Author: <span class="vcard">Eric Smith</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Massillon 35, Columbus Bishop Sycamore 0

Milestone for Massillon: Tigers pick up win No. 900 against Bishop Sycamore

Sep 04, 2020 11:11 PM

GAME STATS

MASSILLON The win itself was historic for Massillon. The path to getting to the historic win, though, had more than its share of bumps for the Tigers.

Massilon became the first team in Ohio history to win 900 games all-time on Friday night thanks to a 35-0 victory over Columbus Bishop Sycamore at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers’ win total is tied for fourth with Mayfield (Ky.) nationally.

In order to get No. 900 in the books, though, Massillon had to battle through both its share of choppy play as well as some key injuries both before and during the game. In the end, though, the Tigers were able to overcome all of that to not just hit that milestone, but also move to 1-1 this season.

“We’re really happy to put another brick on the pile,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “Whether it’s 900 or 901 or 902, I don’t think that really makes much of a difference to us. That’s more a 30-years-down-the-road question, I think. We’re just trying to stack bricks right now.”

The Tigers played the entire game without starting quarterback Zach Catrone, who did not dress due while recovering from an injury suffered in the season opener. Moore declined to comment on Catrone’s injury, or any other injuries Massillon suffered during the first half Friday.

In Catrone’s place started Jayvian Crable, the son of former Tiger and University of Michigan star Shawn Crable. The sophomore appeared to get more and more comfortable as the game went on, both running the ball and throwing it.

Crable threw his first career touchdown pass with 11:07 remaining, finding Austin Brawley for a 20-yard strike to go in front 28-0. It was a milestone he had appeared to gain the previous play, when he found Martavien Johnson on a 10-yard strike, but a holding call negated the play.

The sophomore finished 11-of-18 passing for 123 yards with the one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball eight times for a team-high 78 yards.

“I don’t think he was, I guess, nervous going into the game,” Moore said of Crable. “I thought he was ready to go. When you’re out there with bullets flying for the first time, that’s always going to take some getting used to. Even that being said, when he pulled the ball down and took off, those were good plays.”

Multiple lengthy injury delays took some of the rhythm out of the first half. However, the two teams also contributed the choppiness by combining for four turnovers — two each — as well as 14 penalties, 11 by the Centurions, over the initial two quarters.

Despite that, however, Massillon was able to make the most of its opportunities to open up a 21-0 halftime lead. Like the game itself, it was an unconventional way the Tigers took to get to that number.

They bookended the half with a pair of safeties thanks to two bad punt snaps by Sycamore. They also got a pair of Raekwon Venson touchdown runs, an 8-yarder and a 4-yarder.

Alex Bauer’s 25-yard field goal with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter was the middle of the scoring sandwich Massillon put together in the first half. That boot gave the Tigers a 12-0 lead.

That lead alone would’ve been enough against Sycamore, a non-OHSAA online-only charter school which was a late replacement when the regular season was reduced to six games in mid-August. The Centurions struggled to consistently move the ball throughout the evening, often hurting themselves with penalty after penalty.

At halftime alone, Sycamore was flagged 11 times for 76 yards, while its 24 offensive plays netted just 3 yards. By the time the game was over, the Centurions had 18 flags for 108 yards, compared to just 46 net yards on 43 plays.

“Our defense played lights out,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of really good things going on over there. So, I think the first thing you have to acknowledge is to tip your hat to the defense. Those cats played their tails off and played really well.”

The deepest penetration for Sycamore was to the Massillon 21 on the first possession of the third quarter. That possession, though, ended with an dropped pass on fourth down from the Tiger 38.

Only two other Centurion drives moved into Tiger territory, but both never got past the 44.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Lakewood St. Edward 24, Massillon 23

Turnover, trickery helps St. Edward rally to stun Massillon

Aug 28, 2020 11:35 PM

GAME STATS

MASSILLON Massillon seemed to have its hands grasped around an impressive season-opening win on Friday night.

Despite the challenges of a strange offseason and then a mid-game lightning delay, the Tigers found themselves in control of the football and a six-point lead over St. Edward with less than five minutes remaining. However, five minutes later, it was all gone for Massillon.

“Very bleak,” St. Edward coach Tom Lombardo said of his team’s chances late.

Bleak turned into brilliant for the Eagles as they converted a fourth-quarter Tiger pick into a little razzle-dazzle touchdown of their own, and it was the difference in what became a 24-23 victory at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The go-ahead touchdown came when Justin Slattery took a lateral pass from quarterback Christian Ramos, then threw a strike to a wide-open Joshua Kerekes for a 72-yard touchdown with 4:01 remaining.

Kerekes’ catch-and-run, which included him tight-roping the sidelines for the final 15 or so yards, was one of just five passes caught by Eagle receivers in the game. Two of those five went for second-half touchdowns, the other a Ramos-to-Andrew Cook 4-yard pass with 3:23 left in the third to cut Massillon’s lead to 20-17.

“Being the first game and the first scrimmage, we said, ‘Just play four quarters and keep playing,'” Lombardo said. “Obviously, we were having trouble stopping them early. … Our defense really made some plays at the end and obviously, we got the double pass.”

St. Edward was just 5-of-13 passing for 107 yards. The Eagles also had just 97 rushing yards.

The loss was Massillon’s first regular-season setback since falling to St. Vincent-St. Mary in Week 9 of the 2017 season. Since that setback, the Tigers had won 32 of 35 games, including 21 consecutive in the regular season.

It appeared that the streak was going to increase to 22 in a row after Massillon, while in possession of a 23-17 lead, had the ball at the Eagle 35 with the clock nearing four minutes. However, on third-and-8, a pass to the middle of the field was intercepted by St. Edward’s C.J. Hankins, who brought it back to the Eagle 41.

“In-game mistakes, you have to self-correct and move on,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “We don’t have time to sit around and mope about anything. … As a player on the field, you have to self-correct and move forward. You can’t let one negative play turn into two negative plays and all those things.’

Two plays later, what had been a Tiger lead turned into a Massillon deficit. The Tigers would have two possessions after giving up the lead, going three-and-out and punting from their own 15 on the first.

The second one, which started with 37 seconds remaining at the Massillon 31, reached the St. Edward 40. However, four incomplete passes – the final one with two seconds remaining – ended the Tigers’ hopes.

