Massillon has been playing football since 1891, having compiled a win-loss record of 920-297-36, and owning the third most wins of any team in the country.  During that span they have faced 207 different teams and only nine hold a winning edge over the Tigers when at least two games have been played.  They include:

  • Cleveland St. Ignatius (2-12)
  • Cincinnati Moeller (2-10)
  • Massillon Ex-Highs (no longer exists) (2-5)
  • Lorain (0-4)
  • Toledo Scott (0-4)
  • Upper Arlington (2-4)
  • Lakewood St. Edward (3-4)
  • Akron (no longer exists) (0-3)
  • Toledo Whitmer (2-3)

It’s no surprise that Ignatius and Moeller, two Division 1 parochial school powers, are at the top of the list.  Of course, Massillon was never shy about scheduling these teams when they were also in Division 1.

This year’s opening game marks the 13th time the Tigers and Crusaders will face each other.  The first meeting came in 1980 when they met in the Division 1 state finals.  Mike Currence was the coach of the Tigers at that time and lost that one.  He then dropped two more in subsequent years, one of which was also in the D1 state finals.  Coach Lee Owens also tried his luck three times, but did not fair any better.  But his successor, Jack Rose did find some success, winning two of four.  The series continued under Coach Rick Shepas for one more year, yet it was another loss.  Finally, the Tigers were invited to Cincinnati for a classic and Coach Tom Stacey left on the losing end.

But it wasn’t like the games were indicative of the series record.  In most of those losses, Massillon was very competitive.  In fact, in five of the ten setbacks they were in the game going into the fourth quarter and three times still in it at halftime.  And two of those losses could have just as easily been wins.

Moeller achieved prominence under Coach Jerry Faust when they ran the table in 1975 and finished off their first state title with a 14-12 win over Lakewood St. Edward, which was led by Coach Mike Currence.  Currence left after that season and took over the head job at Massillon.  Incidentally, these two coaches will be the honorary captains for the coin toss prior to Friday’s matchup.

Moeller continued its success through the 1982 season, eventually capturing six state titles in a span of nine years.  In 2012 and 2013 they grabbed two more and in 2014 finished a respectable 10-4.  But then the Crusaders fell on hard times, compiling a record of just 24-37 through the 2020 season.  Last year, however, they recaptured the magic, going 11-4 and finishing as Division 1 runner-up, under second-year coach Mark Elder.  This season they hope to parlay that success into a state championship.

Meanwhile, Massillon has reached the state finals six times, three in Division 1 (1980, 1982 and 2005) and three in Division 2 (2018, 2019 and 2020).  They also hope to grab a trophy this year, in Division 2.  So, when these two great programs square off on Friday, it should make for a grand matchup, with another large crowd expected.

Here’s a look back at all the past Massillon-Moeller games.

 

  • Year: 1980
  • Records: Massillon (10-2-1), Moeller (13-0)
  • Coaches: Mike Currence, Gerry Faust
  • Venue: Cincinnati Nippert Stadium (22,751); Division 1 State Finals
  • Score: 7-10 L
  • Game Summary: The Crusaders opened up a 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back. They were led by 6’-2”, 220 lb. running back Mark Brooks, who carried the ball 33 times for 133 yards and scored all four of Moeller’s touchdowns.  While it was the Tigers’ first ever trip to the state finals, the Crusaders were wrapping their fifth title in the last six years.  It was also Coach Gerry Faust’s last game as head coach before heading to Notre Dame to become head coach.

 

  • Year: 1981
  • Records: Massillon (7-3), Moeller (12-1)
  • Coaches: Mike Currence, Ted Bacigalupo
  • Venue: Akron Rubber Bowl (23,950)
  • Score: 6-24 L
  • Game Summary: This one was supposed to be the first-ever meeting between these two schools, but the previous year’s playoff game kind of got in the way. Massillon was down just 10-6 at the half, but two second half touchdowns by the Crusaders put the game out of reach.

 

  • Year: 1982
  • Records: Massillon (12-1), Moeller (13-0)
  • Coaches: Mike Currence, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Ohio Stadium (31,409), Division 1 State Finals
  • Score: 14-35 L
  • Game Summary: Massillon had Chris Spielman and Jim Bushe, while Moeller countered with the speedy running back combo of Da’Juan and Hiawatha Francisco. In the end the Crusader high-powered offense made all the difference, as they rolled up 479 yards.  Although the Tigers were down just 21-14 at intermission, they couldn’t dent the scoreboard in the second half.

 

  • Year: 1989
  • Records: Massillon (10-3), Moeller (11-3)
  • Coaches: Lee Owens, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (16,764)
  • Score: 7-41 L
  • Game Summary: Once again Massillon was in it early, only to fall away in the second half. Massillon was down 14-7 at the half and 21-7 late in the third with a chance to score and close the gap to seven.  But they were stopped on downs deep in Moeller territory.  After that, the Crusaders put up 20 unanswered points and ran away with the win.

