it more than the Bulldogs.
“We made a few changes on defense, but determination was the key factor,” Tiger middle guard Jeff Grove said.
“We wanted this game so bad. We wanted to go out and win the ball game, and that’s what we did,” he added.
One of the unlikely defensive heroes was junior Rick Spielman. He was a starting linebacker last year for the Timken, Trojans, but this year he was the team’s backup quarterback. When John Mayles broke his hand in last week’s game, Spielman started practicing at linebacker again.
“I was real excited about getting to play,” said Spielman, whose father, Sonny, is the Tigers’ quarterback and wide receiver coach.
“I played linebacker last year and after a couple of plays it all came back to me,” he explained.
Spielman was in on the tackle both times that the Tigers stopped the Bulldogs on fourth down and short yardage, He also sacked McKinley quarterback Worstell to end the Pups’ final chance with less than a minute to play.
“Ah, great,” Spielman said when asked how he felt after that sack.
That was the same reply defensive halfback Paul Turner gave when asked about his interception that thwarted a fourth‑quarter drive by the Bulldogs.
That “as a big play, since it came immediately following a poor punt that gave the Bulldogs possession at the Tiger 44 yard line.
Turner had a big job ‑ covering McKinley’s Todd Fisher, a big, fast wide receiver who gave the Tigers fits last week. Currence credited Turner with doing ‘a great job” covering Fisher.
Junior William Askew also did a fine job stepping into the breach. Defensive end Bob Dodd tore knee ligaments in last week’s game, and Askew helped defensive tackle Ed Newman hold down the right side of the Tigers’ defensive line.
And senior defensive tackle Bob James, who had a rough time last week, called on his pride to help Paul Spinden anchor the left side of the defensive line.
Then there was Tim Manion, a junior who was too talented to sit the bench as a backup quarterback and was moved to linebacker in the pre‑season. He came through in fine style.
Manion picked up a tumble caused by middle guard Jeff Grove and returned it 40 yards to set up the team’s first touchdown.
Turner’s mates in the secondary, Mike :Spicer, Mike Loretto and Dwayne Boss, improved their coverage to help upset the McKinley passing game.
And the Tigers’ offense, while almost blowing the game in the second half, still managed to put enough points on the board. And more importantly, managed to control the ball for at least almost as long as the Bulldogs.
The Tigers’ came out throwing, and the difference this time was that the offensive line gave quarterback Dave Eberhart time to pass. His 12-yard toss to Mike Reese in the third quarter was the clinching touchdown.
All in all, it was a team effort. From the players and coaching staff right down to the fans.
Currence had special praise for the Tiger fans, who started raising a ruckus before the game started and were still carrying on into the wee hours of the morning.
When told that some of the McKinley fans started leaving the game with four‑and‑a‑half minutes still to play, Currence said: “Their fans don’t compare to our fans. Our fans stay with us to the bitter end. That’s the difference between a Bulldog and a Tiger.
“We didn’t get one bad remark from anyone last week,” Currence pointed out. “They had confidence we’d come back.”
The win now gives the Tigers a 48-33-5 edge in the storied rivalry, and gives Currence a 5‑1 record against the Bulldogs.
Also, for the first time in their history, the Tigers won a playoff game. They had suffered losses in 1972 and 1979 in their only other playoff appearances.
Now they will advance to the Division I playoff semifinals, and will probably play Willoughby South, a 14‑3 winner over Cleveland St. Joseph Friday night.
It was as a Friday night no Tiger fan will ever forget. And a Tiger team Massillon will always be proud of.
First downs 3 11
First downs passing 5 2
Total first downs 12 15
Yards gained rushing 85 156
Yards lost rushing 19 17
Net yards gained rushing 66 139
Net yards gained passing 72 70
Total yards gained 138 209
Passes attempted 10 16
Passes completed 6 8
Passes intercepted by 2 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 1 0
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 50.0 50.0
Kickoff return yardage 27 22
Punts 3 1
Punting average 25.3 33.0
Punt return yardage 0 15
Punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 1 3
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 8 9
Yards penalized 70 83
Touchdowns rushing 0 1
Touchdowns passing 1 0
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 1 0
Total number of plays 42 58
Total time of possession 21.11 25.49
MASSILLON 0 7 7 0 ‑ 14
McKINLEY 0 6 0 0 ‑ 6
MASS – Don Fulton recovered fumble in end zone (Dave Everhart kick)
McK ‑ Rick Worstell one yard run (pass failed)
MASS ‑ Mike Reese 12‑yard pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick)