At the end of each season, the Touchdown Club honors one of the players with the “Bob Commings Memorial Hardnose Award.” That player would have received the most votes from among weekly tallies taken by the club members. Past players honored include John Mulbach (Ohio State), David Whitfield (Ohio State), Chris Spielman (Ohio State), Shawn Crable (Michigan) and Brian Gamble (Illinois/Ashland).

Bob Commings was a very successful coach for the Tigers from 1969 to 1973, compiling a record of 43-6-2, including Massillon’s last state championship (1970) and qualification for Ohio’s first ever state playoff games (1972). Commings departed following the 1973 season to become head coach of the University of Iowa and later coached at GlenOak High School, for which their field was later named.

This year’s hardnose award winner is Willtrell Hartson, the Tigers’ record-setting running back, who led his team this year to a 12-2 record and playoff regional championship.  Willtrell received the award from George Mizer, this year’s president of the Touchdown Club.

Hartson burst onto the Massillon football scene as a sophomore running back in 2020 against Canton McKinley, as a replacement for the injured Raekwon Venson.  A little used backup prior to the game, Hartson proceeded to rush for 188 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 35-7 victory.  He continued to excel throughout the playoffs and finished the year with 1,110 yards (8.0 ave.), with nearly all coming in the final seven games of the season.  He also scored 13 touchdowns.  For his performance he was named Honorable Mention All-Ohio.

His junior year was hampered by an injury and he only played in six games.  But he did manage to rush for 831 yards (7.3 ave.) and score 9 touchdowns.

Hartson , now at 5′-10″, 200 lbs.,  had a breakout year this past season, rushing for 2,042 yards (6.1 ave) and scoring 31 touchdowns, while tying or breaking many records along the way.  With his speed, power, and deceptive cutting ability, and the attributes to run the ball both inside and out, he became the main focus of the offense, accounting for 41% of the total yardage production and 42% of the points scored.  He was recently named All-Stark County and All-Northeast Inland District.  Hartson is also a team co-captain.

Here are Hartson’s many record book accomplishments:

  • Single game rushing yards – 324 vs. Westerville South in 2020 (1st); 287 vs. Warren Harding in 2021 (3rd); 274 vs. Austintown Fitch in 2022 (5th)
  • Single game rushing attempts – 40 vs. Austintown Fitch in 2022 (tied for 3rd); 40 vs. Uniontown Lake in 2022 (tied for 3rd)
  • Single game rushing yards per attempt – 15.1 vs. North Canton in 2020 (tied for 8th)
  • Single game rushing touchdowns – 4 vs. North Canton in 2020 (tied for 10th); 4 vs. Warren Harding in 2021 (tied for 10th); 4 vs. Austintown Fitch in 2022 (tied for 10th)
  • Single season rushing yards – 2,042 in 2022 (1st) *
  • Single season rushing attempts – 334 in 2022 (2nd)
  • Single season rushing yards per game – 145.9 in 2022 (2nd)
  • Single season rushing touchdowns – 31 in 2022 (2nd)
  • Single season touchdowns – 34 (tied for 1st) *
  • Single season points – 208 (2nd)
  • Career rushing yards – 3,983 (2nd)
  • Career rushing attempts – 586 (2nd)
  • Career rushing yards per game – 132.8 (1st) *
  • Career rushing touchdowns – 53 (2nd)
  • Career touchdowns – 56 (2nd)
  • Career points – 340 (3rd)

*Notes:

  • The record for single season rushing yards was previously held by Travis McGuire, who rushed for 1,976 yards in 1991.
  • The record for single season rushing touchdowns is held jointly with Edwin “Dutch” Hill, who scored 34 touchdowns in 1922.
  • The record for career rushing yards per game was previously held by Homer Floyd, who rushed for 118.5 yards per game in 1952-54.

Left to right: Hardnose Award winner Willtrell Hartson, Touchdown Club President George Mizer, Head Coach Nate Moore, Assistant Coach and previous Hardnose Award winner Bo Grunder, defensive lineman Marcus Moore and long snapper Angelo Salvino.

Willtrell Hartson receiving the Hardnose Award from Bo Grunder.

Willtrell Hartson and family

Head Coach Nate Moore with Willtrell Hartson.

dengelhardt