Author: <span>Don Engelhardt</span>


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:

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.


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.

Obie Logo (Large) 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

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


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.

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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





Steve Studer – Wall of Champions

Simply put, Steve Studer is a Massillon legend.  Very few other players, coaches or contributors have earned the respect that he has for his contributions to the Massillon football program.  He fully grasped the concept of the Massillon tradition and embraced passions for the many activities he did throughout his life.  But largely, he served many young Tigers as both an exceptional athletic trainer and a close personal mentor.  But as fate would have it, he left us too soon.  Fortunately, his influence on the program has remained.

Numerous legacy families have come through the Massillon system during its long history and the Studer family was no exception.  Junie and his wife Delores were long-time supporters of the football program, with the two of them founding the Studer Library of Football History.  Junie also served as Booster Club President in 1972.  In 2016 the pair were inducted into the Massillon Football Hall of Fame.

They raised two sons: Steve and Joe.  Steve played center for the Tigers from 1969-71 and Joe played center in 1972-74, earning All-Ohio honors his senior year.  Both went on to become involved in high school sports, Steve as a Massillon strength and conditioning coach and Joe as a football coach at several schools.  And both were subsequently inducted into the Tiger HOF.  Finally, Steve’s two sons, Dan and Joey, each suited up for the Tigers and wore Number 55, like their father.  Dan played in 1997-99 and is the current Massillon strength and conditioning coach, while Joey played in 2007-09 and is a Massillon assistant coach.

Steve Studer, affectionally known as “Stu” to everyone in the Massillon sports community, was born on February 4, 1953.  Growing up, he always had a fondness for football.  “I singled out Ben Bradley, he was my hero.  I’d go to the games with my dad.  I had this old pair of binoculars.  I’d sit up there and focus in on Ben Bradley the whole game.  As a little, kid, I remember telling my dad, ‘I want to play center for the Massillon Tigers.’  That’s because Ben Bradley was my idol.”  – Massillon Memories, Scott H. Shook.

He would get his chance to become a varsity starter in 1970 as a junior on a team comprised of mostly seniors.  And what a start it was.  Playing under head coach Bob Commings as a 5’-11”, 200 lb. center, the Tigers fashioned a perfect 10-0 record and were never seriously challenged in any game.  In fact, they outscored their opponents by an average margin of 41-3, while rushing for 277 yards per game.

In his senior year, now at 5’-11”, 215 lb., he played on a Massillon team that finished 8-2, with two 1-point losses, to 7-2-1 Niles McKinley and 10-0 state champion Warren Harding.  The team rushed for 288 yards per game (9th all-time) and outscored the opposition by an average of 30-3.  Following the season, Studer was named All-American center by both Letterman Magazine and Gillette.  He also participated in the Ohio North-South All-Star game.

Aside from football, he was captain of the wrestling team and earned three letters, while winning a sectional championship during his senior year.

His next stop was Bowling Green to continue his football career, choosing the Falcons over interest from Ohio State and Miami of Ohio.  His four years were as follows:

  • Freshman (1972) – Played center at 6’-1”, 218 lbs. 5th on the depth chart.  One of two freshmen to earn a letter, assuming the duties as short snapper for kicks and long snapper for punts.  Of course, his jersey number was “55.”  The team finished 6-3-1.
  • Sophomore (1973) – Played center at 6’-0”, 223 lbs. 2nd on the depth chart.  The team finished 7-3.
  • Junior (1974) – Starting center, playing at 6’-0”, 224 lbs. 2nd Team All-MAC.  The team finished 6-4-1.  Coach Don Nehlen’s pre-season evaluation – “Steve could develop into the best center in the MAC. e is a good blocker and has great upper body strength.”
  • Senior (1975) – Starting center, playing at 6’-0”, 240 lbs. Co-captain along with Art Thompson (Massillon).  Joined on the team by brother Joe, who was a freshman center.  1st Team All-MAC and A.P. and Parade Magazine Honorable Mention All-American.  1976 East-West Shrine Classic.  The team finished 8-3.  Coach’s comment – “One of the best centers in the Midwest who is very underrated in agility and quickness because of his great strength.  A very good one-on-one blocker.”

