Twenty-Four Massillon Seniors Will Suit Up for the Last Time
It’s the end of November and the Tigers are exactly where they want to be. That is, playing for a state championship. It was a goal set by the team a year ago, given the high number of starters returning this year. And it was bolstered by a great senior class, one that fashioned a 12-2 record and a regional championship in 2022, and one that will be greatly missed when their senior season comes to an end.
Pre-season talk centered around a playoff region that was ripe for the picking. And it played itself out exactly as expected. What wasn’t necessarily expected, however, was heading into the title game undefeated at 15-0 and setting a Massillon record for total wins in a season. That’s because there were three formidable teams standing in the way: Valdosta, Lakewood St. Edward and St. John’s. And, of course, Canton McKinley is waiting at the end.
Valdosta was and still is the winningest team in the country, with Massillon currently in the third position. The game itself received national media attention with the Tigers playing against a team that was very athletic and having a dynamic offense and an aggressive defense. But a win for the Tigers would surely set the tone for the season. After falling behind early 14-0, Massillon regrouped and came away with a 28-17 victory. The win also instilled confidence in the players that they would be at least competitive against the other two powers.
St. Edward came to Tigertown in Week 5 still stinging from a 31-28 upset loss from the previous season. Especially, since that was their only loss that year and they rolled by season’s end to a second consecutive Division 1 state championship. There is no way that Massillon was supposed to win the rematch. The Eagles were unbeaten and ran an offense that was bolstered by a 300 lb. line, perhaps the largest in the country. But the Tigers not only won the game, they dominated the statistics, in spite of winning just 15-12. Nevertheless, it propelled the Massillon program into the national spotlight and locals began to realize just how good this team was.
By the time St. John’s came to town, they weren’t looking as dangerous anymore, given the Tigers’ success up to that point in the season. Although the Cadets did play a good game, featuring some of the best athletes seen this year, they couldn’t overcome a 21-7 halftime deficit and eventually fell 28-7. On the ground, St. John’s rushed for 131 yards at 6.9 yards per attempt, the most yards given up by the Massillon defense this year. But they just couldn’t extend their drives to the end zone, most of which ended with either a punt or a stop on downs.
And, of course, the Tigers handled the Bulldogs easily, winning 35-0. In the playoffs, they won the first five games without being challenged, with a scoring margin of 42-6. But now comes the most significant match of the season, against Akron Hoban, for the Division 2 state title. Without a doubt, this Massillon team couldn’t have gotten this far without having a great senior class. Below are these players: