Category: <span>History</span>

Part 4 – Running Backs in the Massillon Tiger…

Part 4 – Running Backs in the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame – The Middle Years

The Football Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals that have made contributions to the Tiger football program, whether it be a player, coach, band director or just an individual who has been influential in a positive way.  Inductees are honored in the WHS Sports Hall with plaques that display the inductees’ contributions.  As of 2022, a total of 105 members have been inducted.

Complete List of Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame Inductees

This entry is Part 4 of a series that presents the inductees by playing position and features running backs that competed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Six running backs have gained Hall of Fame distinction during this period, including Irvine Crable, Homer Floyd, Charlie Brown, Mike Hershberger, Ivory Benjamin and Art Hastings.  There are a few other running backs in the Hall that are not presented in this story, as these players were inducted either through another playing position or as a coach.

Irvine “Ace” Crable (1947-49)

Irvine Crable saw the varsity field for the first time in 1948 as a junior backup running back.  But it didn’t take long for Head Coach Chuck Mather to see his potential and increase his playing time.  By season’s end he was the leading scorer on the team with 78 points, including twelve rushing touchdowns and one TD receiving.  Four times he scored twice in a game.  But the big one was against Canton McKinley, when he rushed 17 times for 102 yards (6.0) and scored all three of Massillon’s touchdowns in a 21-12 victory.  He also had a pass interception.  It’s always special when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs, but in that year McKinley came into the game unbeaten and had bested Alliance, the team that defeated Massillon earlier in the season.  The win was enough to springboard the orange and black to the state title.

The following year Crable was “the man.”  Leading his team to a 9-1 record and a state championship, he again led the team in scoring, this time with 114 points, including 18 rushing touchdowns and a 60-yard pass interception return against Toledo Waite.  He also passed for a TD.  Three times he scored three touchdowns in a single game, against Canton Lincoln (60-0), Alliance (48-14) and Waite (59-19).  For the season, he carried the ball 100 times for 1,129 yards, setting a record for single season average yards per rush at 11.3, a benchmark that stands today.

The signature win that year came against McKinley in a 6-0 victory, during which he scored the only touchdown of the game, from 35 yards out.  He also tackled a Bulldog ball carrier at the Massillon four yard line, causing a fumble and turnover, to preserve the win.  For game, Crable rushed 16 times for 136 yards and averaged 8.5 yards per carry.  “I couldn’t have done it without the help of the other 10 guys,” Crable remarked following the game. – Massillon Independent

“The play was 33 cross.  Don James handed the ball to me, and all I could see was daylight—and I fumbled.  Later, in the fourth quarter, the coach sent in the play.  I said, ‘Don, no.  Let’s run 33 cross.’  And he changed the play.  The way the hole opened the first time—it happened the same way the second time.  And that was that.  The line blocking was beautiful—nobody had a chance.  Nobody laid a hand on me.  My instincts told me it was going to be there again.  I waited and waited.  Then I thought, now’s the time.  It was right there again.  I ran right into the end zone.” – Crable (Massillon Memories, Scott Shook)

The Tigers’ only loss that year was 16-12 to Mansfield.  But Tygers lost to unranked Akron South, dropping them to second in the state, thereby pushing Massillon to the top.  Third went to 9-1 Canton McKinley.

At the end of the season Crable was named 1st Team All-Ohio.

Homer Floyd (1952-54)

Homer Floyd was the recipient of two state championships while playing at running back and defensive back.  The first was under Head Coach Chuck Mather and the second while playing for Tom Harp.

Homer Floyd – 1954

Speed kills in high school and Floyd had plenty of it, perhaps scoring more long-distance touchdowns than any other back in Massillon history.  “Homer Floyd looked like a thoroughbred.  He just bounced when he walked—it was like twinkletoes or something.  Nice looking, streamlined kid.  Didn’t weigh much, 155 pounds.  Could run like the wind, cut on a dime.” – Massillon Coach Tom Harp (Massillon Memories, Scott Shook)

In his junior year Floyd shared time at fullback, but still managed to rush 112 times for 998 yards (8.9 ave.).  His season included 13 rushing touchdowns and a 90-yard punt return for a TD against Canton Lincoln.  Three touchdowns each came against Mansfield (runs of 20, 62 and 54 yards) and Toledo Waite (runs of 67, 30 and 40 yards), while his final TD as a Tiger was an 80-yarder against Canton McKinley in a 48-7 victory.  It all culminated in a 10-0 season and a national championship.

Floyd, now as team captain, continued to pile it on during his senior year, rushing 155 times for 1,372 yards (8.9 ave.).  For the season, he scored 16 rushing touchdowns, caught two passes for scores, returned a punt for 64 yards and a TD and returned a pass interception 100 yards for another TD, setting an unsurpassable record in this category.  He scored three times against three different teams, with five of the scores spanning at least 30 yards.

Two touchdowns came against McKinley in a 26-6 victory.  His rushing numbers for that game were 28 carries for 263 yards (9.4 ave.), the yardage being the third highest all-time vs. the Bulldogs.  “They played like a team that wanted to be state champion,” Canton Coach Wade Watts, deeply disappointed, said after the game. “Homer Floyd was the difference,” he stated as he complimented the Tiger halfback for his great exhibition. – The Independent

After the season Floyd was named 1st Team All-Ohio and Stark County Player of the Year.  Later he was inducted into the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame.  In 2012 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

His next stop was the University of Kansas, where he lettered for three years.  Then came a year in Canada with the Edmonton Eskomos (now the Elks).

Mike Hershberger (1954-56)

Mike Hershberger is best known for playing professional baseball.  But he was also a stalwart for Massillon on the football field.

After sitting out for his junior year due to an injury, he joined the varsity the following season, playing at 5’-9”, 155 lbs. and being selected as a co-captain.  His primary position was right halfback, where he became the second leading scorer with 54 points, behind Ivory Benjamin, who had 90.  That included seven rushing touchdowns, six PATs and a 79-yard kickoff return for a score against Canton Lincoln.  Two of his rushing touchdowns came against Cincinnati Elder in a 27-12 victory, while he ripped off an 83-yarder against Mansfield.  He was also a punter and part-time kicker.

