Tigers Vie for Yet Another Regional Championship
This Friday Massillon will face Green in the Division 2, Region 7 championship game. With a win, the Tigers will advance to the state semifinal game to play the winner of Region 8, which involves Cincinnati Anderson and Cincinnati Withrow. Massillon will also reverse the outcome of the 2021 regional final game, in which they lost to Green, 26-25.
The Ohio high school football playoffs began in 1972 and this is the 52nd year of its long history. During that time Massillon has captured fifteen regional championships, the second-most in the state among Division 1 and 2 schools. Cleveland St. Ignatius also has fifteen, while Cincinnati Moeller has the most titles, with eighteen.
During the first six years of the playoffs only one team from each region participated. Massillon, assigned to Division 1 at the time, qualified for the state tournament twice, in 1972 and 1979. The Tigers continued to compete in Division 1 through 2012 and won eight regional championships by defeating a bracket opponent, while losing four other times.
In 2012 the divisions were restructured, resulting in Massillon moving down to Division 2. From then through 2020, the Tigers have taken home the crown in five of six appearances, making their overall record in that game, 13-5. Massillon has also competed in the regional finals game in each of the last six years, this year marking the seventh straight.
Four times they faced Canton McKinley in a rematch, winning three of four. In 1980 they won 14-6, in 1994 they lost 27-20, and they won 21-3 in 2005 and 10-7 in 2009. With two of the wins, 1980 and 2005, they reversed losses that occurred during the regular season.
In 1980, under head coach Mike Currence, Massillon dropped the regular season game to McKinley 16-7, spoiling a potential unbeaten season. The Bulldogs completely dominated, leading in total yards, 313-96. This being the year the OHSAA increased the number of regional qualifiers from one to two, Massillon was fortunate enough to grab the second spot, setting up a rematch the following week at Faucett Stadium. McKinley still led in total yards, but it was the Tigers that owned the scoreboard, taking advantage of a strong defense and three Bulldog turnovers. Massillon parlayed that win into a trip to the state finals, against Cincinnati Moeller.
With Tom Stacy at the helm in 2005, an undefeated McKinley eleven negated a potential Massillon 10-win season with a 38-8 one-sided performance. The Bulldogs led 14-0 at the half and then just piled on the points the second half, while holding the Tigers to just 127 total yards. Three weeks later, following wins over North Canton and Findlay, Massillon would meet McKinley again, at the Akron Rubber Bowl. This time, it was the other team’s turn to shine. A 100-yard effort by Brian Gamble and a 10 of 12 passing performance by Bobby Huth, coupled with some stingy defense, made the difference in a 21-3 win. After a 21-17 upset of Lakewood St. Edward the following week, the Tigers faced Cincinnati St. Xavier for the state title.
The biggest win while in Division 2 came in 2019 under current head coach Nate Moore, when they defeated defending state champion Akron Hoban, 17-14. All of the points were scored in the first half, with a 31-yard Alex Bauer field goal with seven seconds left making the difference in the score. The Knights mounted a final drive late in the fourth quarter, but they came up short when linebacker Ben Krichbaum sacked the quarterback on a fourth down play with two minutes remaining in the game. Massillon then ran out the clock to secure the victory. Current OSU running back Deamonte Trayanum was held to 18 carries for 79 yards and no touchdowns.
Here are the scores for Massillon’s past regional finals games:
- 1972 – Uncontested
- 1979 – Uncontested
- 1980 – Canton McKinley – Won 14-6
- 1982 – Sandusky – Won 29-7
- 1989 – Akron Garfield – Won 43-7
- 1990 – Sandusky – Lost 27-7
- 1991 – Toledo St. John’s – Won 42-21
- 1993 – Walsh Jesuit – Lost 30-20
- 1994 – Canton McKinley – Lost 27-20
- 2001 – North Canton – Won 27-7
- 2002 – Pickerington – Won 14-0
- 2005 – Canton McKinley – Won21-3
- 2009 – Canton McKinley – Won 10-7
- 2017 – New Albany – Won 24-6
- 2018 – Wadsworth – Won 41-17
- 2019 – Akron Hoban – Won 17-14
- 2020 – Massillon Perry – Won 43—13
- 2021 – Green – Lost 26-25
- 2022 – Uniontown Lake – Won 24-6