Author: <span>Don Engelhardt</span>


2023 Booster Club Report – Week 9 – Post-Warren…

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 9 – Post-Warren Harding; Preview of the Canton McKinley Game

Massillon (9-0) defeated Warren Harding (4-5), 48-14.  This week the Tigers travel to Canton McKinley (7-2) for a Saturday, 2:00 pm kickoff.  Last year the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs, 23-13.  Massillon holds a 75-53-5 advantage in the long-time series.  they have also won the last seven games and eleven of the last twelve.

Link to the Warren Harding Game Story

Link to the Warren Harding Game Statistics

Other scores:

  • 7th Grade (4-4): Defeated Western Crusaders, 14-12.  Season over.
  • 8th Grade (6-2): Season is over.
  • Freshmen (7-2): Defeated Warren Harding, 28-0.  Plays home to Canton McKinley on Wednesday, October 18 at 6:00 pm.
  • Junior Varsity (3-3-1): Last week’s game against Warren Harding was canceled.  Season over.

Review of the Warren Harding game

Massillon effectively took care of business on senior recognition night, downing visiting Warren Harding, 48-14.  In fact, they built a large enough lead throughout the first half (42-7) that there was a running clock for nearly the rest of the game.  The Raiders overloaded the line to stop the run, so the Tigers went to the passing game with great success, with quarterback Da’One Owens completing 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns.  Two touchdown passes went to Jacques Carter.  Defensively, Massillon held Warren to a negative 26 yards on the ground on 21 attempts and controlled the pass sufficiently to limit the Raiders to a single touchdown while the first team was on the field.

It was win No. 941, which keeps Massillon in the No. 3 position nationally for all-time wins.

Statistics leaders:

  • Da’One Owens: 16 of 22 passing for 277 yards and 3 touchdown; 11 carries for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Bishop Cupp: 5 carries for 51 yards
  • Jacques Carter: 5 receptions for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Braylyn Toles: 4 receptions for 52 yards
  • Emy Louis Jr.: 2 receptions for 62 yards and 1 touchdown; 92-yards kickoff return for a touchdown
  • Lenix Lemmon: 4.5 (4-1) tackle points
  • Dorian Pringle: 4.0 (4-0) tackle points; 1 sack; 3 tackles-for-loss
  • Cody Fair: 3.5 (2-3) tackle point; 2 tackles-for-loss
  • Ryan Page: 1 sack; 1 tackle-for-loss; 1 pass interception
  • Mateo Herrera: 6 for 6 on extra point kicks

Canton McKinley Scouting Report

The Bulldogs are 7-2 and have achieved at least a tie for the Federal League championship, depending on the outcome of this week’s Lake vs. Green game.  Their scores so far:

  • Warren Harding (4-5): 33-14 W
  • Avon (9-0): 7-28 L
  • Dublin Coffman (6-3): 24-14 W
  • Perry (4-5): 44-6
  • Green (6-3): 28-27 W
  • North Canton (4-5): 37-28 W
  • Lake (7-2): 29-22 W
  • Jackson (5-4): 27-7 W
  • Canton GlenOak (5-4): 3-7 L

“Canton McKinley is a very good football team,” said Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore.  “They lost to an excellent Avon team and had an off night against Canton GlenOak.  But they are very talented.  They have good players at every position.  Great size on the lines.”

Offensively, McKinley features senior quarterback Keaton Rode (6′-0, 175), a 2-year starter, who is much improved from the previous season.  Last year against the Tigers he completed 11 of 24 passes for 173 and two touchdowns.  A 61% passer, he can also run the ball, both off of called plays and scrambles out of the backfield.  To date, Rode has completed 104 of 170 passes for 1,715 yards (16.5/rec.) and 13 touchdowns, with seven interceptions.  On the ground he is the second-leading rusher with 488 yards in 101 attempts (6.0 ave.) and five scores.  “The quarterback really makes their offense go,” said Moore.

On the receiving end are Keith Quincy (6′-2″, 180) (28 rec. for 556 yards and four TDs) and junior Dante McClellan (6′-2″, 190) (24 rec. for 406 yards and 1 TD).  Quincy has offer from Akron and is their best receiver.  He has good speed and a tall frame.  McClellan has an offer from Southern Cal.

Two running backs have carried the load, including returning junior starter and leading scorer Nino Hill (6′-0″, 200) and junior Stephon Thomas (5′-6″, 168).  Combined, they have gained just over 1,000 yards and average 6.2 yards per tote.  In last year’s game, Hill carried the ball 10 times for 27 yards.  He is a downhill runner and can break tackles.  Hill has an offer from Kent State.  Thomas has good speed and is a shifty runner.

The offensive line has good size, averaging 6′-4″, 273 lbs., with only one player weighing less than 280 lbs. and the shortest coming at 6′-3″.  Two are seniors.  The best two players are junior Dior Garner (6′-4″, 285), who is a 3-star recruit with an offer from Bowling Green, and senior Kaelub Edwards (6′-3″, 310).

The Bulldogs operate out of the spread, normally with 10 personnel, some 11.  Other times, Rode will be alone in an empty backfield with five wide receivers.  Against GlenOak Rode struggled to get the passing game going against a 3-man rush with eight players dropping into coverage.  The run game also found the going difficult and they managed just 69 yards in that area.

Defensively, the Bulldogs are very good across the board, especially in the front seven.  “They will create quite a challenge for us,” said Moore.  “We need a great week of practice.”  They utilize a 3-4 four in the box with cover-2.  All three defensive lineman are good.  Junior Ka’Voune McNeal (6′-3″, 210) is active and physical and has recorded ten tackles-for-loss and nine quarterback sacks.  Garner, a 2-way player, is physical and good a breaking through double-teams.  Senior Braylon Minor (6′-2″, 230) may be the best lineman.  He is very active and has ten tackles-for-loss and six sacks.

McClellan, a 2-way player, leads the linebacker corps.  He is big and physical and they like to move him around.  Senior Shaukeer Hatcher (5′-10″, 185) has recorded 13 tackles-for-loss and three interceptions.

Junior cornerback K’Vuone McNeal (6′-3″, 210) has ten TFLs and nine sacks.  Senior safety Alex Vazquez (6′-0″, 180) is a 2-star recruit with an offer from Akron.

Moore then addressed how they handle all of the distractions that occur during the week leading up to the game. “We’ve always focused on the game at hand and this week is no different, he said. “Our guys know that the distractions are for the fans and parents.  But, our job is to play the game and win.  We’re looking forward to a great week of preparation for the renewal of the greatest game in high school football.”

Go Tigers!


2023: Massillon 48, Warren Harding 14

Massillon Blasts Warren Harding to Remain Unbeaten Ahead of Rivalry Game

Game Statistics

Week 9 of the regular season is always a tough time for the Massillon program with the annual rivalry with Canton McKinley looming the following week.  But there would be no looking ahead for these Tigers as they effectively took care of business on senior recognition night, downing visiting Warren Harding, 48-14.  In fact, they built a large enough lead throughout the first half that there was a running clock for nearly the rest of the game.

Expect that Massillon will quickly put this outcome behind them and focus entirely on the task ahead; i.e., defeating the Bulldogs.  Unfortunately for that team to the east, they will enter the fray on the heels of a 7-3 last-second loss to Canton GlenOak, a team that the Tigers defeated in Game 2, 56-7.  But don’t think for one second that the difference in scores will have any affect on either the pre-game preparation or the intensity level these Massillon players will bring to the game.

Da’One Owens

Last week Ja’Meir Gamble rushed for 233 yards and scored two touchdowns, while the passing game produced a paltry 5 of 14 for 60 yards.  But, if anyone thinks that this Tiger offense is one-dimensional, they are entirely mistaken.  Warren, knowing that they had to stop the run to stay in this game, played man-to-man against the wide receivers, which permitted them to commit the remaining defenders to the run by stacking the box with up to eight players.  Of course, this pretty much negated the Massillon ground attack by clogging up all the running lanes.  Once this was evident, the Tigers went strictly to the air, with quarterback Da’One Owens putting up his best passing performance of the season.  Through three quarters, prior to being lifted in favor of the backups, he completed 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns, with a long of 54 yards.

On the receiving end, the stars shone greatly.  Jacques Carter caught five passes for 130 yards and two scores.  Braylyn Toles grabbed four for 52 yards, Kyler Wiggins snagged three for another 18 and Emy Louis Jr. caught a pair for 62 yards and a TD.

Dorian Pringle

Defensively, the Tigers were again stifling on the ground.  And Dorian Pringle did pick up a sack to become the all-time single-season record holder for that mark.  Warren knew they would not be able to run the ball, and they didn’t, losing a net 26 yards on 21 attempts (with most of the carries coming when the game was out of reach in order to keep the clock running and end the game as quickly as possible).  So, they went strictly to the air and did achieve some modest success.  But not enough to keep pace with the Tiger scoring machine.  Three different quarterbacks spent some time behind center and they combined for 200 yards, while completing 14 of 34 passes.

The game began with a bang when Lewis returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.  He caught the ball at the eight yard line and then crossed the field to the right.  The pre-positioned blockers did a magnificent job of plowing the road and Lewis then blew through and outraced any challenger to paydirt.  It took 14 seconds.  Mateo Herrera converted his first of six PATs and the Tigers were on their way to their ninth win.

On Massillon’s first possession they were stalled due to Warren’s stacked defense and Gamble found little running room.  So, on the second possession the Tigers switch to an empty backfield formation and put together a 12-play, very methodical 83-yard drive that ended when Big Mike Wright plowed in from the one.

On their next possession they needed just five plays to cover 71 yards.  Short passes to Toles and Wiggins got the drive started and then Owens hit Toles for 22 yards to advance the ball to the Warren 42.  From there, Owens fired a dart to Louis on a skinny post and he did the rest, slipping by a potential tackler at the 15, to put the Tigers up 21-0 and essentially salt the game away.

There was no stopping Massillon at that point.  On the first play of the subsequent possession Owens connected with Carter on a 54-yard score, who caught a short pass, turned the corner and outraced the secondary down the sideline.  Two possessions later, the Tigers scored again following a fumbled punt snap.  Gamble scored from the five on the 1-play drive, making the score 35-0.

Warren finally responded with a touchdown off a screen pass when LeMarcus Provitt secured a pass from Drew McKowan, broke a tackle and raced 79 yards to the end zone.  But, Massillon responded 3-plays later with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Owens to Carter.  It was another skinny post.  The score placed the game in a running clock situation for the start of the second half.

In the latter stages Warren and Massillon’s backups each scored once.  For the Tigers it was a 4-yard run by freshman Savior Owens.  A 2-point PAT try failed, making the final score, 48-14.

Now, it’s off the McKinley game, where the Tigers own 75-53-5 advantage.  They have also won the last seven games and eleven of the last twelve.  And Massillon is where it wants to be: undefeated heading into next Saturday’s big game.

Go Tigers!


Will Top Defensive Performances Translate into State Championships?

Will Top Defensive Performances Translate into State Championships?

There’s an old adage in football that goes: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.  So does one need to look no further than the teams with the great defenses in order to predict the eventual winners?  Maybe it’s as simple as that.  But maybe it’s not.  For, there is still a slew of teams with good records that have their goals set on taking home a state crown.

In the top two divisions there are 45 teams that have compiled records of 6-2 or better.  But, only about a third of them have given up two touchdowns or less per game, in spite of most possessing high-scoring offenses.  Here’s a look at the ones with the good scoring defenses.

Division 1 – Six of the 23 top teams in this division have good defensive numbers.  They are:

  • Lakewood St. Edward (7-1) – Average score, 33-13. Lost to Massillon (8-0).  Wins over Center Grove, IN (7-1) and Good Counsel, MD (5-1).  Finishes with Cincinnati Moeller (5-3) and Akron Hoban (8-0).
  • Gahanna Lincoln (8-0) – Average score, 34-9. No big wins recorded.  Plays Pickerington North (8-0) in Week 10.
  • Cincinnati Princeton (8-0) – Average score, 28-10. Wins over Lakota West (6-2) and Hamilton (6-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Westerville North (6-2) – Average score, 26-13. Lost to Westerville South (4-4) and Canal Winchester (8-0).  No challengers remain.
  • Centerville (7-1) – Average score, 24-13. Lost to Dublin Coffman (6-2).  Win over Miamisburg (6-2).  Plays Huber Heights Wayne (6-2) in Week 10.
  • Hamilton (6-2) – Average score, 22-13. Lost to Hamilton Badin (8-0) and Cincinnati Princeton (8-0).  No big wins.  Plays Lakota West (6-2) in Week 10.

Division 2 – Eight of the 22 top teams in this division have good defensive numbers.  They are:

  • Troy (7-1) – Average score, 35-4. Lost to Tippecanoe (6-2).  Win over Vandalia Butler (6-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Akron Hoban (7-0) – Average score, 40-7. Wins over Walsh Jesuit (7-1) and Cleveland Glenville (5-3).  Plays Lakewood St. Edward (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Cincinnati Winton Woods (6-2) – Average score, 23-7. Lost to Cincinnati Anderson (7-1) and Milford (8-0). Win over Trotwood-Madison (7-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Avon (8-0) – Average score, 40-8. Wins over Canton McKinley (7-1), Cleveland Glenville (5-3) and Olmsted Falls (6-2).  Plays Avon Lake (6-2) in Week 10.
  • Massillon (8-0) – Average score, 40-9. Wins over Valdosta, GA (5-2), Mansfield (6-2), Lakewood St. Edward (7-1), Middletown, DE (4-1) and St. John’s College, DC (3-3).  Plays Canton McKinley (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Canal Winchester (8-0) – Average score, 33-9. Win over Westerville North (6-2).  Plays Delaware Hayes (7-1) in Week 9.
  • Medina Highland (7-1) – Average score, 43-13. Win over Hudson (6-2).  Plays Aurora (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Uniontown Lake (6-2) – Average Score, 23-13. Lost to Alliance (4-4) and Canton McKinley (7-1).  Plays Green (5-3) in Week 10.

Will the eventual state champions come from these groups and thereby prove out the adage or will strong offenses rule the roost?  We’ll know the answer in another eight weeks.


2023 Booster Club Report – Week 8 – Post-Austintown…

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 8 – Post-Austintown Fitch; Preview of the Warren Harding Game

Massillon (8-0) defeated Austintown Fitch (4-3), 42-7.  This week the Tigers return home to host Warren  Harding (4-4).  Last year the Tigers defeated the Raiders, 41-12, and currently own a 7-game winning streak in the series, which they lead, 59-25-3.

Link to the Austintown Fitch Game Story

Link to the Austintown Fitch Game Statistics

Other scores:

  • 7th Grade (3-3): Plays home to Western Crusaders on Tuesday, October 10 at 6:00 pm.
  • 8th Grade (6-2): Canton Crenshaw, 8-6.  Season is over.
  • Freshmen (7-2): Defeated Austintown Fitch, 58-15.  Plays at Warren Harding on Thursday, October 12 at 6:00 pm.
  • Junior Varsity (3-3-1): Last week’s game against Austintown Fitch  was canceled.  Plays at Warren Harding on Saturday, October 14, at 10:00 am.

Review of the Austintown Fitch game

Massillon traveled to Austintown Fitch for their first road game of the season and came away with a convincing 42-7 victory. The Tigers rolled up 499 yards of total offense, while the defense held Fitch to just 12 yards on the ground. Junior running back Ja’Meir Gamble had a breakout game, rushing 17 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Near the end of the first half and with Massillon on top 21-7, the Falcons were driving for a margin-closing score, when defensive back Kyler Wiggins intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards to the Fitch 33 with just 21 seconds remaining in the half. From there, the Tigers managed to get in six plays, with Braylyn Toles catching a 6-yard pass from Da’Owens for the touchdown as time expired. The TD improved the score to 28-7 and put the game out of reach for the Falcons.

It was win No. 940, which keeps Massillon in the No. 3 position nationally for all-time wins.  “I’m really proud of the guys,” said Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore.  “They played well.  Offensively, defensively and special teams.  It was a breakout game for Ja’Meir Gamble.  He really lit up the field.  He’s got a gear most players don’t.  The offensive line also played well.”

The Scout Team Players of Week were Bishop Cupp, Francesco Salvino and Nolan Davenport.

The guest players were defensive safeties Ryan Page and Zach Liebler.  “Overall, we had a pretty good game,” said Page.  “The defense played really well,” added Liebler.  Both agreed that the offense petered out toward the end of the first quarter after opening a 21-0 lead, but picked up shortly thereafter and put the game away.

Statistics leaders:

  • Ja’Meir Gamble: 17 carries for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Da’One Owens: 4 of 15 passing for 60 yards and 1 touchdown; 11 carries for 134 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Mylen Lenix: 6 carries for 23 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Braylyn Toles: 1 touchdown receiving
  • Kyler Wiggins: pass interception, returned for 47 yards
  • Dorian Pringle: 8.0 (8-0) tackle points; 1.0 sacks; 2.0 tackles-for-loss; punted 3 times, averaging 40.7 yards per attempt
  • Malachi Card, Adonis Marshall, Cody Fair, Vito McConnell: 1 tackle-for-loss each
  • Mateo Herrera: 6 for 6 on extra point kicks

Warren Harding Scouting Report

The Raiders are 4-4, having won their last three games.  Their scores so far:

  • Canton McKinley (7-1): 14-33 L
  • Akron Buchtel (3-5): 20-16 W
  • Farrell, PA (7-0): 17-24 L
  • Akron St. Vincent (4-4): 28-42 L
  • Youngstown Ursuline (8-0): 20-56 L
  • Youngstown Chaney (4-3): 26-7 W
  • Boardman (1-7): 38-20 W
  • Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (4-4): 24-21 W

Moore emphasized that Warren’s greatest assets are their speed and the ability to make big plays.  “They are a bunch of guys that can really run,” he said.  Offensively, they operate out of the spread, with both five and six man lines.  Look for Warren to spend most of the night throwing passes from junior quarterback Chaz Coleman (6′-3″, 200).  He was the starter the last two games and has a good, long arm.  He is also a good runner and scrambler.  His targets are four very talented receivers, including senior Naugeat Jones, who last year caught four passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.  The running back is senior Antonio Smith (5′-10″, 170).  He is really fast and shifty.  Will also run some wildcat.  The offensive line is not the largest Massillon has faced, but they do get off the ball well.

Defensively, the Raiders line up exclusively in an odd front with a cover-2 secondary.  Their best overall player is senior linebacker Ryan Powell (6′-1″, 215), a 3-star recruit who has an offer from Boston College.  He is very good at the position and will often blitz.  The best lineman is senor Devonte Ellis (6′-0″, 230).  He has good speed and power and runs all over the field.  But, the best way to describe the defense is that they are really fast as a team.

Go Tigers!


2023: Massillon 42, Austintown Fitch 7

Tigers Take Care of Business, Defeat Austintown Fitch, 42-7

Game Statistics

Traveling to Austintown Fitch for Massillon has always been a difficult assignment.  Some strange things have happened over the years that always plagued the Tigers and kept them from coming home with a victory.  Entering the game, Massillon led the series 20-8 , but ahead just 7-6 when playing on the road.  But that was not the case in this latest encounter.  Aside from a few tense moments, Massillon played like the great team it is and came away with a convincing victory in a game that was played very cleanly and sportsmanlike between both teams.

By the time Fitch, who entered with a 4-2 mark, had run just six plays and punted twice, Massillon had opened a commanding 21-0 lead on the strength of 235 yards of offense, averaging 10.2 yard per play.  Leading the attack was the 3-headed monster of senior quarterback Da’One Owens, who ran for 97 yards, junior running back Ja’Meir Gamble, who picked up 94 yards and junior back Mylen Lenix, who added another 19 in limited duty as he returns from an injury.  All of this behind some great blocking by the offensive line.

