Category: <span>History</span>

Chris Spielman – Wall of Champions

Chris Spielman – Wall of Champions

It took just one game for Massillon fans to realize that Chris Spielman was heading for something special.  On a warm September evening, in front of a season-opening crowd of 15,653, the Tigers were enroute to a 33-0 shellacking of the visiting Perry Panthers.  On the team was a lone sophomore, who managed to work his way onto special teams during the preseason.  Massillon kicked off to start the game and the play ended with the announcer stating that Chris Spielman made the tackle.  Not a big deal.  But then, he repeated that remark again on each of the next three kickoffs.  Plus, all of the tackles were made inside the 20 yard line.  Finally, on the fifth kickoff, the announcer said, “This time the tackle was NOT made by Chris Spielman.”  Suddenly, the young sophomore was high on the radar of the avid Tigers fan base.  And it pretty much set the tone, as the stalwart inside linebacker / running back held sway for the next three years, leading his team to a 28-5 record and a trip to the elusive playoff state finals.  He continued that success as an All-American at Ohio State and then as an All-Pro performer in the NFL.  Although he was not the biggest or the fastest defender on the field, he had an uncanny ability to (1) anticipate the play based on the formation and (2) respond quicker to his reads than any other player.  He also performed with extreme physicality.

The Early Years

Charles Christopher Spielman, known to everyone as “Chris,” was born in Plain Township on October 11, 1965, to “Sonny” and Nancy Spielman as the second born son, the first being Rick, also a future Tiger.  The Spielmans were a football family, with Sonny serving at the time as the head coach of Timken, so it was natural that Chris would be engrossed in football during his early years.  He was on the practice field with his father every day and when old enough played midget ball.

Just prior to entering junior high, the family moved to Canton and Chris set his sights on playing for the best team in the city: Canton McKinley.  But as fate would have it, a potential athletic director position for Sonny at McKinley did not materialize.  So in 1980 the family moved again, this time to Massillon, where Sonny was hired as an assistant coach under Mike Currence.

At Longfellow Junior High as a freshman, Chris played both linebacker and running back and his team won every game.  He also impressed the varsity coaching staff with his play in a post-season match against the sophomore team.  So, the stage was set for that fateful game against Perry.

High School

Sophomore year (1981) – He was assigned No. 33 and he kept that number throughout his time at Massillon.  At that time life as a Tiger would begin on the sophomore squad, as only juniors and seniors were permitted to suit up for varsity.  But his size (6’-1”, 195 lbs.), strength and athletic ability were immediately evident.  And it didn’t take long for him to become a starter at inside linebacker, joining his senior quarterback brother Rick in the lineup.  Massillon finished with a 7-3 record that year, nearly upsetting state champion McKinley in the final game.  Meanwhile, Chris recorded three pass interceptions, one coming in a 14-7 victory over Warren Harding and another against Niles that he returned for 27 yards.

“To start as a sophomore you had to be good and you had to be lucky,” said assistant coach Dale Walterhouse.  “And you had to be lucky in that you better not have an All-Ohio player ahead of you in that position.” – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

“People said that I couldn’t start as a sophomore at Massillon,” said Spielman.  “I just felt like that didn’t have anything to do with me.  I just thought that I’d be starting.  It turned out things worked out for me.” – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

Junior year (1982) – The junior year was a breakout season for this young player.  Now up to 206 lbs, he was also assigned the position of starting running back, along with Jim Busche, and rushed for a team-high 844 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He also caught 15 passes for 154 yards and a TD.  On special teams, he returned 16 punts for 83 yards and blocked a field goal against Sandusky that turned the playoff game in the Tigers’ favor.  He scored in every outing except one and tallied 96 points.  On defense he recorded 156 tackles, intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles.  For his outstanding performance, Chris was named First Team All-Ohio Linebacker.

The team finished with a record of 12-1, while coming up short in the playoff state finals to Cincinnati Moeller.  “We were a great football team in 1982,” Spielman said.  “We were 12-1, got beat by Cincinnati Moeller.  We were outmatched, when they were getting kids from three different states and all over Cincinnati.  Like they were, it was very tough to compete against them.  Any other school in the state or the nation, I believe, we would have beaten them handily.  I think that was one of Massillon’s finest teams.”  – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

Season highlights:

  • Perry – Rushed 10 times for 130 yards (13.0 ave.) and one TD in a 29-8 victory.
  • Canton McKinley – Rushed 19 times for 101 yards (5.3) and scored the only touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Caught 5 passes for 50 yards.
  • Sandusky – Rushed 23 times for 113 yards (4.9) in a playoff 29-7 victory.
  • Moeller – Caught 5 passes for 60 yards in a 35-14 loss.

Senior year (1983) – It was another outstanding season of running back and linebacker play.  But this time, in addition to earning First-Team All-Ohio honors, he was named All-County running back (the offense was voted on first), Northeast District Lineman of the Year, Akron Beacon Journal Player of the Year, Ohio National Guard Player of the Year, Parade Magazine All-American, Armour-Dial Male High School Athlete of the Year and Street and Smith Magazine National Top 15.  He was Parade Marshall of the Massillon Downtown Merchants Christmas Parade.  Plus, he was featured on the cover of the Wheaties Box, with the award made in New York City.  However, as a shy young man, he just didn’t want to embrace all the fuss and the obligations that went with it.

“Being on the Wheaties box was great – but it was also very difficult for a 17-year-old kid,” said Spielman.  “Over night I became a role model for a lot of kids.  It was the first time I had people start staring at me, recognizing me.  It made me feel funny.  I became very self-conscious.  You feel like you have to live up to their standard.  I was just trying to hang out with my buddies.  I was visiting sick kids in the hospital.  And that was great.  If I could make a kid who was sick feel better, or get better, I certainly didn’t mind doing that.  But at 17, I wasn’t prepared for it.  Every time I was in public I felt like I had to live up to ‘the boy that was on the Wheaties box.’  I was afraid to be myself.” – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

For the season, Spielman rushed for 459 yards and scored 8 touchdowns, while teaming with All-Ohio running back and state champion track speedster Craig Johnson (No. 34 in photo above).  He also caught 10 passes for 151 yards and 3 TDs.  On defense, he recorded 112 tackles, 6 pass interceptions that he returned for 126 yards and recovered two fumbles.  Again, he returned punts, this time 17 of them for 245 yards.

Unfortunately, playoff hopes were squashed when Massillon (9-1) suffered an early-season loss to Akron Garfield, 14-10.  The Golden Rams were led by Charles Gladman (U. Pittsburgh), who was named Ohio Back of the Year.  Garfield advanced in the playoffs that year to the state finals, but lost to Cincinnati Princeton.

Chris finished his football career at Massillon with single season records for tackle points and unassisted tackles.  The following summer he participated in the Ohio High School All-Star Football Game.  But his time on the field was cut short with a sprained ankle, which would hamper him at the next level.

Spielman credits Steve Studer and his tortuous workouts for giving him a great start to his football career, preparing him to play with great physicality.  “I’m 15, I’m not even driving yet,” he recalled.  “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.” – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

A 3-sport athlete, Spielman played basketball and earned All-County honors in that sport.  He also participated on the track team, where he placed in the shot put at the state meet.

Chris relished his time playing for the Tigers.  “Every time I tell someone I played at Massillon a feeling of pride comes over me.” – Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook.

Recruiting – High on Spielman’s list of colleges were, in order, Michigan, Ohio State and Miami of Florida.  The Buckeyes, under head coach Earle Bruce, recruited him hard, with Bruce even bringing his squad to Massillon for a preseason scrimmage and Ohio Governor Richard Celeste getting in on the action.  Dozens of OSU boosters would flock to any airport Chris flew into to add their support.  But he still leaned toward Michigan.  Until, that is, his father intervened and pushed him the other way.  So, it was Ohio State.


Freshman year (1984) – Spielman was slated to be the starting inside linebacker for the opening game against Oregon State.  Only, just prior to the game, he reinjured the bad ankle and was forced to the bench.  But that didn’t stop him from pacing the sidelines and nagging Bruce to put him in.  So, he got the call in the fourth quarter and on his first play he broke through the line and sacked the quarterback.  He ended up playing just shy of ten minutes in that game, but recorded ten tackles and was named Defensive Player of the Game.  For the remainder of the season he would play on and off as the ankle would permit.  The Buckeyes finished with a record of 9-3, losing to USC 20-17 in the Rose Bowl.  But they did win the Big Ten championship.

Sophomore year (1985) – As a starting linebacker, he recorded 140 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and three pass interceptions.  He was also named All-Big Ten.  His team posted a 10-2 record and repeated as Big Ten champions.  Then they defeated BYU 10-7 in the Florida Citris Bowl.

(Eleven Warriors photo)

Junior year (1986) – Chris had another good year, with a team-high 205 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 6 pass interceptions.  He also tied a school record with 29 tackles against Michigan.  After the season, he was named All-Big Ten and First Team All-American by Associated Press, Kodak, Football Writers Association, Sporting News and Football News.  He was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award and the Butkus Award.  Earle Bruce called him, “the most intense player I have ever seen.”  The Buckeyes finished with a record of 10-3, losing to Michigan 26-24, while tying the Wolverines in the standings for conference first.  In the Cotton Bowl, they defeated Texas A&M 28-12, with Spielman returning a pass interception 29 yards for a touchdown and being named Top Defensive Player of the Game.

Senior year (1987) – Chris wrapped up his career at Ohio State as expected, with a team-high 234 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 4 pass interceptions.  He was a team captain.  He was named the team’s Most Valuable Performer.  He was named All-Big Ten.  He was named All-American.  He won the Lombardi Award.  And he left with a school record of 283 career solo tackles.  However, the Buckeyes finished 6-4-1 and did not receive a bowl bid.  Thus, Spielman’s sensational career at Ohio State had come to an end.  As had Earle Bruce’s.

In 2000 Spielman was inducted into the Ohio State Hall of Fame and in 2009 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.


The Detroit Lions selected Chris Spielman in the second round as the 19th pick overall of the 1988 NFL draft.  Spielman would spend the next eight years in Detroit as the starting linebacker, under had coach Wayne Fontes.  In his first year, he was named NFC Rookie of the Year.  Four times during his time at Detroit he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl and twice he was named the team’s defensive MVP.  And he was All-Pro twice.

Detroit had four playoff appearances during his 8-year span, with best one in 1991, when they finished 13-5 and advanced to the NFC championship game against the Washington Redskins.  Spielman finished with the Lions as the all-time leading tackler with 1,138 stops.  He also led the NFL with 195 total tackles in 1994.  The Lions later recognized his achievements by adding him to the stadium’s Ring of Honor

In 1996 Spielman signed with Buffalo and played for two seasons.  But he heroically walked away from the game when his wife, Stephanie, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Two years later, with the disease under control, Chris connected with the Cleveland Browns.  Only, a neck injury in an exhibition game led to a permanent retirement.

For his NFL career, Spielman finished with the following statistics:

  • 148 games
  • 148 starts
  • 985 solos, 378 assists
  • 11 sacks
  • 12 forced fumbles
  • 19 fumble recoveries (1 TD)
  • 6 pass interceptions


Tragedy struck in 1998 when his wife Stephanie died at the young age of 42, leaving behind four children.  Prior to that, the pair managed to raise millions of dollars for Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital.  Their story is documented in a book he co-authored, titled, “That’s Why I’m Here.”

The  following year Spielman began a career as a TV color commentor for college and professional games, working alternately for Fox, ESPN and Lions Preseason TV and spending nearly twenty years in that capacity.

In 2009 Chris tried his hand at coaching, assuming the head position with the Arena Football League’s Columbus Destroyers.  However, a 2-15 record made that stint short-lived.

Finally,  in 2020, he landed his current position, special assistant to Detroit Lions chairman and president and CEO.

In 1994 Spielman was inducted into the Wall of Champions.  In 2016 he was inducted into the Massillon Football Hall of Fame.

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The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 7:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 7: Game Attendance

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


“With an overflow crowd of 15,000 spectators looking on, the Washington high school Tigers … opened their fine new football plant with a 40-13 triumph over a plucky Cathedral Latin high school team of Cleveland.”  Those were the words of legendary sportswriter Luther Emery as he opened his story that covered the first game of the 1939 football season.  It ever in the new Tiger Stadium and a capacity crowd was on hand to witness the event.  Glowingly, it was far cry from the paltry crowds of just a few decades before.

Tiger Stadium would grow in size a few years later in order to accommodate crowds of nearly 20,000 each and every week.  But the circus-like spectacle would not last.  For various reasons, the average season attendance at Massillon games would slowly but steadily decline from then on to the present day.

Throughout its long history Massillon has played home games at eight different fields and the capacity limits of these venues have certainly had an influence on the number of fans that could attend.  While most of the early fields had a small number of portable bleachers, the capacity increased exponentially when Massillon Field with 6,500 seats and then Tiger Stadium were built.  A complimentary influence on crowd size was the instant success that the team achieved when Paul Brown became the coach.  Suddenly, patrons were flocking to the games in droves.  Thus, the need for a larger stadium.

Part 7 of the series takes a look back at the attendance at some of Massillon’s early games and then the seasonal averages from 1940 and on.  It also presents the trends associated with the attendance at Massillon-McKinley games after Tiger Stadium and Canton’s Fawcett Stadium were opened.

The Early Years (1891-1923)

The first time the local media recorded the attendance for a Massillon home game was in 1894 when 200 fans attended a match against Canton Central, later to be named Canton McKinley.  The contest was most likely played either on a Saturday or Friday afternoon, since there were no stadium lights at that time.  And perhaps most of the attendees were high school students.

By 1908, 1,000 fans were in the North Street Field stadium to watch the Tigers defeat Alliance, 64-0.  The following year, when Massillon captured its first state title, it was a throng of 2,000 patrons that witnessed a 9-0 win over Oberlin Academy, with everyone returning the following week to enjoy a 21-5 victory over New Philadelphia.

Home attendance continued to increase thereafter, particularly when the team played at Jones Field on Pearl Street.  A crowd of 3,000 attended the 1920 Toledo Scott game, 6,000 were at the 1922 Cleveland Shaw game and 8,000 showed up for the 1924 game against McKinley.  Suddenly, it was time for a bigger stadium.

Meanwhile, Tiger road games also saw an explosion in attendance numbers: 9,500 at the 1925 Canton McKinley game, 10,000 at the 1932 Alliance game, 10,000 at the 1933 McKinley game and 12,000 at the 1935 McKinley game.

Massillon Field (1924-38)

In 1924 Massillon opened a new stadium, one with permanent seating and a capacity of 6,500.  It also had lights to accommodate night games.  On occasion, additional portable seating would be brought in for a major opponent that boosted the capacity to 8,000 or more.  But by 1935, when Brown was coach, the average home attendance swelled well above the 6,500 seat capacity.  And in 1938, the last year of Massillon Field, the average home attendance was a whopping 11,500, with 18,000 squeezing in for the game against McKinley.  Fortunately, by then, construction a new stadium was well underway.

The Tigers would leave Massillon Field with a home record of 71-16-4.  Brown’s mark there was 41-4-2.

Paul Brown Tiger Stadium (1939 to present)

Tiger Stadium, later named after Paul Brown, opened in 1939 with a seating capacity of 14,000.  It would soon be increased, including temporary sideline and end zone seats, to 22,500.  Now Massillon had a stadium large enough to accommodate any football crowd.  After some eighty years of use, Massillon’s current record there sits at 526-90-6.

Home attendance was immediately impacted in that 1939 season with an average attendance of 13,200.  The following year, owing to a home game against McKinley, the average was 17,450, a number that has stood since as an all-time record.  Below is a chart of the average home attendance by decade from 1940 to the present.

In the decade of the 1940s, the average home attendance was 14,476.  But that number has steadily declined over time  and now stands at 5,901, although perhaps still higher than any other school in the state.  There are perhaps several reasons for this trend:

  • Advent of television – TV was not prevalent throughout households in the 1940s, so high school football was akin to the circus coming to town and most city residents flocked to local stadiums for an evening’s entertainment.  Massillon was no different.  This was especially true with the tremendous program left in place by Coach Paul Brown, who departed in 1941 for Ohio State.  Although Massillon’s high level of success has continued into the present day, the attendance has not kept pace.  In the 1950s televisions found their way into American homes, and even in Massillon the phenomenon created competition for high school football on Friday nights.  The impact was felt again in the mid-1960s when Massillon Cable TV was introduced and it began airing delayed broadcasts of the games.
  • Opening of schools adjacent to Massillon – In the 1940s Massillon students resided not only in Massillon proper, but also in areas surrounding the city.  However, in 1956 Perry High School was opened, followed shortly thereafter by Jackson and Tuslaw.  Over time, all served to shrink the total area from which Massillon High School drew both students and sports fans.
  • Dissolution of the All-American Conference – In 1963 a league consisting of some of the top teams in Ohio (Massillon, Canton McKinley, Warren Harding and Niles) was formed.  The addition of Steubenville in 1966 and Alliance in 1969 only made the league more prominent.  Games against these rivals created tremendous fan interest and provided some of the most competitive and highly-attended games in the state.  Because of this, attendance at Massillon games remained fairly steady during the 1960s and 1970s.  But by the late 1970s, Niles, Steubenville and Alliance could not maintain competitiveness due to declining enrollment as a result of the steel mills closing and the All-American Conference played its final games in 1979.  This consequence brought an immediate drop in fan attendance as league games one by one vacated the schedule.
  • Declining enrollment – The 1980s also saw Massillon’s enrollment begin a steady decline, now leveling off at about 30% less.  Although having modest impact on attendance, there are now somewhat less students and associated parents attending the games.
  • Recession – The early 2000s brought the onset of an economic recession, which impacted the job prospects and incomes of many workers in Massillon.  There was an obvious need for families to trim their household budgets and football tickets may have been one of the first items to go.  The result was the largest decline in attendance, from 11,229 in the 1990s to 9,125 in the 2000s, or a reduction of 19%.
  • Aging Fans – Many fans in the 1940s, 50s and 60s were captivated by the success of the football team and continued to remain loyal to the program for many years thereafter, always hopeful of yet another state championship.  However, there comes a time when a person is just too old to attend the games.  Fans that were in their 20s during the 1940s are now aging out.  To maintain the attendance level their losses needed to be recouped by younger fans.  Unfortunately, young fans in the 1970s and beyond did not get to experience those championship years and are not as prone to embrace the football program and purchase tickets after graduation.

Games Against Canton McKinley

The attendance for the McKinley games has also seen a reduction, although of a different sort.  Rather than a constant decline, there was a step change for home games beginning in 1982.  From 1940 to 1980, the average attendance was 20,752.  Afterwards, it has been 17,146 (not including the Covid year of 2020), or a decline of 17%.  In addition, last year’s attendance of 14,474 was the lowest home attendance for this game since 1926 (not counting the Covid year).

In case you were wondering about games in Canton, there was a similar step change, but theirs did not occur until 2007.  From 1939 to 2005, the average was 20,883.  Since then, it has been 14,610, or a decline of a whopping 30%.  Also, the attendance of 2023 was 42% below the prior number.

Best Attended Home Games

It’s no secret that the best attended games are those against McKinley.  Over the past thirty years these contests have drawn on average over 16,000 fans.  Next up are the games against the large parochial schools, followed by the season openers.  For the openers, it’s the anticipation of a new season and the weather is warm.  And of late the competition has been high-caliber.  Below are the 30-year averages for various categories:

  • 17,200 – Canton McKinley
  • 12,351 – Large Parochial Schools
  • 10,075 – Season Opener
  • 9,388 – Rival Public Schools
  • 8,432 – Mid-size Parochial Schools
  • 8,231 – Non-rival Public Schools
  • 8,777 – Out-of-state
  • 8,352 – Playoffs

 Attendance Records

The home record for attendance was set in 1964 when 22,685 fans attended the game against McKinley.  The Tigers won that one 20-14.  Just behind  are the 1972 game, which drew 22,371, and the 1968 game, which drew 22,305, followed by four games in which the estimated crowd was 22,000.

On the road, the Number One attended game was against Cleveland Cathedral Latin in 1945, which was held at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  The final score was 6-6.  Here are the Top 5:

  • 51,409 – 1945 – Cleveland Municipal Stadium – Cleveland Cathedral Latin
  • 33,000 – 1940 – Akron Rubber Bowl – Alliance
  • 31,409 – 1982 – Ohio State Stadium – Cincinnati Moeller (playoffs)
  • 30,129 – 1964 – Akron Rubber Bowl – Niles McKinley
  • 29,871 – 2001 – Akron Rubber Bowl – Cleveland St. Ignatius (playoffs)


The average seasonal attendance at Massillon home games has declined steadily over the past eighty years for a number of reasons.  But that does not deter a sizeable number of Tiger fans from still attending the games.  For Massillon continues to outdraw every other school in Ohio.  Nevertheless, there still seems to be a measurable decline as of late in attendance for the McKinley game.  But this may have been influenced more by Canton’s declining support of the game than by Massillon’s, as evidenced by the 2023 game in Canton in which the Tigers outdrew the Bulldogs in their own stadium.

At times the attendance, and particularly season ticket sales, has seen a bump the following year when the Tigers win a championship or even when they advance in the playoffs to the state finals.  It will be interesting this year to see how it plays out with Massillon fresh off of a Division II state championship.

State-Level Induction Awaits Former Massillon Coach Lee Owens

State-Level Induction Awaits Former Massillon Coach Lee Owens

Former Massillon Coach Lee Owens has been selected by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association to be inducted into their Hall of Fame.  The ceremony will be held at Hilton Easton in Columbus on June 14, with a social hour at 6:00 pm, followed by the dinner and ceremony at 7:00 pm.  For those wishing to attend, banquet tickets and hotel rooms at a discount can be purchased at

Owens was the head coach of the Tigers in 1988-91 and compiled a record of 35 wins and 14 losses.  During that time, he qualified for the playoffs three times, won six of nine playoff games and captured two regional championships.  And he won three of four games against the Bulldogs.  He also spearheaded an effort to install the first ever artificial playing surface at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium and was instrumentation in making many other stadium improvements.

Following Massillon, he was an assistant coach at Ohio State for three years, parlaying that experience into a head coaching position at the University of Akron, a post he held for nine years.  In 2000 the Zips finished first in the MAC East and in 2003 they were second.  But his greatest achievement there might have been making an immediate impact on player graduation rate, improving it from 18% to 83%.

His next eighteen seasons were spent leading the Ashland University Eagles of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  His overall record there was a very fine 123-44, with his teams capturing four league championships and securing six NCAA Division II playoff qualifications.  Four times he was named Conference Coach of the Year.

Congratulations to Coach Lee Owens.


The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 6:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 6: Stadiums

 Bailey Yoder (MassMu), Gary Vogt and Bill Porrini contributed to this story.

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


Part 6 of the series presents a look back at all of the football stadiums that the Massillon Tigers have called home over their 130+ year history.  Six different venues were used, some more than once, before settling on Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

1891 (Unknown field)

Massillon’s first school building was opened in 1848.  Called The Union School, it housed all of the educational grades, from primary through high school.  In 1854 the primary students were relocated to a new facility.  But by 1879, The Union School was no longer suitable to handle the growing enrollment and it was replaced by North Street School.  Located at North Street and 5th St. NE, the property was later and for many years the site of Longfellow Junior High.  More recently, it was sold to the Salvation Army and they have their main office there.

North Street School was also home to the first Massillon high school football team, which was fielded in 1891.  Although there is no record of the squad having played its two home games there that year, it is certainly in the realm of possibility, since games were documented as having been held there several years later.  The other potential site is Russell Park.

North Street School and Football Field (1903, 1907-14)

1893-94 (Russell Park)

Older Massillon fans remember that the land on which the Meadows Plaza currently sits, home to both Target and Giant Eagle, was previously the site of a golf driving range.  And it was often referred to at various times Driving Park.  But in 1893 it was Russell Park.  Game stories from 1893 and 1894 show that the Tigers played several home games there.

Russell Park is historical in that Massillon played its first ever game against Canton, in 1894.  Unfortunately, the local team lost, 12-8.  Here’s an interesting quote from the game story: “Class spirit and inter-urban rivalry ran high and fierce at Russell Park on Saturday afternoon.  The Massillon high school football eleven had undertaken a large and difficult contract and were abetted by numerous charming young women, whose umbrellas, hats and coats were decorated with yellow and black and who did not hesitate to indulge in a very fetching yell when matters progressed their way.”  Note that Massillon’s original colors were yellow and black.

Game stories from 1895, 1896 and 1899 (no games were recorded for 1897 and 1898) do not identify the home field.  But it is believed that these games were also at Russell Park.  By 1899 Massillon was able to assemble its first significant schedule, which listed seven different games, six of which were at home.

Russell Park (1893-94)

1900 (Sante Fe Park)

Sante Fe Park was primarily a baseball field and was accessible from a trolley that ran the length of Lincoln Way.  Fans simply needed get off at 16th St. NE and walk up the hill to the field.  The grounds were also large enough to hold football games and the high school team relocated there in 1900.  Today, the Park is a residential neighborhood.

Trolley on Lincoln Way with a sign pointing to Sante Fe Park (1900, 1904-06)

1903 (North Street School / Sante Fe Park)

There were no games recorded for 1901-02 and in 1903 the team played at North Street School.

1904-06 (Sante Fe Park)

After one year at North Street, the team went back to Sante Fe Park for the next three.

1907-14 (North Street Field)

In 1907 the Massillon team returned to North Street Field and remained there through a portion of the 1914 season.  The best run during that stretch was in 1909 when Coach Hap Fugate led his squad to a 9-0-1 record and captured Massillon’s first state championship.  During the season they won a pair of games against Canton by scores of 6-2 at home in front of 1,500 fans and 11-6 on the road.

1914-16 (Driving Park)

Midway through the 1914 season, the team left North Street Field and finished the home slate at Driving Park (previously named Russell Park).  They remained there for the next two years.  John Snavely was the head coach for all three seasons and he enjoyed great success at that time, fashioning a combined 24-3 record.  In fact, his 1916 team was 10-0 and was named state champion, Massillon’s second crown.

1917-19 (Massillon Blues Athletic Company)

Yet another move came in 1917 when the Tigers relocated to the Blues Field, where the semi-professional Blues played football for a time.  Later it was known as Central Steel Field.  But locals today always recall it as The Agathon, which over many years hosted the Agathon baseball team and later a multitude of recreational softball games and tournaments.  Today the site is occupied by the Massillon Recreation Facility.

The Massillon football team played there for three years.  John Snavely was again the coach and his record was 17-5-2, with a 10-2-1 mark at home.  One of those home games was a 7-6 victory over Canton Central, a school  that would be renamed Canton McKinley the following year, in 1918.

Massillon Blues Athletic Company (1917-19)

1920-24 (Pearl Street)

Pearl Street was the location of Jones Junior High.  But adjacent to it was Jones Field that the Tigers used for five years.  Elmer Snyder was the head coach for one season and then Dave Stewart took over, fashioning a 31-7 record, including an undefeated state championship team in 1922.  In addition, his record against the Bulldogs was 4-0.

Jones Field on Pearl Street, with Jones Junior High in the background (1920-24)

1924-38 (Massillon Field)

In 1924 Massillon completed construction of its first real stadium, just in time for the annual game against McKinley.  The facility was located at what is currently called Shriver Park, at Shriver and 3rd St. SE, in the southeast part of town and just blocks from Pearl Street.  It was considered at the time as the finest high school stadium in the state, with field lights for night games and a seating capacity of 6,500.

The big game that year drew 8,000 fans, which was the largest crowd for the rivalry game to date.  The event also involved an elaborate dedication, led by Superintendent H. R. Gorrell, who spoke through a doubled-barreled megaphone.  The guest speaker was Congressman John McSweeney of Wooster.  Following an invocation by Rev. F. B. Hax of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and a speech by WHS senior Louise Hunter, the field was officially christened likening to a newly launched ship when Miss Hunter broke a bottle filled with water against the south goal post.  The ceremony concluded with a rousing display of fireworks.

The game itself was played in a quagmire of a field owing to a rain deluge the previous day.  Nevertheless, Massillon’s Elwood Kammer found some footing in the first quarter and returned a pass interception 65 yards for a touchdown.  So, at the half, the Tigers led 6-0.

At the break, the students of the two schools sang their respective alma maters and then the two bands joined to entertain the crowd.  Halftime wrapped up with the Massillon American Legion Post 221 presenting an American flag to the school for use at the facility.  The flag was accepted by E.P. McConnaughey and then the combined bands performed the National Anthem as the flag was raised.

With the field conditions being nearly unplayable, there was no scoring the second half and the 6-0 lead held up for the Massillon victory.  It was Head Coach Dave Stewart’s fourth win over the Bulldogs in four tries.  The captain of the Massillon team was future Wall of Champions inductee Bill Edwards.  Noteworthy was that Paul Brown was a junior on the squad.  Fifteen years later Brown, now as coach of the Tigers and having won four state titles on Massillon Field from 1935-38, abandoned the facility in favor of a newer and larger stadium.

Massillon Field (1924-38)

 1939-present (Paul Brown Tiger Stadium)

In 1938, construction of the present football facility got underway.  It came about as a result of the demand for tickets on account of the success that Paul Brown achieved as he developed his storied program.  The stadium was partially funded by the federal government’s Works Project Administration (WPA), which was designed to create meaningful jobs during the depression era of the 1930s at a total cost of $246,000.  Originally named “Tiger Stadium,” it was renamed in 1976 as “Paul Brown Tiger Stadium” in honor of Brown, who later coached Ohio State and the professional Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.

Whereas Massillon Field was not deemed adequate enough for expansion, a new stadium was commissioned on a 5-acre track located within South Sippo Park, which was owned by the City of Massillon.  Employing a land swap, the school took possession of the stadium plot and the City took over the Massillon Field land, which is today called “Shriver Park.”

During construction, the home stands of Massillon Field were dismantled and relocated to the visitors’ side of the new stadium.  The roof was also taken down and installed on the home side to shelter a portion of those stands.  When completed, the stadium seated 12,000 patrons, 7,650 on the home side (40 rows) and 4,250 on the visitors’ side.

Tiger Stadium; darkened stands were relocated from Massillon Field

The stadium was dedicated in 1939 and the Massillon players initiated it with a 40-13 shellacking of Cleveland Cathedral Latin, breaking their 17-game winning streak.  Halfback Tommy James scored the first two touchdowns in the new facility on runs of 39 yards and 31 yards.  With the score sitting at 33-0 midway through the third quarter, Brown removed his starters for the rest of the night.

