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Massillon Rolls Over Anderson, Heads to State Finals

Game Statistics

If you watched the movie “Friday Night Lights” you might recall the mantra preached to the Permian players by the head coach: support each other, give it everything you have and play perfect with clear hearts.  It wasn’t a perfect game for nationally ranked Massillon on Friday at a fabulous Historic Crew Stadium, but it close to it as the Tigers literally took a very good Cincinnati Anderson team apart in the Division 2 state semifinals, 55-7.  And the damage was done early, with the game proceeding into a running-clock situation midway into the third quarter.

The offense never punted, although it was stopped three times inside Anderson territory.  The defense as usual was relentless.  Aside from an opening Raptor score, they kept an opponent that was averaging over 40 points per game out of the red zone the remainder of the night.  The front seven also accounted for eight quarterback sacks and thirteen tackles-for-loss.  In addition, Vinny Keller was marvelous on special teams, dropping each of his kickoffs on a dime and connecting on all seven PAT tries.

With the win, Massillon advances to next Thursday’s state final matchup at Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium to face local nemesis Akron Hoban, with which they have some recent history.  The once-beaten Knights, in their semifinal matchup against previously unbeaten Avon, overcame a 14-3 deficit to win 17-14.  The Tigers remain undefeated at 15-0, while Anderson closes the season at 13-2.

Emy Chris Louis Jr. (now wearing No. 8)

The game started out with a bang when quarterback Da’One Owens, following Massillon’s opening game kickoff return, took the snap in an empty backfield and headed through the middle of the line.  Somehow, he emerged on the other side, broke free and then outraced the Anderson secondary 68 yards for a score.  The Raptors immediately responded with a beautiful passing drive for which the Tigers seemed to have no answer.  It ended when quarterback Justice Burnam, 1st Team All-Southwest District, connected with Trace Jallick on a screen pass for a 19-yard touchdown, tying the score at seven apiece.  Not to be outdone, Emy Louis Jr. took the ensuing kickoff and raced 91-yards down the right sidelines for a score.

At that point it looked like it was going to turn into a typical Anderson game: high-scoring with a total lack of defense.  Only, the Tigers regrouped and shut out the Raptors the rest of the way.  It appeared that the Tiger secondary had figured out the wide receiver passing routes and thereafter kept the Raptors from mounting any serious drive.  Anderson, however, did hurt themselves in a couple of ways.  The first was through several dropped passes.  The second was by a coach that was determined to do what he has done throughout the season; i.e., go for it on fourth down, regardless of position on the field.  They failed six times, three of which were in their own territory.  You just can’t do that against top-level competition.  For they will make you pay.  And the Tigers did just that.

Anderson mounted a short drive to the Massillon 44, but Burnam was intercepted by a diving Vito McConnell at the 45.  The Tigers then drove to the Raptor 30, but were stopped on downs, hindered by twenty yards in penalties.  Anderson took over at their own 20 and did pick up a first down, but following a sack by Chase Bond were forced to punt.  From there Massillon engineering a methodical 14-play drive that covered 67 yards and ended when Mike Wright Jr. powered it in from the five, making the score 21-7.

The Raptors subsequently advanced to the Tiger 44 and faced a 4th and 2, but Wright and Maverick Clark combined on fourth down for the stop with a 2-yard loss.  Two plays later Massillon was in the end zone.  This time it was a 31-yard bomb to a wide-open Emy Lewis Jr., set up  by a 23-yard burst by Ja’Meir Gamble.

The Tigers might have taken that 28-7 lead into the locker room, but Anderson elected to go for it on 4th and 4 from their own 31.  Burnham went back to pass and, failing to find an open receiver, was promptly sacked by Bond and Brandon Carman at the 29.  A 19-yard pass to Jacques Carter and 10-yard run by Mylen Lenix, during which he reversed field while running out of several would-be tackles and dove into the end zone.  Suddenly, Massillon was up 35-7 and the game was essentially over at that point.

In the third quarter Wright scored from five yards out, capping a 4-play, 57-yard drive to send the game into running-clock.  During the play the 285 lb. Wright showed that he is truly an accomplished running back.  He took the handoff from Owens and headed up the middle.  But it was clogged so he cut to the outside and cleared the edge of the fray with a tremendous burst of speed, and crossing the goal lie untouched to the delight of the large Massillon crowd.

With the score at 42-7 the varsity yielded the field in favor of the backups.  But it didn’t take long for them to add points.  Following a 39-yard run by quarterback Jalen Slaughter off a fake handoff, the Tigers drove it in with Peytton Mitchell scoring from the one.

Chase Bond

Massillon would have been content at that point to end the onslaught.  Only, Bond tipped a Burnam pass, intercepted it, and then strolled 49 yards for an uncontested touchdown.  It appeared to come to the surprise of even himself, who was surely in unknown territory at the moment he crossed the goal line.  Final score, 55-7.

Several players shared the ball as the Tigers rolled up 262 yards on the ground.  The various ball carriers included Owns (75 yards), Gamble (52 yards), Mitchell (41 yards), Slaughter (39 yards), Lenix (33 yards) and Wright (18 yards), all-in-all accounting for five touchdowns.  Owens was also 8 of 13 passing for 135 yards and a score.  On the receiving end were Carter (4-46), Toles (3-58) and Louis (1-31).

Defensively, Shon Robinson, playing in place of the injured Dorian Pringle, was once again the leading tackler, recording 8.0 tackle points.  Bond had 5.0 tackle points with three sacks and Wright had 5.0 with 2.0 sacks.

Anderson’s Burham completed 33 of 50 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown.  Southwest District Offensive Player of the Year running back Brodey Berg was held to 9 yards on 5 carries.  Joey Emrick recorded 7.5 tackle points and Leo Muehlenkamp had 6.5.  Trace Jalick caught 9 passes for 103 yards and Berg caught 9 for 35.