After Bowling Green, Studer had a try-out with the Chicago Bears, but failed to make the team.  So he returned to Massillon and in 1985 landed a position as both strength and conditioning coach and physical education instructor.

His pride and joy was the weight room that he established at Massillon and the strength program he instituted, which is still in place today.  “Our weight room is 55’ by 70’,” said Studer.  “It’s the same size as the weight room we had at the old high school.  When we built the new high school we patterned it after the old one. It pretty much consists of free weights.  We really compare the weight room to a lot of Division 1 colleges. There’s going to be your Tennessees, your Nebraskas and your Michigan  where they have a better facility than this.  I would compare this to any MAC school.  Our core lifts are the squat, the clean, the bench press, and the dead lift. The machines that we have in the weight room are pretty much hammer-strength machines and it’s all top-of-the-line equipment.  It’s the same equipment that they use at Michigan, Notre Dame and a lot of the NFL teams.”  Studer also formed a powerlifting team in 1994 and the Tigers won the state championship in 1996.

An Interview with Steve Studer

“He was a true Tiger,” said Jack Rose, who as head coach of the Tigers from 1992-97 worked with Studer.  “If you ask someone what is a Massillon Tiger, their answer would be Studer.  He loved training kids, helping make them stronger for football.  He had a great rapport with the players.” – Dave Hutton, Masssillon Independent.

“A lot of what the program is about begins and ends in the weight room,” said former head coach Rick Shepas.  “Stu has been probably more valuable than any coach who has ever been there.” – Todd Porter, Massillon Independent.

“I don’t know if there has been a coach who has had more impact on those Massillon kids than Steve,” said Rose.  “He epitomized what a Massillon Tiger was.  The kids loved him.  He taught them how to work hard, how to set goals.  He was just a special person.” – Todd Porter, Massillon Independent.

“A lot of the things he taught us and instilled in us, not only football and weightlifting, was about being a good person and the approach you take to be the best you can be,” said former player Rick Spielman.  “Along with my parents, he’s one of the most influential people in my life.” – Todd Porter, Massillon Independent.

“Playing for him, and being around him, you were just afraid to fail for him,” said Craig McConnell, a former captain for Washington’s football team.  “You were afraid to work in his weight room and not to exceed.  You had that much respect for him.  Everything was Massillon to him – this tow, this program, this school.  He was what everyone in this city wanted to be.” – Elbert Starks III, Akron Beacon Journal.

Even outside of his career as a high school coach, he pursued personal weight training, participating in drug-free power lifting, where he became a state champion in 1988.  Then, there was the “Torture Chamber”, where he trained many college and professional athletes, including Chris Spielman.  “I’m 15, I’m not even driving yet, I’m walking by his house every Saturday night, trying to get up the nerve to go in there and ask him if he would teach me.  Finally, I did.  He took me in.  He taught me.  If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”  – Chris Spielman on Steve Studer – Massillon Memories, Scott H. Shook.

Aside from sports, the Bowling Green art major was heavily involved as a graphic artist and sign painter in his father’s business, Studer Sign Company, and also the original Tiger Store.

But this extraordinary man died suddenly on February 9, 2004, at the young age of 51 following a heavy workout in the WHS weight room.  Fortunately for everyone who follows, his high school weight training program lives on, now managed by his son, Dan.

In 1996, Steve Studer was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.  And his jersey number, “55”, has been retired; the only number retired by the Tigers, as a tribute to the respect shown by the community to “Stu.”


Bob Pflug – Wall of Champions

Bob Pflug – Wall of Champions

J. Robert Pflug spent his entire career involved with football and found great success as both a player and a coach. As such, he was deservedly honored for his achievements in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Pflug was born in Massillon on October 4, 1905, and had the opportunity to play high school ball throughout his entire Tiger career under legendary Coach Dave Stewart.

As a junior in 1922 the team finished 10-0 and captured the state championship, tied with
Toledo Scott.  Pflug started on both the offensive and defensive lines, with the Tigers outscoring their opponents, 379-28.  He also kicked three extra points.

For his senior season, the 175 lb. Pflug was named captain and again started on both sides of the line, in addition to being the punter, place kicker and punt returner.  The Stark County champions finished 8-2 that year, with losses to Harrisburg Tech (which was an adult team), 26-0, and Youngstown South, 19-6.  Harrisburg was the first out-of-state team to ever play Massillon.

Against Salem, he kicked eight extra points, setting a record that was not broken until Jason Brown converted nine during a game in 1991.  The current record is fourteen, which is held by Alex Bauer (2018).  For the season, Pflug kicked 26 PATs and three field goals, including a long of 31 yards versus Wooster.

His best game surely came against Canton McKinley in a 9-0 victory after which he was named Most Valuable Player.  Lauded by the media for his great line play, he also booted twelve long punts while averaging in excess of 40 yards, scored a drop-kick field goal from the 17 yard line and blocked a punt.

Football wasn’t his only sport, as he also lettered in basketball and track.

After high school, Pflug enrolled at Grove City College, where he played football from 1924 to 1927.


His first stop as a coach was at Knox High School in Pennsylvania from 1928-31, where he compiled a record of 20-10-1.  After that came Bradford High School from 1932-50, which he left with a remarkable record of 126-29-5.  Seven times his team was undefeated.  He had a 31-game unbeaten streak (1933-36) and a 25-game unbeaten streak (1937-40) overlapping the great years of Massillon’s Paul Brown.  But unfortunately, the two teams never met.  He departed Pennsylvania as the winningest all-coach in the Big 30, which included teams in northern Pennsylvania and southern New York.  In 1968, Bradford named their football stadium J. Robert Pflug Field.

College was next on the resume.  From 1951 to 1956 he was a line coach at Brown University and then from 1957 to 1969 a defensive line coach at Princeton University.


Pflug was inducted into the Pennsylvania High School Coaches Hall of Fame 1989 and the Massillon Wall of Champions in 1994.

He died on August 15, 1991, in Browns Cove, Virginia.


Don James – Wall of Champions

Don James – Wall of Champions

Massillon native Don James grew up in a family of football players, with four of the five brothers pursuing the sport at least at the high school level.  One sibling, Tom, went on to play for Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns, while Don opted for the coaching ranks, spending more years than any of them in the football arena, as a player at Miami of Florida, then and as a head coach at  both Kent State University and the University of Washington.

Standing: Don, Tommy and Art; Seated: Bob

Donald Earl James was born in Massillon on December 31, 1932, and it was a natural that he play football for the Tigers.  “Massillon’s got that wonderful tradition, so from the day you’re born that’s all you hear about,” said James.  “The great teams, the great players, the successes.  You know the people in this town just really respect the young people – and they want to help them to do well.  They’ve got something a lot of people are never going to be able to capture.” – Massillon Memories, Scott H. Shook, 1998.

James played varsity football in 1948 and 1949 as a quarterback under Head Coach Chuck Mather.  In his junior year he was the backup, throwing one touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to Irvine “Ace” Crable.  The team finished 9-1 that year and was named state champion.

In his senior year, James was promoted to the starting quarterback position and he led his team to another 9-1 record and state championship.  The Tigers that year outscored their opponents, 395-91, with James throwing five TD passes, the shortest being 26 yards.  Only once-beaten Mansfield and unbeaten Canton McKinley mounted any serious challenge.  Massillon lost to the No. 2 Tygers 16-12, but defeated the Bulldogs, 6-0.

The McKinley game was special to James.  “You know, the week of the game there’s not a helluva lot on anybody’s mind but the [Massillon-McKinley] game,” he said.  “So much is brought up about the tradition and history and former games and former players – and there’s a little hatred mixed in there – competitive hatred.  You don’t want to lose to these guys if you lose to anybody.  I would compare McKinley Week to, as a coach out at Washington, getting ready to play USC or the Rose Bowl or the Orange Bowl – not just any Bowl – one of the big ones, here there’s so much on the line and so much visibility involved.” – Massillon Memories, Scott H. Shook, 1998.

Following the season James was awarded a scholarship to play for the University of Miami in Florida, under Head Coach Andy Gustafson, where he was a starter at quarterback during his junior and senior years.  In 1952 the Hurricanes finished 4-7 and then went 4-5 the following year, with James completing 39 of 75 passes for 450 yards and three touchdowns.  Along the way he set three Miami single-season records, including completions (121), yards (1,363) and completion percentage.  Later, in 1992, he was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.

Having completed his degree in education, James was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he served from 1954-56.  Following discharge, he began to pursue his coaching interests.

The first stop was at the University of Kansas as a graduate assistant under Mather.  “Chuck Mather was extremely organized,” said James, recalling his time at Massillon.  “Playing quarterback you got to spend a little more time with him.  I just idolized those coaches.  In fact, that’s when I decided to coach.” – Massillon Memories, Scott H. Shook, 1998.  His tenure at Kansas also allowed him to complete a Master’s degree in education.  Following a year as an assistant at Southwest Miami High School, he put in twelve seasons as a college assistant at Florida State, Michigan and Colorado, until then being offered a head coaching position at Kent State.

James served four years (1971-74) guiding the Golden Flashes, while compiling a 25-19-1 record.  His best season was in 1972 when his team finished 9-2 as Mid-American Champion and was invited to the Tangerine Bowl.  Unfortunately, they lost that game 21-18 to Tampa.  But along the way he had the opportunity to coach Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh Steelers player), Nick Saban (current Alabama coach) and Gary Pinkel (Missouri coach).

The University of Washington hired James away from Kent in 1975 and he stayed with the Huskies through the 1992 season, enjoying great success along the way.  The highlight was winning the 1991 National Championship.  By the end of his eighteen years there he had compiled an overall record of 150-60-2 and a PAC-8/PAC-10 mark of 97-38-2.  Six times his team captured the PAC championship and played in the Rose Bowl against the winner of the Big-10.  Here are his years:

  • 1975: 6-5 record
  • 1976: 5-6 record
  • 1977: 8-4 record, 1st in the PAC, defeated Michigan 27-20 in the Rose Bowl
  • 1978: 7-4 record
  • 1979: 9-3 record, 2nd in the PAC, defeated Texas 14-7 in the Sun Bowl
  • 1980: 9-3 record, 1st in the PAC, lost to Michigan 23-6 in the Rose Bowl
  • 1981:10-2 record, 1st in the PAC, defeated Iowa 28-0 in the Rose Bowl
  • 1982: 10-2 record, 2nd in the PAC, lost to Maryland 21-20 in the Aloha Bowl
  • 1983: 8-4 record, 2nd in the PAC, lost to Penn State 13-10 in the Aloha Bowl
  • 1984: 11-1 record, 2nd in the PAC, 2nd in Coaches Poll, 2nd in the AP, defeated Oklahoma 28-17 in the Orange Bowl
  • 1985: 7-5 record, lost to Colorado in the Freedom Bowl
  • 1986: 8-3-1 record, lost to Alabama 28-6 in the Sun Bowl
  • 1987: 7-4-1 record, defeated Tulane 24-12 in the Independence Bowl
  • 1988: 6-5 record
  • 1989: 8-4 record, defeated Florida 34-7 in the Freedom Bowl
  • 1990: 10-2 record, 1st in the PAC, defeated Iowa 46-34 in the Rose Bowl
  • 1991: 12-0 record, 1st in the PAC, 1st in Coaches Poll, 2nd in the AP, defeated Michigan 34-14 in the Rose Bowl
  • 1992: 9-3 record, tied for 1st in the PAC, lost to Michigan 38-31 in the Rose Bowl

Washington’s 1991 national championship was awarded by the Coaches Poll, but Miami was named No. 1 by the Associated Press.  It came down to a matter of bowl game matchups.  The A.P. rankings entering the post-season were:

  1. Miami
  2. Washington
  3. Florida
  4. Michigan
  5. Florida State

In today’s world Miami would have played Washington for the title.  But back then the winner of the PAC was committed by contract to play the top team in the Big Ten, that year being No. 4 Michigan, which the Huskies defeated soundly, 34-14.  Whereas, Miami was matched against Nebraska, which was tied for first in the Big-8 and ranked No. 11.  The Hurricanes defeated the Sooners 22-0 in the Orange Bowl and hung onto their No. 1 ranking in the A.P.  But the Coaches Poll saw it differently and elevated Washington to the Number One spot.