Since that time there have been several major upgrades, including the following:

  • Additional seating added to increase the capacity to 22,500
  • Construction of permanent end zone seating and elimination of track seats, which reduced the capacity to 16,884
  • 1955, 1989 – Installation of new lights (relocated behind the stands in 1989)
  • 1967, 1982, 2005 – Replacements of scoreboards, the last one being massive and all digital
  • 1989 – Installation of Omni-Sand Turf (first artificial playing surface)
  • 1989, 2023 – Upgrades of the sound system
  • 1990 – Construction of the east side press box (loge box, meeting rooms and rest room facilities)
  • 2019 – Third replacement of artificial playing surface
  • 2020 – Rebuild of the structural support steel on the home side and replacement of fiberglass seat benches on both sides

The stadium has held up fairly well during its 84 years of use, although preservation efforts for the national historical site are always underway.  Through the 2023 season, the home record stands at 526-90-6 (.850).  In addition, 18 different state champions have made their mark on the field, including the 2023 Massillon Tigers.  In addition, the facility over the years has been host to many OHSAA state championship games, Ohio North-South All-Star Games, band reviews and July 4th fireworks displays.

Tiger Stadium under construction

Tiger Stadium, 1940 game against Canton McKinley with extra seating added in the end zones

Tiger Stadium with a grass playing surface and larger capacity end zone seats (circa 1970s)


Current Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 5:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 5: Roster Size

Keith Jarvis, Gary Vogt, Bill Porrini and Coach Dan Studer contributed to this story.

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


Part 5 of the series presents the evolution of Massillon’s football team roster size plus the overall school enrollment over the past 130+ years.  Then, it uses the two sets of data to calculate the changes in player participation rate.  Of particular interest is relationships among just the senior classes.

Varsity Roster Count

The first Massillon football team was fielded in 1891.  Based on a photo from that year, it appears that the squad was very minimal, consisting of only twelve players.  Since that time roster sizes have grown slowly, but to a much greater number, presently around eighty.  But there were a few modifications that occurred along the way that impacted the number in both directions.  Chief among those were the years during which sophomores did or did not dress on Friday night.

1891 Varsity Football Team
1891 Varsity Football Team

In the years following that 1891 team, roster sizes remained in the teens up until 1916, when Coach John Snavely enjoyed the benefit of twenty players.  He also finished 10-0 that year and captured the Tigers’ second ever state title.  From thereafter, roster sizes grew meagerly until Chuck Mather became the head coach.  Suddenly, football was a big deal in Massillon, as reflected by the number of players.  In 1948, his first year at the helm, the roster size was 65, a 30-player increase from the previous year.   In fact, his six teams varied little from that number.  Of course, Mather compiled a record of 57-3 and captured the state title each year.

During the four years after Mather left, the total number of varsity players remained at the larger value.  But then came Leo Strang in 1958.  He removed the sophomores from Friday night games and the average number dipped to 43.  However, his senior classes did grow on average, from 20 to 26.

The next big jump came at the time of Coach Mike Currence, who came to Massillon in 1976.  With his wide-open run-and-shoot offense, he told the boys in the school that football was going to be fun again and there was now a place for a player who had a smaller frame.  So, the boys responded, increasing the sizes of the rosters to as high as 92 players, with just juniors and seniors on varsity.  In fact, his 1979 team, which finished unbeaten during the regular season, fielded the largest-ever senior class: 47 players on an 88-man roster.  Currence also used a 2-platoon starting lineup in order to promote specialization within positions and thereby enhance performance.  This necessarily required a larger roster.  The coach stayed in Massillon for nine years and was very successful, producing an overall record of 79-16-2 and participating in two Division 1 state playoff finals.

1979 Varsity Football Team

In 1999 Coach Rick Shepas was hired as coach.  Experiencing a decline in school enrollment, Shepas reinstated the sophomores to the varsity squads.  But he also discouraged marginal players from participating, believing them to be distractions.  Nevertheless, his roster counts averaged around 75.

At present, with current head coach Nate Moore at the helm, sophomores have remained on the varsity roster and team sizes are in the 80s.  Like Currence, he also promote a 2-platoon starting lineup.  And that concept even stretches into special teams.  Moore, given the success he has brought to the Tiger program, has also been the beneficiary of several high-caliber players who have relocated to Massillon in order to enhance their skills with top-quality coaches and prepare for football at the next level.

The chart below shows the progression of the roster count over time by decade.  The blue bars represent all of the varsity players (total), whereas the orange bars represent only the seniors.  As expected, the “total” data displays a steady progression from the early days to the present.  But a different story is apparent with the seniors.  Their count increased through the 1980s, but then steadily declined by about a third into the 2000s.  This was certainly a reflection of the declining enrollment Massillon experienced, starting in the 1970s.  Fortunately, the number of seniors has remained relatively constant over the past thirty years.  Keep in mind when viewing the chart that sophomores were removed in 1958 (note the decline in the 1960s) and then reinstated in 1998.

School Enrollment

The second presentation of this story involves school enrollment, specifically the changing number of boys in grades 10 through 12.  It also includes the values for just the seniors.  The data gathered for this segment is shown in the chart below and is averaged by decade.  The chart shows that the total enrollment (blue bars) peaked in the 1960s and then rapidly declined by 29% until the 1990s, after which it steadied out.  The school’s senior enrollment (orange bars) also saw a related drop, but of a much higher amount, of 45%.

It was also after the enrollment drop that the Massillon sports administration began to shy away from scheduling the larger parochial schools.  Concurrently, in 2013, following restructuring of the OHSAA playoff divisions, and on account of the decreased enrollment, the Tigers were reassigned from Division 1 to Division 2.

The decreased enrollment, coupled with having fewer senior players on the roster, has certainly had had an effect on Massillon’s winning percentage.  During the 1950s and 1960s, prior to the enrollment drop, the winning percentage was .866.  Subsequent to that time and up until the present, the winning percentage has fallen to .732.  Fortunately, it has been a very fine .895 during the last six years of Moore’s tenure, even with the large parochial schools now returning to the schedule.

Percent of Students Playing Football

Across the country the number of high school boys playing football has declined, by as much as 3% per year, according to several national publications.  The most mentioned reason for this is the potential for concussion due to the physical nature of the sport.  In addition, during these days of instant gratification among teenagers, if a starting position on the team isn’t available, then the interest in participating is lacking.  Conversely, the media also notes that lower-income students are more prone to participate, in spite of the safety concerns.

In Massillon the participation rate among all boys in the top three grades has constantly increased over time until the 2000s, when it steadied itself at around 18%.  The senior class rate is also around 18% at this time, but it did see a surge up to 25% in the 1980s before settling back.

For many years Massillon students embraced the privilege of wearing the orange and black, in spite of whether or not they possessed athletic talent.  However, today that seems to have changed, as

the vast majority of seniors on the team tend to contribute when the game is on the line.  So, some of what the media proclaims may be also be true for Massillon, but the Tigers have still managed to maintain a high level of participation.  For comparison, the rates for several local schools are much lower, as shown below in the Federal League:

  • Lake – 20%
  • North Canton – 14%
  • Green – 12%
  • Jackson – 11%
  • Perry – 11%
  • Canton GlenOak – 9%
  • Canton McKinley – 6%

Physical Stature of Players

Finally, a mention should be made of the changes in the physical sizes of the players.  Fifty years ago, a high school offensive line would average around 185-200 lbs.  But today, with the pass blocking demands of the spread offense, the average has ballooned to around 250 lbs. or more.  Would this have discouraged the smaller student from participating?  Perhaps.  But the Tigers have a top-of-the-line strength and conditioning program coupled with enhanced nutrition guidance that allows players to gain the needed strength and weight that is now necessary to get onto the field.

But it goes even beyond that.  Here is how Massillon Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Studer describes his program:

“Nutrient supplementation is relatively new and has seen some pretty significant advances over the past 30 years.  Athletes can supplement a large variety of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary for building muscle and enhance recovery from training.  In addition to that, sports science advances have taught us how much and when to take supplementation before, during, and after workouts to stimulate specific adaptations to training.  It’s easier for us to pack on size and muscle.

“Training looks completely different than it did 10 years ago, let alone 20, 30, or 40 years ago.  Strength training is still relatively new to all of athletics when we look at the big picture.  In the early 90s strength coaches were mostly non-existent at the high school level and even at most colleges.  When I played division 2 college from 2000-2005 our strength coach was just a D-line coach who had played some professional football; he knew very little about strength training at all.  They didn’t even have a paid position for a strength coach.  If you were lucky enough to have a strength coach who ran a program, they were very basic and not based on sound principles or practices.  Today almost every high school has some form of a weight room and top tier programs have dedicated strength and conditioning specialists with a Master’s Degrees and national certification.

“How we train has come a long way as well.  Most of the exercises we do today were not even invented 20 years ago.  We have a much better understanding of how to develop muscle by manipulating the reps, weight, and rest in every workout that we do.  With technological advances in just the last 4 or 5 years we can now easily customize workouts to fit the needs of individual athletes to optimize training for size, strength, power, and speed.  We have a really good idea about what to do, when to do it, how hard to do it, and also when to do nothing at all. We monitor volume, intensity, rest, and effort to optimize training and enhance recovery to build the best athletes possible.”

The Massillon physical training program has certainly helped maintain a healthy participation rate of 18% over the past thirty years.


Massillon enjoyed a high level of football performance for a number of years, which was supported by a sound level of participation as reflected by the sizes of the rosters, only to see it suffer when the school’s enrollment began to decrease.  Fortunately, the program has steadied itself over the past thirty years in terms of school enrollment and roster size, unlike what other schools around the area and the nation are experiencing.  Plus, to the delight of the avid Tiger fan base, the previous performance level has begun to return.  And the strength and conditioning program is certainly a large part of that.

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 4:…

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 4: Scheduling

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Early Years

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

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

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

Paul Brown and prior to the All-American Conference

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

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

The All-American Conference

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

Post-All-American Conference and Into the Playoff Years

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

Parochial Schools on the Slate

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

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

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

Nate Moore and the Present

During Moore’s first five years, the schedule averaged 15.0.  But as the Tigers began their climb to national prominence, so did the rating, as scheduling Ohio public schools became that much more difficult and more and more out-of-state opponents began to appear.  Over the last four years the rating has averaged 20.0.  And the schedule for 2024 is looking like it may be even higher, from 22 to 23., a national algorithm ranking system, lists the top programs in the state of Ohio for both the last twenty years and the last five and confirms Massillon’s now prominent position.    For the last twenty years, Massillon is ranked 12th in the state.  But over the last five, it is ranked 3rd, as shown below, accompanied by the teams’ win-loss records:

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

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

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

Winning Percentage vs. Strength-of-Schedule

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

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

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 3:…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Changing Landscape of Massillon Football – Part 2:…

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

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

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

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

Defending the Single-Wing

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

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

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

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

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

Defending the Spread Offense

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.