The team finished 8-2 that year, under the mentorship of new Massillon head coach Lee Tressel, with losses to Mansfield and undefeated Canton McKinley.  Against the Bulldogs, Hershberger rushed 13 times for 68 yards, in spite of playing with a bad knee.

Following the season Hershberger was named 1st Team All-Ohio.  Then it was time for baseball, where suited up at both pitcher and outfielder, playing for Head Coach Carl “Ducky” Schroeder.  During his sophomore season the team reached the state finals, losing to Cincinnati Elder, 3-0.

After high school he played a year of football for the University of Cincinnati and then signed with the Chicago White Sox to further his career in baseball.  Later, he played for Kansas City, Oakland and Milwaukee.

In 1994 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Ivory Benjamin (1955-57)

Ivory Benjamin made his mark with Massillon varsity football for three years and was awarded at the end of it by being named 1st Team All-Ohio.

Benjamin was limited to a single carry and a couple of punt returns as a sophomore, but at least he got his feet wet, while the team went 8-1-1 and finished second in the state.  But the following year he became a full-time starter at running back and led the Tigers in both scoring (72 points) and rushing.  Included in that was 12 rushing touchdowns (3 vs. Barberton), one receiving TD and two long punt returns for scores (50 yards vs. Cleveland Benedictine and 65 yards vs. Warren Harding.)  The Team finished 8-2 and again finished second in the state.

In his senior year as team captain, playing under Head Coach Lee Tressel, Benjamin continued his success, this time with 16 rushing touchdowns and one receiving TD, for 102 points.  Against Akron North he rushed 15 times for 153 yards (10.3 ave.) and scored three touchdowns.  Then, against Akron Garfield he scored three times, including a 58-yard pass reception.  He also scored twice in each of four other games.  At the end of the year he was deservedly honored 1st Team All-Ohio.

Art Hastings (1958-60)

Art Hastings was one more in a long line of great running backs that came through Massillon in the 1950s and 60s and helped the Tigers to several state and national championships, under Head Coach Leo Strang.

Hastings saw limited varsity action during his sophomore year, although he did score a touchdown in Week 8 in a win over Barberton.  But in his junior season he took over for the graduating senior Dave Dean and became the primary ball carrier on a 10-0 team that captured both the state and national championships.  For the season he carried the ball 117 times for 1,245 yards (10.6) average and scored 12 rushing touchdowns.  He also returned punts and kickoffs.  At the end of the season Hastings was named 3rd Team All-Ohio (should have been 1st Team with those numbers; such is the life of an underclassman).  Record-wise, he holds third place for the best single season rushing yards per attempt and third best for career consecutive 100+ yard games with seven.

In his senior year Hastings did much of the same, rushing 159 times for 1,274 yards (8.0 ave.) and scoring 20 rushing touchdowns.  Five times he had multiple TDs in a single game:

  • Cleveland Benedictine (8-1-1); 3 TDs; 8-117-22.1; won 36-6
  • Mansfield (4-4-2); 2 TDs; 21-127-6.0; won 56-14
  • Toledo Waite (1-8); 3 TDs; 19-150-7.9; won 56-14
  • Springfield South (6-3); 4 TDs; 15-189-12.6; won 62-32
  • Canton McKinley (5-5); 4 TDs on runs of 5, 15, 29 and 51 yards; 14-213-15.2; won 42-0

The team finished 10-1 and was named state champions.  The Tigers also finished 7th in the nation. Following the season, he was deservedly named 1st Team All-Ohio.

“He was like trying to catch a dog in the middle of an open field.  Art Hastings looked like his hips went out of joint.  I had great runners, but I don’t know that I ever had any better than Art Hastings.  Hastings was just outstanding.” – Massillon Coach Leo Strang (Massillon Memories, Scott Shook)

Charlie Brown (1960-61)

Charlie Brown went all the way, from Massillon to Syracuse to the pros.  After not playing during his sophomore year due to injury, he had limited playing time as a junior. Helping his team to a 10-1 record and a state championship.

But he was ready to go as a senior and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as running back, leading his team to a UPI state championship and a national championship with an 11-0 record.  He rushed 175 times for 1,094 yards (6.3 ave.) and scored eleven rushing touchdowns.  Three came against Warren Harding in a 36-0 victory and two each came against Steubenville (7-3) and Toledo Libbey.

After the season the team captain was named All-Stark County, 2nd Team All-Ohio and high school All-American for his defensive play.  In 1994 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Syracuse was his college of choice, and he parlayed that experience to the rosters of the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills.



Part 3 – Running Backs in the Massillon Tiger…

Part 3 – Running Backs in the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame – The Early Years

The Tiger Football Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals that have made contributions to the Tiger football program, whether it be a player, coach, band director or just an individual who has been influential in a positive way.  Inductees are honored in the WHS Sports Hall with plaques that display the inductees’ contributions.  As of 2022, a total of 105 members have been inducted.

Complete List of Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame Inductees

This entry is Part 3 of a series that presents the inductees by playing position and features running backs that competed in the 1940s and before.

Seven Massillon running backs have gained Hall of Fame distinction during this period, including Stanfield Wells, Edwin “Dutch” Hill, Henry “Heine” Krier, Ed Molinski, Bob Glass, Tommy James and Fred “Pokey” Blunt.  There are a few other running backs in the Hall that not listed, as these players were inducted either through another playing position or as a coach.

Stanfield Wells (1906-08)

Not a lot is known about Stanfield Wells’ time at Massillon, other than he played one year for the Tigers, at left halfback and teamed with his twin brother, Guy, who was on the line.  That, after the family had moved in from far away South Dakota.  The team was not stellar, finishing 1-5.  But after Massillon he played collegiately for the University of Michigan (1909-11) and then professionally for the Akron Indians, the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Heralds.

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

In 1994 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Edwin “Dutch” Hill (1922)

Dutch Hill

Dutch Hill moved to Massillon for his senior year after aging out at Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.  And he made an immediate impact for the Tigers, as a 6’-0”, 190 lb. fullback, passer and punter, scoring at least one touchdown in every game.  For the season he tallied 33 TDs and helped lead his team to a 10-0 record and a state championship under legendary head coach Dave Stewart.

