Author: <span>Don Engelhardt</span>

History

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 4:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 4: Scheduling

 This is the fourth of a 7-part series, which includes the following installments:

Nothing grabs the attention of Tiger fans in the off-season more than the schedule of games for the campaign to come.  In fact, for the massillontigers.com website, the “Future Schedule” page receives more traffic than any other during that time.  And why not?  As an independent school, devoid of any league association, the year-to-year slate constantly changes and lately has encompassed a plethora of out-of-state teams, for a variety of reasons.

Part 4 of this series explores the evolution of the Massillon schedules, focusing particularly on strength-of-schedule aspect from the time of Paul Brown to the present.  It also studies the relationship between the the trend of strength-of-schedule and the trend of winning percentage.

Massillon’s schedules have changed drastically over the years due to a number of factors.  When Paul Brown was the head coach, in the 1930s, travel from city to city was difficult due to the limitations of the vehicles at that time and the lack of an interstate highway system.  So, teams tended to play primarily opponents that were within close proximity.  That changed in the 1950s with better roads and buses.

The sportswriters poll also had an impact, especially since the Tigers were the team to beat in order to win a state title.  There were many instances when good teams from the around the state provided the challenge.  An example was Toledo Waite in 1940.  They finished 9-1 that year, but lost to Paul Brown’s Tigers, 28-0.  Another was Cleveland Cathedral Latin, which played several games.  And let’s not forget Niles McKinley and the 1964 game at the Akron Rubber Bowl, which the Tigers won 14-8.

For a short while, the All-American Conference provided a solid group of teams that would fill half the schedule on an annual basis.  Then, there was the playoff system.  No longer was it necessary to schedule the best teams to win a title.  Conversely, it was now prudent to avoid them in order to improve the odds of qualifying for post-season play.  Titles would be left for the tournament.  Presently, Massillon has become one of the best teams in the country and potential opponents are avoiding them like the plague.  Such is the evolution of the schedule.  In essence, the Tigers have now become victims of their own success.

Strength-of-Schedule

This author has developed a rudimentary calculation that rates a season’s schedule.  Although on an individual opponent basis it lacks the complexity of an algorithm-based method, collectively over an entire season it provides a fairly good rating.

Here’s how it works.  Each opponent receives a numerical rating based on its performance over the season, as follows:

  • 3 points for a large parochial school, like Lakewood St. Edward or Cincinnati Moeller
  • 2 points for a public school that won at least seven games or participated in the playoffs in the regional quarterfinals or better
  • 2 points for a medium-sized parochial school
  • 1 point for a public school that won less than seven games
  • 0 points for a public school that couldn’t get out of its own way

The points are then added together (adjusted if there were less than ten games) to give a season rating.  For example, if Massillon played ten public school teams and they all won at least seven games, then the schedule would be rated at 20.

The Early Years

Massillon’s first few football seasons were against a hodge-podge of opponents, since there were few schools around at that time also playing the sport.  For example, the locals played three games in 1891 during their first year of competition, two against the Massillon Ex-Highs and one against Beta Theta Pi Fraternity of Wooster College.  Shortly after, teams such as Pumpkin Hill, Massillon Alumni, Massillon Actual Business College, Claytown and Smoky Hollow began to appear.  But it was not until 1903 that the first recognizable football schedule was assembled, one that contained eight games.  From thereafter, several common opponents were scheduled, many of which have appeared even in recent years.

From those initial seasons up until the time of Paul Brown the Tigers compiled a record of 160-102-18 (.608), playing the likes of Canton McKinley, Warren Harding, Alliance, Barberton, Wooster and New Philadelphia.  It was also when many long-time rivalries developed.  Below is a short list of total games played against these teams all-time:

  • Canton McKinley – 134
  • Warren Harding – 88
  • Alliance – 75
  • Mansfield – 54
  • Steubenville – 49
  • Barberton – 46

Paul Brown and prior to the All-American Conference

Paul Brown became the head coach in 1932 and since that time the Tigers have compiled a record of 788-197-18 (804).  But it would surprise many to learn that Brown’s schedules were initially some of Massillon’s worst ever.  His ratings for the first five years averaged just 9.2, including three seasons of 6, 7 and 7.  Within those schedules was a steady diet of teams such as Wooster, Akron East, Akron South, New Philadelphia and Dover.  But once Brown started winning state titles, the schedules did improve a bit with the inclusion of a few of the better teams from around the state.  In his final four years, Brown’s schedules were rated at 14, 14, 12 and 15.

Following Brown, a rating of around 13 seemed to become the norm.  And that continued through the era of the sportswriters’ polls, from 1946 to 1971.

The All-American Conference

One would expect that the schedule would become more difficult during the time of the All-American Conference (1963 to 1979).  The conference had the likes of Canton McKinley, Warren Harding, Niles McKinley, Steubenville and Alliance.  But the schedule rating remained the same, at around 13.  That’s because the members believed that if they went undefeated in the league, there was a great chance of winning the state title and they didn’t want to jeopardize that by playing difficult non-conference teams.

Post-All-American Conference and Into the Playoff Years

After the conference broke up and following the introduction of the playoff system, the advantage of winning the conference was gone.  Now, it was necessary to schedule enough good teams to qualify for the playoffs, since the Harbin computer numbers were now in play, and the system required a sufficient number of opponent wins in order for a team to qualify for post-season play.  And that was exasperated further by the limitation imposed by the OHSAA on the number of qualifying teams, a number that was initially much lower than today.  And, as a school never knew in advance what kind of season an opponent would have, it was necessary to schedule as many good teams as was feasible, but not those where they would be a decided underdog.  For Massillon then, the average schedule rating improved from 13 to 14.

Parochial Schools on the Slate

It didn’t take long for the large parochial schools to begin dominating the playoffs, starting with Cincinnati Moeller in 1975 and then Cleveland St. Ignatius in 1988.  Today, it is Lakewood St. Edward.  Two events occurred around that time.  First, it became more difficult for the Tigers to schedule other public schools, aside from them having locked-in conference games, because those schools did not want to risk a loss and thereby jeopardize their opportunities to qualify for the playoffs.  And second, Massillon was led by this constraint to play the large parochial schools, who were more than willing participants, as they had their own scheduling difficulties.  So, in 1989 the large parochial schools began to appear on the schedule on a regular basis, beginning with Moeller.  The Tigers did take their lumps, but they were also able to learn what needed to improve in order to be competitive in these games.  With those schools now on the schedule, the average rating climbed to 15.6.