Meanwhile, the defense did its part by holding the Falcons for the game to a net 12 yards on the ground.  They did give up 205 in the air, but that was by design as, with a big lead, they simply kept the receivers in front of them to prevent a big play, while forcing Fitch to score from within the redzone, where it is much more difficult to complete a pass.  The strategy worked to perfection, as Fitch was able to score just one touchdown on the night.

The Tigers received the opening kickoff and went to work starting at their own 41, following a great return by Zach Liebler.  After picking up three yards on his first carry, Gamble broke through the line and was gone, owing to his 4.39 second 40-yard dash time.  For Fitch had pulled the safeties up to within five yards of the line of scrimmage in order to stop Owens, and there was no one to make the tackle after Gamble broke free.  Later in the game they dropped the safeties, but it was too late then.  The damage had been done.

After holding the Falcons to a 3-and-out, Massillon engineered an 11-play, 94-yard drive, all on the ground, and ended when Dorian Pringle bulled in from the one.  The third score came following a 10-play, 77-yard drive, culminating in a 2-yard TD run by Lenix, which made the score 21-0 early in the second quarter.

It was later in that quarter that the Falcons played their best football, abandoning the run entirely and going  strictly to air.  They scored their lone touchdown when quarterback Deshawn Vaughn fired a flare pass to wide receiver Dan Evans, who then sped past the secondary and down the left sideline for a 57-yard score.  Then, after holding the Tigers on a 3-and-out, they marched the ball with their short passing game to the Massillon eight yard line.  But they were held on downs when Cody Fair tackled the runner for no gain on fourth and one.

Once again the Tigers were forced to punt and the Falcons drove to the Massillon 29.  But an errant pass from Vaughn, who was under tremendous pressure the entire night from the Tiger front-3, was intercepted by Kyler Wiggins at the 20.  Wiggins, a wide receiver by trade, was inserted into the game to bolster the secondary, as Massillon was using both nickel and dime defenses (5 or 6 defensive backs) to control the pass and assure that tackles would be made.  He returned the ball 47 yards to the Fitch 33 with just 21 seconds left in the half.  But Massillon still had three times out available used them wisely.  Six plays later the they were sitting in the end zone when Owens connected with Braylyn Toles as time expired.  It was a potential 14-point turnaround and literally salted the game away.

The second half involved mostly short passes from Fitch and occasional miscues that thwarted drives.  But in the fourth quarter Massillon extended its lead with two additional scores.  Three carries by Owens for 63 yards and fourth by Gamble for 20 resulted in the first score and a 58-yard run up the middle by Gamble was the second.  Meanwhile, Fitch never threatened in the second half.

Ja’Meir Gamble

Gamble led all rushers with 17 carries for 233 yards (13.7 ave.).  The yardage mark is six yards shy of tenth all-time in the Massillon record book.  Owens carried eleven times for 134 yards (12.2 ave.).  Lenix picked up 23.

Austintown’s Vaughn completed 20 of 39 passes for 205 yards.  Their leading rusher, Deon’Dray Richard, gained just 17 yards.

It appears that the Massillon offense is settling down to what it will be; i.e., a formidable rushing attack, featuring both Owens and Gamble, with several other backs finding roles at times.  They average 7.1 yards per carry, which is currently third in the record book.  The passing game is a bit inconsistent, but still a threat to opponents.  The defense against the run is the best seen in Massillon in a long time.  Though eight games, the first unit has yet to surrender a touchdown on the ground and is giving up just 2.3 yards per carry, which is second all-time in the book and first against the spread.  The secondary is also very athletic and has the ability to cover receivers closely in space.  The kicking game has shown improvement recently and will only get better.  Punting chores against
Fitch rested with Owens, due to both Tyler Hackenbracht and Jalen Slaughter not being available.  But Owens was magnificent, averaging 40.7 yards per punt, with a long of 54 yards.

The Tigers (8-0) return home next week when they host Warren Harding (4-4).  Fitch (4-3) travels to Boardman (1-7).


Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in High School Are a Rare Breed

Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in High School Are a Rare Breed

Simply put, a dual-threat quarterback is one that possesses the passing attributes of a traditional quarterback and the rushing attributes of a running back.  When combined, these traits create incredible havoc for the defense, for it must defend both aspects simultaneously.  And those visual cues that defenders read that dictate the play simply go out the window.

There are two types of dual-threat quarterbacks.  The first involves the “read option”, where a quarterback either hands the ball off to the running back or keeps the ball and runs it himself, selecting which option is most favorable.  The decision to keep or hand off is not pre-determined in the play call; it is made during the execution of the play itself.  In other words, the quarterback must read the execution of the backside defensive end and choose which option to employ based on whether the end attacks or holds his position.  If he attacks, then the quarterback keeps the ball and heads for the end’s initial position.  Otherwise, it’s a handoff to the running back up the middle.  This scheme has been very effective at the high school level and was run successfully for a number of years by Mentor.

The second type is of a more traditional concept where the quarterback lines up in the shotgun behind the center and simply runs the ball like a running back, sometimes off a fake handoff.  But keep in mind that the quarterback must also be an effective passer and not just a running back playing the position.  Otherwise, the play is not as productive, since defenders will simply key on the quarterback, assuming that he is much less effective in the passing game.  By utilizing an empty backfield, defenders are forced to cover up to five wide receivers, which reduces the number of defenders in position to attack the quarterback.

Massillon fans may recall the 2014 playoff game against Perrysburg.  In that one, quarterback Gus Dimmerling rushed 21 times for 302 yards and scored four touchdowns.  He also completed 13 of 18 passes for 112 yards.  Following the game, the Perrysburg coach remarked that he likes to select a good running back for the quarterback position and teach him how to throw.  It might sound good on paper, but it just isn’t that easy.  Players with the ability to both well just don’t come around very often.  And they are extremely difficult to manufacture.

One of the best dual-threat quarterbacks seen in Ohio, one that employed the wildcat version, was Zanesville’s Buster Howe.  During his senior year in 1987 he rushed for 1,700 yards and scored 34 touchdowns, leading his team to an 8-2 record.  Subsequently, he was named Mr. Ohio Football, the first player to be awarded such an honor.  For his career, he rushed for 3,075 yards and scored 59 touchdowns.  After graduation he had a short stint with Ohio State.

Massillon has never had a dual-threat quarterback that used the read-option concept.  But they have had a few that were pretty adept at running the ball.  Here are the ones that stand out:

Willie Spencer (1994) – Second on the team in rushing with 129 carries for 775 yards.  Averaged 6.0 yards per attempt.  Also passed for 941 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Scored 108 points.  Led his team to a 42-41 overtime win over Canton McKinley in the 100th game.  In that one Spencer rushed for 94 yards and scored a touchdown.  He also threw two touchdown passes.  The team finished with a 10-2 record.  Spencer later played for the University of Akron and Tiffin.

Mike Danzy (1993) – First on the team in rushing with 93 carries for 702 yards.  Averaged 7.5 yards per attempt.  Also passed for 948 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Scored 62 points.  Rushed for 136 yards against Austintown Fitch (7-3) in a 34-15 victory.  The team finished with a 10-2 record.

Steve Hymes (2002) – Third on the team in rushing with 64 carries for 448 yards, as a backup quarterback.  Averaged 7.0 yards per attempt.  Scored 38 points.  The team finished with an 11-3 record.

Darius McElroy (2021) – As a starter early and backup later in the season, rushed 84 times for 431 yards.  Averaged 5.1 yards per attempt.  Passed for 448 yards and two touchdowns.  Led the team in scoring with 72 points.  McElroy was the catalyst behind the 35-13 victory over Canton McKinley, during which he broke the game open in the second half by rushing 13 times for 88 yards and scoring two touchdowns.  The team finished 11-3 and advanced in the playoffs to the regional finals.

Dave Sheegog (1965) – Rushed 106 times for 405 yards.  Averaged 3.8 yards per attempt.  Also, passed for another 427.  Led the team in scoring with 59 points.  During his junior year he was instrumental in leading the Tigers to a 20-14 comeback victory over No. 2 Canton McKinley, during which he scored the winning touchdown on a 14-yard run with less than a minute remaining in the game.  Both Massillon teams finished 10-0 and were named state champions by the Associated Press.  Also, both teams finished second in the country.

Dennis Franklin (1970) – Third on the team in rushing with 79 carries for 363 yards.  Averaged 4.6 yards per carry.  Also passed for 699 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Second on the team in scoring with 66 points.  Rushed for 58 yards in a 28-0 victory over No. 3 Canton McKinley.  Scored on a 37-yard run.  The team finished 10-0 and was named state champions by the Associated Press.  Franklin subsequently started at quarterback for three years for the University of Michigan.

That leads us to this year’s quarterback, Da’One Owens, who would be considered a pure dual-threat quarterback of the second variety.  When featured in the play, he will normally line up in the shotgun in an empty backfield formation.  Sometimes, he would run in combination with a jet-sweep fake handoff and other times he would simply run the ball.  The offensive line would block like on a traditional handoff to a running back, using both power and zone blocking schemes, while Owens, at 6’-1”, 200 lbs., would simply become the running back.

Through seven games, Owens has rushed 60 times for 649 yards and scored nine touchdowns, averaging an incredible 10.8 yards per carry, aided by his 4.5-second forty time.  Numerous times this year he has broken through the defense and taken the ball a great distance to the house.  Owens has also completed 29 of 53 passes for 446 yards and five touchdowns.  All that, while sharing the quarterback role with Jalen Slaughter.  The sky is the limit for this young man.

Go Tigers!


2023 Booster Club Report – Week 6 – Post-St. …

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 6 – Post-St.  John’s College; Preview of the Austintown Fitch Game

Massillon (7-0) defeated D.C.’s No. 1 St. John’s College (3-2), 28-7, in a game that was marred by multiple 15-yard penalties and halted midway through the fourth quarter.  This week the Tigers travel to Austintown Fitch (4-2).  Last year the Tigers defeated the Falcons, 39-26, and lead the overall series, 20-8.  They are 7-6 in games played in Austintown and have won the last three times there.  The Falcons own the sixth most wins over the Tigers, historically.  This Friday marks the first road game of the year for Massillon, which also travels to Canton McKinley in Week 10.

Link to the St. John’s Game Story

Link to the St. John’s Game Statistics

Other scores:

  • 7th Grade (3-3): Lost to Canton GlenOak, 33-12.  Plays at Canton Crenshaw on Tuesday, October 3 at 6:00 pm.
  • 8th Grade (6-1): Lost to Youngstown East, 28-0.  Plays at Canton Crenshaw on Wednesday, October 4 at 5:00 pm.
  • Freshmen (6-2): Defeated Cleveland Glenville, 7-0.  Plays home to Austintown Fitch on Thursday, October 5 at 6:00 pm.
  • Junior Varsity (3-1): Tied Cleveland Glenville, 30-30.  Play home to  Austintown Fitch on Saturday, October 7, at 10:00 am.

Review of the St. John’s game

It was Win No. 939, which keeps Massillon in the No. 3 position nationally for all-time wins.  “I’m proud of our kids,” said Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore.  “It (St. John’s) was a really good team.  Full of Power-5 players.  Some were really good.  Our kids answered the bell.  Played hard.  Played as a team.  We set some goals prior to game and checked all the boxes.”

The guest players were inside linebacker / running back Dorian Pringle and defensive lineman Michael Wright Jr.  “Our team played very well at all three levels,” said Pringle.  “They all executed very well.”  Wright thought the team played good all around, on both sides of the ball.  “No team can hang with us for four quarters,” he said.  Wright felt that St.  John’s knew they were in trouble midway through the first quarter when they saw how physical the Tiger players were.

Statistics leaders

  • Ja’Meir Gamble: 17 carries for 91 yards
  • Da’One Owens, Dorian Pringle and Michael Wright Jr.: one rushing touchdown each
  • Da’One Owns: 7 of 16 passing for 155 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Braylyn Toles: 4 receptions for 103 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Adonis Marshall: pass interception
  • Tyler Hachekbracht: 5.5 (5-1) tackle points; 3 punts (34.3 ave.)
  • Maverick Clark, Lenix Lemon: shared a quarterback sack

Austintown Fitch Scouting Report

The Falcons are 4-2, having had an open date last week.  Their scores so far:

  • Euclid (1-6): 40-6 W
  • Central Valley, PA (5-1): 35-36 L
  • Canton GlenOak (3-4): 35-3 W
  • Cleveland St. Ignatius (1-6): 24-21 O.T. W
  • Stow (1-6): 41-0
  • Youngstown Ursuline (7-0): 14-32 L

Fitch operates offensively out of the spread, with a single back and off-and-on tight end.  The catalyst of the attack is senior quarterback and returning starter Deshawn Vaughn (5′-10″, 175).  A 3-star recruit and Toledo commit, Vaughn both runs and throws very well, according to Moore.  He has a long arm and can sling it.  Watch for a lot of screen passes and quarterback draws.  Last year against Massillon Vaughn had a good night, completing 16 of 23 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns.  He also ran eight times for 26 yards.

On the receiving end are two outstanding players.  Senior Dan Evans (5′-9″, 160) is a 2-year returning starter and considered the best skill player.  Very quick.  In last year’s game Evans caught six passes for 48 yards.  Sophomore Allen Hill Jr. (6′-5″, 205) is a 4-star recruit with an offer from Penn State.  The running back is senior D.J. Williams, a 2-year returning starter.  He is a 2-star recruit and is committed to Ball State.  Williams has good speed and vision.  The offensive line is of modest size and averages 6′-1″, 261 lbs. They are an effective unit and they play hard according to Moore.

Defensively, Fitch uses both odd and even fronts, while also employing the 3-3 odd-stack.  The top players are:

  • Senior defensive lineman Xavier Dahn (6′-3″, 250).  3-star recruit.  Ball State commit.  Good pass rusher.
  • Sophomore  linebacker Allex Hill (6′-5″, 205).  Good both in the box and in pass coverage.
  • Junior middle linebacker Rocco Deflorio (6′-0″, 210).  Runs well to the ball and good in the blitz.
  • Senior cornerback Davion Pritchard (6′-0″, 170).  3-star recruit.  Pittsburgh commit.  Best cornerback.  Five tackle points and an interception last year.
  • Safety Deshawn Vaughn.  2-way player.  Covers well and is physical.  5.5 tackle points and an interception last year.

Fitch, according to Moore, has been a thorn in Massillon’s side at times.  But, he also said that the players are fully aware of this and are preparing to manage an expected hostile environment in Austintown.

By the Numbers

The spread offense, which has been around now for some 25 years, has opened up the game of football tremendously.  Years before, offenses would pass the ball around 20% of the time, with an effectiveness of around 40-45%.  But, the spread utilizes more receivers and teams now pass the ball around 40% of the time with an effectiveness of 55-60%.  One would think then that the best teams during the era of the spread are those that are most effective in passing the ball.  However, statistics for Massillon teams show just the opposite to be true.  A study was performed relating a multitude of performance and outcome stats to a team’s win-loss record to see if any high correlations exist.  The results show that the highest correlation between a particular stat and the W-L record is the defense against the run (64%).  In other words, the teams that are the best at stopping the run end up on average with the best overall records.  The next highest correlation is the rushing the ball (45%).  In third is pass offense (43%).  No other statistic (i.e., pass defense, 3rd down conversions, time of possession, turnover margin, number of penalties, etc.) have a significant influence on the final record (on average).

So, how does this year’s team stack up against those of the past 25 years?  Judge for your self.

  • Rush defense: 61 yards per game (1st); 2.5 yards per carry (1st)
  • Rush offense: 242 yards per game (1st); 6.6 yards per carry (1st)
  • Pass offense: 169 yards per game (13th); 9.7 yards per pass attempt (3rd)

The 2023 team hits mark quite well.  And all of this impacts the stats for the combined offenses and defenses:

  • Total offense: 411 yards per game (3rd); 7.6 yards per play (1st)
  • Total defense: 195 yards per game (2nd); 4.0 yards per play (2nd)
  • Scoring offense: 39.1 points per game (5th)
  • Scoring defense: 8.7 points per game (1st)


Go Tigers!


2023: Massillon 28, St. John’s College, D.C., 7

Unruly Play Overshadows a Great Victory by Massillon Over St. John’s

Game Statistics

For the record, Massillon, one of the top teams in the state of Ohio regardless of division, defeated St. John College, the Number 1 team in the District of Columbia, 28-7.  But the storyline wasn’t the magnitude of the game (Top game in the country this week according to, nor was it the great offensive plays, nor was it the relentless defensive efforts.  It was the magnitude of personal fouls and chippyness between both teams that seemed to dominate the scene.  It was a sight rarely seen in a Massillon football game.  It started out OK, but as the game wore on and the final outcome became more inevitable, any initial good sportsmanship just waned away.

But it was also like a 10-round, heavyweight boxing match.  Jab after jab.  Blow after blow.  Constant attacks to gain the upper hand and deliver a crushing blow, hoping to get the opponent to yield.  But these teams weren’t going to yield, as both were trying to prove that they were worthy of being in the national spotlight, a blessing that they deem needs protecting.  It’s great when events go your way.  But when they don’t, emotions take over.  And paybacks are inevitable.  But, all of this leads to detractions from the game.

Was there a trigger point?  Perhaps.  It might have occurred late in the second quarter when Massillon quarterback Da’one Owens completed a 22-yard pass to Braylyn Toles on a crossing route.  The St. John’s defender on the play closed quickly from the opposite direction and delivering a crushing hit with his shoulder, something you would see in a pro game, that literally lifted the diminutive Toles off his feet and sent him flying in the opposite direction.  Surprisingly, he hung onto the ball.  Multiple flags flew following the play, but the referees ruled that there was no foul.  It was the correct call, but the force of the tackle was certainly unnecessary.  After that, the level of physical play seemed to just accelerate, which then led to the deterioration of proper sportsmanship and multiple personal foul penalties.  Eventually, the two coaches met in the middle of the field and mutually agreed to end the game with about a half quarter remaining.  It was unfortunate, to say the least.

By game’s end, the Cadets had been whistled for nineteen penalties, seven of which were the 15-yard variety.  The others were technical.  Massillon, on the other hand, was flagged ten times, with five of the long-yardage variety.  Three between the two teams were ruled offsetting.  Winning in a game like this is difficult and losing is bitter.  And sometimes emotions take over.  But the referees didn’t help matters, for it appeared that they were in over their heads in a game of this magnitude.  They literally set a record for the number of meetings held to discuss penalties and were often indecisive in even trying place the ball in the right spot after a penalty, which resulted in even more meetings.  In fact, as a result of the delays and not necessarily  the number of plays run, the third quarter wasn’t over until two hours and fifteen minutes into the game.

The Game

St. John’s received the opening kickoff and scored on its third play when quarterback Isaiah French connected with Reece Williams for a 63-yard touchdown pass.  On the play, French was flushed out of the pocket and escaped toward the left sideline with an intent to run.  But at the last moment he launched the pass.  Only, the Massillon defender, who sensed the run, left his man and in anticipation of making the tackle, leaving the receiver wide open.  Such is the life of a defensive back.

The Tigers came right back and, with their best drive of the night, drove 71 yards in seven plays to tie the score.  It started with a 29-yard run by Ja’Meir Gamble.  Two plays later Owens connected with Jacques carter on a 25-yard pass that advanced the ball to the Cadet 25.  From there Massillon just drove it into the end zone, with Michael Wright Jr. carrying the ball in from the two.

