Staying true to form, Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore has scheduled another powerhouse to open the season. This time it’s Pickerington Central, which is perhaps the best public school program in Ohio Division 1 football. Massillon, of course, can lay claim to being the best public school program in Division 2, with three consecutive state finals appearances to back it up. In 2020 Pickerington Central lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier 44-3 in the state finals, whereas Massillon dropped its state finals game to Akron Hoban, 35-6. But regardless of division, Massillon and Central finished 4th and 5th, respectively, in the state of Ohio according to calpreps.com, a computer-based ranking system. The two were also Nos. 82 and 119 in the country out of over 14,000 schools.
Last season, Pickerington Central placed five players on the Division 1 All-Ohio team, including senior wide receiver Lorenzo Styles, Jr., who was named Offensive Player of the Year. He holds the school record for career receiving yards (1,529) and career varsity starts (55). Thirteen players were placed on the All-District team.
Massillon was supposed to open last year with Pickerington North, but the pandemic forced a change whereby the Tigers faced Lakewood St. Edward and North became Central’s opener as the Ohio Capital Conference elected to keep their regular season games close to home. Central beat North in that one-sided affair, 35-9. In signature games, Pickerington Central defeated Mentor 38-31 and Massillon downed Cincinnati LaSalle 14-10.
Massillon has one prior game against a team from Pickerington, winning 14-0 in 2002. The following year, Pickerington split into North and Central and the two schools have since had contrasting success. Whereas North became a fairly decent D1 school, Central simply dominated all local competition and achieved consistently great success in the playoffs. Since the split, Central has compiled a regular season record of 151-26 and a playoff mark of 40-15, missing the post-season only once, in 2005. Twice they have won the Division 1 state title, beating Mentor in 2017 and Cincinnati Elder in 2019. They have also won their regional title in each of the last five years.
Pickerington Central is not shy about scheduling some of the best teams in the country to open the season before league games begin. But, as good as they are each year, they appear to have the same problem that most public schools have; i.e., beating the private schools in the playoffs. They are currently 2-5 in that category.
Here is the yearly data on Central (year / regular season record / playoff record / playoff results):
- 2020 / 6-0 / 5-1 / lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the state finals.
- 2019 / 9-1 / 5-0 / beat Cincinnati Elder in the state finals.
- 2018 / 8-2 / 3-1 / lost to Cincinnati Colerain in the state finals.
- 2017 / 9-1 / 5-0 / beat Mentor in the state finals.
- 2016 / 9-1 / 4-1 / lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the state semifinals.
- 2015 / 8-2 / 0-1 / lost to Upper Arlington in Round 1.
- 2014 / 10-0 / 1-1 / lost to Cincinnati Moeller in Round 2.
- 2013 / 7-2 / 1-1 / lost to Cincinnati Colerain in Round 2.
- 2012 / 7-2 / 0-1 / lost to Pickerington North in Round 1.
- 2011 / 7-2 / 4-1 / lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the state finals.
- 2010 / 9-0 / 2-1 / lost to Hilliard Davidson in the regional finals.
- 2009 / 9-1 / 1-1 / lost to Hilliard Davidson in Round 2.
- 2008 / 10-0 / 3-1 / lost to Cincinnati Elder in the state semifinals.
- 2007 / 10-0 / 1-1 / lost to Dublin Coffman in Round 2.
- 2006 (D2) / 9-1/ 4-1 / lost to Piqua in the state finals.
- 2005 (D2) / 6-4
- 2004 (D2) / 9-1 / 1-1 / lost to Columbus Brookhaven in Round 2.
- 2003 (D2) / 9-1 / 0-1 / lost to Louisville in Round 1.