Eight touchdowns came against Akron North in a 94-0 victory, leading one sports reporter to write, “The big fullback gained from five to ten yards with six or eight Akron players hanging onto him, trying desperately to down him. Other times he bowled the entire Akron team over like a ball knocks over pins on a bowling alley and then would dash away for a touchdown leaving a trail of fallen Akron warriors in his wake.”  Dutch also scored three of the four touchdowns in a 24-0 victory over Canton McKinley.

“He was a big star,” said Bud Houghton, former Massillon player and head coach.  “He was just a big burly guy.  Kind of had a swaggering walk.  He normally plowed over everybody.”

“He was a powerhouse,” said classmate Tom McConnaughy.  “He would take the ball and plow through the other team, knocking them right and left.”

Following the season he was named All-State.  His high school football career over, Hill left behind the following Tiger records:

  • Most touchdowns rushing in a game (8)
  • Most points scored in a game (48)
  • Most touchdowns scored in a game (8)
  • Most touchdowns scored rushing in a season (33)
  • Most touchdowns scored in a season (34)
  • Second most points scored in a season (204)

Later he was named as Massillon’s All-Time First Team Fullback and in 2006 was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Henry “Heine” Krier (1932-34)

Henry Krier played running back during Coach Paul Brown’s first three seasons at Massillon.  In 1933 the team finished 8-2, with Krier contributing 12 touchdowns, 11 rushing and one via an interception return.  He also kicked 17 points after touchdown.

In his senior year the 174 lb. back scored 21 rushing touchdowns and accounted for 22 PATs, totaling 148 points to lead the team in that category.  Seven TDs came against Youngstown South and three each were tallied against Alliance and Akron West.  Although the team finished 9-1, it was the third straight loss to McKinley and Krier was never able to enjoy a win in that rivalry.

Nevertheless, he was named 1st Team All-Ohio and left his mark in the record book:

  • Second most rushing touchdowns in a single game (7)
  • Second most points scored in a single game (45)

Ed Molinski (1933-35)

Ed Molinski served several positions for Coach Paul Brown, who was in his earlier years at Massillon.  During his 3-year career as a Tiger, Molinski’s team compiled a 27-3 record and were named both state and national champions during his senior year.

Molinski stood 5’-10” and weighed 182 lbs. and he spent his first two years at guard and linebacker. In his senior year he was moved to quarterback, which at that time was the lead blocker for the running backs in Coach Brown’s system.  But it might not have happened since, as he was also a pretty good boxer, his father feared injury on the gridiron.  Only, Brown saw it differently and persuaded the father to relent.  So, he continued to box in the off-season and became the Ohio state heavyweight Golden Gloves champion.

“I told Eddie, ‘If you make good at Massillon I’ll write to Elmer Layden at Notre Dame and recommend you.”  I didn’t hear a word from Eddie from then on, until the practice the Friday night before the game with Canton McKinley.  Eddied saw me standing on the sidelines and came over and said, ‘You know you told my family if I made good you’d write a letter to Notre Dame.’  I said, ‘Yes, I remember that.’  He said, ‘Well, do you think I made good?”  I said, ‘I think you did, now I’ll write that letter.’  Layden wrote back and said he’d send some alumni.  Sure enough some alumni came down and talked to him, but they didn’t come to any kind of an agreement.  Eddie looked all around and finally landed at Tennessee, where he was All-American.” – Luther Emery, The Independent (Ref. Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook).

“Massillon is where it all started,” said the now Doctor Edward Molinski.  Talking with the great Massillon sportswriter Luther Emery, Molinski went on to say, “If you guys hadn’t persuaded dad to let me play football, I probably would be walking the streets with holes in my shoes.”  (The Emery Wheel, Massillon Evening Independent, 1963)

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

Bob Glass (1935-37)

Bob Glass

Bob Glass was one of the best running backs to roam the gridiron for Massillon.  Standing about 5’-10” and weighing around 200 pounds, Glass was a rare combination of speed and power.  Equally adept at smashing the middle of the line, running slants or streaking around the end, Massillon foes for three years were always confronted with the difficult task of setting up a defense that would hold Glass in check.  Unquestionably, Glass was one of the best ball carriers in Ohio scholastic history.

In addition to his superb ball carrying ability, Glass performed the other duties of the triple threat back – passing and kicking.  He handled all the punting, kick-offs and extra points and did an outstanding job in each department.  His poorest specialty was as a passer, although here he was still better than average, as he did most of the throwing during the 1937 season.  On defense, he alternated at end and halfback.

During his 3-year varsity career from 1935-37 he scored 47 rushing touchdowns, helping his team compile a record of 28-1-1 and capturing three state championships and two national championships.  He was also team captain during his senior year and All-Ohio in each of his three years.

“Bob Glass, I’ll grant you, broke every rule that Paul Brown ever made.  I saw him smoke, drink beer.  But he was a just a fun-loving guy who didn’t give a shit.  He was one of those ‘Go to Hell’ guys who loved to have a helluva good time.  But he could play football.  Had that been a lesser player, Brown would have had him out of there a long time ago.” – Earl “Ick” Martin, Massillon player (Ref. Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook).

Record book:

  • Second most career rushing touchdowns (47)
  • Second most career points (343)
  • Third most career touchdowns (47)

After Massillon, Glass played for Tulane University, receiving Honorable Mention All-American.  In 2008 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Tommy James (1938-40)

Tommy James never lost a game during his three years at Massillon, with his teams going 30-0 and winning the state title each year.  They also won two national titles.  All under Head Coach Paul Brown.

In his junior season, Tommy recorded ten touchdowns and had the distinction of scoring the first TD in the new Tiger Stadium.  The points came against Cleveland Cathedral Latin, which owned a 17-game winning streak, and propelled the Tigers to a 64-0 victory.  James also threw the first touchdown pass in the new arena, a 50-yard completion to Horace Gillom.  His team punctuated the season by christening newly opened Canton Fawcett stadium with a 20-6 victory over Canton McKinley.  For his effort, Tommy was named 2nd Team All-County.

In his senior season, James added to his responsibilities by throwing most of the passes.  He was both the leading rusher (13 TDs) and the leading passer (10 TDs) in a season that included three rushing touchdowns against Erie East, Pennsylvania, and three passing touchdowns against Warren Harding.  “My senior year I was the tailback (left half) in the old single wing,” he said.  “You handled the ball more, called the signals, did the passing.  The right half was Ray Getz.” – Jim Thomas, Canton Repository, February 2, 2003.

