Author: Don Engelhardt


Massillon Will Remain in Division II For the 2022…

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has released its playoff regional assignments for the upcoming season and the Tigers will remain in Division II, Region 7.  The region is dominated by Columbus-area teams, but also features several local ones.

Last year Region 7 had 25 teams.  But this year, the number has been increased to 28.  Whereas Regions 5 and 6 remain at 28, Region 8 has been reduced from 25 to 22.

Upgraded to Division I from last season’s Region 7 are Olentangy Berlin and Olentangy.  Downgraded to Division III are Columbus Whitehall and Logan.  Meanwhile, Columbus Briggs, Columbus Franklin Heights, Teays Valley and Columbus West have transferred in from Region 8.  Newcomers include to Division II are Dover and Columbus DeSales.

Region 7 is not considered a challenging division top-to-bottom, but it still has several teams capable of taking the crown, including Massillon, which won the region four straight times from 2017 to 2020, and Green, which upset the Tigers in last year’s regional finals.  Others in contention include Perry, Lake, North Canton, Big Walnut, Dublin Scioto, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne, plus newcomers Dover and Columbus DeSales.

Changes in the other divisions:

  • Region 5: Solon, Shaker Heights and Cleveland John Adams have entered from Division I, Akron St. Vincent has entered from Division III, Barberton and Cleveland Rhodes have transferred in, Cleveland Benedictine, Bedford, Kent Roosevelt, Madison and University School have dropped to Division III, and Cleveland John Marshall has moved up to Division I.  Akron Hoban and Walsh remain.
  • Region 6: Toledo Start has entered from Division I, Ashland and Sylvania Southview have entered from Division III, Barberton and Cleveland Rhodes have transferred out, and Wadsworth has moved up to Division I.  Avon and Toledo Central Catholic remain.
  • Region 8: Cincinnati Aiken, Cincinnati Northwest and Hamilton Ross have moved in from Division III, Columbus Briggs, Columbus West, Columbus Franklin Heights and Teays Valley have transferred out, and Tecumseh and West Carrollton have dropped to Division III.  Cincinnati LaSalle and Cincinnati Winton Woods remain.

Greatest Massillon Player Performance Series, Part 5 – Wide…

This is the fifth part in a series on the greatest performances by Massillon players, as selected by the Booster Club Football Museum staff.   Part 4 focuses on the wide receivers throughout the timeline of Massillon football (1891-present).

Unlike in the previous Series Parts for quarterbacks and running backs, this presentation uses a completely different approach in selecting the best of the best.  A receiver does not have as much control over his performance, aside from running a good route, since he must rely on the quarterback to make a decision to actually throw him the ball and throw it accurately.  So, receptions, yards and touchdowns data can be misleading.  Therefore, the criteria used in this presentation focuses on a receiver’s impact in securing the victory via one of the following two scenarios:

  • A winning touchdown reception in the fourth quarter
  • A key reception that sets up a winning touchdown reception in the fourth quarter

To start off, here are the current record-holders for wide receivers:

Yards – Andrew Wilson-Lamp (2019)

  • Opponent – Akron St. Vincent (0-0); finished the season 8-3
  • Final Score – 44-14
  • WR numbers – 11 receptions for 232 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – Wilson-Lamp caught more than half of the team’s passes in routing the Irish.  Seven of his 11 receptions went for more than ten yards, including long ones of 51, 45, 40 and 24 yards.  “I just came out ready to play,” Wilson-Lamp said after his record-setting performance.  “I wasn’t expecting to break anything.” – Chris Easterling, Independent

Receptions – Austin Kutscher (2017)

  • Austin KutscherOpponent – Canisius, NY (4-1); finished the season 8-4
  • Final Score – 35-49 L
  • WR numbers17 receptions for 208 yards and 0 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – Attempting to come from behind in this loss, Longwell threw 30 passes and completed 22 of them.  His primary target was Kutscher, who caught 17 passes out of 19 attempts, with long completions of 42, 26, 23 and 20 yards.

Touchdowns – Wendell Lohr (1934)

  • Opponent – Barberton
  • Final Score – 54-0
  • WR numbers5 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Bob Shertzer and Mike Byelene
  • The story – Lohr scored the first three Massillon touchdowns on pass receptions of 16, 44 and 10 yards.  His third quarter TD of 29 yards upped the score to 40-0 and he then finished it off in the fourth with a 20-yard TD reception, the Tigers’ final TD of the night.  In between, he returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown to give him six TDs for the night.

 Longest Touchdown – Jayden Ballard (2019)

  • Opponent – Monroeville Gateway, PA (6-1); finished the season 12-3
  • Final Score – 48-12
  • WR numbers – 5 receptions for 145 yards and 1 touchdown; long of 95 yards
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – Massillon held a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter and had just stopped a potential Gateway score by recovering a fumble at the 4 yard line.  On 2nd and 9 from the five, in an attempt to get out of the hole, Longwell unloaded to Ballard.  The speedster separated himself from the defender along the right sideline, secured the ball in stride at 40 and then outraced the would-be tackler 60 yards to the end zone.  The score swung the momentum and gave the Tigers a commanding 17-0 lead.

Twelve times in history the Tigers came from behind to win in the fourth quarter, with the deciding points coming via the pass.  Here are those featured receivers, shown in chronological order:

Al Brown (1947)

  • Opponent – Canton Lincoln
  • Final Score – 13-7
  • WR numbers – 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Jack Hill
  • The story – Massillon was down 7-6 to the Lions with just over four minutes left in the game, when quarterback Jack Hill spotted Brown breaking open in the end zone.  Hill let it fly and Brown leaped high between two defenders, coming down with the ball in his arms for the winning points.

Clyde Childers (1957)

  • Opponent – Warren Harding (6-0); finished the season 9-1 and 4th in the state
  • Final Score – 20-14
  • WR numbers – 2 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Gene Stewart; Joe Sparma
  • The story – This one was the infamous “clock game.”  With the scored tied at 14 and just seconds left in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback and future major league baseball pitcher Joe Sparma was inserted into the game due to his big arm.  Sparma unloaded a “Hail Mary” pass from midfield to Childers.  The 6’-4” Childers, who had scored earlier on a 29-yard touchdown pass, outjumped two defenders, tipped the ball in the air and secured it at the two yard line.  Then he lunged across the goal line for the win.

Eddie Bell (1974)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (9-0); rivalry game; finished the season 9-1
  • Final Score – 20-15
  • WR numbers – 4 receptions for 67 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Greg Wood
  • The story – It was 5-4 underdog Massillon against undefeated and playoff-bound McKinley.  The Bulldogs had erased the Tigers’ 14-0 halftime advantage and, while owning a 15-14 lead, was desperately holding on.  Massillon began its final drive from its own 35 yard line Wood went immediately to the air.  Three down-and-outs were caught by Bell and, following a quarterback sack, the Tigers had the ball at the Bulldog 33 with just 13 seconds left.  Somehow on the next play Wood avoided the blitz, stepped to his side and unloaded a pass to Bell, who had beaten his defender down the right sideline.  Bell caught the ball in the end zone and pandemonium ensued, with the Tigers savoring the win while knocking McKinley out of the playoffs.

Curt Strawder (1978)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (7-1); rivalry game; finished the season 7-2
  • Final Score – 13-10
  • WR numbers – 8 receptions for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Brent Offenbecher
  • The story – McKinley held a 10-0 lead into the fourth quarter when unbeaten Massillon finally got the offense into gear.  Strawder first caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Offenbecher to make the score 10-6.  After Tim Reese intercepted a McKinley pass at the visitor’s 33, the Tigers were on the march again.  A pass completion to Strawder moved the ball to the 19.  Then, after a second completion advanced it to the 7, Strawder secured a look-in pass in the end zone for the winning points.

Jerry May (1992)

  • Opponent – Walsh Jesuit (1-0); finished the season 7-2
  • Final Score – 27-24
  • WR numbers – 2 receptions for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Mike Danzy
  • The story – Walsh led 14-0 going into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers tallied three times to take a 21-14 lead.  That third TD was a 59-yarder from Danzy to May.  Only, Walsh responded on their final possession of regulation and sent the game into overtime.  In period one, the Warriors suffered a penalty and eventually settled for a 24-yard field goal.  Now it was the Tigers’ turn.  On 3rd and 5 Danzy rolled right and found May in the right corner of the end zone for the win.  “They were biting pretty hard (on fakes to Simpson),” noted Danzy. “Jerry was to go out and up (to the right corner of the end zone.” “We hadn’t run that play since last year,” May said. “I was playing quarterback then and it was my favorite play.” – Steve Doerschuk, Independent

Vaughn Mohler (1994)

  • Opponent – Fremont Ross (8-2); playoffs first round
  • Final Score – 35-28
  • WR numbers – 1 reception for 7 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Willie Spencer, Jr.
  • The story – Massillon battled Ross and their stellar running back Charles Woodson to a 28-28 tie late in the fourth quarter of this playoff game.  Starting at their own 21, the Tigers moved the ball via run and pass to the Ross seven yard line.  Then, on 3rd and goal, Spencer rolled right and bought time with his scrambling until a receiver broke open.  Finally, he spotted Mohler in the end zone and threw a strike for the winning score.  “That play was supposed to go to Leon, but he was co­vered,” Spencer explained. “So I looked for my secondary re­ceiver and he was covered. I thought I was going to have to run out of bounds, but then I saw Vaughn and I threw it and he caught it.” – Joe Shaheen, Independent

Jeremiah Drobney (1999)

  • Opponent – Fremont Ross (3-4); finished the season 4-6
  • Final Score – 20-14
  • WR numbers – 1 reception for 5 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Dave Irwin
  • The story – Massillon was bidding for their first undefeated season since 1978, but trailed Ross 14-12 entering the fourth quarter.  The Tigers then mounted an 85-yard drive and scored when Irwin connected with Drobney in the middle of the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown pass.  Massillon then held on for the win.

Devin Smith (2010)

  • Opponent – Canton GlenOak (1-0); finished the season 4-6
  • Final Score – 28-27
  • WR numbers – 5 receptions for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Brody Tonn
  • The story – With the fourth quarter yet to be played, GlenOak held a 27-21 lead over the visiting Tigers.  But it only took two plays to turn the game in Massillon’s favor. Tonn first completed a pass to Smith for eight yards and then on the next play he sent the speedster deep.  Although the pass was underthrown, Smith retreated, secured the ball and ran the remaining distance to complete the 45-yard play and tie the score.  Anthony McCarthy’s PAT put the Tigers over the top for the win.  It was Smith’s second TD of the game, the first coming in the opening quarter on a 43-yard pass from Tonn that bit into a 14-0 GlenOak lead.

Tre’von Morgan (2017)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-1); rivalry game; finished the season 8-3
  • Final Score – 16-15
  • WR numbers – 4 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – With 9:15 left in the game, McKinley scored to take a 15-9 lead.  But Massillon came right back and marched 92 yards in nine plays for the winning points.  On 4th and 3 from the Bulldog eight, Morgan lined up in the left slot and ran a scissors route with wide receiver Austin Kutscher.  The play confused Morgan’s defender and he was late to the coverage, leaving the 6’-6” receiver wide open for Longwell’s floater.  It came at the 6:02 mark.  Klay Moll then kicked the PAT for the lead.  The game ended on a McKinley field goal attempt that was wide left.

Dean Clark (2017)

  • Opponent – Boardman (6-4); playoffs first round
  • Final Score – 28-23
  • WR numbers – 2 receptions for 44 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – This first-round playoff game was in Massillon’s favor early.  But with 9:19 left in the game Boardman scored to take a 2-possession lead at 23-14.  Austin Kutcher’s 36-yard touchdown pass was able to cut the margin to 23-21, completing a 74-yard drive.  The Tigers needed one more score to win, but first they needed to stop the Spartans, which they did in three plays, forcing a punt.  Starting at their own 41, Longwell and the Tigers went to work.  The team advanced to the 19 yard line in four plays and then on the next play Longwell found Clark open on a post pattern.  He secured the ball at the five and was quickly in the end zone for the win with 5:46 left.

Jayden Ballard (2018)

  • Opponent – East St. Louis, IL (5-1); finished the season 9-3
  • Final Score – 46-40
  • WR numbers – 3 receptions for 58 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Aidan Longwell
  • The story – The Tigers were facing national power East St. Louis and this one turned into an offensive affair, with the lead changing hands five times.  With 3:33 left in the game, Massillon had the ball 3rd and 6 at the ESL 39 yard line.  From there, Longwell dropped back and unloaded the bomb to sophomore Jayden Ballard.  The speedster had just beaten the defender and caught the ball for the win, one step before going out the back of the end zone.

Martavien Johnson (2020)

  • Opponent – Cincinnati LaSalle (8-2); playoffs state semifinals
  • Final Score – 14-10
  • WR numbers – 3 receptions for 70 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Zach Catrone
  • The story – Seeking revenge for a loss in the previous year’s state finals, Massillon proceeded to wage a spirited, defensive battle with LaSalle.  But with 2:13 left in the game, the Tigers were down 10-7 and, following a Lancer punt, had the ball at the LaSalle 4.  On the first play, Catrone went play-action with Johnson running a skinny post with Jayden running a deep post to clear the secondary.  Catrone delivered a strike to Johnson, who caught the ball in stride near the 20 and sped into the end zone for the winning points.

At least six times in a game a Massillon receiver caught a big pass to set up the winning points.  Here are a few of them, in chronological order:

Curt Strawder (1977)

  • Opponent – Gahanna Lincoln (1-0); finished the season 8-1
  • Final Score – 28-20
  • WR numbers – 6 receptions for 169 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Brent Offenbecher
  • The story – Massillon had lost to Gahanna 10-0 the previous year and was against the wall this second time around.  It was a seemingly impossible situation with 1:11 left on the clock and the Tigers facing a 4th and 19 at their own 39.  So Offenbecher went deep and found Strawder, who dove ahead for the ball, catching it over his shoulder at the Gahanna 29, completing a 42-yard play for new life.  Three plays later Greg Carpenter scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run.  Strawder, the soft-spoken 5-10, 147-pount wide receiver, said of his catch: “We had to win, you know. I just kept my eye on the ball and it came to me. I felt real good after I caught it.” – Roland Dreussi, Independent

Montale Watkins (2000)

  • Opponent – Lakewood St. Edward (6-2); finished the season 7-4
  • Final Score – 28-27
  • WR numbers – 7 receptions for 147 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Justin Zwick
  • The story – In 1999 Massillon handled St. Edward easily on their own turf, but this time it was a more difficult task, on the road. Midway through the fourth quarter the Tigers were down 27-18 when Zwick connected with Watkins on a 20-yard touchdown pass.  That closed the gap to 27-25.  One more score was needed.  On Massillon’s final try of the night, from the 11 yard line, Zwick escaped from the pocket and found Watkins open down the right sideline.  Watkins grabbed the pass at the Massillon 45 and wasn’t tackled until he had reached 37.  The play covered 52 yards.  David Abdul then capped off the ditch drive by delivering on a 36-yard game-winning field goal.  “The cornerback pushed me to the inside, then released,” Watkins said. “The safety never came over, so I just sat there.  It seemed like the ball took forever to get there, but I just made sure I caught it before I did anything else.” – Mike Keeting, Independent

Devin Jordan (2002)

  • Opponent – Massillon Perry (10-1); playoffs second round
  • Final Score – 23-21
  • WR numbers – 7 receptions for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Matt Martin
  • The story – The Tigers jumped on top 13-0 in the second quarter of this playoff game, but Perry responded with two fourth quarter touchdown runs to take a 21-20 lead with 1:17 left in the game.  In a final effort, Martin completed six straight pass and then threw long to Jordan.  The pass was underthrown, but the future Buckeye reversed direction and made a back shoulder catch at the Perry 18 with just seconds remaining.  Max Shafer finished it off by kicking the game-winner from 35 yards out.

 Zack Vanryzin (2005)

  • Opponent – Cleveland St. Ignatius (4-1); finished the season 5-5
  • Final Score – 29-26
  • WR numbers – 4 receptions for 73 yards and 0 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Bobby Huth, Shawn Weisend
  • The story – Massillon trailed 26-21 with 5:27 left on the clock and needed one more to score to secure their first-ever win over Ignatius.  Starting at their own 28, Massillon advanced to the Wildcat 42, but now faced a 4th and 15 situation.  That’s when Weisand, in the game for the injured Huth, found Vanryzin open on a crossing route.  Vanryzin gathered the ball and made it 24 yards to the Iggy 18 before he was tackled, giving the Tigers an opportunity to at least tie the game with a field goal.  Only, with ten seconds left in the game, Weisend managed to run it in from five yards out for the win.


  • Opponent – Lakewood St. Edward (12-0); playoffs state semifinals
  • Final Score – 21-17
  • WR numbers – 5 receptions for 98 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Quarterback – Bobby Huth
  • The story –   St. Edward was leading 17-14 late in the game with Massillon on the march. But the drive stalled near midfield due to an errant center snap and it was suddenly 3rd down and a long way from the first down marker.  But Huth found Gamble sprinting across the field.  The junior running back/receiver caught the ball in stride and then sprinted the required distance down the left sideline to pick up the first down.  It was simply an inconceivable conversion of a 3rd and 30 situation.  Gamble eventually finished it off with a run up the middle, with 1:56 left on the clock.  The Tigers then held St. Eds on its final possession and secured the victory.  “We were on the same page,” Gamble said. “I was supposed to run a post and I saw that they had it double covered, so I just broke it off to the inside, and I was hoping Bobby saw me. He did and I caught it, and I knew I had to get a first down and get out of bounds and stop the clock.  I think they started playing some ‘Cover 2,’ where they’d press up on me and try to double cover me. That’s what happened on the third‑and‑30 play, so I broke it off into a dig, and me and Bobby were on the same page.” – Chris Easterling — Independent

Justin Olack (2009)

  • Opponent – Twinsburg (10-1); playoffs second round
  • Final Score – 10-7
  • WR numbers – 4 receptions for 104 yards and 0 touchdowns
  • Quarterback – Robert Partridge
  • The story – The score was tied 7-7 with 2:38 left when the Tigers started their final drive of the night, starting from the Massillon 20.  After completing a 10-yard pass to Devin Smith, Partridge found Olack on a 41-yard completion to advance the ball to the Twinsburg 29 and set up a potential game-winning field goal.  After the Tigers picked up six yards on the ensuing plays, Jeremy Geier didn’t disappoint and drilled a game-winning 40-yard field goal.

Six New Members Slated for the Massillon Halls of…

The Massillon Wall of Champions will welcome Andy Alleman as a new addition to its honored roll of former athletics.  He will be officially inducted during the Massillon football game against Cincinnati Moeller.   In addition, five new members will be added to the Massillon Football Hall of Fame, including Duane “Dewey” Knight, Jim Russell, Fred “Pokey” Blunt, Bobby Huth and Willie Spencer, Jr.  All will have commemorative plaques mounted in the sports hall at the high school.

Andy Alleman – Alleman played just one year for Massillon, but he must have made quite an early impression, for he was named a team captain before the season even began.  And he didn’t disappoint on the field, especially from his middle linebacker position, where he was a dominating force, wreaking havoc against opposing quarterbacks.  He also played a little offense, lining up at blocking fullback.

In 2001 the Tigers finished 12-2, with both losses coming to eventual Division 1 state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius: one in the regular season and the other in the state semifinals.  Led by the 6’-4”, 234 lb. Alleman and his ferocious linebacker play, the Tiger defense held opponents to an average of just 3.2 yards per carry, which is Massillon’s 3rd best all-time against spread offenses.  That translated into a mere 114 yards rushing allowed per game, which is 4th best.  For his play, Alleman was named 2001 WHBC Stark County Player of the Year

After high school, Andy received a scholarship offer from the University of Pittsburgh and played on the defensive line from 2002-2004.  But in 2005 he transferred to the University of Akron, where he completed his final two years of eligibility, as a full-time starter, only this time on the offensive line.  He must have found this position to his liking, for in his second year he was named both Most Valuable Offensive Lineman and Weight Lifter of the Year.  In addition, he was part of the 2005 Zips team that captured the Mid-American Conference East championship and played for the MAC title.  Post-Akron, Andy was invited to participate in both the Hula Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, and he was also invited to the NFL Combine.  Recently, he was inducted into the University of Akron Hall of Fame.

In 2007, the New Orleans Saints drafted Alleman in the 3rd round as the No. 88 pick overall as an offensive guard.  As such, he became the 4th highest U. Akron grad to be drafted in their long history.  But, as with many NFL players, he was a journeyman and, throughout his 3-year pro career also played for the Miami Dolphins, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts.  In all, he saw action in 24 games (15 for Miami and 9 for Kansas City) and started in seven.

After football Alleman returned to U. Akron to complete his bachelor’s degree in Business and Organizational Communication and currently works in sales.

In 2016 Alleman was inducted into the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame.

Duane “Dewey” Knight – Knight made his mark in Massillon as a Booster Club President and beyond, playing instrumental roles in bringing several major projects to fruition.  In 1966 and 1967 he held the position of Booster Club Vice President and then served as President in 1968.  But he remained active throughout his time with the club and spearheaded the following projects:

  • 1966-1999 – Tiger Game Program Chairman
  • 1974 – Purchase of the first Tiger calliope and truck
  • 1989 – Co-Chairman of the Omni sand turf project, the Tigers’ first artificial playing surface
  • 2002 – Solicitation of funding for the Eagles Athletic Complex
  • 2003 – Purchase and construction of the north parking lot
  • Long-time Sideliner

Jim Russell – Russell played football in an age when everyone went both ways.  One needed to be tough as nails, have incredible endurance and just be a good football player.  And Russell, as both an offensive and defensive lineman, checked all of the boxes during his 3-year career for the Tigers.  But, he also was able to share in the celebratory success Massillon achieved at that time.

Under Head Coach Paul Brown, Russell started during all three of his years.  In 1938 the Tigers finished 10-0 and were named state champions.  They held onto that crown the following year with another 10-0 mark, but this time also garnered national championship honors.  Success continued throughout 1940 with another perfect mark, which included nine shutouts.  Only McKinley was able to score a single touchdown.  Of course, the Tigers were again both state and national champs.

For his play, Russell was named 2nd Team All Stark County guard in 1938, 1st Team All Stark County guard in 1939 and both 1st Team All Stark County guard and 1st Team A.P. All-Ohio guard in 1940.

Fred “Pokey” Blunt – Blunt was one of the most prolific running backs in Massillon history.  As a 3-year starter he scored 34 rushing touchdowns, which ranks 5th all-time in the Massillon records book.  He was also part of three state championships and one national crown.

In 1939, his sophomore year under Coach Paul Brown, Blunt scored twelve touchdowns and accounted for 74 of his team’s 460 offensive points.  Included in that was a 3-touchdown effort against Canton Lehman.

The following year he tallied nine rushing TDs, including a 3-score night against Cathedral Latin, which finished the season as the best team in Cleveland with a 9-1 record.  For his effort he was named Repository All-Stark County running back and 1st Team A.P. All-Ohio running back.

Blunt wrapped up his Massillon career in 1941 as a team captain under new head coach Bud Houghton.  For the year, he scored twelve rushing touchdowns and added a receiving TD against Canton McKinley, compiling a team-leading 84 points in total.  Three TDs were recorded against Alliance.  He also repeated as both Repository All-Stark County running back and 1st Team A.P. All-Ohio running back.

Bobby Huth – Huth was small in stature at 5’-9”, 160 lbs., but big in heart as a Massillon Tiger, leading his team for two years at the quarterback position.  And at the end of his career, Bobby had his name all over the Massillon record book.

After a modest beginning as a sophomore, Huth became the starter in 2005, completing 141 of 223 passes for 2,017 yards (9th all-time) and 18 touchdowns.  His 63.2% completion mark ranks 3rd.  Huth was a part of many significant victories that year, including the following:

  • A 34-31 win over Elder at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium
  • A first-ever win over Cleveland St. Ignatius, by the score of 29-26.
  • A 21-3 playoff victory over Canton McKinley in which he completed 9 of 11 passes and tossed a touchdown pass.
  • A 21-17 win over Cleveland St. Edward in the Division 1 state semifinals.  In that one he passed for 230 yards and two TDs and led his team to victory after falling behind by ten points.  He also completed an inconceivable 3rd and 30 for a first down during the winning drive.
  • An appearance in the Division 1 state finals, where the Tigers were edged by Cincinnati St. Xavier, 24-17.

The following season, as a team captain, Huth completed 151 (8th all-time) of 260 passes for 1,955 yards and 21 touchdowns, with a completion mark of 58.1%.  In a playoff game against Perry he passed for 260 yards and three scores.  For his effort that year he was named 2nd Team A.P. Division 1 All-Ohio quarterback.

For his career Huth completed 297 passes for 4,077 yards, both 4th all-time bests.  His completion mark of 60.0% is 2nd all-time.

Willie Spencer, Jr. – Spencer was one of the most athletic quarterbacks in Massillon history.  Then again, he was playing on the heels of his father, Willie Sr., who was a sensational high school All-American running back for the Tigers in 1971.

In 1993 during his junior year Spencer became a varsity starter at defensive back and was part of a team that compiled a 10-2 record, while losing in the playoff regionals.  With an uncanny ability quickly break for the ball, he had six pass interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, including 87 yards against Grove City, PA, 54 yards against Austintown Fitch and 36 yards against Akron St. Vincent.  He also recovered two fumbles, returning one for a score.  In addition, he was the backup quarterback, where he scored one rushing touchdown.

Spencer became the full-time signal caller during his senior year, where he completed 58 of 124 passes for 941 yards and five touchdowns.  He also rushed 129 times for 775 yards and 18 touchdowns, scoring 108 points.  His rushing yardage total leads all Massillon quarterbacks in that category.  Memorable games include:

  • 148 rushing yards against Mansfield
  • 122 rushing yards against Fitch.  His 89-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter tied the game at 7-7, after which Nick Pribich kicked the game-winning field goal.
  • Led Massillon to a 42-41 overtime win over Canton McKinley in the 100th rivalry game.
  • Completed 7 of 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns, in a 35-28 playoff victory over Fremont Ross, a team that led by future Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson.

For his performance he was named Repository 1st Team All-County quarterback, WHBC Stark County MVP, Northeast Inland District Player of the Year and 1st Team A.P. Division 1 All-Ohio quarterback.

Spencer was recruited by the University Akron as a quarterback and played sparingly in 1996-1997.  In 1999 he enrolled in Tiffin University and moved to wide receiver, where he excelled.  During that season, he caught 66 pass (3rd all-time) for 1,818 yards (3rd all-time) and 15 touchdowns (2nd all-time).  Against Urbana, he caught four touchdown passes (1st all-time) and rushed for a fifth score, tallying 30 points for the game (1st all-time).


2022 Lift-a-thon Results

And energetic group of players and fans gathered in the WHS gym for the annual Steve Studer Memorial Lift-a-thon, the first in front of a live audience since the Covid-19 Pandemic hit the country.  Once again, Strength Coach Dan Studer did a fantastic job of organizing and conducting the event.

Three lifts were performed by each participant: clean lift, bench press and squat. Each lifter selected his preferred weight for each lift and then attempted as many lifts as he could until his arms or legs gave out.  A composite score was then used to determine the winner of each of twelve weight classes based on the total weight lifted and the number of reps.  Achievement medals were then awarded to the top three lifters in each category.  Here are the winners:

140 lb. weight class – Gage Gordon (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 780 lbs.

150 lb. weight class – Zach Leibler (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 815 lbs.

160 lb. weight class – Kyler Wiggins (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 775 lbs.

170 lb. weight class – Ma’Taeaun Frazier (Jr.)s.

  • Total Load – 825 lbs.

180 lb. weight class – Stephen Hogan (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 740 lbs.

190 lb. weight class – Freddie Lenix Jr. (Sr.)

  • Total Load – 875 lbs.

200 lb. weight class – De’Airre Pringle (Sr.)

  • Total Load – 1,005 lbs.

215 lb. weight class – Cody Fair (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 995 lbs.

230 lb. weight class – Dorian Pringle (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 1,025 lbs.

Heavy weight class – Seth Voshel (Jr.)

  • Total Load – 970 lbs.

Super Heavy weight class – Mike Looney (So.)

  • Total Load – 1,070 lbs.

For complete results, click here.

140 lb. weight class – (1) Gage Gordon, (2) Zahnii Berry, (3) Ransom Els

150 lb. weight class –  (1) Zach Liebler, (2) Jaden Welch, (3) Landon Smith

160 lb. weight class – (1) Kyler Wiggins, (2) Shon Robinson, (3) Adonis Marshall

170 lb. weight class – (1) Ma’Taeaun Frazer, (2) Trent Campbell, (3) Jameir Gamble

180 lb. weight class – (1) Stephen Hogan, (2) Chance O’Neil, (3) Riley O’Neil

190 lb. weight class – (1) Freddie Lenix Jr., (2) Marquavion Young, (3) Chris Fair

200 lb. weight class – (1) De’Airre Pringle, (2) Willtrell Hartson, (3) Kendall Thomas

215 lb. weight class – (1) Cody Fair, (2) Christian Kring, (3) Maverick Clark


230 lb. weight class – (1) Dorian Pringle, (2) Chase Bond, (3) Malachi Card

Heavy weight class – (1) Seth Voshel, (2) Brady Jones, (3) Chase Finnegin

Super weight class – (1) Mike Looney, (2) Isaiah McElroy, (3) Mike Mercurio



North South All Star Game 2022 History

Brawley Receives Award at Ohio North South All-Star Game

Austin Brawley
Austin Brawley

At the end of the 2021 season Austin Brawley was named 1st Team All-Ohio for his exceptional play on the defensive side of the ball.  This time around however, in the annual Ohio North South All-Star Football Game played at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, he was named Offensive Player of the Game, in a contest that the North won 39-18.  Although no official statistiss were recorded, Brawley did catch six passes, one of which was a long bomb that set up a touchdown, and he recovered an onside kick at the end of the game.  Two gains were called back due to penalties: a difficult 25-yard over-the-shoulder catch along the sideline and a 15-yard touchdown on a toss-sweep when he lined up at the tailback position.  In addition, Brawley played half-time on defense and on special teams.  All in a day’s work for the future Kent State Golden Flash.

Brawley joined Massillon offensive lineman Jaiden Woods on the winning team.

Other notable players in the game included Austintown Fitch quarterback Devin Sherwood, who threw four touchdown passes and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, and Green wide receiver Trey Martin, who grabbed two of those scoring tosses.


Carl F. “Ducky” Schroeder; A Legend Among Legends

Written By Mike Riordan

Carl F. “Ducky” Schroeder

A Legend Among Legends



Chris Spielman – March 17, 2022


“Ducky”.   Massillon.   Two names that exemplify champions, winners, leaders, legendary, the best of the best. Two names that stand apart, yet are forever joined together. Among heroes, champions, winners, leaders and the best of the best, this is where “Ducky” will always be remembered; as a legend among legends.

How is it that a young boy from Canal Fulton, Ohio, would end up amongst some of the most famous and influential men in all of football? Who would have guessed that his influence would expand well beyond Massillon; being recognized nationally as Mr. Football in Ohio?  What life choices would guide him and eventually usher him into the Massillon Washington High School Wall of Champions?


Carl “Ducky” Schroeder’s father Fred was born in 1868 in Hessen, Germany, and moved to America in 1880 at the early age of twelve. Taking up the trade of a butcher, he eventually owned The Meat Market in Canal Fulton. “Ducky’s” mother, Elizabeth Ruehling, was born in Oberschupf, Germany, in 1872.  At the age of 17 she immigrated to America, enduring six long weeks by way of steerage at the bottom of a ship, with animals, manure and unthinkable smell. Later, Fred and Elizabeth became a couple and married in 1902, welcoming their first son, Carl, on March 25, 1905.

As a boy, Carl enjoyed swimming in the Ohio and Erie Canal and the Tuscarawas River in his hometown, Canal Fulton. When he emerged onto dry land, he would walk like a duck, earning the moniker, “Ducky”.  All of his life then he would be known as “Ducky”, and not so much as a nickname but as a precious identifier.

His athletic career began at Canal Fulton High School. Quickly noticed as a standout athlete, “Ducky” was asked to come play for Massillon. So in 1923, prior to his senior year, he took his talent to Massillon to play football (fullback, linebacker), baseball (pitcher) and basketball for the Tigers.

“I made some sort of reputation in Canal Fulton, so that Massillon became interested in my ability and asked me if I would like to play there,” Schroeder said.  “Massillon was blazing a trail of glory at that time. If there was anyone I wanted to play with at that time, it was Massillon. In the area surrounding Massillon, you could say that about any boy.  I was lucky enough to have a chance to do that.  If I hadn’t played at Massillon, I would have never received a chance to go to college.” (1)


If you were able to choose, from this list of great men, a positive influence as a guide thru life, who would you choose?  Pick; one should be enough.

Paul Brown?   (Father of Modern Football, Multiple Championships and HOF coach)

Knute Rockne?  (Multiple Championships, player and HOF coach)

Jim Thorpe?  (Greatest athlete possibly of all time, Multiple Championships and HOF player and coach)

Pop Warner?  (Multiple Championships and HOF coach)

Bill Edwards?  (Multiple Championships and HOF player and coach)

 (Selected in 1958 as the “Greatest Massillon Tiger of all Time” and Bill Belichick’s Godfather)

Woody Hayes?  (Multiple Championships and HOF coach)

Don Fletcher?  (Multiple Championships and HOF coach)

Dave Stewart? (Multiple Championships and HOF coach)

(Coached Paul Brown, Bill Edwards, Don Fletcher, Harry Stuhldreher among other greats)

General Douglas MacArthur? (Army 5 Star General, 10 Commands Held, 11 Battles /Wars, Mexican Revolution, World War I, World War II, Korean War) (22 Major Military Awards / Medals)

So who do you pick?  Well “Ducky’s” circle of influence included all of these exceptional men, plus many, many more.


“Ducky” first played for Tiger Head Coach Dave Stewart.  Under his leadership, the 1923 Tigers were looking toward another championship season, with a line-up that included Bill Edwards, Paul Brown, Don Fletcher, Vince Define, Bob Pflug, Jimmy Price and Robert Boerner, to name a few.  “Ducky” would line up as a plunging fullback, while playing linebacker on defense.

Massillon won their first two games before traveling, for the first time out of state, to Harrisburg Tech, PA.  It was there that the Tigers suffered their first defeat in two seasons, being shut out 26-0. It was discovered years later that Harrisburg Tech was also a night school and anyone who attended classes, regardless of age, was eligible to play varsity football. So it turned out that the Massillon teenagers had lost to a team comprised of players in their 20s and possibly their 30s.

The next week was also a loss to a strong Youngstown South team, 19-6. Was the loss because of the physical stress from traveling out of state the week before to play against an adult team?  Or was it just too much Wes Fesler, a three sport athlete and Ohio State Varsity O HOF charter inductee, 1930 Big Ten MVP, 3-time consensus 1st-Team College Football All-American, and College Football HOFer?

The Tigers regrouped and won their next five games and took a 7-2 record into the annual McKinley fray. Reporting during “game” week The Evening Independent wrote: “The athletes whom Canton fears most are Vincent Define, the Navarre speed merchant, and “Ducky” Schrader, the Canal Fulton line cracker.” The Tigers wouldn’t disappoint.

Massillon defeated McKinley, 9-0, that day and received the Canton University Club trophy emblematic of Stark County scholastic grid supremacy. Finishing the season strong, the 8-2 Tigers had shut out half of their opponents and “Ducky” ended the year with the second most rushing touchdowns. Loaded with athletes, Massillon boasted seven first team All-County players.

This December 3, 1923 Evening Independent excerpt is regarding the All-County selections:

“Johnson at fullback, also seems to be a selection made more to give Canton representation in the backfield than anything else. The colored athlete may have been Canton’s best ground gainer but he could not advance the ball with the same degree of power that Schrader did for Massillon. Schrader is relegated to the second team by the Canton writer but his place seems to be on the first team. A plunger of Schrader’s type furnishes the first eleven with more driving power than it would have with Johnson in the fullback position.” (2)

With that said, is Schrader “Ducky’s” last name?  Schrader is how it appeared in newspaper articles, stat sheets and team photos. But in the 1924 Massillon year book it was properly spelled Schroeder. There seemed to be a debate on how to properly pronounce his last name. It turns out that the “roe” in German is pronounced like an “a”. With the mystery solved, the correction was made after the football season.

1923 Massillon Varsity Football Team (Schroeder is the 13th player from the left)


Still enjoying the thrill of victory the day after beating McKinley, “Ducky” joined the Canal Fulton Triangles Semi-Pro football team.  Named as coach, “Ducky” can be seen in street clothes in the 1923 team photo below (taken at Akron’s Buchtel Field) along with Don Fletcher, his Massillon and Canal Fulton High School teammate.   The Triangles competed in a welterweight league that included the Massillon Maroons.  Remember, these times were at the very beginning of the newly formed NFL, with the Akron Pros being crowned the first NFL champions in 1920. However, it was the same stage as the Pro Massillon Tigers who dominated a decade earlier, with six championships in six years, followed by the Canton Pro Bulldogs, champions in 1922 and 1923.

In the local newspaper the Triangles were given equal billing to the Massillon-McKinley game.  In one of the tougher contests, the Triangles were up against a very strong South Akron Awnings team and expected a very hard hitting game.  On Sunday November 25, 1923, the Triangles lost 34-0.  The following day, both the Triangles-South Akron Awnings (aka Allen Billiards) game story and the Massillon-McKinley game story appeared side by side in The Evening Independent.

So how good was the South Akron Awnings football team?  “For 14 exciting seasons they played … hastening the demise of the 1920 professional championship Akron Pros, matching skill with even the Ironton Tanks and Portsmouth Spartans and gaining enduring fame in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan as well as their home state.” (3)

1923 Canal Fulton Triangles / Merchants Football Team (Schroeder is on the left of the second row) (*)


The following year “Ducky”, along with teammate Don Fletcher, moved to Bristol, Tennessee, to enroll in and play football for King College (photo at right). As a freshman “Ducky” was the No. 2 fullback.  Wherein the previous year, 1923, the King football team laid claim (albeit self-proclaimed) to a world scoring record, having tallied 507 points in a 9-game season. They also established a two-year National Collegiate scoring record with 1,005 points, while giving up only 61. They compiled a record of 14-2-1 in 17 games over two seasons, outscoring the opposition 59-4 on average.  The high point came during an October 21, 1922, game vs. Lenoir College of Hickory N.C. during which the King Tornados won 206-0.

So why did “Ducky” and Don go to King College? Was it because King College was a scoring machine? Or, could it be that there was a connection with the Canal Fulton Triangles? The following excerpt is from the November 2, 1924, Sunday Repository regarding the upcoming Hire-A-Fords Semi-Pro football game with the Canal Fulton Triangles:

“Several members of the Triangles formerly played with the King College team of Tennessee, which lately has become one of the strongest teams of the South. Van Norman, the Triangle coach, formerly tutored King College Teams.” (4)

“Ducky” would end up leaving after just one season.  After playing on their fourth team together, (Canal Fulton H. S., Massillon Tigers, Canal Fulton Triangles and King College) Don Fetcher would eventually move on to Carnegie Tech and then coach championship high school football for 22 years. Don was inducted into the Pittsburgh Football Hall of Fame as only the second high school coach to ever be accorded that honor.

1924 King College Football Team (Schroeder is pictured in the first row, second from the left; Don Fletcher is immediately behind)


Somehow ‘Ducky”, after King College, got in four years of education at Wittenberg Lutheran College where he was reunited with former Massillon teammate Bill Edwards. Both “Ducky” and Edwards would play for Wittenberg and eventually coach there. “Ducky” remembers, “I chose Wittenberg one night when a man from the college came to the ‘Y’ (YMCA) in Massillon. There were seven of us there, and all seven went to Wittenberg.” Could it be his decision to go to Wittenberg was made easier since his mother was such a strong Lutheran, while King College was Presbyterian?

At Wittenberg “Ducky” played football in 1926-28 for HOF football coach Ernie Godfrey, who then moved on to Ohio State to become a member of their coaching staff for 32 years. Interestingly, the Fighting Lutherans battled Ohio State, although unsuccessfully, for three years prior to his departure.  As a 3-time All-Buckeye Conference and All-Ohio fullback in 1927 and 1928, “Ducky” may have broken the national rushing attempts record in 1927 against Ohio University when he carried the ball 44 times for 176 yards. This mark is still stands as the current Wittenberg record. Equally impressive is the fact that “Ducky” never came out of the game, playing linebacker the entire time, a true ‘iron man’ performance. Also in 1927, “Ducky’s” last-second touchdown against Cincinnati gave Wittenberg a 6-0 victory, winning the Buckeye Conference Title. Then in 1928, Wittenberg beat Ohio Wesleyan, who that season had defeated both Syracuse and Michigan.  That year they were the Buckeye Conference Co-Champions. Considering “Ducky” was also a 3-year standout pitcher for the Fighting Lutherans’ baseball team, he was recognized on Wittenberg’s All Time players list as Honorable Mention for the 1920s

Coach Godfry was one of the first to put on summer clinics. Taking advantage of this opportunity, “Ducky” attended three straight years and as luck would have it Knute Rockne was there one of those years.  In “Ducky’s” opinion Rockne was “The Greatest Speaker”. One of “Ducky’s” all time thrills came when he asked Rockne to demonstrate a blocking technique.

“In 1928 I demonstrated for Coach Knute Rockne,” “Ducky” said. “Coach Rockne and I were walking off the field. I’ll never forget. I said, ‘Coach, would you show me that block again that you were showing out on the field?’ He said ‘Sure”. So in the heat of the day, everybody had gone, he stayed out there with me for fifteen minutes and showed me several different blocks that he was using. Then he said, ‘By the way, where are you from?’ I said, ‘Massillon, Ohio, have you heard of it?’ He looked at me and said’, You know I have.’ Because he used to play with the old Massillon Pro Tigers.

“Knute Rockne was the number one public speaker I’ve ever heard. He was sort of a humble man.  When I asked him to show me those blocks, I was just a player at Wittenberg.  I was attracted by his humility.  When he got up to speak in the Wittenberg Chapel, the place was just jammed, and you could hear a pin drop. He had a way of saying words that was just magnetic.” (1b)

“Ducky” learned the fundamentals from some of the most famous men in football history including, at another summer clinic, discovering techniques from Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner.  Warner was one of the early coaching legends; a career that spanned 43 years, having won four national championships and coached Thorpe at Carlisle; and who invited Jim Thorpe to participate at this coaching clinic. “Ducky” remembered, “Pop Warner was a very fascinating person.  I watched Jim Thorpe giving exhibitions on punting, place kicking and drop kicking. I can look back and feel that I really got a good basic knowledge of football from famous men like that. “Ducky” passed his knowledge on to Massillon players.”(1c)


Upon graduating in 1930 from Wittenberg College, where he majored in English and earned a Bachelor of Education Degree, “Ducky” got the bug and coached for a month at Waynesburg H.S. Following this short coaching stint he played some semi-pro ball with local teams then moved to Uniontown H.S. where he coached for three months. Subsequently, “Ducky” became Athletic Director and head coach for all sports at Miami Military Institute in Germantown, Ohio, from 1930-32.

Picked from a field of 30 applicants, Newcomerstown H. S. Superintendent Wayne Hayes (Woody’s father) hired “Ducky” in 1932 to be head coach of all sports along with teaching science class. It was there that “Ducky” hired Woody just out of high school for his first football coaching job as an assistant coach of the defense. “Ducky” said “I probably have known Woody longer than anyone in the coaching business.”