From 1989 to present, Massillon’s records against these schools in both the regular season and the playoffs are as follows:

  • Cleveland St. Ignatius: 2-8 / 0-3
  • Cincinnati Moeller: 2-9 / 0-0
  • Lakewood St. Edward: 3-4 / 1-0
  • Cincinnati Elder: 1-0 / 0-0
  • Cincinnati St. Xavier: 0-0 / 0-1
  • TOTAL: 8-21 / 1-4

Nate Moore and the Present

During Moore’s first five years, the schedule averaged 15.0.  But as the Tigers began their climb to national prominence, so did the rating, as scheduling Ohio public schools became that much more difficult and more and more out-of-state opponents began to appear.  Over the last four years the rating has averaged 20.0.  And the schedule for 2024 is looking like it may be even higher, from 22 to 23.

Calpreps.com, a national algorithm ranking system, lists the top programs in the state of Ohio for both the last twenty years and the last five and confirms Massillon’s now prominent position.    For the last twenty years, Massillon is ranked 12th in the state.  But over the last five, it is ranked 3rd, as shown below, accompanied by the teams’ win-loss records:

  1. Lakewood St. Edward (39-5)
  2. Akron Hoban (50-8)
  3. Massillon (49-7)
  4. Springfield (44-12)
  5. Lakota West 43-7)
  6. Cincinnati St. Xavier (32-17)
  7. Toledo Central Catholic 48-5)
  8. Chardon (50-6)
  9. Cincinnati Moeller (37-17)
  10. Avon (37-17) (48-7)

In addition, the Tigers last year were ranked in the Top 25 nationally by Calpreps.com.

Obviously, the higher rankings within an algorithm-based system are influenced heavily by a strength-of-schedule component (something that is lacking within the Harbin system).

Winning Percentage vs. Strength-of-Schedule

There has been an obvious impact on Massillon’s winning percentage over time as the strength-of-schedule has steadily climbed, from Paul Brown’s overall average rating of 11.2 to Nate Moore’s average of 17.2.  The chart below overlays these two parameters.  Yes, the Tigers don’t win nine or ten games every year anymore, but it’s certain that the increased difficulty of the schedule has something to do with this.  Nevertheless, Massillon still retains one of the best programs in the state, if not the country.

Interestingly, although the winning percentage has declined for some eighty years, it has seen an uptick in the last few years, in spite of the enormous schedule rating.  That is a tribute to Nate Moore and his assistant coaches, who collectively with the players have returned the Tigers to a national level of performance.  It’s no wonder that the other public schools in Ohio are running away and scheduling opponents in Massillon has become that much more difficult.

History

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 3:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 3: Passing Frequency

 This is the third of a 7-part series, which includes the following installments:

All offensive football formations over the past 120 years have contained within them an element of the passing game.  But it’s no secret that teams today throw the ball more than those of earlier years.  And they are more effective now when they do.  Perhaps it’s the evolution of the game.  Or it may be the preferences of specific coaches.  Or it might simply be the need to score more points in this era of higher scoring games.  Regardless, the pass has had more impact on revolutionizing the game of football than anything else in its long history.

Football began in the late 1800s as a run-only sport.  But that all changed in 1906 when the forward pass was legalized in an attempt to make the game safer.  Little did the rules-makers know at the time how much the sport would change, particularly when the spread offense was introduced.  Part 3 of this series explores the evolution of the passing game from the Massillon perspective in terms of the frequency of passing the ball; or in football vernacular, the run/pass ratio.

As described in “Part 1 – Offensive Formations,” coaches initially shied away from the run, first on account of the debilitating penalties associated with incompletions and then believing the pass not to be a “manly” activity in such a physical sport.  But it eventually found itself with the Single-Wing offense, which placed a back at the edge of the line to serve as one of the targeted receivers, along with the end.  The Wing-T and the Power-I also used this concept.

Although the forward pass was now becoming an integral part of the game, it was still used at Massillon only 18% of the time through 1975.  Many passes were of the long-distance variety.  For example, the team season record for yards per completion is owned by the 1959 team, at 24.5, followed closely by the 1970 team (22.8) and the 1949 team (22.7).  Only one spread offense team is listed in the Top-10 of the record book: the 2016 team at 19.3, which featured deep receiver Austin Jasinski.

In 1976 Head Coach Mike Currence brought his version of the “Run-and-Shoot” offense to town and suddenly the pass was being used on average 28% of time, a 10% jump in frequency.  And this rate continued up until the time of the spread offense, in spite of a variety of different formations employed by different coaches, including the Power-I and the Run-and-Boot.

But the spread finally took hold in 1998 under Coach Rick Shepas and continued under Tom Stacey, Jason Hall and Nate Moore.  The percentage of plays that utilized the forward pass jumped once again, this time to 37%.  Another step up, of 9%

And the opponents followed the same trend: 23% through 1975, 29% through 1997 and 34% to the present.

At the same time, the efficiency in the passing game improved immensely.  For Massillon, it went from a completion rate of 38% through 1975, to 49% from 1976 to 1997, and to 56% with the spread offense.  For the opponents, it also got better, from 36% to 42% to 47%.  Interestingly, the yards per completion for both the Tigers (14.2) and the opponents (13.0) has not varied much over time, except during Massillon’s early years (prior to 1976) when they focused mostly on deep throws, averaging 18.9 yards per reception.  The charts below summarizes this.

But how effective was the passing game as it evolved?  Did it result in more yards?  Or more points?  For Massillon, there was little difference in total yards when passing made the first jump.  In essence, the Tigers, who were maximizing the potential of the running game, just traded rushing yards for passing yards.  However, an improvement was definitely shown when the spread offense came into effect.  The average total yards jumped from 298 to 350.  The opponents, however, did show some improvement in yards when the pass game made the first jump (168 to 200) and another improvement with the second jump (200 to 264).  It be explained that the opponents struggled with running ball against the stout Massillon defenses, but then found benefit with the pass.  Similar results were also found with “yards per play.”  The charts below illustrates this data.

Just as in yards, Massillon did not improve in the scoring column with the first jump, but did with the second jump (26 to 32), demonstrating the effectiveness of the spread offense as opposed to its predecessors.  In contrast, the opponents saw a modest improvement in scoring with the first jump (8 to 11), but greater improvement with the spread offense (11 to 19).  The chart below illustrates this data.

But there is yet another factor that has influence on this data, particularly the opponent’s: Massillon’s ever-improving strength of schedule.  That will be covered in Part 4 of this series.

History

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 2:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 2: Defensive Formations

 This is the second of a 7-part series, which includes the following installments:

  • Part 1: Offensive Formations
  • Part 2: Defensive Formations
  • Part 3: Passing Frequency
  • Part 4: Scheduling
  • Part 5: Roster Size
  • Part 6: Stadiums
  • Part 7: Game Attendance

Just as offensive formations have evolved throughout the years, so have defensive formations.  Call it a case of the ever-improving designs of guns and armor, as these two concepts have literally chased each other forever.  And they’ve chased each other in football as well.  In the years prior to the spread offense, Massillon’s defenses held opponents to an average of seven points per game.  However, during the 25+ years of spread offense, the defensive output has risen to 18 points per game.  Such is the impact of the spread.  We live in a different world today!

Part 2 of this series presents the defensive formations used by various Massillon coaches from Paul Brown to the present time, with additional discussion of Nate Moore’s Fusion Defense.

Defending the Single-Wing

Once the sport got mass formations out of its system through a series of rule changes (settling on a 7-man line, introducing the passing game, etc.), it was time to get down to serious business of playing football.  What came out of this was the Single-Wing offense, which was designed to trick the defense, rather than overpower it.  Although the pass had been permitted as part of the game for over twenty years by the time Paul Brown arrived in Massillon, it was little-used, as it was effective only around 40% of the time.  Therefore, defenses at that time were focused primarily on stopping the run, while giving modest respect to the pass.  Anywhere from six to eight defenders were positioned on the line, with the remaining players behind.  The chart below shows how Brown defended Canton McKinley’s single-wing offense in 1940, using a 6-man front, 3 linebackers and 2 safeties.  Note the overload of defenders on the side of the ball opposite the wingback.  In the Bulldogs’ single-wing offense, a pass play would involve the wingback as a receiver and normally flow to that side of the ball.  However, most running plays flowed to the opposite side, with the wingback often in motion prior to the play.  It was all about the numbers for Brown and the ability to match or outnumber the offense at the point of attack.  So in essence, Brown geared his defense to stop the run first, particularly around the end.

Thirteen years later, with Chuck Mather as the head coach, Massillon also employed a 6-man line.  But as a change from Brown, he placed his linemen evenly across the line, since opponents were beginning to run more up the middle.  He also backed up the line with four linebackers and a single safety.  Below is his formation against McKinley in 1953.

Defending the Wing-T, the Full House-T, the Power-I and any other run-oriented offense

Eventually, the Single-Wing was replaced by the Wing-T.  Coach Lee Tressel defended the Wing-T with a run-stopping 6-man front.  He called it “62 Games.”  But it was a hybrid of the 5-man to front to come in that a pre-selected lineman would drop back on each play, providing some confusion to the offense, while also providing some additional pass support.  The formation Tressel used against Canton McKinley in the 1957 game is shown below.

As passing performances finally began to improve, it was Leo Strang in 1958 that changed from a 6-man to a 5-man defensive front.  And that 5-man configuration was maintained within the Massillon program for the next 40+ years, until the time of the spread offense.  It was derived from the “5-2 Oklahoma,” which was developed by Coach Bud Wilkinson in 1949, and featured a linebacker over each guard.  By positioning the linebackers as such (as opposed to the earlier 5-2 Eagle, which positioned the linebackers over the tackles and ends), the formation allowed them to key on the movements of the guards, thereby providing better support over the middle.  Completing the formation were four defensive backs, one of which often referred to as the “monster back.”  He normally provided an additional defender on the wide side of the field.  Below is a typical formation used by Massillon.

Defending the Spread Offense

The spread offense was revolutionary and changed everything in regard to defensive formations.  While Tiger Coach Rick Shepas brought the offense to Massillon in 1998, it was Cleveland St. Ignatius that in earlier years put it on display on the opposite side of the ball, forcing the Tigers to figure out how to defend it.  Suddenly, the 5-man defensive front became obsolete.  The Wildcats would often place three wide receivers to one side of the ball.  The furthest one would be covered by the cornerback.  And the next receiver in would be covered by the monster back.  But the inner-most one would demand coverage by the defensive end, who was forced to abandon his assigned position on the line.  Unfortunately, this resulted in a mismatch in that a defensive end was just not equipped athletically to cover a much faster receiver.  Eventually, the Tigers changed to a 4-man front (even front), with an outside linebacker added to the mix.  And then a 3-man (odd front) with a second outside linebacker was utilized as defenses were now challenged to defend the entire field.  The monster back position was also abandoned in favor of two safeties.  The chart below shows a typical defensive alignment against the spread offense.

Massillon, currently integrates both even-front (4-2) and odd-front (3-4) alignments into a scheme Coach Moore refers to as the Fusion Defense.  He believes this modern concept is capable of adapting to any kind of offense his team might face throughout the season.  However, there is still a degree of game-planning involved, depending on the run/pass ratio the opponent tends to employ.  A team that runs the ball a lot may see more 4-2, while a team that passes more may see a heavy dose of 3-4.

Everything that the Tigers do on defense is geared firstly toward toward stopping the run.  The goal is to assure that every gap is accounted for, with a concept of plugging the gap and either tackling the runner or spilling him to the outside.  It starts with the inside linebackers, whose responsibilities it is to properly read the initial movements of the guards and respond accordingly.  How they respond is the unique feature of the Fusion Defense.

Linemen are positioned to play defenders straight up or shade to either side, depending on the call.  Meanwhile, the secondary and outside linebackers are tasked with properly aligning to any receiver formation.  Pass defenders, just like inside linebackers, must read keys.  For example, in defending a formation that has two receivers on one side of the ball, the cornerback aligns over the outside receiver and the safety aligns over the inside receiver.  Both key on the inside receiver.  If the inside receiver cuts his route inside of six yards, then either the cornerback or the inside linebacker picks him up (depending on the route) and the safety picks up the outside receiver.  If he goes beyond six yards, then the cornerback and safety stay with the receivers over which they initially aligned.

Defense of the spread offense went through a painful learning curve in its earlier years and needed to evolve in its own right.  With fewer defenders in the box now as compared to previous years owing to the increased challenges of covering multiple receivers, the edges of the formation suddenly became vulnerable to the run.  Again, it’s all about the numbers.  So, a change in player responsibilities was required.  In this case, at least for Massillon, the two safeties are now incorporated into run defense to a greater extent, particularly at the edges of the formation.  But the change also creates some risk against the pass as defenders may often be left on their own to cover deep receivers.  There is no perfect defense; only those that manage risk effectively.  Nevertheless, this modification coupled with incorporation of the Fusion Defense has had a remarkable impact on the Tigers’ ability over the past five years to control the run, as shown in the graph below.  While for many years Massillon surrendered around four to five yards per run against the spread offense, they over the past years have surrendered just two to three yards per run.  (For additional background on Massillon’s Fusion Defense readers are referred to several YouTube videos that Coach Nate Moore has posted.  These videos are highly recommended to Tiger football fans.  Search on Nate Moore Fusion Defense.)

Although the spread offense will continue to evolve, it is difficult to image a new offense replacing it anytime soon, given its greatly enhanced point production.  But, perhaps there is a new football world to come.

 

News

“Massillon Against the World” Book Signing Event a Rousing…

“Massillon Against the World” Book Signing Event a Rousing Success

Several hundred football fans packed the Massillon Museum on Friday to purchase the newly released publication, “Massillon Against the World.”  Jointly authored by Scott Ryan and Becca Moore, the book chronicles the Massillon Tiger football team’s journey through the 2023 season, culminating in their winning the Division II state championship.  It also includes several side stories about Massillon itself and the challenges the football program has faced over the past 53 years in trying to win another state title.  Becca and Ryan were joined by several football players and coaches in a book-signing event that lasted for over two hours.

The book can be purchased through TuckerDSPress.com.

 

History

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 1:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 1: Offensive Formations

Keith Jarvis and Bill Porrini contributed to this story

 This is the first of a 7-part series, which includes the following installments:

  • Part 1: Offensive Formations
  • Part 2: Defensive Formations
  • Part 3: Passing Frequency
  • Part 4: Scheduling
  • Part 5: Roster Size
  • Part 6: Stadiums
  • Part 7: Game Attendance

Little is known about the styles of offense used by Massillon football coaches prior to the time of Paul Brown, other than the coaches may have adopted what was being used at the time by various colleges.  Massillon fielded its first team in 1891 and they most likely used mass formations, which at that time was totally within the rules, with any number of players on the line of scrimmage.  They probably also used the V-formation on both kicks and scrimmage plays, the latter being referred to as the “shoving wedge.”  And they certainly did not throw a pass, since it was not permitted at that time.  Below is an example of a mass formation.

But in 1984 a refinement of rules was introduced in an attempt to make the game safer, certainly impacting the game’s evolution.  Mass formation plays were eliminated.  No more than five players were permitted in the backfield.  And players could not be moving forward prior to the snap.

In 1904 a rule was put in place in that six players were required on the line at all times.  In addition, the quarterback was now permitted to run, but must move laterally for at least five yards before turning up field.  This led to the checkerboard-like field lines.

Continuing to emphasize safety, the college rules committee introduced the pass in 1906, although with several limitations involved, including restrictions on where the ball could be thrown, a 15-yard penalty for an incomplete pass and a loss of possession if the pass went untouched by either team.  As a result, few coaches took advantage of this new rule, unless desperate enough toward the end of the game.  Three years later, realizing that the change had little impact on safety since it in effect wasn’t being used, the committee removed the penalties.  Little did they realize how much the game would change in the years to come.

The Single-Wing Formation

A rule was added around 1907 that all players in the backfield that have the potential to receive the snap must position themselves off the line, meaning that the quarterback could not be under center.  That led to the creation by Glen Pop Warner of the single-wing formation, which positioned three players in the immediate backfield and a fourth placed as a wing on the edge.  The play started with a snap of the ball to any of two players position in the immediate vicinity of the center and the quarterback near the line but not able to receive the snap.  In the play itself several pulling lineman would lead interference for the runner.  Thus, the plays were designed to trick the defense rather than overpower it.  Paul Brown (1932-40) utilized this offense to great success, while adding a pre-snap shift to introduce further confusion for the defense.  His 1940 game against Canton McKinley, in which both teams used this offense, can be viewed at this link.  Brown ended his career at Massillon with an 80-8-2 record, six state titles and four national titles.

It is likely that the coaches from 1907 up to Paul Brown also used this offense.  It is also likely that Massillon’s next three coaches, Elwood Kammer (1942-44), Augie Morningstar (1945), Bud Houghton (1941, 46-47) used the single-wing.

Full House T-Formation

In 1945 the rule requiring backfield players to be positioned several yards behind the line of scrimmage was removed, opening the door to the T-Formation.  This concept was created by Walter Camp in 1882 as a form of “mass formation” play, designed to provide a faster-paced, higher-scoring game.  The basic concept was a quarterback under center, a fullback behind the quarterback and a halfback on either side of the fullback.  But the T-Formation was placed on the shelf for a while, in favor of the single-wing, prior to when the aforementioned rule change went into effect.

New Massillon Coach Mather (1948-53) introduced the T to Massillon football, with an oft-used modification that involved repositioning one of the halfbacks on the wing to gain an additional advantage on the defense.  The Tigers enjoyed great success with this new offense, winning 57 of 60 games and capturing six state and three national championships.  Mather’s 1953 game against Canton McKinley can be viewed at this link.  Interestingly, the Bulldogs, who went through two coaching changes during the time of Chuck Mather, were still running the single-wing, which makes one believe that use of the T-formation was unique to Mather and a step ahead of the competition.  After Mather left for Kansas, Tom Harp (1954-55) was hired and he also used the T-Formation.

Wing-T Formation

The T-Formation was designed as a power football concept.  But not all high school teams had the player size required to be effective with it.  So, many opted for the Wing-T.  It was created by David M. Nelson, coach of Maine (1949-1950) and later coach of Delaware, as an offshoot of the single-wing.  It utilized motion and misdirection in the run game along with short passes.  With a quarterback under center, a fullback was positioned directly behind and a halfback next to the fullback.  The fourth back was on the wing.  Often, the wingback would motion before the play began.

Several Massillon coaches in succession used the Wing-T, including Lee Tressel (1956-57), Leo Strang (1958-63), Earl Bruce (1964-65), Bob Seaman (1966-68) and Bob Commings (1969-73).  Strang also modified the formation by using an unbalanced line (moving a tackle to the other side of the center).  Strang, Bruce and Commings each won state titles with it.

Power-I Formation

Massillon returned to power football at times, but with the Power-I.  This formation was developed by Tom Nugent, coach of VMI in 1950 as a replacement for the single-wing and an alternative to the T-formation.  The quarterback was under center and immediately behind him was a fullback in a 3-point stance.  Standing upright behind the fullback was a tailback, who was normally featured in the run game.  It provided a good ground attack providing the tailback was sufficiently talented, but was somewhat restricted in the passing game.

Chuck Shuff (1974-75), John Moronto (1985-87) and Jack Rose (1992-97) each utilized the Power-I as coaches at Massillon, but combined to qualify for the playoffs only three times in eleven tries.

Run-and-Shoot Formation

Major changes were in store at Massillon when Mike Currence (1976-84) brought his run-and-shoot offense to town.  According to him, football was going to be fun again and there was now a place for the smaller player.  The players responded and Currence had around 90 juniors and seniors on each of his nine rosters.

The original run-and-shoot offense was created by Glenn “Tiger” Elllison as a ploy to make average teams more competitive.  Currence readily embraced it, while simplifying it for use at the high school level.  His base formation involved five interior linemen with a split end on either side.  The quarterback was under center with a fullback behind in a 3-point stance.  Finally, a wingback was positioned off of each tackle.  The play began with one of the wingbacks going in motion.  Running plays resembled that of the Wing-T offense, while pass plays were more like a pre-cursor to the spread offense when there are three receivers on one side of the ball.  After the motioning wingback cleared the interior line, the QB would roll to the direction of the motion, seeking one of three potential targets on  one side of the field: the wide receiver and both wingbacks.  Of course, there was also the option for the QB to tuck the ball and run.

With a formation that had five offensive lineman, the defensive end was uncovered, freeing him to pressure the quarterback.  The blocking assignment therefore went to the fullback, who led interference for the quarterback.  The  fullback was taught to take out the defensive end by blocking low.  But the OHSAA introduced a new rule requiring the fullback to stay on his feet for the block.  So, unless the fullback weighed well in excess of 200 pounds, he was at a decided disadvantage against the larger defender.  As a result (and this was at the time of Chris Spielman), Currence went more to an I-formation with pocket passing.  So, the pass part of Currence’s run-and-shoot was short-lived.

Currence qualified for the playoffs three times during his eight years and twice advanced to the Division 1 state finals.

Run-and-Boot Formation

It was called the “run-and-boot,” introduced by new head coach Lee Owens (1988-91).  Multiple formations; quarterback under center; one or two running backs; one or two tight ends; two wide receivers; and some quarterback option rollouts.  Basically, the offense was adapted to the available personnel.  But you won’t find it in the literature.  It was all Owens’.  He enjoyed good success during his four years, qualifying for the playoffs three times in four years.

Spread Formation

Rick Shepas (1988-04) brought the spread to Massillon and it has continued to this day with the likes of Tom Stacy (2005-07), Jason Hall (2008-14) and Nate Moore (2015-23).  Created by high school coach Jack Neumeier in 1970, his modern version was designed to create mismatches and isolations in the passing game.  But it requires a good passing quarterback to be successful.  No longer do defenses rule the day.  Call it the “great equalizer” for teams that use it when lacking size on the line.

The spread has been used by the Tigers continuously over the past 26 years, producing 17 playoff qualifications, ten regional championships, five state finals appearances and one state title.

Performance Review

Formations changed throughout Massillon’s long history for several reasons.  Some developed as a result of modifications to the rules, enacted in an attempt to make the game safer.  Others were used to better fit the talent-level of the players.  Many coaches simply followed the current trends.  But the ultimate goal was to gain a perceived advantage in the ability to score points and thereby win more games.  But in reality, changing formations did not always produce the desired results.  At least not until the spread offense came into play.

The chart below shows Massillon’s average offensive scoring for each formation.  The data indicate that the single-wing, the T-formation and the spread produced the best scoring results, averaging 30-36 points per game.  Meanwhile, the other offenses averaged 26-27.  But one should consider that the results of the single-wing were highly influenced by the coaching of Paul Brown.  Subsequent coaches averaged much less.  In addition, the results of the T-formation were highly influenced by the coaching of Chuck Mather.  Tom Harp, who followed Mather, also averaged much less.  Only the spread has shown consistent improvement in scoring, with each of the four coaches that used it producing similar, but ever improving, results.

So, it can be reasonably concluded that the spread formation is the best offense, while the other formations, although considered progressive at the time, produced relatively the same lesser results.  In other words, attempts to improve on scoring by changing formation were meager at best, and only improved when it was more influenced by the talent levels of the coaches rather than the formations themselves.  Except for the spread offense.

History

Fred Heyman – Wall of Champions

Fred Heyman – Wall of Champions

By James C. DeLong

One of the earliest heroes in the history of Massillon High School football was Fred Heyman, a four-year regular for the Tigers from 1908-1911.

Fred attended old Whittier grade school, then located at 8th and State Avenue, Northeast, before enrolling at Massillon High in the fall of 1908 as a freshman.  The high school was then situated on the present site of Longfellow Junior High School.

1911 Massillon Tiger squad.  Fred Heyman is pictured in the top  row, third from the right.

Heyman immediately made the Tiger starting eleven, but because of his size, 145 pounds, he was placed at left guard.  He recently remarked, “that in those days, the smallest men on the squad were automatically placed at guard.”

Fred’s career at guard for the Tigers lasted just during the 1908 campaign and he was then  shifted to right halfback in 1909 and remained there for the next three years.  He added weight during his last three during his last three years and as a senior played at 190 pounds.

As a halfback, Fred was described as a slashing runner and he carried the brunt of the Tigers running attack for three years.  During his senior year, he led the Tiger team in scoring with 10 touchdowns, 23 points after touchdown and one field goal for 85 points.  In 1911, a touchdown was only good for 5 points.  Nine of Heyman’s extra points came by drop kick.

During his entire career here, Fred was a two-way player.  On defense, he also played at halfback.  As a punter he had no peer and did all of the Massillon kicking for four years.

Fred has the distinction of playing on the first Massillon team to defeat old Canton Central High

school, the forerunner of Canton McKinley.  In 1908, the Tigers edged the Bulldogs, 12-6, in the second game played with Canton that year, marking the first win over the Cantonians in the series which originated in 1894.  In 1909, the Tigers defeated Canton in both games and then the series was temporarily suspended during the remainder of Heyman’s career because of the intense feelings existing among the fans.

The Tiger home games during this period were played on the site of the present Longfellow junior High School practice field.  About 300 fans would jam their way around the field to watch the Tigers engage such traditional foes of the period as Akron Central, Alliance, Cleveland Shaw, Mansfield and New Philadelphia.

The 1909 Tiger team on which Heyman played as a sophomore, claimed the state scholastic title on the basis of nine wins and one tie.  The tie was a scoreless duel with Akron Central, then the only public high school in the Rubber City.  The big victory came in the final game of the season, when the Tigers defeated powerful New Philadelphia, 21-5.  The Tiger citizens were so pleased with the local high school eleven that they purchased turtle-necked monogramed sweaters for all members of the team.

After graduation from Massillon High, Fred enrolled at Washington & Jefferson College, then one of the powers of the intercollegiate football.  He played four years at W & J – 1912-15 and was the regular left end during his final three years.  All told, he won nine letters at W & J in football, basketball and baseball.  The high point of his career came after the 1915 campaign, when the late Walter Camp named him to his Third Team All-American eleven as an end.

In 1916, Fred became head football coach and athletic director at Bethany College (2-7 record) and on Sundays came to Massillon to play with the Massillon pro football Tigers.  He teamed up at the ends with the late Knute Rockne on this Tiger team.

Due to mustard gas complications received in World War I, Fred has been retired since 1928.  He resides with his wife, Mae, at 430 – 11th Street, Northeast, Massillon.

Story Supplement

In 1910 Heyman scored two touchdowns and kicked five extra points.  He was a regular at halfback in 1911 and scored 10 touchdowns. He also punted, kicked off and kicked 21 extra points (10 vs. Urichsville) and 2 field goals, utilizing the drop-kick technique, including one in a 3-0 victory over Alliance.  His coach during his final three years was Ralph “Hap” Fugate.

“I often wonder how far we would have gone if we had it as good as the high school boys today,” said Heyman.  “We didn’t have a paid coach, but Ralph Fugate used to come up to practice after work and give us a lot of pointers.  Our uniforms were hand-me-downs and if we wanted the field lined for the game, we went down in the morning and lined it ourselves.”

Heyman earned eleven letters at Massillon, in football basketball and baseball.  He subsequently received an offer to play professional baseball from Newark of the International League.  But he turned it down in favor of receiving a college education.  There, at Washington & Jefferson, he won three letters in football, four in baseball and two in basketball (there was no basketball at W&J in his first two years).  Interestingly, the forward pass was a regular part of the W&J offense (see Stanfield Wells story).

As coach of Bethany, Heyman’s team played on Saturday afternoon.  Following the game, Heyman would head straight for a train, riding all night to play for the Tigers pro team.  Rockne would do the same thing, for a fee of $150.  Neither would practice in the days leading up to a game.

With the onset of World War I, Heyman enlisted in the military in 1917 and served time in the European theater.  Unfortunately, he was overcome by mustard gas while in the Argonne forest, having taken off his mask, which had clouded his vision.  That spelled the end of his athletic playing career.

After football, he sold real estate.  He was also a past commander of the Massillon American Legion and led the Legion’s Drum and Bugle Corps to a state title in 1933.  He died in 1973.

In 1964 Heyman was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

History

The Massillon Tiger Defense Was Special

The Massillon Tiger Defense Was Special

The 2023 Tiger defense was simply spectacular as evidenced by its pitching a shutout against Akron Hoban to win the Division II State Championship and besting the Division I state champion during the regular season.  Historically, it also stacks up well against both previous Massillon teams and the best teams from around the state.

Many intangibles went into the greatness of this defense.  It started with a good scheme, within which its members played great assignment football.  But more importantly it had the “Jimmies and Joes” that according to Defensive Coordinator Spencer Leno was necessary to play at this level.  Start with All-American Dorian Pringle, who roamed all over the field, while recording 14 tackles against Hoban and setting a single-season record for tackles-for-loss.  Add in his All-Ohio partner at middle linebacker, Cody Fair, who led the team in tackles.  Then there was up front the unblockable “Big Mike” Wright, who broke the single-season record for quarterback sacks.  Throw in All-Ohioans Chase Bond and Tyler Hackenbracht plus a host of others and you have perhaps the best defense in the entire state.

But how does it stack up against other teams that have won playoff state championships?  Here’s the rundown.

When the state playoffs began in 1972 just four teams qualified in each division.  Gradually, over the last fifty years, the OHSAA increased that number, to 8 in 1980, to 16 in 1985, to 32 in 1999 and finally to 64 in 2021.  As such, the road to capturing a state title involved winning more and more games, a number that now stands at six, exceeding half of a regular season.

For this comparison the focus is on those years where a large number of playoff games were involved; i.e., 1999 to present day, or 5 to 6 playoff games.  In addition, the focus is on the top three divisions, which include the larger schools in the state.  Thus, there were 45 state champions covering three divisions across 15 years.  Twenty-one teams, nearly half, averaged less than ten points per game throughout the playoffs: 7 in Division 1, 7 in Division 2 and 7 in Division 3.  This certainly proves out the old adage that offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

Massillon averaged 5.7 points per game during their 6-game run to the title, which was exceeded by only two other teams: D1 Cincinnati Colerain in 2004 (4.4 pts/gm) and DIII Akron Hoban in 2016 (4.8 pts/gm).  In other words, the Tigers were the third best of the 45 teams in that category.  Not too bad.  In addition, Massillon held each opponent under ten points, a feat that was matched by only two other teams: DII Avon Lake in 2003 (5 of 5) and DII Akron St. Vincent in 2013 (5 of 6).  In addition, no other team went 6 for 6 while holding every opponent below ten points.  This was a phenomenal feat, when facing top playoff competition.

So, how does the Massillon defense stack up against previous Tiger teams that advanced to the state finals?

  • 1980 – Under All-State quarterback Dave Eberhart, the team compiled a regular season mark of 8-1-1, giving up 12 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over Canton McKinley (14-6) in the regional finals, while losing to Cincinnati Moeller (30-7) in the state finals.
  • 1982 – The linebacker/running back Chris Spielman-led team compiled a regular season mark of 10-0, giving up 7 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over Sandusky (29-7) in the regional finals, while losing to Cincinnati Moeller (35-14) in the state finals.
  • 2005 – Quarterback Bobby Huth and linebacker/running back Brian Gamble let the Tigers to a 9-1 record, giving up 13 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over Lakewood St. Edward (21-17) in the state semifinals, while losing to Cincinnati St. Xavier (24-17) in the finals.
  • 2018 – Quarterback Aidan Longwell, running back Jamir Thomas and defensive back Dean Clark helped Massillon to a 10-0 record, giving up 11 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over Cincinnati Winton Woods (41-20) in the state semifinals, while losing to Akron Hoban (42-28) in the finals.
  • 2019 – Quarterback Aidan Longwell and linebacker Ben Krichbaum led the team to a second consecutive 10-0 season, giving up 11 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over defending state champion Akron Hoban (17-14) in the regional finals, while losing to Cincinnati LaSalle (34-17) in the state finals.
  • 2020 – Wide receiver Jayden Ballard and outside linebacker Caiden Woullard were instrumental in the Tigers’ 5-1 shortened regular season, giving up 9 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over defending state champion Cincinnati LaSalle (14-10) in the state semifinals, while losing to Akron Hoban (35-6) in the finals.
  • 2023 – Quarterback Da’One Owens and linebacker/running back Dorian Pringle were featured in a 10-0 season, with the defense giving up 8 points per game. In the playoffs, they had a signature win over Cincinnati Anderson (55-7) in the state semifinals, while defeating Akron Hoban (7-2) in the finals.  No team in the playoffs scored more than a single touchdown against them.

While the 2023 team averaged 5.7 points per game defensively, the other six Tiger teams averaged 16.4, with the best being the 2019 team at 13.0.  Take away their losses in the state finals and the average was 10.8, with the best being the 1982 team at 3.5.  So, the 2023 team was clearly the best in the that regard, although all had defenses good enough to at least reach the final game.

Finally, let’s look at all Massillon teams since the introduction of the spread offense, which occurred in the late 1990s (Note that it would not be a fair comparison with teams of previous years, since the run-oriented offenses of that time necessitated additional defenders being committed to the ground game; just a different era).  When considering only the regular season games, the 2023 team had the best rushing defense over the past 26 years at 1.7 yards per game.  Close behind is the 2020 team at 2.1 yards per game.  That is followed by 2022 and 2002 teams, each at 2.5 yards per game, and the 2021 team at 2.6 yards per game.  The average of all teams over that span of time is 4.1 yards per game.

Most of the better years have occurred recently.  The defensive production has certainly improved, but changes in schematic philosophies over time may also be a contributor as teams continue to figure out how to better defend the run against the spread offense.  Then again, the level of coaching may have had an influence on this number.  Here is the data for the last four coaches:

  • Rick Shepas – 4.2 yds/gm
  • Tom Stacy – 4.0 yds/gm
  • Jason Hall – 4.3 yds/gm
  • Nate Moore – 3.6 yds/gm

In any event, 2023 was a stellar year for the Massillon defense, both in comparison to previous Massillon teams and those from across the state in the playoffs.

Just to wrap up, below are the larger schools that have found the most playoff success through participation in the state finals:

  • Cleveland St. Ignatius – 13 appearances, 11 titles
  • Cincinnati Moeller – 11 appearances, 9 titles
  • Lakewood St. Edward – 10 appearances, 6 titles
  • Akron Hoban – 8 appearances, 5 titles
  • Cincinnati St. Xavier – 7 appearances, 4 titles
  • Massillon – 7 appearances, 1 title
  • Cincinnati Princeton – 6 appearances, 3 titles
  • Canton McKinley – 6 appearances, 3 titles
  • Warren Harding / Warren Western Reserve – 5 appearances – 3 titles
  • Cincinnati LaSalle – 4 appearances, 4 titles
  • Cincinnati Elder – 4 appearances, 2 titles
  • Pickerington Central – 4 appearances, 2 titles
  • Huber Heights Wayne – 4 appearances, 1 title
  • Mentor – 4 appearances, 0 titles
History

Stanfield Wells – Wall of Champions

Stanfield Wells – Wall of Champions

Stanfield Wells was Massillon’s first collegiate All-American, earning that distinction at the University of Michigan.  But his claim to fame went well beyond that and he did something in football that very few other players had done up to that time.  Here is his story.

Stanfield Wells was born on July 25, 1889, growing up in the great plains.  In 1906, prior to his senior year of high school, his family moved to Massillon and he was introduced to the game of football for the first time in his young life.  It came at the behest of his classmates, who needed to talk him out of his reluctance join.

“That was my senior year,”  Wells recalled much later in life in a letter to Charles Gumpp, President of the Massillon Football Booster Club. “I was a ‘new boy’, having just moved to Massillon that summer from the wide open spaces of South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. The first day at school several of my classmates came around to suggest that of course I was coming out for football.  And although I protested that I had never had a ball in my hands, they countered with the argument that I was a good-sized lump of a boy and would make a fine prospect.  So, I promised.

“Well, the only preparation necessary was to take an old pair of shoes down to the town cobbler and have some cleats nailed on them. I think the athletic association must have had some football pants, but I do remember distinctly that you had to furnish your own stockings (any color) and an old sweater.  Put these on and you were in business.

“I can’t believe that there were more than eleven candidates out because I made the team the first afternoon.  Nor did we have a regular coach.  A boy named Fritz Merwin, who I think had played the year before was our coach.  If you ask me, he’s the one whose picture ought to be hanging up around there someplace.  He didn’t get paid anything.  And if a coach ever had an awkward squad of eleven nitwits, he did.  But he was out there every afternoon, early and late, teaching us fundamentals instead of fancy razzle-dazzle plays, and in the end it paid off because we won a few games.”

Wells must have made an immediate impact on the team, because he was named team captain, playing left halfback along with his twin brother, Guy.  But the season wasn’t as successful as he recalled, with the team having posted a 1-5 record, including a 21-0 win over Wooster and a pair of losses to Canton Central.

Staying with sports, he was then captain of basketball team.

A few years later he enrolled at the University of Michigan, where joined the football team as a tackle, with his 1909 team posting posting a record of 6-1.  The following season the Wolverines finished 3-0-3, defeating Minnesota 6-0 to win the Western Conference championship.  Wells was stellar. playing the first three games at right tackle and then moving to right end for the remainder of the season.  For his effort he was named 1st Team All-American by Walter Camp.

But it was also when Wells put his name in the sports chronicle.  Football was considered a very dangerous sport in its inaugural years due to the violence entailed with eleven offensive players constantly crashing into eleven defensive players.  So dangerous was it that in 1905 there were 18 fatalities recorded, mostly among high school players.  Even U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, whose son was on the freshmen team at Harvard University, took notice and was about to ban the sport if changes were not made.  So, a large number of universities met to develop modifications to the rules, including banning the flying wedge on kickoffs, creating a neutral zone between the opposing linemen and increasing the first down requirement from five yards to ten.

But the greatest change was legalizing the forward pass.  However, several restrictions were also added to the concept.  Passes could not be thrown over the middle of the line, within five yards on either side of the center.  A dropped pass resulted in a 15-yard penalty.  And a pass that went untouched resulted in the offense forfeiting the ball to the defense.  Obviously, the coaches steered totally away from the pass due to the penalties involved, while also believing a pass not to be a “manly” and ethical in regard to the traditional physical nature of the game.  Nevertheless, the first pass was completed on September 5, 1906, by St. Louis University in a game against Carroll College.  The following year Carlisle, under coach Pop Warner, used the pass as a part of its offensive package, finding great success with it.  History will note that Knute Rockne was the father of the passing game, only he didn’t utilize it until 1910, three years later.