Following the season he was named 1st Team All-Ohio.  His next stop was Ohio State, followed by the Cleveland Browns.  In 1994 he was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.

Fred “Pokey” Blunt (1939-41)

Pokey Blunt was able to experience three state championships and two national champions enroute to a 29-0-1 overall record.  He scored nine touchdowns during his junior year, including three against Cleveland Cathedral Latin in a 39-0 victory.

In his senior year Blunt tallied 13 times.  His best performance came against 8-3 Alliance when the team captain crossed the goal line three times, helping his team to a 46-6 romp.  After the season, Blunt was named 1st Team All-Ohio.

Paul Brown had high praise for the speedy running back.  “I often wondered whether my Ohio State team that first year, which lost one game, 14-7 to Northwestern, could have beaten our ’40 team here in Massillon.  Our ’40 team was much faster.  Ohio State would be bigger. I coached both teams.  Blunt was the most deceiving fella, tremendous jet speed.  If I compared him to the guy who was playing for me at Ohio State it would have been no contest as far as being a long shot running back was concerned.  It’s a thing that’s crossed my mind more than once.” – Paul E. Brown, Massillon and Ohio State Coach (Ref. Massillon Memories, by Scott Shook).


Is Deferring to the Second Half the Correct Strategy?

Is Deferring to the Second Half the Correct Strategy?

We’ve seen it often enough.  The co-captains of the two opponents meet at the center of the field to determine which one kicks off and which one receives the ball to start the game.  The visiting team calls the toss.  The referee flings the coin into the air and identifies the winner, which then has a choice to make.  They either elect to receive the kick or defer until the second half.  Invariably, they elect to defer.  The loser of the toss is then left with one option: receive the ball.  For, choosing to kick off would most likely result in also kicking off in the second half as well and thereby forfeiting a possession.  The winner of the toss then selects the end of the field from which it will kick and the game begins.  It’s a rare day when the winner of the toss chooses to receive the opening kickoff.  But is deferring really the optimum strategy?


In earlier days of football the winner of the coin toss had a choice of either receiving the ball or defending a particular end of the field.  But this changed in 2008 when the NFL introduced the option for a team to defer their decision until the second half.  College and high school, of course, followed suit shortly thereafter.

Both options, receiving and deferring, have inherent advantages.  A team that receives the kick to start the game has an opportunity to score first.  Once on top, that team can then stay with their planned offense, as long as the score remains in their favor.  And, historically, a team that scores first wins the game about two-thirds of the time.

Conversely, a team that defers and kicks off subsequently starts the second half by receiving the ball.  This strategy provides the potential to open the scoring gap if they are ahead or close the gap if behind.  They might also receive an extra possession if they are the last team with the ball at the end of the game.  It could also be a psychological ploy to intimidate the opponent if they have an overwhelming defense.  Finally, there is the possibility of going back-to-back with scores if they tally right at the end of the first half and then again on their first possession of the second half.


But let’s go back to the original question: is deferring to the second half the right strategy?  Granted, the first two possessions of each half comprise a small segment of the overall game.  But any advantage that can be gained in defeating the great teams is certainly worthy of consideration.  To answer this question, a detailed analysis was performed, focusing specifically on Massillon and its game data from the last six seasons.

The study encompasses 84 games, but focuses specifically on those against the better opponents, since little trending knowledge can be gained from the games that were more one-sided, where the Tigers scored almost every time they had the ball.  So, it focuses primarily on two groups of opponents:

  • 16 great teams where Massillon was either evenly matched or considered an underdog. This group includes the larger parochial schools and those public schools they faced deep in the playoffs.  The Tigers’ record against those teams was 6-10.
  • 38 good teams where Massillon was considered a favorite, but not by a large margin. This group includes mid-sized parochial schools and those public schools that qualified for the playoffs, excluding a few mismatches.  The Tigers’ record against those teams was 35-3.

Data was collected for both Massillon and its opponents, for each one’s initial possession of each half, regardless of whether they kicked off or received the ball to start the half.  So, if Massillon kicked off to start the first half then they would have the second possession of the first half.  Then in the second half, they would receive the kickoff and have the first possession.  The opponent, of course, would have the opposite situation.  The remaining game possessions following these first two are not considered relevant to the study and were not charted.

The data was then analyzed to determine whether it was advisable to either kick off or receive to open the game, while considering the combined effects of both Massillon and its opponents.  In other words, the analysis searched for the situation where Massillon was maximizing its scoring potential, while at the same time minimizing the opponent’s scoring potential.

Results – vs. Great Teams

The charts below depict the chances of scoring for Massillon and the opponent based on the data compiled over the past six years relative to the 16 great teams.  Two scenarios are displayed, the first if Massillon defers the decision and kicks off to start the game and the second if the other team defers and Massillon receives.  For each scenario, the possessions are shown in the order in which they would occur during the game.  In other words, if Massillon kicks off in the first half, then the opponent would receive the kick and have the first possession.  In the second half, the opposite would occur.

In order to consider the effect of both Massillon’s and the opponent’s results, the average chances of a team scoring in either half are calculated and then the difference is taken between the two numbers.  If the difference is positive, then Massillon has the advantage; if negative, then the advantage goes to the opponent.

Per the chart, since the overall advantage is negative when Massillon kicks off but zero when receiving, then the favorable decision would be to receive the ball to start the game.  That would set the opponent up for a difficult first possession in the second half, where historically they have failed to score.

If Massillon desired to play the odds and follow this recommendation they fortunately would be nearly in full control of this decision.  That’s because (1) they could elect to receive the ball if they won the toss, and (2) obviously receive the ball if the opponent won the toss and elected to defer, which it nearly always does.

Side note: In most cases, a team with a second possession of the half has a higher chance of scoring than with a first possession.  One could argue that field position may be better with a second possession, since the team would often be receiving a punt, rather than starting deep in its own end following a kickoff.  But the difference in starting field position within these 16 games turned out to not be significant enough (around five yards) to influence the results.  But the key factor might just be, at least for the second half, that the players need some time to return to game mode following a grueling half of football followed by decompression in the locker room.  Perhaps teams need to alter their routine after returning to the field, such as running a few simulated plays rather than focusing exclusively on stretching.