Unfortunately, 1932 was also a year of disappointment for “Ducky” because he wanted to be on Paul Brown’s coaching staff at Massillon.  Even though he was not chosen, they became lifelong friends and it has been said that Paul Brown’s best friend in Massillon was “Ducky”.

Disappointment turned to bliss in 1934 when “Ducky” married Gertrude Hammer of Canal Fulton, Ohio.  At the time, “Gert” was a secretary for the Republic Steel Corp. and would spend the next 63 years happily married to “Ducky”.

Time to move on, but before leaving Newcomerstown in 1935 several of his players wrote a touching note to “Ducky” praising the coach by saying, “… we admire you for showing no discrimination whatsoever, and we hope your future career of coaching will be onward and upward.”  The note ends with this poem:  “You cannot eat this farewell note. Nor sell it that is true. But please keep it in your collections. For we are thinking of you.” He was so very proud of this note, that “Ducky” did keep this with his collections, making copies years later and handing it out to anyone interested.

1935 Newcomerstown Boys Note

For the next two years “Ducky” was head coach for all sports at Logan H.S. before moving on to Salem H.S. to coach football and basketball from 1936 – 40. Interestingly at this time, Massillon great Chuck Mather was coaching at Leetonia H.S., which is only five miles away from Salem. This was an opportunity for the two coaches to get together and compare ‘grid’ notes if need be every few days. Shifting once again in 1941 and 1942 “Ducky” was assistant football and basketball coach for Mount Union before travelin’ back to Springfield where he took the head coaching job for football and basketball at his alma mater, Wittenberg, 1942 and 1943.

“Speaking of his 1-5-1 season as head coach of Wittenberg football team in 1942, “Ducky” explains, ‘We didn’t know who was going to be on the team one week to the next because it was World War II. Lou Ryman (former head basketball coach at Lehman High) was our halfback. When I went to his room, he had just received his notice to report for active duty. He was in tears because he knew he couldn’t play in the game that week against Denison. Four guys on our team paid the supreme sacrifice as they died in the service of their country.’ “Ducky” was granted a leave of absence at Wittenberg because of the war. During the war he trained Air Corp cadets.”(5)   In the 40’s “Ducky” had trained more than 700 Air Force cadets who would move on to become WWII pilots.

“’Ducky’ using his training as he wrote his thesis on the Army Air Corp Physical Training Program, obtaining his master’s degree in physical education from Ohio State University in 1944. He remained in Springfield as physical director of the YMCA in 1944-46 and (first) director of athletics, health and physical education for Springfield Public Schools in 1946-48”.(5a)


Throughout 18 years “Ducky” had bounced around coaching for nine different teams until 1948 when he was hired by Chuck Mather to coach at Massillon. Finally, he had found his home, coaching football and baseball, teaching high school and supervising the winter conditioning program.

For six years (1948-53) Coach Mather would lead the team with “Ducky” at his side coaching the ends. Mather’s teams compiled a 57-3 record, a 95% winning percentage, and outscored opponents by an average of 37-7.  In addition, Mather’s record six state championships tied Paul Brown’s mark. Known as the ‘Mechanical Coach’ for his use of innovative coaching aides, Mather also claimed three national championships. Against McKinley the Tigers won all six contests, by an average score of 32-5 and had finally in 1950 caught up with McKinley for total wins in the series. Several years ago Homer Floyd (Massillon great and civil rights hero) when speaking of coach “Ducky” recalled that he had “nothing but wonderful memories of the man.”

Regrettably, 1954 was another year of disappointment when Mather left to take the head coaching job at the University of Kansas and took his entire coaching staff with him. All but “Ducky”. There were over 100 applications to replace Mather, but “Ducky” again was overlooked.  Ultimately, Tom Harp was selected. As fortune would have it, someone had figured out that “Ducky” would be more valuable to Massillon as an assistant long term than as a head coach short term.  Ironically, after four years when the Kansas job did not pan out well, Coach Mather and his assistants were all out of a job.  Surviving the slaughter, “Ducky”, not one to hold a grudge, would later say that one of his prized possessions was his autographed copy of Chuck Mather’s book, ‘Winning High School Football”.

Following a Tiger program that had just won two straight national championships, six straight state championships and owned six straight wins over McKinley, Harp had his work cut out for him.  He ended up staying two years compiling a record of 17-2-1, an 89.5% winning percentage.  His team’s average score was 28-8 per game. He won the state championship his first year with a 9-1 record and extended the streak over McKinley, winning 26-6.  The following year he was second in the state with an 8-1-1.  And then he left.  But he was always thankful that “Ducky” was still around from Coach Mather’s staff.

One of many clinics and camps that “Ducky” attended can be seen in this 1955 photo of the speakers at the Wooster Coaches Clinic.  Notice Tom Harp in the back row behind “Ducky” and Lee Tressel (future college football HOF) from Mentor H.S. in the front row.

In the photo — 1st row, left to right: Cal Eckert (Beach City), Junie Ferrel (Barberton), Lee Tressel (Mentor); 2nd row: Jim Scullion (Lakewood), Wes Boals (Jeromeville), “Ducky” Schroeder (Massillon), Even Koons (Springfield); row 3: Charles Ogg (Johnsville), Bob Shaw Washington Court House, Tom Harp (Massillon).

Tressel would take over as head coach in ‘56 and would be at the helm for two years.  With a combined record of 16-3, an 84% winning percentage, his teams outscored the competition by a 24-8 margin. In his first year the Tigers finish 8th in the state going 8-2 then improved the following year, beating McKinley 25-7, and finishing second in the state at 8-1. Jim Tressel (former Ohio State Head Coach) still remembers when his dad would take him over to “Ducky’s” home to discuss the week’s game strategy.

1948 Massillon Varsity Football Team (Schroeder is on the far right of the first row)


In 1958, Massillon hired Leo Strang to be the next Tiger coach. “Leo Strang understood “Ducky’s” importance to the program even before he accepted the head job at Massillon. ‘I knew “Ducky’s reputation, and I knew I had to keep a coach at Massillon so I would be able to know what had gone on in certain situations and who the people were that were true boosters that I could go and ask for help in any way. It’s very difficult going into a new situation unless you have somebody you can rely on who knows the background and the history. “Ducky” was the best defensive end coach that I knew of anywhere…When I took the Kent State job I would have liked to have taken “Ducky” on, but it would have been totally unfair to Massillon…totally unfair to him…and I knew that Earle Bruce wanted to keep him.” (1d)

He gave “Ducky” the responsibility for coaching long side ends and long side tackles on offense and middle guard and linebackers on defense. Leo’s accomplishments are impressive: 54-8-1 record, an 84.7% winning percentage, while outscoring the opponents by a 31-7 average. Known nationally as a football trendsetter, Leo’s Tigers had six wins and no defeats against McKinley, outscoring the Pups by a margin of 26–8. From 1958-63 the Tigers were twice named national champions, three times state champions, once state runner-up and once 4th in the State.  “Ducky” was quoted later saying “Leo was responsible for bringing back the unbalanced line after years of dormancy.”


“Ducky” also coached the Tiger baseball team, for 16 years from 1948 to 1963. He had taken his teams to the regional finals five times, to the state finals in 1955 and to the state semi-finals in 1960. Some of the outstanding baseball team members that played for “Ducky” include:

  • Dick Mrofka – 1955 All-Ohio pitcher-Chicago White Sox- 1997 Stark County Baseball HOF
  • Jim Houston – Wall of Champions, Ohio State 2x MVP, College HOF, ‘64 NFL Champion
  • Dave Canary – Wall of Champions, Pop Warner All-American, 4 time Emmy Winner
  • Mike Hershberger – Wall of Champions, All Ohio Pitcher & Outfielder, 10 years in the Big Leagues
  • Joe Sparma –  Wall of Champions, Ohio State Football National Champions 1961, Detroit Tigers 1968 World Series Champion, Stark County Baseball HOF 1978, Stark County Football HOF 2011
  • Tom Moser – Cleveland Indians Minor league 4 years
  • Bob Khoenle – 1950 Tiger National Championship team – played for Purdue
  • Bill Stoner – 1950 Tiger National Championship team- coached for Waynesdale
  • Ray Flickinger – Cleveland Indians minor league
  • Dick Barcus –  played for Miami
  • Clyde Slicker –  played for Oberlin

The current Massillon baseball field is named in honor of “Ducky”: Carl “Ducky” Schroeder Field – Home of Massillon Tiger Baseball.” On hand for the official dedication were Mike Hershberger and Leo Strang.


“In early 1964, I got a call from the Massillon school superintendent asking if I would be interested in discussing the head football coaching job at Massillon,” said Earle Bruce. “I really wasn’t interested because things were on a roll in Sandusky. But I drove to Elyria and met with the superintendent privately. I thought I was going to be offered the job and I told him I wasn’t really interested.

“Shortly after I returned to Sandusky, my phone rang, and it was Woody. Carl “Ducky” Schroeder, the legendary Massillon assistant, had called Woody and told him to call me. ‘You can’t turn that Massillon job down!’ Woody said. ‘Earle you’d better look at that job a little harder. You can’t go wrong’…” (6)  And with that call, along with “Ducky’s” influence, Woody’s encouragement and Massillon’s passion, Earle Bruce became head coach of the Massillon Tiger football team.

Reverting back to the balanced line, “Ducky” would coach the ends and tackles. In ’64 the Tigers were 9-0 going into the McKinley game, while owning a 7-game winning streak in the series. But the Tigers were down 14–0 at half time.  Harold Steiner (Canal Fulton Triangles teammate and brother-in-law) recalls what “Ducky” heard Earle saying going into the locker room, “this is not the way I wanted to end my first season here,” To which “Ducky” replied, “you are in Massillon where the game isn’t over until it’s over.” Staging one of the greatest come from behind victories of any Massillon team, the Tigers won this televised game 20-14.

Years later, Dave Whitfield (1969 Ohio State captain) would say that “Ducky” was the best coach he ever had as far as teaching techniques. (7)

It was in 1964 where “Ducky” met his second favorite speaker, General Douglas Macarthur. “I met MacArthur when he was the speaker at the American Football Coaches Association convention at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City,” he said.  “When he heard I was from Massillon, Ohio, he said, Massillon, Ohio, that’s a great football town.” (5b)

In 1965, again undefeated 9-0 going into the McKinley game, the Tigers for a second time trailed 14-0 at half time, but this time on the road. In the locker room Earle says to “Ducky”, “Holy man, are we playing bad.” “Ducky” said ‘Coach, we’ve got another half’. Earle replied ’”Ducky”, you don’t come back two years in a row against a team like Canton McKinley’. “Ducky” said “Massillon can do it, coach.’ Earle said, ‘My God “Ducky”, the odds are tremendous this won’t happen.” (8) Executing another miraculous comeback, the Tigers went on to win 18-14 to give Coach Bruce back-to-back undefeated seasons, back-to-back state championships and back-to-back national championship runners-up. He left after two seasons , his teams finished with a 20-0 record, garnering a 1.000 winning percentage, while beating the opponents by a 27-6 margin, and remains the only undefeated and untied head coach in Massillon Tiger football history. Earle Bruce, in 2002, was inducted into the College Football HOF.

Under new coach Bob Seaman, who worked under Bruce from 1960-63, “Ducky” again was responsible for coaching the ends. But disaster struck.  After 34 consecutive winning seasons, Massillon’s streak came to an end in 1966. Two years later Seaman’s term ended with a 3-year record of 20-9-1, a 66.6% winning percentage, and scoring an average of 19-12 per game. With his only win over McKinley in 1967, the 9-1 Tigers finished 2nd in the state.  It has been said of Seaman that he never grasped the importance of tradition at Massillon, which is paramount for best performance by allowing each player to know where he stands.

Moving forward, in 1969 the Washington High School Board of Education picked “Ducky” to head up a special advisory committee consisting of five men responsible for recommending a new head coach. Elwood Kammer, former championship Tiger head coach, Jack (Bunker) Hill, former Tiger football great, L.C. Young, assistant superintendent for business, and Russell Ramsey, principle at Gorrell and Horace Mann elementary schools joined “Ducky” on the committee.  The group recommended Bob Commings.


Commings, with one of the most knowledgeable football minds in Ohio, brought his winning habits to Massillon.  Along with the veteran, “Ducky”, John Brideweser also joined the Tigers as an assistant coach.  Brideweser would leave the following year to take over the head position at Canton McKinley. The year 1970 was “Ducky’s” last year of football coaching at Massillon. Capitalizing on winning habits the Tigers went 10-0, were named state champions, were honored as 2nd in the nation, and scored over 41 points while giving up less than 3 points per game. Closing out his storied career, the Tigers captured their 13th state championship when “Ducky” was coaching from the sidelines.  In the two years he spent under Commings the Tigers went 17-2-1, an 89.4% winning percentage, and averaged a score of 36-7.  His final year would also mark the first year of the live Obie Tiger era.

Coach Commings spoke on the enormous impact “Ducky” had on his career.  “Legendary “Ducky” Schroeder had a profound influence. All of us head coaches probably got more renown, but I think the one guy you most closely associate with Massillon would be “Ducky”. And it may be out of bounds to say – no, I don’t think it’s disrespectful to Paul Brown to say that at all. They both played here, but “Ducky” stayed so long.” (8a)

 “Ducky” Schroeder may be the most beloved coach in Massillon Tigers history.

1970 Massillon Varsity Football Team (Schroeder is in the last row, third from the left)


After 23 seasons coaching the Tigers, of which 15 teams were undefeated on the ‘Sacred Turf’, “Ducky” retired from the Massillon School System. At his farewell goodbye, before the 1971 Cleveland Heights opener, he admitted that “he had found a little heaven in Massillon.” Gifted with the ability of turning the complex into the simple, this wise, kind, patient and gentle coach, with the heart of a champion, will always be the one-n-only, never to be repeated, never to be duplicated.

So why didn’t he leave for bigger and better opportunities? Well, he just liked living at home in Massillon. In addition to his busy schedule, he swam at the YMCA, regularly golfed at the Elms, for several summers managed the old Meadows golf range on Lincoln Way and coached local American Legion junior baseball teams. Living, working and being involved in community functions are what he loved while at home in Massillon.

Remember when Rockne asked where he was from? Should Canal Fulton have been the correct answer? After all his family was from Canal Fulton, he grew up in Canal Fulton, he played sports for Canal Fulton H.S., excluding his senior year at Massillon, his best friend and long-standing teammate was from Canal Fulton and he was on the Canal Fulton Triangles Semi-Pro Football Team. Yet, when Rockne asked where he was from, “Ducky” answered Massillon. Could it be this was a foreshadowing of his ultimate destiny?