St. John’s returned the kickoff into Massillon territory, but the subsequent drive was halted when Adonis Marshall intercepted the ball in the end zone.

After an exchange of punts, the Tigers found themselves at their own 33.  They did pick up a first down at midfield, but a series of penalties placed them in an uncharacteristic second and 42 from their own 18.  That’s when Owens launched a perfectly thrown, high-arcing pass to Toles, who was streaking down the right sideline, with a defender right on his heels the entire way.  The pass-catch combination was thing of beauty.  Something you see in a college game.  The ball hung in the air for what seemed liked forever.  And fans were in the edges of their seats in anticipation of the outcome.  It was right on the money and Toles secured the ball at the Cadet 29, completing a 53-yard pass.  It was also reminiscent of the play in the 2005 state semifinals game against Lakewood St. Edward, when Brian Gamble caught a pass from Bobby Huth and converted an unconceivable 3rd and 30, propelling Massillon to the state finals.  Four plays later Dorian Pringle plowed in from the one to give the Tigers a lead that they never relinquished.

Two series later the Tigers scored again, finishing off an 11-play 79-yard drive.  On 4th and 3 from the Cadet 24, Owens, under great pressure from the rush, threw a dart to Toles on a skinny post for the touchdown.  That put Massillon up 21-7 headed into the locker room.

After receiving the second half kickoff, Massillon put the final score on the board.  It came at the end of a 13-play, 80-yard drive that consumed over half the quarter.  There were no big plays, just constant pounding of the ball.  Only one pass was thrown and it was incomplete.  At the end of it, Owens scrambled forward to avoid a sack and didn’t stop until he was in the end zone, avoiding several potential tacklers along the way.  The play covered 23 yards.

St. John’s responded with a drive to the Massillon 23, but a fourth down pass was broken up by Maverick Clark.


The Cadets have ten players that have received Division 1, Power-5 offers, while the Tigers have just one.  But this game proves that it takes more than just great athletes to win a big game.  It also takes sound fundamental execution.  And this is where Massillon held the edge.  Massillon ended up besting St. John’s in total yards, 332-241, although the Cadets did lead in yards per play, 6.9-5.5.  But ball control was the deciding factor.  And that’s where fundamentals came into play.  The Tigers ran 60 plays to St. John’s 35 and led in first downs, 22-9.

Gamble led the rushing attack with 19 carries for 91 yards (4.8 ave.).  Owens, who never got untracked with his run game owing to good targeting defense by the opponent, gained just 47 yards.  But he did complete 7 of 16 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.  Four of those passes went to Toles, who had a tremendous night of football.  Tyler Hackenbracht also had a great night, leading the team with five solo tackles and one assist.  He also punted three times, averaging 34.3, with a long of 47 yards.

St. John’s was the type of team that, with the athletes they have, one feels that they could score on any play.  So, it was of utmost importance to control, not necessarily stop, the best of the lot.  That included Oregon-bound 4-star recruit Da’Juan Riggs.  He carried the ball 11 times for 73 yards (6.6 ave.) and caught three passes for 26 yards.  To handle French the Tigers put him under constant pressure when trying to pass, although he was quick to escape the pocket and was only sacked once.  French ended up completing 7 of 16 passes for 117 yards, but for only 47 yards after that initial score.  Mission accomplished.

Next week undefeated Massillon will play its first road game, at Austintown Fitch (4-2).  St. John’s (3-2) will host Good Counsel, MD (4-1).


2023 Booster Club Report – Week 5 – Post-Middletown;…

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 5 – Post-Middletown; Preview of the St. John’s College Game

Gary Vogt and Paul Engelhardt contributed to this report.

Massillon (6-0) defeated previously unbeaten Middletown, Delaware, 41-7.  This week the Tigers host nationally ranked St. John’s College, D.C. (3-1).

Link to the Middletown Game Story

Link to the Middletown Game Statistics

Other scores:

  • 7th Grade (3-2): Lost to Austintown-Red, 6-0.  No game this week.
  • 8th Grade (6-0): Defeated Austintown – Blue, 30-28.  Plays at home to Performance Academy Eastland on Wednesday, September 27 at 6:00 pm.
  • Freshmen (5-2): Lost to Akron Hoban, 30-28.  Plays at home to Cleveland Glenville on Thursday, September 28 at 6:00 pm.
  • Junior Varsity (3-3): Defeated Ironton, 38-20.  Plays home to Cleveland Glenville on Saturday, September 30, at 10:00 am.

Review of the Middletown game

Prior to the game the Middletown players entered the field by running through the band formation, in spite of plenty room to go around.  Then, they pounded the Obie logo in the center of the field with a sledge hammer.  The Middletown administration apologized later for the disruption.

It was Win No. 938, which keeps Massillon in the No. 3 position nationally for all-time wins.  “The guys played hard and made plays,” said Head Coach Nate Moore.  “We wore them down in the second half.  The defense did a good job in the run game and an excellent job getting after the QB.”  In all, the defense sacked the quarterback five times for a loss of 48 yards.  That contributed greatly in holding the Cavaliers to a negative 39 yards on the ground.

Massillon’s first touchdown of the game came on their initial play when Jalen Slaughter connected with Braylyn Toles on a 53-yard touchdown pass.  Then, he came right back with a screen pass to Jacques Carter, who ran through the entire Middletown secondary enroute to a 48-yard score.  “The Jacques Carter rocket screen was a special run after catch,” said Moore.  “He is turning into a special player.”

The guest players were center Brady Jones and safety Ryan Page.  “We wore them down in the second half, said Page.  “The front seven did a great job of making our job easier.”

Statistics leaders

  • Jalen Slaughter: 15 of 29 passing for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Jacques Carter: 8 receptions for 142 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Emy Louis Jr.: 3 receptions for 81 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Braylyn Toles: 2 receptions for 53 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Ja’Meir Gamble: 13 carries for 77 yards
  • Dorian Pringle: 6 carries for 32 yards and 3 touchdowns; 4.5 (4-1) tackle points; 2 sacks; 3.5 tackles for loss
  • Shon Robinson: 5.5 (3-5) tackle points; 1 sack; 2.5 tackles for loss

St. John’s  Scouting Report

The Cadets are 3-1 and currently ranked No. 1 in the District of Columbia and 112 nationally according to  Their scores so far:

  • American Heritage School, FL (2-1) 20-35 W
  • Washington, D.C. Roosevelt (0-4) 37-0 W
  • Gray Collegiate Academy, SC (6-1) 42-28 W
  • Mission Viejo, CA (4-2) 39-17

St.  John’s will present a formidable challenge for the Tigers and may turn out to be the best team they face during the regular season.  Last season the Cadets defeated Middletown 42-0, and may be just as strong this year.  The Cadets are loaded with Power-5 recruits, although they are mostly underclassmen, including the following:

  • Sophomore left tackle Adrian Hamilton (6′-5″, 285); 2-star recruit; West Virginia offer; best offensive lineman; good come-off; strong.
  • Junior center Kenneth McManus (6′-3″, 290); 3-star recruit; Maryland offer; has good footwork; strong; best center this year.
  • Sophomore right tackle Jordan Harrison (6′-3″, 300); 2-star recruit; West Virginia offer; good with protection; will finish blocks.
  • Sophomore tight end Breyon Williams (5′-9″, 205); Maryland offer; athletic
  • Senior running back/wide receiver Da’Juan Riggs (5′-10″, 200); 3-star recruit; Oregon commit; may be the best player the Tigers face this year.
  • Junior defensive lineman Marcus Ogbogu (6′-3, 220); 2-star recruit; Maryland offer; good pass rusher.
  • Sophomore defensive lineman Tariq Boney (6′-3″, 230); 3-star recruit; West Virginia offer; best defensive lineman; long and fast; will run around blockers.
  • Senior inside linebacker Montay Weedon (6′-1″, 210); 3-star recruit; Cincinnati commit; physical player.
  • Senior safety Shamar McIntosh (6′-2″, 190); 3-star recruit; Tennessee offer; covers well.
  • Junior safety Tariq Hayer (6′-1″, 185); 4-star recruit; Notre Dame offer; covers well; plays downhill; physical.
  • Sophmore cornerback Hakim Satterwhite (6′-2″, 185); 3-star recruit; Penn State offer; great in man coverage; great feet.

The offense operates out of the spread, using alignments similar to Massillon; some with five linemen with a single back and some with a tight end and a single back.  The defense uses both odd and even fronts, with various schemes in pass coverage.

Go Tigers!


2023: Massillon 41, Middletown, DE, 7

Massillon Defense Dominates in Victory over No. 1 Delaware Team

Game Statistics

If anyone thought the Tigers would suffer a letdown following last week’s big win over Lakewood St. Edward, they were entirely mistaken.  That, after Massillon completely dismantled previously unbeaten Middletown, Delaware, 41-7, using a big-play offense and a relentless defense.

Middletown is rated Number 1 in Delaware in several publications, with the game against them sandwiched between two other Number Ones, last week’s St. Edward of Ohio and next week’s St. John’s College of Washington D.C.  Massillon is currently rated in the Top 25 nationally and Number 1 in its Division 2 computer region.

How was this game scheduled?  Middletown so enjoyed their experience in coming to Tigertown last year that they requested an opportunity to return for a second visit.  Of course, Massillon was more than obliging in welcoming them back.

The strength of the Cavalier offense resides with their skill position players; i.e., quarterback, running back and wide receivers.  As such, Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore speculated that, given the strength of the Tiger run defense, they might put the ball in the air up to fifty times.  Last year Middletown attempted to throw the ball 44 times out of 58 plays, while managing to get off 35 and completing 20 for 303 yards and three touchdowns.  To counter that this time around, the Tigers employed a constant blitz to pressure the quarterback into errant throws and perhaps achieve a few sacks.  And it worked for nearly the entire game.  Quarterback Austin Troyer was pressured on every attempt and five times found himself on his backside behind the line.  Two sacks were recorded by linebacker Dorian Pringle and one each by linebacker Shon Robinson, linebacker Cody Fair and lineman Mike Wright, for a loss of 51 yards.  Troyer ended up completing only 11 of 33 passes for 117 yards, with Matthew Priestly catching six for 81 yards.  Middletown’s Matthew Kolbjornsen did complete a 55-yarder, but it was off a fake punt.

In the run game, the Cavaliers never got off the block.  Three different running backs carried the ball and they collectively gained just 12 yards on 19 carries, netting an overall rushing total of negative 39 yards when the sack yardage is factored in.  For the second year in a row then, the run game was held to less than zero yards.  In total, the offense was held to 133 yards at 2.4 yards per play.  And it converted just 2 of 14 third down attempts.

Meanwhile, Massillon came out throwing, behind junior quarterback Jalen Slaughter, who played the entire game at that position.  He had an extremely productive evening, completing 15 of 29 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns.  And he was never sacked.  On the receiving end was junior Jacques Carter, who caught eight balls for 142 yards (17.8 ave.) and a touchdown and Emy Louis Jr. who snagged three for 81 yards (27.0 ave.) and a score.  Braylyn Toles also caught a touchdown pass.  Middletown did try to blitz at times, but Slaughter was always able to step through the rush and get the pass off.

The run game, however, was sluggish at times, perhaps owing to the aggressiveness of the Middletown defense.  But it got stronger as the game went on.  Ja’Meir Gamble led all ball carriers with 77 yards on 13 attempts (5.9 ave.).  Pringle, Peyton Mitchell and Wright also combined for 79 yards.

Overall, Massillon rolled up 449 yards of offense, an average of 7.5 yards per play.  They also converted 7 of 11 third down attempts and 1 of 2 fourth down attempts, while punting only twice.

The Cavaliers received the opening kickoff and after three plays they were forced to punt.  Slaughter immediately went back to pass and found Toles streaking down the middle of the field, three yards in front of the defender.  Slaughter dropped the ball perfectly into Toles’ hands around 20 yard line and he did the rest, finishing off a 53-yard touchdown.

Middletown responded by completing their one long pass, advancing the ball to the Massillon 35.  But they gave it up on downs at the 34.  The Tiger offense then went back to work.  On third and ten from the Cavalier 48, Slaughter dropped the ball on a jailbreak screen to Carter, who ran through nearly the entire defense to the right sideline, broke a tackle, turned the corner and was gone down the sideline, for a 48-yard touchdown.

Massillon scored twice in the second quarter to take a commanding 28-0 lead.  The first was when Pringle carried it in from the one, capping a 2-play 13-yard drive, set up by a 6-yard punt from the end zone.  The second came when Slaughter connected with Louis on a 21-yard pass at the end of a 7-play, 66-yard drive.

Middletown then got on the board right at the end of the first half.  Following the aforementioned 55-yard pass during the fake punt.  Troyer then passed 23 yards to Priestley on skinny post for the score.

Pringle tallied two more touchdowns in the second half, both on runs of one yard, when the offense was aligned in the “jumbo”, 2-back package.  A seventh tally was negated when Ronnell Davis intercepted an underthrown fade pass in the end zone.  With Vinny Keller not available for this game, freshman Mateo Herrera came in and converted all five of his PAT attempts.  Both he and freshman Gregory Corsale shared the kickoff duties.

Next week Massillon (6-0) will host St. John’s College High School (2-1) from Washington, D.C.