 

  • Year: 1990
  • Records: Massillon (8-4), Moeller (9-2)
  • Coaches: Lee Owens, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (16,764)
  • Score: 23-24 L
  • Game Summary: A first-ever victory in-hand was taken away by a blown referee call at the end of the game. The well-played contest was even throughout with Massillon owning a 23-17 lead with less than a minute remaining.  For Moeller, it was fourth down in their own territory and a desperation pass bounced on the ground ahead of the receiver.  Only, the referee ruled the pass complete and a close first down measurement gave the Crusaders new life.  So, they cashed in on the subsequent play with a 39-yard Hail Mary pass to tie the score.  The successful PAT then gave the Crusaders the win.

 

  • Year: 1991
  • Records: Massillon (10-3), Moeller (6-4)
  • Coaches: Lee Owens, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Mason Galbreath Field (10,600)
  • Score: 13-27 L
  • Game Summary: What started out as a stellar year with a 3-0 start, with Travis McGuire and Falando in the backfield, quickly turn sour during this crucial road game. McGuire scored first on a 42-yard run and then the Tigers forced Moeller to punt.  Massillon also had to punt on their next possession.  But the snap was fumbled and Moeller turned that miscue into a score.  It seemed to swing the momentum in the Crusaders’ favor.  Nevertheless, the Tigers held a 13-12 halftime lead and were down just 20-13 at the end of three.  But they just couldn’t make it all the way back.

 

  • Year: 1992
  • Records: Massillon (5-5), Moeller (7-3)
  • Coaches: Jack Rose, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (16,762)
  • Score: 14-24 L
  • Game Summary: Once again Massillon was in the game for three quarters only to lose it at the end. It was Moeller’s seventh win over the Tigers in as many tries.

 

  • Year: 1995
  • Records: Massillon (7-3), Moeller (5-5)
  • Coaches: Jack Rose, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (15,394)
  • Score: 21-18 W
  • Game Summary: Massillon finally got over the top with a victory. In the first half, Vinnie Turner scored two touchdowns, while his team held Moeller to just a field goal.  The third quarter played out evenly and the Tigers were now leading 21-11.  So, the question for everyone was: would Massillon once again fold against Moeller in the fourth.  Not this time!  The Crusaders were held to just one score.  Turner ended up rushing 25 times for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns, accounting for more than 75% of the Tigers’ total offense.

 

  • Year: 1996
  • Records: Massillon (9-2), Moeller (9-3)
  • Coaches: Jack Rose, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (13,102)
  • Score: 20-15 W
  • Game Summary: The Tigers were ahead 13-12 going into the fourth quarter, when Massillon’s Dave Hodgson ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers ahead 20-12.  The defense then stiffened, holding the Crusaders to a 46-yard field goal to end the scoring.

 

  • Year: 1997
  • Records: Massillon (7-3), Moeller (12-2)
  • Coaches: Jack Rose, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Cincinnati Nippert Stadium (6,074)
  • Score: 24-28 L
  • Game Summary: This is another one that got away. And the loss may have cost Jack Rose his job.  Massillon, playing on the road, opened up a 21-7 lead by the end of the third quarter and was completely dominating Moeller up to that point.  But the game turned quickly after that.  It started with a Crusader 77-yard touchdown pass and never got any better as the Tigers were outscored 21-3 the rest of the way.

 

  • Year: 1998
  • Records: Massillon (4-6), Moeller (7-3)
  • Coaches: Rick Shepas, Steve Klonne
  • Venue: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (11,518)
  • Score: 10-35 L
  • Game Summary: A young Massillon team under new coach Rick Shepas kept it close in the first half, trailing just 8-7. But the better team prevailed in the second half.  It also convinced those in charge that a school whose enrollment was shrinking should not be playing those Division 1 parochial schools.  Thus ended the series at eleven games.  At least for eight years.

 

  • Year: 2006
  • Records: Massillon (7-5), Moeller (5-5)
  • Coaches: Tom Stacey, Bob Crable
  • Venue: Cincinnati Paul Brown Stadium (10,000) in the Cincinnati Prep Classic
  • Score: 14-48 L
  • Game Summary: Coming off a Division 1 state final appearance where they lost a close one to Cincinnati St. Xavier, Massillon was game for another shot at a big parochial school. But it turned into a rout early with Moeller up 24-0 after the first quarter.  The first two scores came via a 49-yard punt return and a 50-yard interception return.  In fact, the Tigers turned it over four times in this one.  And that was it for the series until this year’s opener.

 

 

dengelhardt