Winding up his career at Massillon as player and coach, “Ducky”, finished with a record of 209-29-4, an 87.8% winning percentage, while averaging over 30 points for the Tigers and giving up less than 8 points per game for the opponents. While coaching at Massillon, the Tigers won five national championships, coming in second three times; the Tigers won 13 state championships, coming in second four times; averaged a state title better than one every other year. For his 23 years of coaching, the Tigers finished first or second in the State 17 times, equating to 74% of the Massillon Tiger football teams during the “Ducky” era.  These numbers are unmatched by any Tiger coach in Massillon Tiger football history.

Against McKinley as a player and coach the Tigers won 80% of their games, 19 victories vs. only 5 defeats, and enjoyed a 9-game winning streak over McKinley from 1957–65.  In the 24 years of battle Tiger teams were never shut out while the Pups were held scoreless seven times and were held under double digits an additional six times. Points scored over the 24 games on average were over 22 for the Tigers while giving up just over 10 per game for McKinley.

Amazingly at Massillon, “Ducky” played with, played for, coached with or coached for eight different Massillon Tiger football head coaches who won state championships: Paul Brown, Dave Stewart, Elwood Kammer, Chuck Mather, Tom Harp, Leo Strang, Earle Bruce and Bob Commings. So how excellent and how important was “Ducky’s” influence? Simply put, consider this: in his first year of coaching, the 1948 Tigers were state champions and in his last year of coaching, the 1970 Tigers were state champions. Sadly, the Tigers have not won a state championship since, spanning over half a century. Is it fair to argue that “Ducky” is the greatest Massillon Tiger assistant football coach of all time? I submit yes, by far; nobody close.

Having the eye of the Tiger, with the heart of a Champion, “Ducky” knew what it meant to be a Massillon Tiger and made sure his stalwarts played like Tigers.


Outside of his coaching duties “Ducky” was always very active. In the early 1940’s “Ducky” was the driving force in establishing the Ohio Football Coaches Association. Following, in the mid 1940’s he was the brains behind organizing Ohio’s North-South All-Star football game.  For 30 years “Ducky” served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. “Gert”, while employed in the office of L. J. Smith-Superintendent of Massillon Public Schools, did a lot of her husband’s paperwork, so much so that The Coaches Association jokingly referred to her as secretary and “Ducky” as her assistant.

For 25 years from 1955-80 “Ducky” was the Mid-American representative of the Rae Crowther Blocking Sled Company of Philadelphia, selling 2-man and 7-man blocking sleds for football practices. “Ducky” was a 6-year member of the National Federation Rules Committee for High School Football, including being involved in establishing high school overtime rules, opening the door to the play-offs. Furthermore, he spent five years as the director of the Big 33 Football Game played in Hersey, PA, which pitted the best of Ohio against the best of Pennsylvania.

“Ducky” was always on the go, volunteering and organizing so many football camps, participating with so many committees and speaking at so many banquets and engagements. A good example is ten years after he retired, “Ducky” was asked to emcee the 1981 North South All-Star Banquet where he introduced guest speaker Woody Hayes, his longtime friend and colleague. What can be said of “Ducky’s network of players, coaches and administrators from the high school, college and professional ranks, which most certainly is well into the thousands of people?  It is not surprising that he was nationally known as “Mr. Football” in Ohio.


Being a regular attendee at the Pro Football HOF luncheons, “Ducky” was appointed President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Club in 1976.  Throughout the years “Ducky” would invite VIPs to the event. For example, Mike Hersberger of the Chicago White Sox was a guest in 1963 while in 1979 Earle Bruce, Nick Vrotsos and “Ducky” were reunited and shared some laughs at the luncheon. On another occasion, “Ducky” was joined by former Tiger greats Tommy James (National Champion at all levels High School Massillon, College Ohio State and Pro Cleveland Browns) and his brother Don James (College Football HOF and National championship coach).

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, “Ducky” recalled that he took the time to write down a few of the outstanding collegiate and professional athletes that participated in the North-South All-Star game.  Some even returned to play in the NFL HOF Game. Telling one of his countless stories, “Ducky” goes on about pro HOF quarterback Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys who played in the All-Star game, but not as quarterback. He was listed as a “defensive back’ in the 1960 program.  When “Ducky” mentioned this to HOF Cowboys coach Tom Landry he sarcastically questioned “Is that right? Then I’ll have to ask Roger why the heck he isn’t a better tackler?”

Among the host of outstanding all-stars, including a plethora of Massillon Tigers, and the likes of Joe Nuxhall Cincinnati Reds HOF and Bo Shembeckler College Football HOF, the following is a partial list of professional football players “Ducky” remembers meeting with at the Ohio North South All-Star game:

  • Len Dawson NFL HOF, Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Champion and MVP
  • Paul Warfield NFL HOF, Miami Dolphins 2x Super Bowl Champion, Ohio State 2xHOF & National Champion
  • Jim Marshall Ohio State HOF & National Champion, Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor
  • Allen Page NFL HOF Minnesota Vikings (Ring of Honor), College Football HOF, Notre Dame HOF, Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Jim Houston College Football HOF, Ohio State HOF & National Champions, Cleveland Browns NFL Champions
  • Dick Schafrath Ohio State HOF & National Champion, Cleveland Browns NFL Champions, Ohio State Senator
  • Tom Matte Ohio State HOF, Baltimore Colts Super Bowl Champion
  • Jim Tyrer Kansas City Chiefs HOF & Super Bowl Champion
  • Bob Ferguson College Football HOF, Ohio State HOF, Pittsburg Steelers
  • Jim Lynch College Football HOF, Notre Dame HOF, Kansas City Chiefs HOF & Super Bowl Champion
  • Dave Foley Ohio State 2xHOF & National Champion, NY Jets and Buffalo Bills
  • Bob Babich College Football HOF, Miami of Ohio HOF, San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns
  • Ross Browner College Football HOF, Notre Dame HOF, Cincinnati Bengals
  • George Izo NFL record holder quarterback, Cardinals, Redskins, Lions, Steelers
  • George Sefcik NFL coached in 2 Super Bowls, coached for 7 NFL teams and 2 college teams


What was his secret??  “Ducky” reflected on a good family life. “I consider myself lucky to have such a fine mother. Mothers you know have a lot of influence on our lives.” Loving immigrant parents, Christian values, strong work ethic, an appetite for education, the devotion to teach and a passion to succeed.  These are the intangibles that defined his life. He was blessed by being at the right place at the right time.

Early on “Ducky” was described by his fellow coaches as “a genial guy most of the week, but a bloodthirsty character during the game.” John McVay (All-Ohio and 5-time Super Bowl champion) recently recalled, “He was a wonderful guy to everybody. He coached like he was your uncle or your big brother.”

Knowing so many championship caliber and HOF players and coaches, surrounded by so many great football minds throughout his lifetime, who knows how many people were impacted by “Ducky’s” extensive circle of influence.


Spotlighting Carl “Ducky” Schroeder (1905-1997), the Massillon Museum featured a month long exhibit in 2015 to honor this revered longtime Massillon Tiger coach.

Additionally “Ducky” was honored by the following:

  • The National Federation of High Schools.
  • The National High School Football Coaches Association, along with his wife “Gert”.
  • Elected President of the Pro Football HOF Club 1976
  • The establishment of the Carl F. “Ducky” Schroeder scholarship and outstanding senior offensive lineman award to be presented at the annual Tiger football awards banquet.
  • Wittenberg’s Varsity “W”.
  • The Massillonian yearbook was dedicated to “Ducky” in 1956.
  • The Massillon Washington High School Baseball Field named Carl “Ducky” Schroeder Field in 1992
  • “Ducky” and “Gert” became the only husband wife combination to be inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
  • The Ohio All-Star Football Classic in its 53rd year, played Saturday, June 27, 1998 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Massillon, Ohio Honoring Carl “Ducky” Schroeder.

The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association paid tribute to “Ducky”:

“The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and Carl “Ducky” Schroeder may be combined into one because “Ducky” was the driving force behind the organization.  “Ducky” was the main man who worked with other coaches in the early 1940’s to form and mold the Coaches Association.

“Ducky” served as secretary-treasurer for thirty years and his mind absorbed the history of Ohio high school football. He shared that knowledge with the entire nation.

He was recognized all over the United States as Mr. Football in Ohio. “Ducky” was the brains behind the development of Ohio’s North-South game that has been a star attraction in Ohio for 53 years.

“Ducky” and his wife “Gert”, were friends to every coach in Ohio and they never forgot a face.  Ohio high school football and the Ohio High School Football Coaches association are so rich from the guidance of “Ducky” Schroeder.  “Ducky” was a man loved by all.  Somewhere “Ducky” is looking down on this game tonight with a grin and a chuckle, knowing with pride that his creation lives on.

“Ducky”, the Ohio High School Football Coaches association thanks you for your guidance, help and friendship.  We want everyone to know that we miss this wonderful man and if there is football in heaven, “Ducky” is calling the plays.”

“Without a doubt, “Ducky” was the greatest human being I’ve ever known… He probably did more for high school football than any other individual I know” — Nick Vrotsos… long time Tiger coach.


“Ducky” and or “Gert” have been inducted into the following Hall of Fames:

  • Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame “Ducky” 1972
  • Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame “Gert” 1977
  • Wittenberg Hall of Honor 1986
  • Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame Jim Craig Award 2014
  • Massillon Washington High School Tiger Football Hall of Fame “Ducky” and “Gert” 2015
  • Massillon Washington High School Wall of Champions 2015

Massillon Washington High School displays a Hall of Fame for football head coaches who have won a state championship. If an exception were to be made to this class of hall of famers, no one is more deserving than Carl F. “Ducky” Schroeder.

Below, from left to right: Massillon Wall of Champions plaque, Tiger Football Hall of Fame plaque, Wittenburg Hall of Honor plaque, 2015 Massillon game program.







Massillon-McKinley game #105, November 1st 1997, at 92 years young “Ducky” passed away.

Over his lifetime, “Ducky” was involved with football notwithstanding longer than he wasn’t.

United States Representative Ralph Regula of Navarre paid tribute to “Ducky” the week of his death on the floor of the House of Representatives.


From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office (

Congressional Record, Volume 143 Issue 156 (Saturday, November 8, 1997)

(Extensions of Remarks) (Page E2254)





of Ohio

in the house of representatives

Friday,  November  7,  1997

Mr. REGULA.  Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a special person, Carl Frederick  (Ducky)  Schroeder who died on November 1, 1997 after a brief illness.  He was born on March 25, 1905 in Canal Fulton to Elizabeth nee Ruehling and Frederick Schroeder.  He lived in the Massillon area most of his life.  It was said that as a young boy,  he spent much of his time swimming in the Ohio Canal and the Tuscarawas River, and that he used to  “walk like a duck on land”  hence the nickname  “Ducky”.

Ducky began his athletic career in Canal Fulton and Massillon where he was a standout in baseball and football.  Upon graduation, Ducky played football at Kings College in Tennessee but subsequently transferred to Wittenberg University where he was a standout pitcher for three years. He also was a football star and still holds the record for most carries in one game – 44 times for 176 yards while also playing linebacker on defense. After graduation Ducky went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Ohio State University.

Starting in 1930 Ducky embarked on a long illustrious career of public service as a teacher and coach. For example, up until he began his career at Washington High School, Ducky was head football and basketball coach at the Ohio Military Institute, Newcomerstown, Logan, and Salem High School and was Athletic Director for both the Springfield YMCA and High School.

On the collegiate and military level Ducky was assistant football and basketball coach at Mount Union College and was head football and basketball coach at Wittenberg University. For the WWII war effort, Ducky trained more than 700 Air Force cadets who later went on to become pilots.

However, it was his career in public service at Massillon for which he will be most remembered. In 1948, Ducky returned to Massillon High School where he taught and coached until his retirement in 1971. As head coach of the baseball team, he took the team to the state finals in 1955 and the state semifinals in 1960. During his 23 years as assistant football coach, the Tigers won 13 state championships and it was Ducky’s job to supervise the winter conditioning program. He also coached several professional baseball and football players.

Ducky selflessly gave of his free time to promote sports. He was on the Big 33 Committee which led to five Ohio-Pennsylvania all-star games. He was secretary/treasurer of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and was inducted into the Ohio High school Coaches Hall of Fame. Ducky was past president of the Professional Football Hall of Fame Club in Canton. He also served as sales representative for the Rae Crowther Blocking Sled Company. In recognition for all his service to Massillon Athletics, he had one of the best high school baseball facilities dedicated to him – The Carl “Ducky” Schroeder Field.

In 1935, a group of athletics at Newcomerstown High School wrote Ducky upon his leaving that school. Their letter reads as follows:

Dear Coach:

On behalf of the colored boys of Newcomerstown High School, permit me to bid you a fond adieu. We regretfully say that you must leave us, because we consider you equal to or better than any coach who had been or shall be here. We admire you for showing no discrimination whatsoever, and we hope your future career of coaching will be onward and upward. Though our conduct at times was not commendable, we feel that your instructions were for the best. Though we have nothing to offer you as a remembrance of us, we hope you will sometimes think of us. The colored boys of NHS bid you farewell. Signed  Matthew Scott,  Booker Russell,  Sidney Jones,  Buster Cohen,  Ed McCall,  “Fat” Jones,  Killie Sterns,  Osie Dansby.

Ducky is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gertrude, his sister Helen Ellis, and numerous nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews. He was a longstanding member of St. John’s Lutheran Church of Canal Fulton.


Written by Mike Riordan

I will always be a Tiger mostly in part because of my   ”Aunt Gert” and my “Uncle Ducky”.


Special Thanks to:

Chris Spielman – Detroit Lions HOF Ring of Honor “Pride of the Lions”, College Football HOF, Ohio State HOF, Massillon Tigers Football HOF and Wall of Champions

Margaret Gramlich – Executive Assistant to Ownership and President / CEO of Detroit Lions

Mary Ann King – For her personal contributions to this article

Bailey Yoder – Curator of Football Heritage, Massillon Museum

Gary Vogt – Massillon Tigers Football Historian

Don Engelhardt – Massillon Tiger Football Museum and Web Site Programmer

Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club and the Massillon Museum

The Massillon Independent

The Canton Repository


  • (1)(1a)(1b)(1c)(1d) From A Century of Heroes by Scott H. Shook
  • (2) The Evening Independent 12/3/23 pg8 Massillon Draws Seven On All-County Eleven
  • (3) The Suncheaters The Story of the South Akron Awnings 1923-1941 forward
  • (4) The Sunday Repository 11/2/24 Fords Face Hard Encounter Today At Canal Fulton
  • (5)(5a)(5b) The Repository ‘Ducky’ is Super Sport of Stark County by Art Schrock 5/3/81
  • (6) Earle A Coach’s Life by Earle Bruce  Orange Frazer Press, Inc.
  • (7) The Massillon Tiger Story The First Hundred Years by John E. (Jack) White Jr.
  • (8)(8a) Massillon Memories by Scott H. Shook
  • (*) The 1923 Canal Fulton Triangles Team Photo is archived in the Pro Football HOF Canton, OH, the Paul Brown Massillon Museum, Massillon, OH, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum Canton, OH, and on display at the Canal Fulton, OH – Heritage Society History Museum.