That brings us back to Wells, also in 1910.  Six minutes remained in the game between Michigan and Minnesota with the two teams battling to a scoreless tie and Michigan having possession of the ball at their own 47.  With the running attack stymied through, Wells dropped back and fired a pass to Sanley Borleske for a gain of 27 yards to the Gopher 30.  On the next play he again connected with Borleske, who secured the pass and raced to the three yard line.  Wells then carried for no gain.  Finally, he managed to just breach the goal line on his second attempt for the winning score and the conference championship, scoring his only points of the season.  Subsequently, the entire on-field Michigan contingent swarmed Wells and his teammates and it took several minutes before the pandemonium could be quelled and the game resumed.  Wells’ effort certainly had an influence on his being named All-American.  He was also named all-conference.  Eventually, the penalties for an incomplete pass were removed and the aerial game was thereafter embraced by all teams at every level.

Wells completed his career at Michigan by playing right end and then right halfback, with the team finishing the season 5-1-2 and Wells scoring four touchdowns.  Wells was again named 1st Team All-American, this time by both the New York Globe and Dr. Henry L. Williams.  He was also awarded 3rd Team by Walter Camp.  In addition, he was selected for Outing magazine’s Roll of Football Honor and 1st Team All-Western Conference.

Following college Wells played professionally for the Akron Indians, the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Heralds, although his participation was not documented in the semi-accurate pro football archives.

Luther Emery of the Independent visited Wells while he was at Michigan and printed this: “Stanfield Wells was Massillon’s first All-American.  He was a fine man, big fellow, played a little pro ball.  I went up to Michigan to meet him.  He was overjoyed.  He got to talking and asking about some of the Massillon people he graduated with.  He went back in his bedroom and came out with his Massillonian in his hand.  He asked me about quite a number of ones who were in there.” (Ref. Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook).

Following football, Wells became manager of an insurance company in Nashville, Tennessee.  He died on August 17, 1967, at the age of 78

In 1994 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions and in 2016 he entered the Massillon Football Hall of Fame

News

David Canary – Wall of Champions

David Canary – Wall of Champions

Story by Bill Porrini

Wow?  David Canary: Alias Candy, Bonanza; Stuart Chandler, All My Children; Russ Gehring, Peyton Place; Dundee, Cimeron Strip; Cultrane, S.W.A.T.; and on and on; 35 TV shows in all!

David was an acclaimed and accomplished actor, starring on TV, in dinner theater, and on and off Broadway.  But he first starred as an acclaimed Massillon Tiger.  Born in Elwood, Indiana, he moved to Massillon at age five and grew up there.  As a Tiger, he played both ways, at offensive and defensive end, and was awarded 2nd Team All-Ohio honors following his senior year, in 1955, on a team that finished second on the state.  He attributed his success to his work ethic, which he learned while traversing through the city’s various schools.  He always gave 120 percent every time the ball was snapped.  He said he wasn’t very fast or big.  But he was a good student of the game because he had to be.  He just did what the coaches said and learned the fundamentals and tried as hard as possible on every play.  He said, “I owe a lot to football!”  He also played baseball for the Tigers.  High school friends called him “A nice guy, a humble guy.”

“Dave Canary was the toughest, hardest-nosed kid I ever coached.  One night he blocked an extra point against Mansfield that preserved a 12-12 tie.  He blocked it with his face.  He ruptured a blood vessel in his eye and his eye was shut.  He just kept right on going.  He was solid as a rock and tough.  Intelligent.  He knew what he wanted to do.” – Former Massillon coach Tom Harp,

After graduating, David continued his athletic career at The University of Cincinnati on a football scholarship.  There, he continued to play both ways.  In spite of having a small stature for a lineman (5’-11”, 172 lbs.) he was good enough to be named All-Conference.  He was also a fine student and was recognized as a Pop Warner Academic All-American.  At the end of this time at Cincinnati, Canary graduated with a degree in Voice, and was then selected in the second round of the American Football League draft by Denver.  Only, tired of football, he instead joined the Army, where he was also a member of the theater group.  He even won an All-Army entertainment contest.

Following discharge, it was time to tackle his loves: theater, music and performing, becoming a regular or appearing in 35 different TV shows.   In fact, he spent his entire career starring in TV, Off-Broadway, Broadway and Dinner Theater.  Dave often returned to Massillon to visit and perform, usually at the local Carousel Dinner Theater.

In 1964 Canary was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.  In 1991 he was honored as a Washington High School Distinguished Citizen.  Then, in 2016 inducted into the Massillon Football Hall of Fame.  He died on December 16, 2015, at the age of 71.

News

Six Additional Tiger Football Players Sign with Respective Colleges

Six Additional Tiger Football Players Sign with Respective Colleges

Six Massillon Tigers off of the Division II state championship football team participated in a recent signing ceremony and will continue their athletic and academic careers at their selected colleges.  Three previous football players signed last fall, including Chase Bond (North Carolina State), Cody Fair (U.S. Navy) and Dorian Pringle (Bowling Green).  The recent signees are as follows:

Stephen Hogan II – Central State University.  Hogan, used principally as a blocker, played tight end for an offense that averaged 39 points 387 yards a game.  He also caught a pass for 12 yards.

Zach Liebler – Mount Union University.  Liebler was a 2-year starter at cornerback, this year recording 29 tackles, 2 for loss, a pass interception and 5 pass breakups.

Adonis Marshall – Mercyhurst University.  Marshall started at cornerback, recording 48 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 pass interceptions, a fumble recovery and 12 pass breakups.

Da’One Owens – Slippery Rock University.  Owens started at quarterback, completing 94 of 158 passes for 1,414 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing 140 times for a team-high 1,302 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He is the only Massillon quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.  He also led the team in scoring with 92 points.

Ryan Page – Walsh University.  Page was a 2-year starter at free safety, this year recording 67 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 quarterback sacks, a pass interception, a fumble recovery and 5 pass breakups.

Nick Paul – Kent State University.  Paul was a backup on the offensive line.  He will continue his career as a baseball player.

Six other non-football athletes also announced their future plans.  They include:

  • Trinity Lamp – Cleveland State University – Track
  • Gavin Marceric – Tiffin University – Baseball
  • Lea Newman – Notre Dame College of Ohio – Softball
  • Andria Pullin – Ashland University – Stunt
  • Natalie Stolte – Ashland University – Stunt
  • Hailey Walters – Malone University – Softball