Results vs. Good Teams

The charts below depict the chances of scoring for Massillon and the opponent based on the data compiled over the past six years relative to the 36 good teams.

The Massillon advantage is positive in both scenarios, but favors Massillon kicking off to start the game.  Therefore, it would make sense for Massillon to defer to the second half if they win the toss.


The analysis attempts to determine whether it is better to receive the ball or defer the decision to the second half following the pre-game coin toss.  Six years of data encompassing 84 games were considered, with the opponents broken down into four categories.

  • Great teams – 16 6eams where Massillon is at even odds or an underdog to win.  Preferable for Massillon to receive the opening kickoff, thereby forcing the opponent to receive the second half kickoff, from which they have produced zero scores.
  • Good teams – 38 teams where Massillon is a moderate favorite to win.  Slight advantage for Massillon to kick off to start the game.
  • Average to below average teams – 30 teams where Massillon is a clear favorite to win.  Kick or receive?  It doesn’t matter.

It should be noted that this same analysis was performed on Ohio State against against several of their great opponents and a similar result was obtained.



Football Hall of Fame is the Next Stop for…

Football Hall of Fame is the Next Stop for Larry Larsuel

Larry Larsuel could have reminisced about some great Massillon wins that he was involved in during the 1964 season, but unfortunately he’s not around anymore for us to hear it first-hand.  There was the 14-8 victory over Niles McKinley in the Rubber Bowl that broke the Red Dragons’ 48-game winning streak and solidified the Tigers as the best team in the state at that time.   And there was the 38-14 shellacking of 8-2 Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Finally, old timers will never forget the 20-14 come-back win over No. 2 Canton McKinley that punctuated the season and returned the crown to Massillon.  But Larsuel was more than just a participant.  He was one of the stalwarts on the offensive line that led a devastating ground attack under first-year Massillon and future Ohio State Head Coach Earl Bruce.

Larsuel began his varsity career in 1962 as a 5’-8”, 176 lb. sophomore when Head Coach Leo Strang named him a starter at offensive guard against Akron Garfield.  Unlike today, sophomores didn’t dress for varsity games, let alone play.  So, he must have made an early impression on the coach of his potential.  Turns out, it was his only start that year and the team finished 6-5.  But good things were yet to come.

Larsuel hit his growth spurt entering his junior year and became a full time starter at offensive guard, playing at 5’-11”, 197 lbs.  The team finished 9-1, losing to 10-0-1 Akron Garfield 13-6, while finishing second in the state to 9-0-1 Niles.  Ironically, Garfield was voted sixth.  Since Canton McKinley was barred from playing football in 1962 on account of a recruiting violation, the team teams matched up twice in 1963.  Massillon won both, by scores of 24-20 and 22-6.  Strang then left for the top job at Kent State, opening the door for Bruce.

“Coach Leo Strang of Massillon was all smiles as he praised the Tigers’ team effort (against 8-2 Alliance).  He especially patted senior wingback Bill (Rabbit) Blunt and junior lineman Larry Larsuel on their respective backs.  “Didn’t Blunt run well,” he said, “and that Larsuel, he played guard, linebacker and middle guard and did a tremendous job at all three spots.” – Massillon Independent

For his outstanding play, Larsuel was named 2nd Team All-Ohio at the guard position and 1st Team All-Stark County by both the coaches and the Massillon Evening Independent.

It was during his senior season that the big games mentioned above were played.  With those three wins plus seven more, Massillon finished the season 10-0 for the second straight year and retained the state championship trophy.  The 5’-10”, 206 lb. Larsuel was again lauded by the opponents.

“THEY OWNED US down the middle in the second half,” said Altoona Coach Earl Strohm, headman of the Lions, now in his 11th year at the Pennsylvania football power house.  The veteran coach was especially impressed with Larsuel, terming the senior all-county and all-state guard “a real good football player.”  Based on the game movies, fullback Lawrence was named player of the week for his running and faking.  Lineman of the week was guard Tom Whitfield with Larsuel the runner-up. — Massillon Evening Independent.

Larsuel also played a little defense and made a great play against Niles.  Per the Massillon Evening Independent, “With second and 10, Infante went back to pass but found tackle Jim Binge looming in front of him and tried to run to the left where Larry Larsuel knifed through and dropped him for a 5-yard loss to the 18, with 1:28 left in the game.  Niles tried 2 more passes, both of which were incomplete, and Massillon took over on its own 17 and ran out the clock for its second win of the season.  Lineman honors went to guard Larry Larsuel who got his man 65 per cent of the time and who on defense freed Muhlbach by handling the Niles tackles.  Backfield honors went to Bob Hewitt for his blocking and running.”

At the end of the season Larsuel was named 1st Team All-Ohio at guard.  He also grabbed 1st Team All-Stark County from both the coaches and Massillon Evening Independent.  And he received the Massillon Jaycees Sportsmanship Award.  The following summer Larsuel participated in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game, lining up at offensive guard.

Now he is being inducted into the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame.


Part 2 – Pre-Spread Offense Quarterbacks in the Massillon…

Part 2 – Pre-Spread Offense Quarterbacks in the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame

The Tiger Football Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals that have made contributions to the Tiger football experience, whether it be a player, coach, band director or just an individual who has influenced the program in a positive way.  Inductees are honored in the WHS Sports Hall with plaques that display the inductees’ contributions.  As of 2022, a total of 105 members have been inducted.

Complete List of Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame Inductees

This entry is Part 2 of a series that presents the inductees by playing position and features quarterbacks that competed prior to the period of the spread offense; i.e., before the late 1990s.  During that time, teams characteristically stayed mostly to the ground with their offensive attacks, throwing the ball around 20% of the time.  Using elementary passing concepts, the completion percentages were usually around 40% and total game passing yardages were minimal.  But many times, the quarterbacks of this era were thrust into rushing modes.

Four Massillon quarterbacks have gained Hall of Fame distinction during this period, including Willie Spencer, Jr.,  Dennis Franklin, Dave Sheegog, Joe Sparma, George Slusser and Harry Stuhldreher.  Paul Brown was also a quarterback then, but he was inducted based on his coaching skills, and so is not included in this story.