Greatest Massillon Player Performance Series, Part 4 – Running…

This is the fourth part in a series on the greatest performances by Massillon players, as selected by the Booster Club Football Museum staff.   Three distinct eras are considered in order to account for the variations in offensive styles.  Part 4 focuses on the running backs during the eras prior to the spread offense (1959-1997), combining both the era of the multiple offenses and era of run domination.

In determining the best running back performance and similar to the ranking of quarterbacks, it’s not necessarily about the player who had the best stats.  The primary factor is the caliber of the opponent and the resulting impact of the performance.  The criteria then are follows:

  • The opponent must have had a top-level record and presented a significant challenge to the offense.
  • The running back must have had better than average rushing statistics.
  • The running back must have contributed a significant percentage of the total offense.
  • If required, the running back must have been a significant factor in pulling out the win at the end.

No. 1 – Travis McGuire (1991)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (6-3); rivalry game
  • RB numbers – 36 carries for 302 yards and 5 touchdowns; 8.4 yards/att.; 75% of the offense
  • Final score – 42 – 13
  • The story – McGuire’s 302 yards surpassed a record that had stood for 37 years, long since Homer Floyd amassed 263 yards against this same opponent in 1954.  And it’s a feat that’s still talked about to this day.  It was well-known at the time that this future Ohio State Buckeye was one of two stellar running backs on Coach Lee Owens’ team, the other being Falando Ashcraft.  But Ashcraft was limited in this one due to a sprained ankle and only had three carries.  That left it up to McGuire to shoulder the load.  And he did just that, through sure exhaustion, leaving it all on the field.  He ended up toting the ball on 36 of his team’s 60 attempts, going through and around the defense, spinning his way to five touchdowns.  Owens also a times employed an unbalanced line to give McGuire plenty of blockers.
Travis McGuire 302 Rushing Yards and 5 TD’s.

McGuire’s initial score came in the first period from 14 yards out, which broke a 7-7 tie.  On Massillon’s next possession it was an 11-yard TD run in the second quarter.  Only, McKinley was still in the game at halftime, trailing just 21-13.  But the second half was all Tigers.  In the third, McGuire opened the margin to 22 points on runs of 6 and 1 yards.  Then he iced it in the fourth with a 79-yard sprint to the end zone, while glancing back often to assure that he couldn’t be caught.

“He’s a fine young man,” remarked Owens following the game when asked about McGuire’s 302 yards.  “He said, ‘just give me the ball, coach, and we will win the game.’  And the offensive line played hard all game.” – WHBC television broadcast

“You can’t really explain it,” said McGuire after the game about the 302 yards and five touchdowns.  “When I get home and go to sleep, it will probably hit me.  We weren’t sure Falando would be able to play this week.  So I took it upon myself to work harder, because I knew I would need to carry the load on offense.  And I just made the best of it when I had the chance.” – WHBC television broadcast

Other Great McGuire Performances

  •  1991 – Akron Ellet (9-1); playoff first round – Stats: 19 carries for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns 10.4 yards/att. – Score 28-6
  • 1991 – Toledo St. John’s (8-2); playoff regional finals – Stats: 29 carries for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns; 7.9 yards/att. – Score 42-21

No. 2 – Tom Hannon (1972)

  • Opponent – Upper Arlington (1-0-1); finished the season 6-2-2
  • RB numbers – 23 carries for 212 yards and 0 touchdowns; 8.8 yards/att.; 65% of the offense
  • Final score – 14-0
  • The story – For the previous five years Upper Arlington had ranked right up there with the best teams in the state, taking home the state title three times (1967, 68 and 69), against one title for Massillon (1970) and one for Warren Harding (1971).  The Golden Bears also had a pair of wins over the Tigers (1966 and 67).  But now was time for the Tigers to right the ship against UA.  Playing in front of a sold out crowd at Marv Morehead Stadium, all eyes were on Massillon and speedy running back future pro Tom Hannon.

The defense did its job all night, shutting out Upper Arlington and holding them to 130 yards of offense, while Hannon did the rest.  Although he didn’t score in the game, he was instrumental in helping his team to a pair of second half touchdowns for the win.  The first was set up with Hannon’s 19-yard draw play to the one.  On the second TD drive, he contributed a 12-yard run.  Hannon would have put up a third Tiger score, one of 58 yards, but a cramp put him on the ground prematurely.

“Massillon is a great team,” said Golden Bears Head Coach Pete Corey. “They execute as well as any football team I have ever seen.  That Tom Hannon is one of the best runners we have ever faced.  He can seem to be running at top speed and then shift into high gear.  He’s a fine one.” – Check Hess of the Massillon Independent

No. 3 – Homer Floyd (1954)

  • Homer Floyd – 1954

    Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-1); rivalry game

  • RB numbers – 28 carries for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns; 9.4 yards/att.; 59% of the offense
  • Final score – 26-6
  • The story – Homer Floyd saw to it that that once-beaten McKinley would not get the better of his team in the annual rivalry game by setting a new single season rushing record and averaging a whopping 9.4 yards per carry.  Floyd rushed for 125 yards in the first half on 19 carries and then added another 138 yards in the second on just 9 carries.  His two touchdowns came in the second half, which gave Massillon an insurmountable 20-0 lead.  The first was on a 28-yard run and second, a 13-yard run.  He also had a long run of 55 yards, but he was stopped at the three yard line, just short of the end zone.

No. 4 – Art Hastings (1960)

  • Opponent – Cleveland Benedictine (1-0); lost 7-0 in the Cleveland championship game; finished the season 8-3-1
  • RB numbers – 8 carries for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns; 22.1 yards/att.; 57% of the offense
  • Final score – 36-6
  • The story – Hastings only carried the ball eight times in this game against Cleveland power Benedictine, but he made the most of them with three touchdowns and a massive yardage average.  His first TD came from ten yards out on Massillon’s initial possession and then he added two more scored in the second half, on runs of 69 and 49 yards.

Other Great Hastings Performances

  •  1959 – Warren Harding (6-0); finished the season 9-1 – Stats: carries for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns; 9.4 yards/att. – Score 38-8
  • 1960 – Canton McKinley (5-4); rivalry game – Stats: 14 carries for 213 yards and 4 touchdowns; 15.2 yards/att. – Score 42-0

 No. 5 – Mike Mauger (1970)

  • Opponent – Cleveland Benedictine (1-0); finished the season 9-1
  • RB numbers – 11 carries for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns; 20.0 yards/att.; 61% of the offense
  • Final score – 32-7
  • The story – Mauger scored three first-half touchdowns, on runs of 89, 3 and 70 yards, to open an 18-0 lead and the Tigers never looked back.  The first time he touched the ball he took a pitch out and rumbled 84 yards for a score.  But it was called back due to a penalty.  So the Tigers ran the same play on the next try and this time the TD counted.  Mauger added a fourth touchdown in the third quarter on an 80-yard run.

Other Great Mauger Performances

  •  1970 – Niles McKinley (3-0); finished the season 7-2-1 – Stats: 14 carries for 138 yards and 0 touchdowns; 9.9 yards/att. – Score 22-3

No. 6  – Falando Ashcraft (1991)

  • Opponent – Toledo St. John’s (8-2); playoff regional finals
  • RB numbers – 18 carries for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns; 9.2 yards/att.; 35% of the offense
  • Final score – 42-21
  • The story – With the Tigers trailing 21-7 early in the third quarter, Ashcraft took it upon himself to score three of the five second-half touchdowns to turn the game around.  His 3-yard run in the third quarter closed the gap to 21-14 and then an 80-yard jaunt early in the fourth gave Massillon a 28-21 lead that they didn’t relinquish.  His final score came from two yards out.  Along the way, Ashcraft averaged a whopping 9.2 yards per carry.  Running mate Travis McGuire also contributed 229 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 7 – Charlie Brown (1961)

  • Opponent – Cincinnati Roger Bacon (5-0); finished the season 4th in the state with a 9-1 record
  • RB numbers – 23 carries for 165 yards and 1 touchdown; 7.2 yards/att.; 44% of the offense
  • Final score – 12-0
  • The story – Roger Bacon tested the state title waters in 1960, but lost at Massillon, 8-0.  This second time around Bacon was the host and, with a much improved team, was ready to turn the tables.  Only, future pro Charlie Brown seemed to have gotten in the way.  Brown simply took over the game, putting up 165 of the Tigers’ 374 yards of offense against the much larger opponent.  On the first drive, which ended with a score by Fred Philpott, Brown carried the ball twelve times, including a 21-yarder to the red zone.  Then, he scored a touchdown on a 60-yard run in the third quarter that put the game away.

No. 8 – Lamonte Dixon (1989)

  • Opponent – Walsh Jesuit (8-1); playoff first round
  • RB numbers – 10 carries for 181 yards and 1 touchdowns; 18.1 yards/att.; 40% of the offense
  • Final score – 42-24
  • The Story – The situation was dire in this playoff contest.  Massillon’s game plan of throwing the ball was just not working and the Tigers were behind at the half, 24-6.  But in the second half they went mostly to the run, which opened the door for Dixon to have a stellar night.  Although he only scored one touchdown, a 6-yard run in the third quarter, he was instrumental in the comeback, averaging 18.1 yard per carry.  In addition, following an interception at the Massillon 11, Dixon on the very next play broke through a slew of would-be tacklers and sped 80 yards to the Walsh nine.  The Tigers then scored on the next play to give themselves a 2-score advantage into the fourth quarter.

No. 9 – Sam McDew (1979)

  • Opponent – Cleveland Benedictine (4-0); finished the season 7-1-1
  • RB numbers – 15 carries for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns; 9.7 yards/att.; 50% of the offense
  • Final score – 38-6
  • Story – Against the undefeated Bennies, McDew scored his first touchdown in the opening period on a 7-yard sweep to the left.  He followed that up with an 85-yard jaunt on a trap play up the middle for a second score.  With McDew’s 140 yards rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns, coupled with a Jeff Fry field goal, Massillon was able to take a commanding 17-0 lead going into the locker room.  The game eventually turned into a rout.  It became Benedictine’s only loss of the season.

No. 10 – Bill Harmon (1975)

  • Opponent – Cleveland Benedictine (3-1); finished the season 8-2
  • RB numbers – 27 carries for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns; 7.4 yards/att.; 59% of the offense
  • Final score – 36-8
  • Story – As a 6’-1”, 237 lb. running back, Bill Harmon was load for any defense.  And for Benedictine it was no exception.  Harmon rushed for over 200 yards and scored three touchdowns in this one, which turned out to be the best performance of his career.  In the first half he tallied from nine yards out, but the Bennies answered and the halftime score was tied at eight apiece.  Two Harmon third quarter TDs, of 2 and 48 yards, opened up a 22-8 lead and the Tigers held the advantage the rest of the way.  Harmon also ran for two PATs.  “We tried a couple new plays tonight, to get Harmon wide,” Coach Shuff said.  “That sweep was one of them.”  Harmon’s brother, Keith, scored the final points on a pass from Dave Smith.

Honorable Mention

  • 1952 – Lee Nussbaum – Canton McKinley (6-2-1); rivalry game – Stats: 21 carries for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns; 8.6 yards/att. – Score 41-8
  • 1965 – Walt Lemon – Niles McKinley (4-0); finished the season 6-2-2 – Stats: 11 carries for 124 yards and 0 touchdowns; 11.3 yards/att. – Score 22-8
  • 1971 – Willie Spencer, Sr. – Barberton (6-0); finished the season 7-1-1 – Stats: 12 carries for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns; 10.3 yards/att. – Score: 46-0
  • 1982 – Jim Bushe – Canton GlenOak (6-1); finished the season 8-2 – Stats: 13 carries for 142 yards and 1 touchdown; 10.9 yards/att. – Score 42-14

Greatest Performance in a Loss

Tom Hannon (1972)

  • Opponent – Cincinnati Princeton (9-0-1); playoff state semifinals
  • RB numbers – 22 carries for 159 yards and 1 touchdown; 7.2 yards/att.; 53% of the offense
  • Final score – 14-17
  • Store – It was the first ever year of the playoffs and undefeated Massillon was facing Cincinnati Princeton at Ohio State Stadium.  On the second play of the game, Hannon took a pitch and broke loose on a 64-yard touchdown run, followed by 2-point conversion run.  Two subsequent drives fell short, but Tigers pushed one in late in the second quarter to lead 14-0.  But on the final play of the half, Princeton kicked a remarkable 47-yard field goal.  Unfortunately, that score turned the momentum in their favor, which they maintained throughout the second half, in spite of a gallant effort by the Massillon offense.  Ironically, the Tigers led in total yards, 299-247.

Greatest Massillon Player Performance Series, Part 3 – Spread…

This is the third part of a series on the greatest performances by Massillon players, as selected by the Booster Club Football Museum staff.   Three distinct eras are considered in order to account for the variations in offensive styles.  Part 3 focuses on the running backs during the era of the spread offense (1998-2021).

In determining the best running back performance and similar to the ranking of quarterbacks, it’s not necessarily about the player who had the best stats.  The primary factor is the caliber of the opponent and the resulting impact of the performance.  The criteria then are follows:

  • The opponent must have had a top-level record and presented a significant challenge to the offense.
  • The running back must have had better than average rushing statistics.
  • The running back must have contributed a significant percentage of the total offense.
  • If required, the running back must have been a significant factor in pulling out the win at the end.


Massillon began using the spread offense in 1998 when Rick Shepas became the head coach and it has been the offense of choice for all Massillon coaches since.  With anywhere between three and five wide receivers in the formation, the tendency has been to throw the ball around 40% of the time, more than during previous years.  Therefore, this presentation groups the running backs from this era.

What separates this time period from previous years is that when the spread offense became vogue the defenses changed their alignments to allow for coverage of additional wide receivers.  This was particularly the case with the alignment of the defensive line and linebackers, which transitioned from a traditional 5-2 or 4-4 to a 4-3, 3-4 or even a 3-5.  On the other side of the line, offenses ran fewer power sweeps due to less linemen, i.e., no tight ends, in favor of more buck sweeps, power, zone and quarterback read option.  But in spite of the QBs also throwing more passes, thereby reducing the impacts of many running back performances, there were still a sufficient number of candidates to make a good list.

No. 1 – Willtrell Hartson (2020)

  • Willtrell HartsonOpponent – Westerville South (7-0); Division 2 regional semifinals
  • RB numbers – 27 carries for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns; 12.0 yards/att.; 71% of the offense
  • Final score – 45-36
  • The story – Hartson wasn’t the starting running back when the season began, but the sophomore found himself in that spot against Canton McKinley owing to Raekwon Venson’s injury.  Three weeks later he lit it up and set a new Massillon rushing record for total yards in a game.  The mark surpassed the previous record of 302 yards set by Travis McGuire in 1991.  Included in his night were touchdown runs of 54, 53 and 35 yards, with additional jaunts of 39, 25, 23, 17 and 15 yards.  He was simply unstoppable in this playoff game.
Willtrell Hartson takes the handoff from Zach Catrone

His three touchdowns spanned the second and third quarters and helped the Tigers erase a 9-7 deficit, ultimately taking a 42-9 lead into the fourth.  He might have called it a night at that point, but South had mounted a comeback in the final frame and Massillon’s first team needed to stay in to finish it off.  That, of course, didn’t hurt Hartson’s chances of setting the record.

“Where he really separates himself is once he gets to that third level,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said of Hartson, who has rushed for 773 yards on 68 carries over the last four games since replacing the injured Raekwon Venson. “How he’s able to both break tackles and accelerate and choose the correct angles and cuts to finish runs through that third level. That’s where he’s been outstanding.” – Chris Easterling, Massillon Independent

Other Great Hartson Performances

  • 2020 – North Canton (6-2); playoffs second round – Stats: 13 carries for 196 yards and 4 touchdowns; 15.1 yards/att. – Score: 48-23

No. 2 – Jamir Thomas (2018)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-1); rivalry game; finished the season 9-3
  • RB numbers – 35 carries for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns; 7.7 yards/att.; 73% of the offense
  • Final score – 24-17
  • The story – Jamir Thomas was an iron man for the Tigers and over both his final two seasons and his career he had more carries than any other back in Massillon history.  The game against McKinley was no different and he rushed for a career-high (at that time) in this one.  After the Bulldogs took a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter, Thomas ripped off a 78-yard touchdown run, cutting back through the line and then out-racing the entire McKinley secondary to the end zone.  He would tally again in the third on a 16-yard run, but the score was still tied at 17 well into the fourth.  So, from their own 49, the Tigers went to work, eventually scoring on a Zion Phifer run on the 13th play of the drive.  Along the way, Jamir ran the ball six times and picked up 33 yards.  Following a McKinley punt, Massillon ran out the clock with Thomas gaining 26 yards off of eight carries.

“We came out here expecting to pound the ball,” Thomas said.  “I mean, they knew our plays.  They were calling out our plays from their sideline. So we really just had to execute.  That’s what we did.” – Josh Weir, Canton Repository

Other Great Thomas Performances

  • 2017 – Ashland (9-2); Division 2 regional semifinals – Stats: 37 carries for 196 yards and 4 touchdowns; 5.3 yards/att – Score 18-7
  • 2018 – Warren Harding (2-0); finished the season 8-3 – Stats: 29 carries for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns; 9.0 yards/att. – Score 51-21

No. 3 – Ryne Moore (2012)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-2); Division 1 regional semifinals
  • RB numbers – 37 carries for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns; 6.1 yards/att.; 55% of the offense
  • Final score – 28-19
  • The story – A second-round playoff game at Kent State University against the Bulldogs went the Tigers way, led by the powerful running of Ryne Moore.  Not to be overshadowed by the passing of quarterback Kyle Kempt, Moore partially stole the show with a career day performance.  He scored on touchdown runs of one and two yards.  But in between had eight runs of ten yards or more, including a long one of 64 in the fourth quarter that turned the field and sealed the game.  Ryne had an uncanny ability to, depending on the initial response of McKinley’s opposing linebacker, either run inside the tackle or cut to the outside in order to gain the maximum yardage.

No. 4 – JT Turner (2008)

  • Opponent – JT Turner – Canton McKinley (6-3); finished the season 6-5
  • RB numbers – 28 carries for 208 yards and 1 touchdown; 7.4 yards/att.; 62% of the offense
  • Final score – 17-0
  • The story – If there was ever a game against McKinley where one player literally took over, this was surely the one.  It was not the best of Massillon teams, but Turner saved his best game for this one.  His touchdown came in the fourth quarter, on a 26-yard run, that finished off a 12-play, 94-yard drive.  The drive was kick-started by Turner’s 30 yard run.  Then he added four additional runs totaling 16 yards before scoring the final TD.  Playing both ways throughout the game, he also recorded 6.5 tackle points and forced a fumble, which he recovered.

Other Great Turner Performances

  • 2008 – Akron Garfield (3-1); finished the season 8-2 – Stats: 22 carries for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns; 8.7 yards/att. – Score: 34-0

No. 5 – Brian Gamble (2005)

Brian Gamble
  • Opponent – Cincinnati Elder (1-0); finished the season 4-5
  • RB numbers – 15 carries for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns; 11.5 yards/att.; 36% of the offense
  • Final score – 35-31
  • The story – The game was a classic played at Cincinnati Bengal’s Paul Brown Stadium against a powerhouse parochial school.  But that didn’t faze Massillon.  And it didn’t faze Gamble either as he led his team to a 35-14 advantage by early in the fourth quarter.  Included in that was a pair of third-quarter touchdown runs of 50 yards and 2 yards.  The Tigers then held Elder off sufficiently the rest of the way to grab the victory.  Gamble also led the team with 7.5 tackle points and intercepted a pass, which he returned for 37 yards.

“That was a great run,” Massillon Coach Tom Stacy said of his first touchdown.  “It was just a power off tackle play and Brian Gamble broke it.”  Gamble refused to take any credit for his heroics.  “It’s not me,” Gamble said. “Our line has been blocking excellent and we’ve got Lanale Robinson running the football, too.”  Now, Gamble says, people around Ohio are going to sit up and take notice of the Massillon Tigers once again.  — Joe Shaheen, Massillon Independent

Other Great Gamble Performances

  • 2005 – North Canton (7-3); playoffs first round – Stats: 14 carries for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing; 10.4 yards/att.; 1 TD receiving – Score: 45-14

No. 6 – Freddie Lenix Jr. (2021)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (6-3); rivalry game; finished the season 8-5
  • RB numbers – 16 carries for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns; 11.2 yards/att.; 45% of the offense
  • Final score – 35-13
  • The story – Massillon was searching for a running back after Willtrell Hartson went down with an injury and tried Lenix in Week 9.  After modest results in that one, Lenix turned on the jets a week later and was instrumental in routing McKinley.  In the first quarter he scored on a 49-yard run and then finished it off in the fourth with a 68-yard sprint to the end zone.

Other Great Lenix Performances

  • 2021 – Westerville South (8-2); Division 2 playoffs; Stats: 22 carries for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns; 10.3 yards/att. – Score 50-19

No. 7 – Lyron Wilson (2013)

  • Opponent – Steubenville (4-0); finished the season Division 4 state runner-up
  • RB numbers – 24 carries for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns; 9.8 yards/att.; 74% of the offense
  • Final score – 37-21
  • The story – Playing on the road at Steubenville is always a challenge, especially when the Big Red is undefeated.  But Massillon was up to the task, led by the running of Lyron Wilson, who put up a monster night.  In the first quarter he scored from the four and then added another of 30 yards in the second.  Finally, with his team up 30-21 late in the fourth, he finished game off with a 14-yard touchdown run.

“It’s crazy; it’s a beautiful thing,” Massillon running back Lyron Wilson said. “We’re the first team to beat them in how long? … It was a great game for us.” – Chris Easterling, Massillon Independent

Other Great Wilson Performances

  • 2013 – Canton McKinley (9-0); rivalry game – 26 carries for 184 yards and 0 touchdowns; 7.1 yards/att. – Score: 34-7

No. 8 – Terrence Keyes (2019)

  • Opponent – Barberton (5-2); finished the season 7-3
  • RB numbers – 30 carries for 255 yards and 5 touchdowns; 8.5 yards/att.; 62% of the offense
  • Final score – 49-25
  • The story – Keyes was the “the man” in this one, posting two Top-10 records, for total yards and touchdowns.  In front a capacity crowd at Magic Stadium, he scored three second-quarter touchdowns,  of 7, 8 and 1 yards, to give Massillon a 28-16 halftime lead.  In the third quarter he added another from one yard out and then finished it off in the final frame by rambling 62 yards to paydirt.

No. 9 – Zion Phifer (2017)

  • Opponent – Bedford (4-0); finished the season 10-2
  • RB numbers – 31 carries for 196 yards and 3 touchdowns; 6.3 yards/att.; 47% of the offense
  • Final score – 56-46
  • The story – The sophomore Phifer, who was subbing in and out for junior starter Jamir Thomas, came up big in this high-scoring affair.  Phifer scored touchdowns on runs of 17, 18 and 1 yards.


No. 10 – Perry James (2000)

  • Opponent – Mansfield (3-0); finished the season 10-2
  • RB numbers – 26 carries for 180 yards and 1 touchdown; avg. 6.9 yards/att.; 57% of the offense
  • Final score – 27-7
  • The story – James carried the load in this one, lugging the ball on 26 of the 29 rushing plays.  His longest run from scrimmage was 37 yards.  The touchdown came in the third quarter from one yard out and gave the Tigers a comfortable 21-7 lead.  On the final scoring drive of the night, James either carried the ball or caught a pass on eight of the first nine plays.  Quarterback Justin Zwick then finished it off with a 5-yard pass to Jeremiah Drobney.


Devoe Torrence (2007)

  • Opponent – Mentor (3-1); finished the season Division 1 state runner-up
  • RB numbers – 36 carries for 283 yards and 4 touchdowns; 57% of the offense
  • Final score – 52-56
  • The story – The Tigers entered this one with a 2-2 record and were perceived to be no match for Mentor, which was coming off a blowout win over Cleveland St. Ignatius.  But someone forgot to tell Devoe Torrence.  Although Massillon lost this one, Torrence kept his team in the game throughout, scoring twice in the second quarter and once in the third to narrow the scoring gaps.  His fourth TD actually gave the Tigers a brief lead of 45-42.  But Mentor eventually tallied the winning points with just 24 seconds left.  Torrence’s 36 carries ranks 8th all-time, his 283 yards ranks fourth and his four TDs ranks 10th.

Greatest Massillon Player Performance Series, Part 2 – Quarterbacks…

This is the second part of a series on the greatest performances by Massillon players, as selected by the Booster Club Football Museum staff.   Three distinct eras are considered in order to account for the variations in offensive styles.  Part 2 focuses on the quarterbacks in he two eras before the advent of the spread offense.

In determining the best quarterback performance it’s not a matter of which player had the most yards or the most touchdown passes or the highest efficiency rating.  If you’re interesting in those numbers you can read about them in the Records section of this website.  Surely, the stats for a QB should be better than average.  But what’s missing in many of those records is the challenge presented by the caliber of the opponent.  This then is a key component.  Another factor is the degree to which the quarterback had influence in the outcome.  Was the running game shut down, forcing a move strictly to a passing attack?  Was the quarterback a major factor at the end in pulling out a win?  Here then are the criteria used in this analysis?

  • The quarterback must have had better than average passing statistics.
  • The opponent must have had a top-level record and presented a significant challenge to the offense, particularly coming from the secondary.
  • The passing game must have contributed a major percentage of the total offense.
  • If required, the quarterback must have been a significant factor in pulling out the win at the end.

Finally, let’s not forget the receivers who were on the other ends of these outstanding passing performances.


In this era the offenses were transitioning from a traditional run-oriented attack to one that integrated more of the passing game.  Massillon offenses, like Mike Currence’s “run-and-shoot” and Lee Owens “run-and-boot”, began to appear as the run-pass ratio decreased from 80% to 70%.  Therefore, quarterbacks in this era are grouped together.

No. 1 – Willie Spencer, Jr. (1994)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-1); rivalry game
  • QB numbers – 6 of 13 for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns; rushed 12 times for 94 yards and 1 touchdown; 57% of the offense
  • Key receivers – None with more than two receptions
  • Final score – 42-41 o.t.
  • The story – Spencer was perhaps the most prolific and athletic quarterback in Massillon history.  And he showcased his abilities by gaining 197 yards while both running and passing the ball.  He also managed of the offense brilliantly in this win over favored McKinley.  Both teams scored twice in the first half, with Willie contributing a 3-yard TD run.  In the third he threw two touchdown passes, the first a 62-yard flea flicker to Victor Redrick and the second a 4-yarder to Vaughn Mohler to give the Tigers a 28-21 lead going into the fourth.

Back-and-forth the scoring went until at the end of regulation it was tied at 35.  McKinley tallied on its initial overtime possession, but failed on the extra point.  Now it was the Tigers’ turn.  On second down from the 20, Spencer headed around right end on an option play, faked a pitch, and then right before he got hit pitched the ball to Redick, who gathered the pigskin near the sideline and sped the remaining distance for the score.  Nick Pribich’s PAT kick ended the game with Massillon as the victor.

It was a tremendous finish to this 100th game in the rivalry series.  And the Booster Club Football Museum had previously tagged it as Massillon’s greatest victory all-time in their storied 100+ year history.

No. 2 – Brent Offenbecher (1978)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (7-1); rivalry game
  • QB numbers – 10 of 13 for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns; 89% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Curt Strawder (8), Ron Wright (3)
  • Final score – 13-10
  • The story – Through three quarters of football McKinley owned the action and kicked a 22-yard field goal to lead 10-0 early in the fourth.  But the last two Massillon drives were memorable.  Using a combination of wide receiver slants and down-and-outs, Offenbecher directed the offense to a score on each of the Tigers’ final two possessions.   The first started on the Massillon 43 and ended seven plays later when Offenbecher connected with Strawder on a 12-yard touchdown with 3:25 remaining in the game.  Following a pass interception at the Bulldog 31, Brent went to work again, completing three straight passes, with the third a 6-yard TD to Strawder.  A subsequent Tiger interception, their second of the game, then sealed the win.

