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2024 Massillon Football Season Officially Kicks Off

 The upcoming Tiger football season is officially underway, christened by the annual Summer Kickoff Event, which was held at Eagles 190.  In front of a packed house of avid Massillon fans, Head Coach Nate Moore and his staff reviewed the challenges ahead within the upcoming schedule and spoke about the returning players and promising varsity newcomers.  The event was led by this year’s Massillon Tiger Booster Club President, Ed Starcher.

The Tigers enter the campaign on the heels of a 2023 Division II state championship, during which they posted a 16-0 record, including a victory in the regular season over Division I state champion Lakewood St.  Edward.  According to Moore, all of that that makes Massillon the undisputed champion of the entire state, regardless of division.  But he was quick to underscore that the Tigers are not satisfied with winning their first ever playoff title (to go along with 24 other crowns) and they plan, with the outstanding talent on the roster this year, to make another deep run at the title.

“It’s great to be here,” said Moore.  “Massillon is a special place.  Home to the 2023 state champions.  In an era when it’s not supposed to happen.  A public school is not supposed to win that.  But try to find another city like Massillon that’s doing what we’re doing.  I’m proud to be the head coach at Massillon.  But we’ve now turned the page.”

Moore then reviewed the 2024 schedule, providing the following remarks.

  • Week 1 – Nothing to report at this time.
  • Week 2 – at Canton GlenOak – Glad that the series continues. As long as Coach Scott Garcia is there, this shouldn’t change.
  • Week 3 – Bergen Catholic, New Jersey – Once again, a challenging home opener, this time against the best team in New Jersey. A national Top 25 team.  Big, talented and very well coached.
  • Week 4 – Canisius, New York – Fourth time on the schedule. The Tigers lead the series 2-1.
  • Week 5 – at Lakewood St. Edward – Division I state champs the last three years. A national Top 25 team.  This has turned into quite a rivalry.
  • Week 6 – DeMatha Catholic, Maryland – On of the best teams in the D.C. area. National Top 25.  Big up front.  Very skilled.
  • Week 7 – Football North (Clarkson), Ontario – This is not a typical Canadian team, like Massillon has seen before. They play a U.S. schedule.  This is a good football team.  Several Division 1 players.  Best players in Canada.
  • Week 8 – Nothing to report at this time. Moore is disappointed that Austintown Fitch “tapped out” and dropped the Tigers from the schedule.  Apparently, they had enough.
  • Week 9 – at Warren Harding – This is the final game with the current contract. Discussions to continue the series are underway.
  • Week 10 – Canton McKinley – The greatest game in high school football. At least for us, this will always be the featured game on the schedule.  The Bulldogs return a fair number of good players.  It should be a much better game.  Great players all over the field.  Ecstatic that it is at home this year.

Next up were the various position coaches.

Dan Studer (strength and conditioning) – The off season has ended.  The effort and production was on par with last year.  Great attendance.  The lifting numbers are well up, with four players squatting over 500 lbs.  Conducted speed training.  Three players are sub 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.  Moving into pre-season this week.

Joey Studer / Chris Spruill (defensive line) – There will be some new names this year lining up next to 4-year returning starter Michael Moore Jr.  A young group.  They have a lot of heart and Tiger pride.  Now we’re going to get them technically sound.

Bo Grunder (cornerbacks), also subbing for Dan Hackenbracht (safeties) – Tyler Hackenbracht returns at free safety, with the other spot currently open.  Eager to see who wants to make a name for himself.  At corner, Lennox Lemon and Daylan Pringle are showing promise and will get the first look.

Dave Weber (outside linebackers) – Vito McConnell returns at the position, with many young players in the wings.  But there are a lot of promising kids.

Spencer Leno (inside linebackers / defensive coordinator) – A lot of open spots.  Looking for players who can check the boxes for knowledge, trust, effort, physicality and consistency.  The defensive goals this year is to hold opponents to 17 points or less, limit the run to 100 yards, limit the pass to 150 yards, no big plays, create turnovers and get off the field on third down.

J.P. Simon (offensive line) along with Chip Robinson – J.P. has moved from defense to offense this year.  “We’re going to come off the ball.  We’re going to be physical.  We’re going to win games.  We’re coming for another state title.  There’s no letup.”  Nolan Davenport, Michael Looney and Gavin Kappes return and were either starters or saw significant action last year.  Chris Fair is also in the mix.

Travis McGuire (running backs) – “I’m excited about my room.  I have a lot of guys.  My problem is who to give the ball to in the new offense.”  Returning starters are Jameir Gamble, Mylen Lenix and Peyton Mitchell.

Cale Miller (wide receivers) – “I’m blessed with riches every single year.  I just try not to screw it up!”  The Tigers return starters Braylyn Toles, Jacques Carter and Ricardo Wells.  “Plenty of experience.”  We also have some young guys coming up.”  Gio Jackson and Deonte Malone.

Alex Wood (quarterbacks / offensive coordinator) – “Thank you to the Tigers Booster Club.  I’m excited to be here.  Jalen Slaughter, a 4-year returning starter, is in the lead for the quarterback position based on his experience.  Two other players are in the mix, including sophomore Manny Patterson and junior Eli Moore.  Patterson is on the smaller side, but throws a nice football.  And he can run.  Eli has come a long way and will push the other two guys.  Look for a different style of offense this year, in both the run and pass games.  It will be explosive.  Multiple formations and personnel.  The scheme is to get the ball into the hands of the guys that can make plays.  The ultimate goal is to score at least 28 points in every game.  But in order to that, the Tigers will need to run AND throw well.

Moore wrapped up his presentation by giving kudos to the coaching staff, in particular to the fact that ten members are former Tiger players, making it very unique.  Because of that, the coaches are able to pass the Massillon traditions onto the players.  “Our kids will stay in the fight longer,” he emphasized.  “Credit the work and investment of our coaching staff.  Our kids understand the tradition.  It means more to them.  Any of these guys (coaches) can be hired at any school in the country.  But they want to be here.”

The next formal event will be the ring ceremony, which is scheduled for June 27 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium at 6:00 pm.

There will also be a home 7-on-7 scrimmage at noon on June 25.

Go Tigers.