Willie Spencer (1992-94)

Spencer was one of the most athletic quarterbacks in Massillon history.  Then again, he was playing on the heels of his father, Willie Sr., who was a sensational high school All-American running back for the Tigers in 1971.

In 1993 during his junior year Spencer became a varsity starter at defensive back and was part of a team that compiled a 10-2 record, while losing in the playoff regionals.  With an uncanny ability quickly break for the ball, he had six pass interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, including 87 yards against Grove City, PA, 54 yards against Austintown Fitch and 36 yards against Akron St. Vincent.  He also recovered two fumbles, returning one for a score.  In addition, he was the backup quarterback, where he scored one rushing touchdown.

Spencer became the full-time signal caller during his senior year, where he completed 58 of 124 passes for 941 yards and five touchdowns.  He also rushed 129 times for 775 yards and 18 touchdowns, scoring 108 points.  His rushing yardage total leads all Massillon quarterbacks in that category.  Memorable games include:

  • 148 rushing yards against Mansfield
  • 122 rushing yards against Fitch.  His 89-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter tied the game at 7-7, after which Nick Pribich kicked the game-winning field goal.
  • Led Massillon to a 42-41 overtime win over Canton McKinley in the 100th rivalry game.
  • Completed 7 of 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns, in a 35-28 playoff victory over Fremont Ross, a team that led by future Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson.

For his performance he was named Repository 1st Team All-County quarterback, WHBC Stark County MVP, Northeast Inland District Player of the Year and 1st Team A.P. Division 1 All-Ohio quarterback.

After high school Spencer played for the University of Akron and then Tiffin Univrsity.

Dennis Franklin (1968-70)

As a Massillon junior in 1969, during Coach Bob Commings’ inaugural year, Franklin split time at quarterback with senior Gary Herring, completing 52% of his passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns.  The Tigers finished 7-2-1 during that rebuilding season.

The following year it all came together and with just Franklin at the QB position the team exploded with an undefeated 10-0 season.  Massillon led the All-American Conference in both rushing and passing and outscored its opposition 412-29.  In a key Week 4 matchup with state-ranked Niles, Franklin led his team to a 22-3 comeback victory.  He also scored all three touchdowns in a 22-0 win over Warren Harding and was involved in four TDs against Trotwood Madison.  The magical season was then punctuated by a 28-0 victory over previously undefeated and state No. 3 Canton McKinley.

At season’s end, Massillon was voted as the best team in Ohio by the Associated Press, that campaign coming prior to the introduction of the state playoffs.

Franklin had a consistent year throwing the ball, completing 33 of 78 passes (42%) for 699 yards and 13 touchdowns.  But it was when he began to showcase his athletic running ability (79 carries for 363 yards, 4.6/att., and 9 TDs) that he became a complete quarterback.  For his effort, Dennis was named 2nd Team All-Ohio and invited to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game, where he was the starting quarterback for the North.  Subsequently, he received a scholarship to play football for the University of Michigan, where he became a 3-year starter.

For his high school career he played in 19 games and completed 61 of 132 passes (46%) for 1,079 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Modest statistics by today’s standards, but Franklin’s prowess was that he was truly a field general in leading his team to the state title.

Dave Sheegog (1963-65)

Dave Sheegog, as a junior backup quarterback, was the hero of the 1964 Canton McKinley game.  With Massillon down 14-0 entering the fourth quarter, Sheegog replaced Steve Kanner, who left the game with an injury, and he led the Tigers to a 20-14 victory.  During that memorable 12 minutes, Sheegog completed 3 of 4 passes for 41 yards and rushed six times for 39, scoring the winning touchdown off a 14-yard scramble with just 53 seconds left in the game.  The win gave Massillon an undefeated record and a 22nd state championship.

The following year, Sheegog was the starter and he help the Tigers to a consecutive unbeaten season and another state title.  His key games included:

  • 50 yards rushing against 9-1 Cleveland Benedictine in a 29-12 victory.
  • 5 of 10 for 90 yards passing and two touchdowns, plus 32 yards rushing against Alliance in a 22-6 win.
  • 77 yards rushing and 3 TDs against 6-2-2 Niles in a 22-8 victory.
  • 61 yards rushing in a 16-12 win over unbeaten Warren Harding.
  • 12 carries for 41 yards against 7-3 Canton McKinley in another come-from-behind victory, 18-14.

Sheegog finished the season completing 26 of 72 passes for 427 yards and 5 touchdowns and rushing 106 times for 405 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He also returned 9 kickoffs for 215 yards and 19 punts for 120 yards, including one of 94 yards that went for a score.  Also, as a 2-way player, he intercepted two passes on defense, which he returned for 11 yards.  On top of that, he led the team in scoring with 59 points.

Following the season, he accepted a scholarship offer to play for Kent State University.

Joe Sparma (1957-59)

Joe had the long arm desired by most quarterbacks.  It was so long that he eventually made a career of throwing fastballs for the Detroit Tigers.  But he also made his mark in high school, including a big pass he threw in the infamous clock game against Warren Harding.  With the game tied 14 apiece and Massillon sitting on the Panther 46 yard line with just seconds remaining, Head Coach Leo Strang inserted the young sophomore to try a desperation pass.  Sparma did just that, launching the ball to the goal line and into the hands of Clyde Childers, who outjumped the defender for the winning score.  Following the game, Warren claimed that Massillon had received an extra minute of play.  But you can read the story yourself.

Sparma became the starter the following year, 1958, and led his team to the state championship (tied with Alliance).  With the team finishing 8-1-1, he tossed 9 touchdowns and ran for two more.

His senior year was even better, with Massillon finishing 10-0 and capturing both the state and national championships.  Sparma completed 28 of 85 passes form 660 yards and 14 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions.  He also punted 17 times with a 35.9 average.  Following the season, he was named 1st Team All-Ohio.  He then accepted a scholarship offer to play for Ohio State under Woody Hayes.

Sparma’s record as a starter was 18-1-1 and currently holds the Massillon record for single season average yards per completion (23.6).

George Slusser (1937-39)

In an era when a pass in football was just an afterthought, Coach Paul Brown used quarterback George Slusser to shake things up a bit.  And he did just that, starting at the position for two years.  During that span, his team went 20-0 and captured two state championships.

In his junior year, Slusser passed for 7 touchdowns and rushing for 6.  Meanwhile, the team outscored its opposition, 302-60.

As a senior, he passed for 10 touchdowns and rushing for 18 as a senior.  Against Mansfield he passed for two and rushed for two in a 73-0 win.  Then, against Steubenville, he passed for one and rushed for three in a 50-0 win.  The team was simply dominant, outscoring their foes, 460-25.

Following his last season, Slusser was named 1st Team All-Ohio and then played for Dartmouth College.

Harry Stuhldreher

Harry (known as Hessie and Stuhlie) played for Coach John Snavely on the Tiger teams of 1917, 1918 and 1919. He was not a regular on the 1917 team, which ended with a 7-2 record and beat Canton McKinley, 7-6.

But that changed the following year.  The 1918 team was 2-2-2.  This was a unique season, when several games were canceled due to the Spanish Flu epidemic, including the one against the Canton McKinley game. In addition, the New Philadelphia game was forfeited when Coach Snavely pulled his players from the field because of what he believed was a biased ruling against the Tigers.  Final score: New Philadephia 1, Massillon 0.

The 1919 team finished 8-1.  Playing at a paltry 5′-5″ and weighing just 137 lbs., Harry started the first eight games.  The Tigers beat McKinley that year 21-0, but he was held out due to an injured arm in that one.

During his 3-year career at Massillon, Harry was described as a good, although not outstanding player.  Unfortunately, Harry never got the chance to play in a Canton McKinley game.

After high school Harry played for Notre Dame, which was coached at the time by Knute Rockne.  As a quarterback, he was considered in the media as one of the “four horsemen.”  After college he had offers to play for three pro teams in the Connecticut area, but signed a contract to play for the Providence Steam Roller in the team’s inaugural NFL season. Later, he was the head coach of Villanova University and then the University of Wisconsin.



Part 1 – Spread Offense Quarterbacks in the Massillon…

Part 1 – Spread Offense Quarterbacks in the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame

The Tiger Football Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals that have made contributions to the Tiger football experience, whether it be a player, coach, band director or just an individual who has influenced the program in a positive way.  Inductees are honored in the WHS Sports Hall with plaques that display the inductees’ contributions.  As of 2022, a total of 105 members have been inducted.

Complete List of Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame Inductees

This entry is Part 1 of a series that presents the inductees by playing position and features quarterbacks that competed during the period of the spread offense.  The spread offense came into vogue in the late 1990s as teams with less skill talent or inadequate line size sought to improve their offenses by utilizing the passing game more than in previous years in an attempt score more points.  For Massillon, this began in 1998 with the hiring of Head Coach Rick Shepas and the Tigers have utilized this concept ever since.  The offense is characterized by aligning the quarterback in the shotgun position and utilizing one or more wide receivers on each side of the line.  Characteristically, quarterbacks in this offense throw the ball around 40% of the time.

Three Massillon quarterbacks have gained Hall of Fame distinction during this period, including Kyle Kempt, Bobby Huth and Justin Zwick.

Kyle Kempt (2010-2012)

Kyle Kempt burst onto the scene during Week 3 of his sophomore year as a replacement in the game against Stow.  Kempt then remained as the starter through the rest of his time at Massillon, winning 23 of his 32 starts, while playing under Head Coach Jason Hall.

As a sophomore he completed 111 of 205 (54%) passes for 1,643 yards and 14 touchdowns in helping his team to a 7-3 regular season mark and a birth in the state playoffs.

The next year Massillon again finished 7-3, with close losses to 9-2 Canton GlenOak and 9-3 Canton McKinley, only they failed to make the playoffs.  Nevertheless, Kempt again put up some decent numbers, completing 84 of 168 passes (50%), with just 4 interceptions, for 1,335 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The breakout year came in 2012 with Kempt, now a co-captain and at 6’-5”, 200 lbs., leading his team to an 11-2 record and a runner-up finish in the playoff regional finals.  He completed 194 of 292 passes (66%) for 2,056 yards and 32 touchdowns.  His highlights were:

  • A 34-14 victory over 9-2 Austintown Fitch, completing 18 of 25 passes for 308 yard and 4 touchdowns.
  • A 44-23 win over 13-2 Akron St. Vincent. completing 14 of 22 passes for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Irish went on to capture the Division 3 state championship.
  • A 37-29 regular season victory over 8-3 Canton McKinley, completing 16 of 32 passes for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • A 28-19 playoff win over the Bulldogs, completing 11 of 17 passes for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns.

At the end of the season Kempt was named 2nd Team All-Ohio.  He then accepted a scholarship offer to play for Oregon State and later transferred to Iowa State, where he finished his playing career and is now a Quality Control Assistant Coach.

At Massillon he completed 399 of 665 passes for 6,034 yards and 62 touchdowns.  And he holds passing records for single game completions (29 vs. Canton GlenOak), season completion percentage (66.4%) and season average yards per game (235.1).

Bobby Huth (2004-06)

Huth was small in stature at 5’-9”, 160 lbs., but big in heart as a Massillon Tiger, leading his team for two years at the quarterback position.  And at the end of his career, Bobby had his name all over the Massillon record book Top 10s.  He played under Head Coach Tom Stacy.

After a modest beginning as a sophomore, Huth became the starter in 2005, completing 141 of 223 passes (63.2%) for 2,017 yards and 18 touchdowns in leading his team to the Division 1 state finals.  Huth was a part of many significant victories that year, including the following:

  • A 34-31 win over Elder at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.
  • A first-ever win over Cleveland St. Ignatius, by the score of 29-26.
  • A 21-3 playoff victory over 12-1 Canton McKinley, completing 9 of 11 passes and tossing a touchdown pass.
  • A 21-17 win over 12-1 Cleveland St. Edward in the Division 1 state semifinals.  In that one he passed for 230 yards and two TDs and led his team to victory after falling behind by ten points.  He also completed an inconceivable 3rd and 30 for a first down during the winning drive.
  • A 27-20 playoff victory over 10-2 Findlay.  In that one he completed 10 of 13 passes.
  • An appearance in the Division 1 state finals, where the Tigers were edged by unbeaten Cincinnati St. Xavier, 24-17.