Other Great Offenbecher Performances

  • 1977 – Canton McKinley (9-0); rivalry game – Stats: 7 of 9 for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns – Score 21-0

No. 3 – Rick Spielman (1981)

  • Opponent – Akron St. Vincent (6-0); finished the season as state champions with a 12-1 record
  • QB numbers – 9 of 16 for 202 yards and 1 touchdown; rushed for 39 yards; 72% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Larry Newman (3)
  • Final score – 9-7
  • The story – St. Vincent was undefeated and enroute to the Division 3 state title.  Meanwhile, Massillon was struggling to find itself, while sitting on a 4-2 record and coming off a 26-24 upset at the hands of Barberton.  Someone needed to step up and that someone was Rick Spielman.  The first-year quarterback put up 241 yards of offense by running and passing and led his team to a major upset of the parochial school power.  In the second quarter Rick hit George Roknich on a 64-yard touchdown pass.  The Irish went ahead 7-6 in the third, but Rick responded and drove his team downfield for a game-winning 21-yard field goal by Greg Radka.  The two key plays in the drive were a 43-yard pass to Gary Conley that moved the ball to the St. Vincent 30 and a 12-yard pass to Larry Newman, converting a 4th and ten.  “I ran more to bring the halfback up,” said Spielman.  “When I run the ball it helps the passing game.  We worked a lot on our passing game this week to give me some confidence in throwing the ball and my receivers’ confidence in catching it.” – Massillon Independent

No. 4 – Lee Hurst (1989)

  • Opponent – Akron Garfield (9-1); playoffs regional finals
  • QB numbers – 10 of 14 for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns; 59% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Rameir Martin (4), Doug Harig (3)
  • Final score – 43-7
  • The story – Hurst was in fire throughout and put this game in the bag by halftime, with the Massillon owning a 29-7 lead.  Included in that was a 4-yard pass to Harig and his own 11-yard TD run on a naked boot.  In the second half Lee added touchdown passes of 50 yards to Martin and 20 yards to Harig.

Other Great Hurst Performances

  • 1989 – Middletown (1-1); finished the season 9-3 – Stats: 16 of 27 for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns – Score 17-7
  • 1989 – Akron Garfield (9-1); playoff game – Stats: 10 of 14 for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns – Score: 43-7

No. 5 – Mike Scott (1984)

  • Opponent – Stow (4-1); finished the season 8-2
  • QB numbers – 19 of 32 for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns; 57% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Bruce Spicer (8); Irwin Hastings (4); Wes Siegenthaler (4)
  • Final score – 38-31
  • The story – Massillon held a slim 20-19 lead in first half action, including a 40-yard TD pass from Scott to Spicer.  During that 12-play, 75-yard drive, every play was a pass from Scott.  Another touchdown pass in third quarter, a 10-yarder to Hastings, put the Tigers up 32-19.  Massillon then held on for the win.  Scott was consistent throughout the game.  And his final pass of the night, coming on third and eight, was 30 yards to Spicer to seal the victory.

Other Great Scott Performances

  • 1984 – Perry (7-1); finished the season 8-2; Stats: 17 of 29 for 179 yards and 1 touchdown – Score 10-0

Honorable Mention

  • 1976 – Bret Traylor – Steubenville; finished the season 7-2-1 – Stats 9 of 15 for 177 yards and 1 touchdown – Score: 10-0
  • 1980 – Dave Eberhart – Massillon Perry (0-0); finished the season 8-2; Stats: 9 of 11 for 85 yards and 0 touchdowns – Score: 30-13
  • 1980 – Dave Eberhart – Akron Garfield (1-1); finished the season 7-2; Stats: 12 of 19 for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns – Score: 22-21
  • 1982 – Brian Dewitz – Sharon, PA (6-0); finished the season 9-1; Stats: 11 of 18 for 140 yards a 1 touchdown – Score: 28-7


In this era offenses traditionally used run-oriented attacks, passing the ball around 20% of the time.  In addition, the passing attacks had limited effectiveness, with teams normally completing around 40% of their attempts.  Therefore, quarterbacks in this era are grouped together.

Note:  Massillon did not retain Individual player statistics prior to 1959.

No. 1 – Greg Wood (1974)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (9-0); rivalry game
  • QB numbers – 7 of 10 for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns; 51% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Eddy Bell (4)
  • Final score – 20-15
  • The story – Undefeated Canton McKinley, in position to lock up a playoff spot with a win, presented a tall task for this 5-4 Massillon team.  But, in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,754, the Tigers pulled off an unbelievable upset on this sunny Saturday afternoon.  Massillon surprised the Pups by tallying twice in the first half to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room.  In the first quarter Wood finished off a 71-yard drive by connecting with Mark Streeter on a 24-yard touchdown pass.  Then, in the second frame, Wood engineered a 63-yard drive and scored with his own 2-yard run.
Eddie Bell scores the winning touchdown in the 1974 game.

But throughout the second half, up until the final minutes, it was all Bulldogs, albeit the Tigers did come up short on a field goal attempt.  Two scores cut the margin to 14-12 and then, after McKinley recovered an onside kick, they played for a go-ahead field goal.  The plan worked and Roch Hontas ended the short drive with a 24-yard field goal with 73 seconds left on the clock to give the Bulldogs a 15-14 lead.  All they needed now to secure the win was to continue playing the outstanding defense they had all season.  But Wood had other ideas.

Three down-and-out passes of 12, 9 and 12 yards to Bell less a quarterback sack advanced the ball to the McKinley 34 with just 13 seconds left.  Somehow on the next play Wood sidestepped to avoid a heavy blitz and unloaded a long pass to Eddie Bell, who had beaten his defender down the right sideline.  Bell then caught the ball in stride at the goal line uncontested for the game-winner.  For Tiger fans, pandemonium ensued.  And for that brief moment in time, Greg Wood was the most famous person in Tigertown.

“I just couldn’t believe it when I saw Eddie Bell in the open,” Shuff said of the 34-yard pass the 5-foot-10, 154-pound senior split end caught (in the end zone) from classmate Greg Wood.  It came as the Tigers merely were driving for field position to give placekicker Dave Dowd a shot at a field goal attempt.  “I don’t think we could call for another ounce of energy out of any of our boys,” Shuff said of the physically drained coaches and players. – Canton Repository’s Mike Zemelka

No. 2 – Ron Swartz (1963)

  • Opponent – Cleveland Benedictine (6-1-1); finished the season with a 7-2-1 record
  • QB numbers – 8 of 14 for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns; 67% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Will Perry (4)
  • Final score – 22-0
  • The story – In an era when few passes were thrown in a game, Swartz lit it up with over 200 yards passing.  And it was much needed, since the Bennies held Massillon to just 100 yards on the ground for the game.  In the second quarter Swartz connected with Will Perry on a 78-yard touchdown pass.  It came off of play-action and Perry, after having beaten the defender, secured the ball at the 40 and raced the remaining distance to the end zone.  In the third quarter, Swartz again found Perry, this time from 21-yards out.

No. 3 – Kevin Westover (1972)

  • Opponent – Canton McKinley (8-1); rivalry game
  • QB numbers – 6 of 9 for 155 yards and 1 touchdown; 54% of the offense
  • Key receivers – Terry Edwards (3)
  • Final score – 12-3
  • The story – In front of 22,371 fans at Tiger Stadium, Westover engineered his team’s offense to a pair of touchdowns that were sufficient to polish off an undefeated regular season and propel Massillon into the first-ever Ohio playoffs at Ohio State Stadium.  The first score came in the second quarter on a 3rd and 8 situation when Westover unloaded a bomb to Greg Sullivan for a 64-yard touchdown.  “That was the most important pass of my life,” Westover said of the first touchdown.  I had the option of running or throwing deep. I saw Greg had him beaten and I threw it deep.”  “Kevin Westover was magnificent,” bubbled Commings.  “His passing was great. Greg Sullivan’s catching was great. The backs ran hard. The defense was superb. And our coach called a great game,” he quipped. – Canton Repository’s Bob Stewart

The Tigers would score again in the same frame when Westover plowed over the goal line from the one.


Moeller, St. Edward Highlight 2022 Massillon Football Schedule

Other than the McKinley contest, the highest attended game each year is the opener.  And Head Coach Nate Moore has another whopper on the slate for this year in Cincinnati Moeller.  The last time these two teams squared off was in 2006 in the Queen City as part of the Prep Classic, with the Crusaders coming away with the win.  After suffering through several substandard years, Moeller rebounded in 2021 to finish 11-4, losing in the Division 1 state semifinals to Springfield.  With several returning starters off of that team, they are expected to be strong again this year.

Lakewood St. Edward travels to Massillon for a third year in a row.  Two years ago, the Tigers let the game slip away on a trick play at the end.  Last year it was inexperience and injuries that resulted in a 35-18 loss to the eventual Division 1 Champions, their fifth crown in the last eleven years.  Incidentally, their only setback last season came in overtime against Moeller, by the score of 28-21

The Tigers return 13 starters plus several oft-used backups from last year’s 11-3 team that finished regional runner-up in Division 2.  With several of the returnees in key positions, they are expected to be particularly strong at quarterback, running back and defensive line.  Coach Moore will enter his eighth year and currently owns a 71-20 record while at Massillon, which includes three trips to the state finals.  He also captured the D2 title while previously at Cincinnati LaSalle.

Here is the full schedule along with some key data:

1. Cincinnati Moeller – H

  • League: Greater Cincinnati League
  • Playoff Division: 1
  • 2021 Overall Record: 11-4
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost to Springfield 22-21 in the state semifinals
  • 5-Year Record: 26-30 (.464)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 4 appearances; lost in state semifinals in 2021
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Defeated Massillon 48-14 in 2006
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: Moeller leads 10-2
  • Bonus: Returns wide receiver Tennel Bryant and linebacker Joe Ginnetti, both of whom were Honorable Mention All-Ohio, and defensive lineman Chase Brown (2nd Team All-District).

 2. Canton GlenOak – A

  • League: Federal League
  • Playoff Division: 1
  • 2021 Overall Record: 3-7
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 40-12 to Stow in Round 1
  • 5-Year Record: 8-40 (.167)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 2 appearances; lost in Round 1 both times
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 34-0 to Massillon in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: Massillon leads 13-4
  • Bonus: Last year’s 3-7 record was the best since 2017.  Returns 8 starters on offense and 9 on defense; 3 are 2-way players

3. Mansfield Senior

  • League: Cardinal Conference
  • Playoff Division: 3
  • 2021 Overall Record: 9-3
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 13-10 to Parma in Round 2
  • 5-Year Record: 38-19 (.667)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 4 appearances; lost 14-7 in overtime to Trotwood Madison in 2019
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 55-0 in 2005
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon leads 43-4-5
  • Bonus: 20-10 league record in the past five years with  one tie for first and two runner-ups; beat undefeated Aurora 27-21 in overtime to advance to the 2019 state championship game

4. Warren Harding – H

  • League: All-American Conference
  • Playoff Division: 2
  • 2021 Overall Record: 5-6
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 35-28 to Austintown Fitch in Round 1
  • 5-Year Record: 28-24 (.538)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 4 appearances; lost in Round 3 in 2020
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 49-46 to Massillon in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: Massillon leads 58-25-3 (second-longest series)
  • Bonus: Returns 2 starters on offense and 3 on defense, including sensational quarterback Dalys Jett (2nd Team All-District), who last year against the Tigers completed 21 of 34 passes for 358 yards and 6 touchdowns and ran 9 times for 78 yards and a TD.

5. Lakewood St. Edward – H

  • League: None
  • Playoff Division: 1
  • 2021 Overall Record: 15-1
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Defeated Springfield 23-13 to capture the state championship
  • 5-Year Record: 53-10 (.841)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 5 appearances; state titles in 2018 and 2021
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Defeated Massillon 34-18 in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. St. Edward: 4-3
  • Bonus: Returns 2 starters on offense and 2 on defense, including defensive lineman Wyatt Gideon (3rd Team All-State)

6. Austintown Fitch – H

  • League: All-American Conference
  • Playoff Division: 2
  • 2021 Overall Record: 7-4
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 48-28 to Akron Hoban in Round 2
  • 5-Year Record: 33-17 (.660)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 3 appearances; 2-3 record
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 31-21 to Massillon in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: Massillon leads 19-8
  • Bonus: Returns 5 starters on offense and 5 on defense, including offensive lineman Josh Fitzgerald and defensive back DeShawn Vaughn, both Honorable Mention All-Ohio, and kicker Josiah Berni (2nd Team All-District)

7. Middletown, DE – H

  • League: Blue Hen
  • Playoff Division: 3 – largest
  • 2021 Overall Record: 10-1
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Defeated Smyrna 28-22 to capture the Delaware state championship
  • 5-Year Record: 46-8 (.852)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 5 appearances; 6-4 record; 1 state championship, 3 state runners-up
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: did not play
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: 0-0
  • Bonus: Lost last year to national power St. Joseph Prep, Philadelphia, 24-6; lost to IMG Academy in 2018, 52-7; defeated Smyrna in the 2017 regular season, but lost to Smyrna in the state finals

8. Canisius, NY – H

  • League: Monsignor Martin Association
  • Playoff Division: Inter-league
  • 2021 Overall Record: 6-4
  • 2021 Playoff Results: did not qualify
  • 5-Year Record: 30-19 (.612)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 4 appearances; 4-4 record
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 23-13 to Massillon in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: 1-1
  • Bonus: 2020 season was played in Spring 2021

9. (TBD) – H

10. Canton McKinley – H

  • League: Federal League
  • Playoff Division: 1
  • 2021 Overall Record: 9-4
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 42-0 to Lakewood St. Edward in Round 3
  • 5-Year Record: 40-16 (.714)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 5 appearances; 5-5 playoff record
  • Last Time vs. Massillon: Lost 35-13 to Massillon in 2021
  • Historical Series vs. Massillon: Massillon leads 74-53-5; Massillon has won 10 of the last 11
  • Bonus: Returns 5 starters on offense and 6 on defense, including wide receiver Cynceir McNeal and defensive lineman Bryan Foster, both Hon. Mention All-District.  Three of four defensive backs return.

The book on Massillon:

  • League: Independent
  • Playoff Division: 2
  • 2021 Overall Record: 11-3
  • 2021 Playoff Results: Lost 26-25 to Green in the regional finals
  • 5-Year Record: 59-11 (.843)
  • 5-Year Playoff History: 5 appearances; advanced to the state finals in 2018, 2019 and 2020; regional champion in 2017; lost in regional finals in 2021
  • Bonus: Returns 8 starters on offense, including quarterback Jalen Slaughter (Hon. Mention All-District), running backs Willtrell Hartson (Hon. Mention All-Ohio in 2020) and Freddie Lenix Jr. (All-District), linemen Marcus Moore, Sam Snodgrass (Hon. Mention All-District) and Mike Mercurio, and receivers Ardell Banks (Hon. Mention All-District) and Jaden Welch.  Returns 7 starters on defense, including lineman Marcus Moore (1st Team All-District, 2nd Team All-Ohio), Michael White (Hon. Mention All-District)and Chase Bond, linebacker Maverick Clark, and defensive backs Freddie Lenix Jr., Jaden Welch and Zack Liebler.  Returns kicker Nolan Hendricks.