The ending spoiled what was, in many ways, a solid start for Massillon. After giving up a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Joal Castleberry with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter to fall behind the Eagles 7-3, the Tigers would score 14 straight points – on a pair of Zach Catrone-to-Jayden Ballard touchdowns – to lead 17-7 in the second quarter.

Catrone finished his first career start 14-of-29 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ballard had a team-high 68 yards and the two touchdowns on two catches.

Raekwon Venson made his first career start as well at running back for the Tigers, rushing for 113 yards on 25 carries. That helped Massillon outgain St. Edward 396-204.

The probably for the Tigers was that they had to settle for three field goal, two of which were of less than 30 yards. Alex Bauer had two field goals of 26 yards, the last of those giving Massillon a 23-17 lead with 9:38 remaining, plus a career-long 41-yard boot.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

History

Challenging Openers Nothing New for Nate Moore’s Tigers

Throughout many previous decades, as far back as perhaps Paul Brown, Massillon coaches have traditionally scheduled soft-to-moderate opening game opponents in order to give each squad the best chance of starting the season on a winning note.  But that appears not to be the case for current head coach Nate Moore.  He prefers, instead, the challenge brought on by facing a top-level foe.  And in each of his first five openers while at Massillon he has had fans on the edges of their seats hoping that the Tigers would come out victorious, knowing that the opponent was daunting.

Coach Nate Moore

This year is no exception.  On August 29, barring modifications to the season on account of the virus, Massillon will open up at Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium as part of a 6-game Nike classic against Bishop Gorman, a national power from Las Vegas, Nevada.  This should be a good matchup, but expect Massillon to be ready for the task ahead.  Coach Moore, having gained much insight over the past five years in approaching difficult openers, should know how to prepare for this one.

Moore has compiled a 50-15 overall record during his 5-year tenure at Massillon (28-2 over the last two seasons), including an 11-4 playoff mark in four appearances.  Currently, the Tigers have a 21-game regular season winning streak and have in each of the past two years advanced all the way to the Division 2 state finals game, although losing to Akron Hoban in 2018 and Cincinnati LaSalle in 2019.  In both of those years, Massillon was nationally ranked in the Top 50.  The Tigers are also ranked 5th in the nation with 899 historical victories, dating back to 1891.

When Mike Currence became the head coach in 1976, he inherited an opening game against Middletown, a team from southwest Ohio that was a state power at the time.  Regrettably, he was In the midst of replacing the previous Wing-T offense with a run-and-shoot offense, a scheme that was very alien to previous Massillon players.  It proved to be a difficult progression and Currence’s team failed to score in a one-touchdown loss to the Middles.  Although they held Middletown to just 121 yards of offense, they gained just a mere 74 themselves.  The following year, with the run-and-shoot firmly entrenched, it was off to the Akron Rubber Bowl to face Barberton.  The Tigers had high hopes that year, especially after rolling over a formidable Warren Western Reserve team in a game-condition scrimmage the previous week.  But in front of nearly 16,000 fans, Barberton’s running back Larry Ricks (Michigan) had other ideas and he led his team to a 9-7 upset victory.  It should be noted that in both of those years, when only one team qualified in each region, Massillon failed to make the playoffs, in spite of each team finishing 8-2.  To make it even more bitter, the Tigers finished that second season with a 21-0 victory over playoff state-finalist Canton McKinley.

So for the next 37 years coaches scaled it back and, for the most part, steered clear of top-level competition for Game 1.  Thirteen times Massillon faced a team from the Akron City Series.  Eight times they played Massillon Perry, including six in a row from 1978 to 1983.  They also had games against Alliance, Dover and Westerville South.  As a result, it wasn’t surprising that the Tigers compiled a record of 34-3 in those openers.  Two of the losses were to Buchtel and a third was to Clovis West, California (a rare tough opener).

But it’s obvious that Nate Moore has another mindset.  With eight teams per region making the playoffs these days, the odds are much better if the opening game is not won.  And although Nate enjoys the challenge, it’s also a good opportunity for his team’s weaknesses to be exposed before they get too far into the season.  Plus, the incentive to gear the pre-season around a challenging opponent, the experience of playing in big game early and an opportunity to play four quarters of football with the first unit on the field can all pay dividends down the road.  In 2015, in his very first game as a Massillon coach, the opener was Perry, a team stocked with two great running backs in Keishaun Sims and Tevian Cleveland.  The Tigers started out strong and then, after falling behind, scored late in the game to secure a 41-37 victory, in spite of Sims and Cleveland combining for 435 yards of offense and four touchdowns.  Perry went on to finish with a record of 12-3, losing to Cincinnati LaSalle in the Division 2 State Finals.

The next year it was Division 1 power Mentor, which sported a record of 56-11 over the previous five years (10-4 in the Division 1 playoffs).  Massillon opened with them in 2016 and 2017, but dropped both by one-sided scores.  However, it did show the program just how far it needed to go if the Tigers hoped to return to past glory.

For the past two years, Moore started off with Akron St. Vincent, a recurring opponent Massillon had faced during each of the previous six years.  But those six had not gone well, with the Tigers winning just two.  During that span, the Irish compiled a record of 67-16, including a 19-4 playoff mark and a pair of Division 3 state titles.  They also had a great running back returning in Terrance Keyes, who rushed 198 yards against the Tigers in 2016.  But the experience gained against Mentor finally had paid off and the Tigers walked away in the first one with a 35-7 victory, holding Keyes to just ten yards in eleven carries.  Later that year they defeated nationally-ranked East St. Louis in an offensive shootout.  The next year’s result was no different and with Massillon prevailed 44-14.  That season-opening experience was parlayed into a 17-14 playoff victory over 2018 Division 2 state champion Akron Hoban.  To top it off, Massillon has won the last four meetings against arch-rival Canton McKinley.

Now it’s Bishop Gorman, which promises to be yet another challenging opener.  Over the past 13 years Gorman has built an impressive resume: 175-15 overall record (122-13 in the regular season, 53-2 in the state playoffs); 10 state championships; 3 national championships (2014-2016); 8 times in the National Top 50.  Last year, the Gaels were 11-2, losing in the 3rd round of the Nevada state playoffs, in a rare year that they did not make the state finals.  They were also ranked No. 78 nationally.

Gorman will be a formidable foe for Nate Moore’s Tigers in this year’s lid-lifter.  But that’s nothing new for the highly successful coach, who obviouisly relishes the challenge.

History

Tigers’ Win Streak On the Line in 2020

In 2019 Massillon wrapped up the regular season with a 24-14 victory over arch-rival Canton McKinley.  In so doing, they extended their regular season winning streak to 21 games, defeating an impressive list of opponents along the way.  They also went unbeaten for consecutive seasons, the first time the Tigers had accomplished that feat since Earl Bruce’s 1964 and ‘65 state championship teams.  Then, to top it off, they advanced to the Playoff State Finals in each of those years.

But now new challenges await during the upcoming 2020 season, particularly in the opening game, which is slated to be against a to-be-named national opponent.  Should the Tigers get by that one, they will face more tough foes down the road.  But winning another ten games it is certainly an achievable goal.  Nevertheless, as sweet as that sounds, it’s certain that the players would gladly trade all of that for a championship trophy at the end.  Nevertheless, the streak is real, it can’t be ignored and is it ranked right up there with the accomplishments of other great Massillon teams.

Winning streaks do not happen by accident and in each one at least a couple of influential factors can be found.  Some schools have an exceptional class come through that can produce consecutive 10-win seasons, like Barberton in 2017 and ’18.  Combined with 2016 and 2019, the Magics ran off 26 straight regular season wins.  Another example is Avon, which had a streak of 28 straight regular season victories between 2015 and 2018.   Upper Arlington in the late 1960s took advantage of “back-to-back” exceptional classes to win over 40 games in a row.  Others have solid football programs with equally impressive coaches, like Steubenville, which recently fashioned a 42-game winning streak (including playoff games) and just last year had a 63-game regular season win streak come to an end.

Then there are those that benefit from a continuous pipeline of top-level athletes, like the large parochial schools which, because of their inherent scholastic and athletic opportunities, attract many exceptional players each year.  In the 1970s Cincinnati Moeller put together a 40-game+ winning streak.  Then, after a loss to Cincinnati Princeton, they went on to win another 45 straight games.  Strength of schedule also plays into winning streaks; that is, a schedule devoid of competitive opponents.  Combine many of the above traits into a smaller school and a long winning streak is often the result.  A good example of that is private school Kettering Alter, the likes of which is one of the reasons behind implementation of competitive advantage for the post-season playoffs.

Prior to the playoffs, it was important for the large top schools to play very competitive schedules in order to receive the support of the various sportswriters who voted for the state champion.  Therefore, it was difficult at that time for those schools to produce long winning streaks.  They also didn’t have the benefit of additional playoff games to add wins in a particularly good year.  Massillon’s longest streak throughout its 120 plus years of history is 38 games, which was fashioned from 1937 to 1941.  During that span the Tigers captured the state championship each year and also added a pair of national championships.  In the 7th game of the 1937 season, Paul Brown’s Tigers were defeated by New Castle, Pennsylvania 7-0.  It was their only loss that year.  The following week they defeated Youngstown Chaney 28-6 and they didn’t stumble again until Game 5 of the 1941 season when, under coach Bud Houghton, the Tigers were tied by Mansfield 6-6.  During the streak, the average game score was an impressive 39-3.

But along the way, the Tigers also defeated some great teams.  In 1937 they dropped Canton McKinley from the ranks of the unbeatens by the score of 19-6, repeating that feat the following year with a 12-0 victory.  In 1939 Massillon defeated Alliance 47-0, which was their only loss that year.  Similar fates awaited several teams in 1940, including Cleveland Cathedral Latin (9-1) 64-0, Weirton, WV (9-1) 48-0, Erie East, PA (7-2-1) 74-0, Alliance (8-2-1) 40-0, Toledo Waite (9-1) 28-0, Youngstown East (8-2) 26-0, and Canton McKinley (8-1-1) 34-6.  It was indeed an impressive lot, enough to place a legitimate stamp on the record.

With the tie to Mansfield, however, the winning streak had come to an end.  But not the unbeaten streak, which was extended to nearly the end of 1942 season.  In that final game they were beaten by Canton McKinley, but they did establish an all-time Massillon record for that mark at 52 games.

Incidentally, the national all-time winning streak stands at 151 games, which was set by Concord De La Salle, California, in 1992-2003.  The Ohio all-time winning mark is 58 games, set by Delphos St. Johns at 57 in 1996 through 2001.  The corresponding unbeaten streak is owned by Ironton.  Their best is 58 games, which was established in 1983.  Massillon’s 52-game unbeaten mark ranks fourth in Ohio.

In 1963-67, coaches Leo Strang, Earl Bruce and Bob Seaman combined to fashion a 30-game winning streak.  It began with a 38-0 victory over Mansfield, following a 13-6 loss to Akron Garfield the previous week, and it ended three years later with a 0-0 tie to Mansfield.  In 1963 the Tigers finished 9-1 with a second place state ranking.  But under Earl Bruce Massillon in each of the following two years  they went 10-0 and was awarded the state title.  Ironically, it was the Tigers in 1964 that defeated Niles McKinley 14-8, ending their 48-game winning streak (currently ranked 4th in Ohio).  Massillon then wrapped up the season with a 20-14 comeback victory over the previously-undefeated Bulldogs.

Number 3 in the Massillon record book is a 25-game winning streak set in 1951-54 by Chuck Mather and Tom Harp.  Mather won the first 23 games and then Coach Tom Harp added two more before losing to Alliance 19-7.  With an overall record of 38-2 during those four seasons, the Tigers were able to capture the state championship each year and national championships in ’52 and ’53.  They also bested their opponents by an average score of 41-15.

That brings us to the current streak of 21, which also matches Paul Brown’s second longest.  Coach Nate Moore has been at the helm throughout, finishing 7-3 in 2017 and 10-0 in both 2018 and 2019, not counting his 8-2 playoff mark during those two years.  The average score of the games throughout the streak was 45-18.  It began following a 13-10 loss in Game 9 to Division 3 state semifinalist Akron St. Vincent.  The first win was over Canton McKinley (8-3) 16-15.  In 2018 Massillon went 10-0 and defeated Warren Harding (8-3) 51-21, Austintown Fitch (8-3) 42-14, East St. Louis, Illinois (9-3) 46-40 and Canton McKinley (9-3) 24-17.  Then last year they again finished 10-0, downing Akron St. Vincent (8-3) 44-14, Harrison City Penn-Trafford, PA (11-2) 42-21, Monroeville Gateway, PA (12-3) 48-12 and Canton McKinley (9-3) 24-14.  The Tigers have a chance to improve their ranking this year and, if they are fortunate enough to run the table, they will move into second place.

Brown’s 21-game streak occurred in 1935-37 and began after a season-ending loss in 1934 to State No. 1 Canton McKinley.  During the streak, the Tigers were completely dominant, outscoring the opposition by an average of 51-3 and compiling three state and two national championships.  In 1936 they gave the Bulldogs their only loss of the season by the score of 21-0.  The streak came to an end in Game 2 of the 1937 season with a 6-6 tie vs. Mansfield (once again).  But a new streak, the aforementioned one of 38 games, was started just a few weeks later.

Twice Massillon compiled 20-game winning streaks.  The first was in 1949-51 by Chuck Mather, which included three state championships and one national championship.  The second was in 1958-60 by Leo Strang.  During that one, the Tigers captured two state crowns and one national title.

The Top 3 “unbeaten” streaks are 52 games in 1937-41, 32 games in 1963-66 and 31 “regular season” games in 1977-80.  Combined, those years include eight unbeaten seasons.

A complete list of Massillon streaks can be found here.

OHIO WINNING STREAKS

  • 57 – Delphos St. John’s (1996-2001)
  • 54 – Versailles (1993-97)
  • 49 – Dayton Jefferson Twp. (1970-75)
  • 48 – Niles McKinley (1959-64)
  • 45 – Cincinnati Moeller (1978-81)
  • 44 – Marion Pleasant (1969-73)
  • 42 – Steubenville (2005-07)
  • 42 – Miami Trace (1976-80)
  • 42 – Upper Arlington (1967-71)

OHIO UNBEATEN STREAKS

  • 58 – Ironton (1977-83)
  • 57 – Delphos St. John’s (1966-2001)
  • 54 – Versailles (1993-97)
  • 52 – Massillon (1937-42)
  • 49 – Dayton Jefferson Twp. (1970-75)

NATIONAL WINNING STREAKS

  • 151 – Concord De La Salle, CA (1992-2003)
  • 109 – Charlotte Independence, NC (2000-07)
  • 104 – Pahranagat Valley, NV (2008-16)
  • 92 – Shattuck, OK (2003-09)
  • 90 – Morrison, OK (1989-95)

 

News

2020 Massillon Schedule Nearly Complete

Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore on March 26th released the 2020 football schedule, all except for Game No. 1.  Details of that one are currently being finalized by the organizers of a weekend classic that will be played at Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium, with the locals slated for a Saturday evening contest.  Once again a challenging slate awaits the Tigers as it includes formidable powers Warren Harding, Austintown Fitch, Cleveland Benedictine, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Barberton and Canton McKinley, in addition to an expected national power for the opener.

Coach Moore holds a 50-15 overall record during his 5-year tenure at Massillon (28-2 over the last two seasons), including an 11-4 playoff mark in four appearances.  The Tigers currently have a 21-game regular season winning streak and have recently advanced to consecutive Division 2 state finals games, losing to Akron Hoban in 2018 and Cincinnati LaSalle in 2019.  Massillon was nationally ranked in the Top 50 during both of those years.

Here is a rundown of Games 2 through 10:

Week 2 – at Canton GlenOak – The Golden Eagles have fallen on hard times recently and hope to return to past success this year.  Last season they finished 1-9 and have only won five games in the past three years.  In 2019 the Tigers ran away with a 55-13 victory, scoring all of their points in the first half and rolling up 466 yards of total offense by game’s end.  GlenOak has now lost four straight to Massillon and trails in the series 12-4.

Week 3 – Warren Harding – The Raiders made the playoffs last year and finished with a 7-4 record.  But they lost to Massillon the regular season 47-7 and 55-0 in the first round of the playoffs.  In the first game Aidan Longwell completed 15 of 25 passes for 200 yards, including a pair of touchdowns to Jayden Ballard.  In the playoff game, the Tigers opened up a 27-0 halftime and never looked back.  Running back Terrence Keyes led the way with 13 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns.  Warren is 35-19 over the past three years with two playoff appearances.  They last beat the Tigers in 2015 and 2016, with quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky) leading the way.  Massillon is ahead in the overall series 56-25-3.

Week 4 – Cleveland Benedictine – Massillon has played many games against the Bengals, mostly in the middle of the previous century.  The Tigers own a 22-4-1 series edge, but Benedictine got the better of them in 2003 and 2004, the last time the two teams met.  Benedictine was 10-2 last year, losing to Avon 49-28 in the second round of the playoffs.   But most of their players are expected to return this year.  Over the past five years they were 25-20 with a pair of playoff appearances.

 Week 5 – Cleveland St. Ignatius – The Wildcats struggled last year to an uncharacteristic 5-5 record, but are expected to rebound to their state-power self this year.  Ignatius last faced the Tigers in 2009 and has dominated the series by winning 12 of the 13 games played.  They have a 42-16 mark over the past five years, with three playoff appearances.  Included in that was a state runner-up in 2016, when they lost in the finals to Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Week 6 – Austintown Fitch – The Falcons were 5-5 last year, with a 55-7 loss to Massillon.  This was yet another game that was over by halftime, with the Tigers leading 48-7.  Terrence Keyes was the catalyst, rushing 16 times for 185 yards and four touchdowns.  Fitch is 31-20 over the past five years with one playoff appearance.  Massillon leads the series 18-8.

Week 7 – Bloomfield Hills, MI – The Black Hawks are a new addition to this year’s schedule.  A member of Michigan’s large school division, they have not achieved success recently, with 2-7 marks in each of the past two years.  Over the last five seasons they are 20-28, although they finished 9-1 in 2016.

Week 8 – Barberton – The Magics travel to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for the second of a 2- game series.  The Suburban League plans to restructure next year to fill out Barberton’s division, so this will probably end the series.  Last year Barberton finished 7-3, but failed to make the playoffs.  Included in this was a 49-24 loss to Massillon in one of the more competitive games the Tigers had last year.  Terrence Keyes had a big night, rushing 30 times for 255 yards and five touchdowns.  The Magics are 44-11 over the past five years with three trips to the playoffs.  In 2017 and 2018 they produced undefeated regular seasons.  Massillon leads the series 38-7-1.

Week 9 – at Wooster – The Generals return to the Massillon schedule for the first time since 1933.  An odd number in their league produced an opening for the game, which is contracted as a 2- game series, the first at Wooster and the second at Massillon.  Like Barberton’s league, the Cardinal Conference is also looking to add an eighth team, which will most likely end the series after next year.  Wooster finished 7-4 last year, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to Avon 33-13.  The Generals have a successful program, with a 36-17 mark over the past five years and three trips to the playoffs.  But they lost in the first round each year.  It is believed that by playing Massillon they will be better prepared for the postseason.  The Tigers own a 14-5 advantage in the series.

 Week 10 – Canton McKinley – The Bulldogs gave Massillon their sternest regular season test last year, losing 24-14.  Terrence Keyes rushed for 141 yards and Aidan Longwell passed for 206, with nine passes going to Jayden Ballard for 114 yards and two touchdowns.  McKinley did, however, advance to the playoffs, where they lost to state semifinal participant Mentor 34-13, and finished with a fine 9-3 record.  McKinley is 39-17 over the past five years with four playoff appearances.  However, Massillon has beaten them in eight of the last nine years and owns a 72-53-5 edge in the long-running series.

History

Joe Sparma – Wall of Champions

Throughout the course of life we all make decisions that affect our future.  While these choices are usually of a minor nature, oftentimes a big decision at an early age can have a profound effect on one’s ultimate destiny.  Such was the case with former Tiger Joe Sparma.  After achieving enormous success as a multi-sport athlete in high school, Joe chose to continue on the path of football at Ohio State University.  Only that decision snowballed into a resolve to leave college early and pursue a career in major league baseball.

Woody Hayes, the Ohio State head coach in the late 1950s, recruited Sparma after a successful couple of seasons quarterbacking the Massillon Tigers.  Joe’s greatest asset was passing the ball, during a time when most high school teams preferred to keep it on the ground.  But now it was college ball, where passing was more common.  It all sounded so good.  But Woody’s offense was unlike other schools, preferring the run to the pass, believing that three things can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad.  In fact, OSU fans commonly referred to his offense as “three yards and a cloud of dust.”  There just wasn’t a place at Ohio State for a passing quarterback.

So many local fans tried to discourage Sparma from choosing the Buckeyes, saying that all he would do is hand the ball off to the tailback.  But Woody apparently wanted Joe badly and surely didn’t relish him lining up across his Buckeyes wearing another Big Ten uniform.  So he went hard after Sparma and secured his commitment.

“Joe Sparma was a pure passer.  Just an outstanding pure pro passer.  That’s the reason I wanted him to go to school where he could pocket pass.  But Woody Hayes was a hell of a salesman.  Woody didn’t want him to go to school in the Big 10 and passing against him.  I don’t think there’s any doubt about it that Sparma could have been a great pro football player.” – Coach Leo Strang from Scott Shook’s “Massillon Memories”

Joe did end up starting 11 of the 18 games in which he played and he did manage to pass the ball some.  However, he had developed differences of opinion with Hayes during his sophomore year and subsequently elected to leave school.  Ironically, the relentless Woody talked him into staying for his junior year.  Nevertheless, Joe’s relationship with Woody did not change by the following year and it was finally time for him to leave.  Fortunately, professional baseball was waiting.  How his life might have been different had he chosen a college that utilized a more balanced attack.  Joe always wondered what it would have been like to play quarterback in the NFL.

MASSILLON

Joe Sparma was born in Massillon, Ohio, on February 4, 1942.  It was at an early age that he found his calling, playing sports.  “I remember exactly the day I first wanted to do well in sports,” he earlier mentioned to Steve Doerschuk from the Massillon Independent.  “I was a fifth grader at Franklin School watching the older kids play a basketball game.  I watched the team score.  I heard the cheers from the handful of people at the game.  Something went through me.”

That ‘something’ caught big and Sparma went on to become a 3-sport athlete at Massillon, lettering multiple times in football, basketball and baseball.

“He was one of the finest athletes we ever had in Massillon.  He was captain of the baseball, basketball and football teams.  He was a good student.  He may have had a record of being a little hard to get along with, but never with me.  I can’t say enough about him.  He’s been a real good friend through all the years.” – Ducky Schroeder, former Massillon assistant.

His high school career spanned three seasons, the first in 1957 as a backup quarterback under Lee Tressel and the next two as a starter under Leo Strang.  As a sophomore his numbers were modest, finishing the year with one rushing touchdown and three passing.  His team finished No. 2 in the state with an 8-1 record, losing to No. 1 Cleveland Benedictine 13-7 on a 4th quarter TD.  The Bennies were led by running back and future NFL assistant coach George Sefcik.  It didn’t help that several Tiger starters were hit with the flu bug during the week of the game.

But they did manage to defeat No. 4 Warren Harding 20-14 in the infamous clock game.  In front of 21,384 fans, Sparma entered the contest with little time left on the clock and proceeded to toss a 46-yard pass to Clyde Childers (Georgia), who made a miracle catch inside the ten, first tipping the ball and then catching it and racing the final yards into the end zone for the win.

In 1958 Joe became a regular and led his team to an 8-1-1 record, outscoring the opposition 220-45.  It was good enough for a 4th place finish in the state poll.  The lone loss was to 7-2-1 Warren Harding by the score of 6-0.  But the Tigers did tie No. 1 Alliance 8-8.  Sparma finished the year with nine passing touchdowns and two TDs rushing.

His senior year was spectacular as the Tigers finished 10-0 and were named both Ohio State Champs and National Champs.  They outscored their opponents 431-46.  For the year, Joe completed 28 of 85 passes for 660 yards and 14 touchdowns.  He also rushed for a pair of TDs.  His best statistical performance came during a 65-0 victory over Canton Lincoln when he threw for 127 yards and four touchdowns, three to James Wood (his No. 1 receiver) and one to Bob Barkman.

Massillon also defeated Canton McKinley that year, 20-0.  “Right before the McKinley game, Jim Muzzi (WHBC) asked Joe Sparma who was the best team he played against all year.  Sparma’s remark was ‘Our second team.’  Muzzi about dropped his teeth.” – Leo Strang –from Scott Shook’s “Massillon Memories”.

The statement was not meant to demean McKinley since beating them was always at the top of his list.  It’s just that Massillon’s overall program at that time was just that good.  “Dad always remembered where he was from.  Beating McKinley meant as much to him as winning the World Series.” – Joe’s son, Blasé Sparma.

Following the season Sparma was named First Team All-Ohio.  He was also invited to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic, where he led the North to victory.  Incidentally, the South quarterback was Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys and Pro Football HOF).

Sparma’s baseball career at Massillon was equally impressive.  According to former Massillon assistant coach Ducky Schroeder, he was the best pitcher in the state.   “When he was in a groove, there wasn’t anybody in high school who could hit him.  He pitched a no-hitter against McKinley when he was a just sophomore and recorded five no-hitters when he was a senior.”

Then it was off to Ohio State, where he played both football and baseball.

OHIO STATE

In 1961 Sparma joined the varsity football team as a sophomore (freshmen were not permitted to play at that time) initially as a backup quarterback, entering games on occasion to pass.  Eventually, he worked his way into the No. 1 role and was named the starter in four games.  He ended up completing 16 of 38 passes for 288 yards and six touchdowns, including a 200-yard passing effort against Michigan.  During that final game he connected with Bob Klein on an 80-yard touchdown pass, currently ranked 6th all-time in the OSU record book for the longest completion.  The Buckeyes as a team finished 8-0-1 and 6-0 in the Big Ten.  “We weren’t picked to do much that year,” said Sparma.  “But after we beat Michigan (50-20), we were ranked first in the nation in one of the polls (Football Writers Association of America).”

By winning the Big Ten, the Buckeyes were eligible to participate in the Rose Bowl.  But the OSU faculty voted not to go, concerned that athletics was beginning to have too much influence on campus.  Also, the Big Ten contract with the Rose Bowl had expired in 1959 and it needed to be modified to prevent the west coast teams from receiving the bulk of the sponsorship money.

“As I look back, it would be nice to reflect on having played on a state championship football team, pitching for a World Series champion and playing quarterback in the Rose Bowl,” said Sparma.  “But Ohio State officials voted not to let us go.  I don’t know whether it was because they were on some academic kick, or what.  But it was very weird.  The students almost rioted.”

The students actually did riot.  Nevertheless, No. 2 Minnesota went instead and ended up losing to Washington, 17-7.

Joe Sparma crosses the plate after hitting his only home run at Ohio State, in 1962 as a sophomore

The following spring Joe was on the mound, playing for Manager Marty Karol, whose career with the Buckeyes spanned 25 years.  A fastball pitcher, Sparma helped his team to a 19-14-1 record, including a 9-5 mark in the Big Ten, good enough for a 3rd place finish.  Joe was 5-5 with a 3.05 ERA, both tops on the team.  He also struck out 102 batters in 79.2 innings of work.

After the season, he received a contract offer from professional baseball for $40,000.  But it was then that Woody Hayes talked him into another year on the gridiron.

During the 1962 football season Ohio State finished with 6-3 record.  Joe, playing at 6’-1”, 194 lbs., started seven of the nine games and completed 30 of 71 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.  Then in the spring of 1964 he again excelled in baseball, going 6-3 with 93 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.  His team went 23-13-1 and finished 3rd in the Big Ten with a 9-6 mark.

But that was it and he left Ohio State for the next level.   “I really loved football,” he said.  “But I loved baseball, too.”

DETROIT TIGERS

In 1963, Sparma accepted a contract with the Detroit Tigers, which included a $32,000 signing bonus.  After playing minor league ball with Knoxville and Duluth-Superior in 1963 and then again with Knoxville during part of the next year, he was called up to the majors.

In 1965 he became a starting pitcher for the Tigers, recording a 13-8 record and striking out 127 batters.  Sparma had a fastball that clocked in a 98 mph and he could consistently throw in the low 90s.  The first time he faced Mickey Mantle, he struck him out twice.  Mantle said he had never seen anyone throw faster.  Joe ended up beating the Yankees five times that year.

In the first meeting, he was assigned to be the starting pitcher on “Mickey Mantle Day” in New York.  When Mantle came to bat for the first time in the game, Sparma walked off the mound, approached Mantle, and said: “You know, I’ve never had a chance to meet you in person, and I’ve always admired you.”  Sparma and Mantle shook hands, and Sparma went back to the mound and struck Mantle out. Mantle turned to Detroit’s catcher Bill Freehan and said: “They have a day for me and your manager’s got to put some hard-throwing kid out there. Couldn’t he have put in some soft-tossing left-hander for me to hit off of, so I could look like a hero in front of all those people?” (Bill Freehan, “Behind the Mask” (1970), pp. 7–8)

Prior to the 1966 season he had a car door slammed on his pitching hand, causing him to miss spring training.  He subsequently went 2-7.  But he returned to form the following year posting a 16-9 record, including eleven complete games, five shutouts, 153 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.76.

In 1968 he pitched a 1-run, complete game vs. the New York Yankees to clinch Detroit’s first pennant since 1945.  The Tigers would go on to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals.  But Sparma was used sparingly during the series, relieving starter Denny McClain in Game 4.

Joe Sparma is in Row 4, 4th from the left

In 1970, with his pitching numbers diminishing, Sparma was traded to the Montreal Expos.  But he was released after pitching just 27 innings with a record of 0-4.

During his major league career, Sparma compiled a 52-52 record.  He also had an ERA of 3.94 along with 586 strikeouts over 183 games.  Offensively, at a time before implementation of the designated hitter, he batted a respectable .119.

POST-BASEBALL

Joe Sparma with wife Connie

Joe had only pitched eight years and was still in his late 20s, but his services were no longer required.  Following his release, he was offered a position as a minor league coach, but he turned that down and opted instead to join Worthington Steel.  There, he worked his way up to vice president of sales and marketing for Buckeye Steel, a subsidiary.

Unfortunately, he died on May 14, 1986, at the age of 44 after a heart attack and subsequent heart bypass surgery.  He was survived by wife Connie, two daughters and a son, Blase, who lettered three years on the Ohio State baseball team (1994-96).

HONORS

 In 1994 Joe Sparma was honored with a place on the Massillon Tiger Wall of Champions, joining the second class of inductees.  Then in 2011 he entered the Stark County Hall of Fame.

History

Horace Gillom – Wall of Champions

Paul Brown coached at Massillon for nine years and compiled a record of 80-8-1, winning six state and four national championships.  To accomplish that feat, he had at his disposal many outstanding high school football players.  Players such as Tommy James and Fred Blunt and Bob Glass and Edgar Herring.  But there was one player that Brown called “the best all-around athlete I coached at Massillon.”  That was Horace Gillom who, according to Brown, was “successful at everything he did.”

Horace “Big Horse” Gillom was born in Roanoke, Alabama, on March 3, 1921, but grew up in Massillon along with his two brothers, Jake and Odell, who also played for the Tigers.  His football career began in junior high where he played end and punter at Longfellow under Coach Bud Houghton.  Houghton immediately noticed Gillom’s proficiency at punting the football.  However, although he demonstrated tremendous distance and hang time for a young player, he needed more steps than normal to get his punts off.  So he simply moved Horace back an additional three yards and that gave him the room he needed.

Gillom’s varsity career spanned three years at Massillon, from 1938-40, during which time he was a starter at end, linebacker and punter.  He also had the fortunate experience of playing on three undefeated championship teams.  During his sophomore season, wearing No. 66, he scored 26 points from his end position via four receiving touchdowns and one 2-point conversion.  A sophomore starter also on defense, he was paired at middle linebacker with Vince “Rocky Snyder” in a 6-2-2-1 alignment.

As a junior, Horace really began to stand out and not just by changing his jersey number to 22.  Now, in addition to his normal duties, he was tasked with returning punts and kickoffs.  And on defense, he became the sole middle linebacker in a defensive alignment that was changed to a 7-1-2-1.  Coaches said that he was equally effective against both the run and the pass.  On a team that outscored its opponents 460-25, Gillom tallied 42 points, those coming from four receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, one punt return TD and one pass interception returned for a TD.  At the end of the season he was awarded First Team All-County and First Team All-Ohio.

Coin toss prior to the 1940 Massillon-McKinley game.  Left to right – Massillon’s Ray Getz, Massillon Coach Paul Brown, Massillon’s Horace Gillom, McKinley’s Matthew Brown and McKinley Coach Johnny Reed.

Jersey No. 55 must have suited Horace more than 66 and 22, for it was during his senior year that he really dominated the football scene in Massillon.  His team finished 10-0, outscoring the opposition 477-6 and repeating as both state and national champs.  Four opponents that year finished the season with just a single loss, that coming to the Tigers.

As co-captain, playing at 6’-1”, 210 lbs., Gillom was extremely fast and became a significant deep pass threat.  He also had very large hands, well suited for a receiver.  For the year, he recorded a team-high 108 points, with ten touchdowns rushing and another eight receiving.  As a high school punter, Horace was simply unmatched, with many kicks traveling over 50 yards.

Offensively, Gillom scored at least one TD in nine of the ten games played, including four against Steubenville.  He also had an incredible touchdown reception against Canton McKinley at the end of the first half, erasing a rare 6-0 deficit.  The pass covered 45 yards, which was secured at the 20 under tremendous defensive pressure by tipping the ball into the air and then catching it with one hand.  After shedding the defender, Horace raced to the end zone, spurring Massillon on to a 34-6 victory in Paul Brown’s final game as coach of the Tigers.  He wrapped up his football career in Tigertown by repeating as First Team All-County and First Team All-Ohio.  In addition, the Associated Press named him Ohio’s Most Outstanding High School Player.

Between football seasons, Gillom spent time on the basketball court where, during his senior year, he was named All-County.  In the post-season tournament, Massillon advanced to the state semifinals, where he was named All-State Tournament 2nd Team.  The basketball squad was also coached by Paul Brown and he called Horace the greatest high school athlete he had coached during his time at Massillon.

In 1941 Paul Brown left to take over the head coaching responsibilities at Ohio State University.  Of course, Horace Gillom went with him.  Horace played freshmen ball that year, but left due to academic difficulties.

The next three years were spent in the military defending the United States in the WWII European Theater.  During his time there, he survived the Battle of the Bulge and was subsequently awarded three Bronze Stars.

After discharge, Gillom tried college football once again, this time at the University of Nevada, which was led by former Canton McKinley coach Jimmy Aiken.  He led the nation in punting that year, but he again left school due to poor academics.

That didn’t stop Paul Brown from snatching up the 6’-1”, 225 lb. punter in 1947 for a position with the Cleveland Browns, a team he stayed with through the 1956 season.  Throughout his tenure he was the full time punter, although he did play a couple of years at end, catching 74 passes for 1,083 yards.

As a punter, he was one of the best.  Paul Brown said in his autobiography that he had never seen a better one.  Here is a list of his and his team’s accomplishments:

  • 1947 – Defensive end; won AAFC championship; 2nd in league in punting with a 44.6 average.
  • 1948 – Offensive end; undefeated season; won AAFC championship.
  • 1949 – Offensive end; won AAFC championship; league absorbed into NFL.
  • 1950 – Tied for first in American Conference; won semifinal playoffs; Gillom’s punts kept the New York Giants in poor field position throughout the game; won the finals vs. Los Angeles; 2nd in the league in punting with a 43.2 average.
  • 1951 – Lost in the Championship Game; led the league in punting with a 45.5 average.
  • 1952 – Lost in the Championship Game; led the league in punting with a 45.7 average.
  • 1953 – Lost in the Championship Game; 2nd in the league in punting.
  • 1954 – NFL champs; 2nd in the league in punting.
  • 1955 –
  • 1956 – Released during the season due to a sore back.

For his career, he is ranked as the 2nd best punter in NFL history with a 43.8 average.  His punts had very little chance of return on account of his tremendous distance and hang time.  In fact, he punted over 400 times before one was returned for a touchdown.  “Gillom had such a powerful leg and kicked the ball so far; before that punters used to line up 10, 12 yards behind the center,” running back Sherman Howard later said.  “He started the 15-yard drop.  And with Horace, he would kick it so high that by the time guys got down, the ball was coming down, so most guys had to fair catch.”  Lebovitz, Hal (May 28, 1978). “What does the ledger show?”. Cleveland Plain Dealer. p. 2

He holds the Browns’ record for the longest ever punt at 80 yards against the New York Giants in 1954.  He also had a 75-yarder against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1950.   “Horace was the greatest punter I’ve ever seen play pro football,” said Lin Houston, former Cleveland Browns player.  “They can talk about Ray Guy all they want.  He couldn’t hold a candle to Horace.”

Gillom was also one of the first black athletes to play professional football, but never saw himself as a pioneer in that regard.

Horace and his wife Mamie raised a son and daughter and he split work between the Los Angeles Recreation Department as an Assistant Athletic Director and a local hospital where he was a security guard.  Unfortunately, Gillom left us too early, dying of a heart attack at the age of 64 on October 28, 1985.

In 1985 Gillom was inducted into the Canton Negro Oldtimers Athletic Association Hall of Fame.  In 1994 Massillon honored him with a place on the Wall of Champions.  In 2007 he became a Cleveland Browns Legend, which denotes the best players in their history.  And in 2009 he was inducted into the Stark County Hall of Fame.

History

2019: Massillon 35, Avon 10

Backs, line answer the bell for Massillon
Nov 29, 2019 10:18 PM

GAME STATS

PARMA Massillon coach Nate Moore believes in a workmanlike approach to a game.

To the fifth-year Tiger mentor, it’s all about punching the clock on game night and putting in a full 48-minute effort. That’s regardless of who the player is or what may be their perceived role.

On Friday night in a Division II state semifinal against Avon at Parma’s Byers Field, those business-like approaches helped the Tigers run their way to a 35-10 win and a second consecutive berth in the state championship game.

Massillon, 14-0, will face Cincinnati La Salle on Thursday night in Canton for the state title.

The approach started with senior running back Zion Phifer, who stepped into the starting role due to an injury to Terrance Keyes Jr. Phifer clocked and helped to knock out the Eagles thanks to a 146-yard, four-touchdown performance on 20 carries.

“He went out there and did his job,” Moore said. “I’m proud of him for it.”

Phifer’s four touchdown runs came in a variety of styles. There were runs where he was virtually untouched and others where he ran over defenders.

Then, there was his final run, a 25-yarder in the third quarter, in which he spun out of the pile and ran into the end zone. That provided Massillon with a 28-10 lead.

The final score came thanks to Raekwon Venson, a one-yard run with just over seven minutes remaining. Venson ran for 54 yards on nine carries.

“They’re physical, obviously,” Avon coach Mike Elder said of Massillon’s running game. “If you’re going to win these games, you do it in the offseason, you do it in the weight room. You do it with genetics, that’s part of the deal. They’re a physical football team.”

That physicality started up front with a Massillon offensive line which was forced to shuffle a bit when guard John Kouth went down with an early injury. Dylan Garretson, however, came in to fill the void.

It wasn’t the first time Garretson has been called upon to help fill in a vacancy. Like Phifer and Venson, though, the performance was exactly what Moore expected to see when he went in the game.

“He did his job when called upon,” Moore said. “That’s not something, that’s the expectation. That’s the expectation. I’m not going to make it into something it’s not.”

That line helped Massillon rush for 185 net yards on 32 carries. Both Phifer and Venson averaged at least 6.1 yards a rush.

“I’m proud of them,” Moore said. “I’m super proud of them. But I’m proud of everybody.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

History

2019: Massillon 35, Massillon Perry 7

Massillon airs it out to topple Perry
Nov 15, 2019 10:12 PM

GAME STATS

LAKE TWP. The one thing Massillon didn’t want to have happen in Friday night’s Division II Region 5 semifinal was Perry to get an early lead. To fall behind early to the Panthers meant potentially dealing with their ability to constrict the game behind their run-heavy offense.

So, the Tigers made sure they didn’t fall behind. At all.

Massillon scored on its first five possessions to take control of things almost from the start in rolling to a 35-7 victory over Perry in front of a capacity crowd at Lake High’s Blue Streak Stadium.

The Tigers will now take a 12-0 record into next Friday’s regional championship game against four-time reigning state champion Hoban in a rematch of last year’s state title game at a site to be determined. The Knights, 11-1, rallied late to beat Mayfield 21-17 in the other Region 5 semifinal.

“We’ll figure that out later,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “The coaches will be in working all weekend. We’re going to celebrate this tonight. We’re going to enjoy it.”

The Tigers got the party started early by taking the opening kickoff and turning it into a 14-yard Aidan Longwell-to-Andrew Wilson-Lamp touchdown pass with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter. The two would hook up against to close out the second Massillon possession of the quarter, this time on a 36-yard strike to make it 14-0.

Longwell and Wilson-Lamp would connect eight times for 142 yards. They would hook up for a third touchdown, this time a 48-yarder with 25.6 second remaining in the half to give Massillon a 35-7 lead.

“We had some matchups on the outside,” said Longwell, who was 14-of-15 for 300 yards with five touchdowns in the first half alone, “They were giving us a different look than they were showing us on film. We took advantage of it.”

Longwell would finish the game 19-of-26 for 337 yards. While Wilson-Lamp caught three of his five touchdown tosses, he didn’t forget about the other star receiver on the team, Jayden Ballard.

Ballard had a game-high 10 catches for 186 yards. He also caught a pair of touchdowns as well on virtually the same play, albeit a little different the second time around.

Ballard’s first scoring catch was a 57-yarder just 45 seconds into the second quarter. That put Massillon in front 21-0.

His next touchdown catch, though, was a demonstration in concentration. On third-and-3 from the Tiger 18, Ballard ran a similar post pattern deep, although the ball was deflected by Perry’s Amir Betts.

That deflection, though, was enough to give Ballard a chance to bring in the pass. It would end up being an 82-yard scoring play to put Massillon ahead 28-0.

“We always do tip drills in practice,” Ballard said. “It just gets our hands better for what we do on Fridays.”

That big lead was enough to put Perry in a bind from which it never could really recover. That was especially true after back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, followed by a punt on its third possession.

The Panthers would finally put together their best drive of the night to get on the board late in the first half. With Dion Cundiff and Josh Lemon leading the way, Perry would march 80 yards on 13 plays to pull within 28-7 on Lemon’s five-yard run with 1:10 remaining in the half.

Lemon would finish with 92 yards on 18 carries. Cundiff would add 77 yards on 17 carries.

Perry would finish with 208 rushing yards in the game, a season low. The Panthers would have 261 total yards, with three of their nine possessions reaching Massillon’s side of the 50.

“Listen, they’re a well-coached football team,” Massillon defensive coordinator Craig McConnell said. “I respect what they do and what those kids have done. They play hard. Our kids were ready. We were patient with our calls and our kids read their keys and tackled. We were lucky enough to get ahead of the chains in a lot of situations.”

Just like Massillon was able to get ahead of Perry on the scoreboard early.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

History

Massillon vs. Perry TV REPLAY Information

The Region 5 Matchup tonight between Massillon and Perry will be replayed on the following MCTV Channels.

Big Time Sports – Channel 128 Friday 11pm and Saturday 9am

WHS TV – Channel 611 Friday 11pm and Saturday 9am

GO TIGERS!