James’ final season was 1992, after which he resigned in protest following allegations that several players on that team had received improper benefits, which resulted in an investigation by the NCAA.  Although the coaches were cleared of any wrong-doings regarding the players, Washington was cited for exhibiting “lack of institutional control” of recruiting funds and thereby received a 1-year bowl ban.  So that was the end of James’ long coaching career.  Nevertheless, Washington has never forgotten this very successful coach and honored him with a bronze statue that sits in the Husky Stadium plaza.

Don James remained close to his roots and in 1952 married Carol Hoobler of Massillon.  Together they had three children: Jeff, Jill and Jeni.  He died in Kirkland, Washington, on October 20, 2013, of pancreatic cancer.

James received many deserving awards throughout his career, including:

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It Was an Award-Winning Year for the 2023 Tigers

It Was an Award-Winning Year for the 2023 Tigers

The Massillon Tigers continue to reap rewards for the success of their 2023 football campaign, which culminated in winning the Division II State Championship.  Recently, Head Coach Nate Moore (99-22) was named by as their National Coach of the Year, having already won a similar accolade in the state of Ohio.  But, if you ask the coach about all that, he would quickly credit the dedication and hard work his team and coaches put in prior to and throughout the entire season, as they compiled a 16-0 record and captured Massillon’s first state title in 53 years.

Deservedly, six players were named All-County, twelve All-District and ten All-Ohio, led by Dorian Pringle, who was named Ohio Division II Co-Defensive Player of the Year.  Here’s a look at all the awards and milestones gathered to date by the team and players:


  • Division II State Championship, the Tigers’ first state title during the playoff era
  • 25th state championship, the most among all Ohio schools
  • 16 wins in a season, setting a new Massillon record
  • 24th undefeated regular season and first fully unbeaten season during the playoff era
  • New record set for Harbin System points, which are used to qualify for the playoffs
  • Moved into a tie for second place for the most historic wins in the country (948)
  • Ranked No. 10 in the country by (No. 3 among all public schools)
  • Ranked No. 10 in the country by USAToday (No. 3 among all public schools)

 Head Coach Nate Moore

  • Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Division II Co-Coach of the Year
  • National Coach of the Year

Dorian Pringle – Senior linebacker / running back

  • All-County
  • 1st Team All-District
  • District Co-Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1st Team All-Ohio
  • Ohio Co-Defensive Player of the Year
  • SBLive High School Football All-American Team
  • Set new season and career records for tackles-for-loss and tackles-for-loss yards
  • Signed with Bowling Green

Da’One Owens – Senior quarterback

  • Great American Rivalry Series Most Valuable Player in the Canton McKinley Game
  • All-County Coach’s Selection
  • 1st Team All-District
  • District Co-Offensive Player of the Year
  • 1st Team All-Ohio

Michael Wright Jr. – Junior defensive lineman / running back

  • All-County
  • 1st Team All-District
  • 1st Team All-Ohio
  • Set new season and career records for quarterback sacks and quarterback sack yards
  • Set a new record for quarterback sacks in a McKinley game (3.0)

Chase Bond – Senior defensive lineman

  • All-County
  • 1st Team All-District
  • 2nd Team All-Ohio
  • Signed with North Carolina State

Nolan Davenport – Junior offensive lineman

  • All-County
  • 1st Team All-District
  • 2nd Team All-Ohio

Cody Fair – Senior linebacker

  • 1st Team All-District
  • 3rd Team All-Ohio
  • Signed with the U.S. Naval Academy

Brady Jones – Senior offensive lineman

  • All-County
  • 2nd Team All-District
  • Honorable Mention All-Ohio

Tyler Hackenbracht – Junior safety

  • All-County
  • 2nd Team All-District
  • Honorable Mention All-Ohio

Jacques Carter – Junior wide receiver

  • 2nd Team All-District
  • Honorable Mention All-Ohio

Ja’Meir Gamble – Junior running back

  • 2nd Team All-District
  • Honorable Mention All-Ohio

Adonis Marshall – Senior cornerback

  • Honorable Mention All-District

Braylyn Toles – Junior wide receiver

  • Honorable Mention All-District

Jalen Slaughter – Junior quarterback

  • Set new season record for quarterback efficiency
  • Set new season record for passing yards per attempt