The following season, as a team captain, Huth completed 151 of 260 passes (58%) for 1,955 yards and 21 touchdowns.  His best performances came against Hamilton Chandler, Arizona, and Massillon Perry.  In the Chandler game he completed 15 of 24 passes for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 35-26 win.  Then, in a playoff game against Perry, he passed for 260 yards and three scores in a 41-20 win.  For his effort that year he was named 2nd Team A.P. Division 1 All-Ohio quarterback.

Overall, he played in 29 games and was 20-7 as a starter.  He also completed 297 of 495 passes (59%) for 4,077 yards.  His completion percentage mark is 2nd all-time.

Justin Zwick (2000-01)

Justin Zwick transferred to Massillon after two years in Orrville, where he led his team to the Division 4 state championship as a freshman quarterback.  He had all tools required of a big-time high school pocket quarterback, including size (6’-5”, 221 lbs.), arm strength and field vision.  And he also fit nicely into Coach Rick Shepas’ spread offense.

In his junior year Zwick led the Tigers to an 8-3 record, including a spot in the playoffs.  He also completed 191 of 346 passes (55%) for 2,455 yards and 23 touchdowns.  His accomplishments included:

  • A 40-7 victory over 12-2 Akron Buchtel, completing 18 of 32 passes for 187 yards and 5 TDs. Buchtel finished 3rd in Division 2.
  • A 51-26 win over 8-2 Akron Garfield, completing 29 of 43 for 375 yards and 2 TDs.
  • A 28-27 come-from-behind victory over Lakewood St. Edward, completing 16 of 29 passes for 243 yards and 1 TD.

At the end of the season he was named 1st Team All-Ohio.

As a senior co-captain he continued to be successful, with Massillon finishing 12-2 and capturing the playoff regional championship.  Both of the losses that year came at the hands of eventual Division 1 state champ Cleveland St. Ignatius.  During the season he completed 246 of 426 passes (58%) for 3,281 yards and 40 touchdowns.  His highlights are as follows:

  • A 59-0 victory over 8-2 Akron Garfield, completing 16 of 23 passes for 233 yards and 3 TDs.
  • A 17-14 win over 8-3 Mansfield, completing 24 of 37 passes for 231 yards.
  • A 36-19 victory over 8-3 Canton McKinley in the regular season, completing 16 of 23 passes for 245 yards and 2 TDs.
  • A 35-19 win over Canton McKinley in the playoffs, completing 24 of 33 passes for 239 yards and 3 TDs
  • A 27-7 playoff victory over North Canton, completing 23 of 38 passes for 252 yards and 2 TDs.

He was again named 1st Team All-Ohio.  And, amid much media fanfare, he announced his acceptance of a scholarship offer to play for Ohio State.  Following four years with the Buckeyes, he suited up with the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Football League.

For his career, Zwick completed 437 of 772 passes (57%) for 6,736 yards, 63 TDs.  As a starter he was 20-5.  He also set Massillon records for total yards in a game (407 vs. Dayton Chaminade), pass attempts in a game (60 vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius), pass completions in a game (29 vs. Akron Garfield), touchdown passes in a game (6 vs. Fremont Ross), total passing yards in a season (3,281), pass attempts in a season (426), pass completions in a season (246), touchdowns in a season (40) and average yards per game in a career (229.4).

Ron Ertle is Headed to the Football Hall of…

Ron Ertle is Headed to the Football Hall of Fame

The Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 will be inducted this August during the Massillon Football Booster Club’s Reverse Raffle event.  Included this year is new member Ron Ertle, who played linebacker for the Tigers in 1965-67.  During the event he will receive a distinctive plaque commemorating his achievements.  A second plaque will be mounted in the WHS sports hall in the space reserved for past Hall of Fame inductees.  In addition, Ertle will be recognized on the field prior to the opening football game against Valdosta, Georgia.

“Ruby” Ertle played both linebacker and lineman under Head Coach Bob Seaman.  As a starter during his junior year he instantly became a force on defense, giving a hundred percent on every play.  One could describe him as just a “really tough player.”  Against Canton McKinley he had a pass interception to quell a drive, and also during the season recovered two fumbles.  Unfortunately, the Tigers’ record that year was 4-5-1.

In his 1967 senior year Ertle was named a team co-captain along with Trevor Young and was once again a dominating force on the field.  That led to a much more successful campaign than the previous year, with the team finishing 9-1 and earning 2nd place in the Associated Press state sportswriters poll.  Massillon’s only loss that year came at the hand of the eventual No. 1 team, Upper Arlington, by the score of 7-6.  But the Tigers did defeat both McKinley 20-15 and undefeated Steubenville 26-16 on the way to a 4-0 mark in the All-American Conference.

Ertle finished the year as the leading tackler.  He also scored four extra points from his tight end position.  After that the awards flowed in.  First, he received the Touchdown Club’s Hardnose Award, well-representing the attributes associated with this Bob Commings accolade, the Reese’s Raiders “E” Award for effort, efficiency and endeavor, and was named Massillon’s Most Valuable Player.  After that came Massillon Independent All-County linebacker and WHBC Player of the Year.  All of that culminated in him being named 1st Team All-Ohio linebacker and Ohio Football News Magazine All-Ohio linebacker.  The following summer he participated in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game.

Congratulations to Ron Ertle.

Bill Edwards Wittenberg Tigers

Bill Edwards – Wall of Champions

Bill Edwards – Wall of Champions

From player to coach to sports administrator, William M. “Bill” Edwards spent a lifetime in the sports arena, mostly with football.  Along the way he posted some outstanding achievements.  And he also rubbed elbows with some of Massillon’s greats.  Here is his story.

Edwards was born in Massillon on June 21, 1905.  Although he attended school in his formative years, he dropped out following the eighth grade at age 14 to work in the mines in East Greenville in order to help support his family.  However, he did play three years of football for the semi-pro Massillon Maroons, which won the Ohio championship in 1921.  Then, in 1922 he left the mines and decided to return to school, enrolling in Washington High School as a freshman.

High School

It’s unknown if football is what brought him back to school.  It’s also unknown if it was Coach Dave Stewart that drew him back in.  It might be that Paul Brown, his classmate, exerted some influence.  But it also might have been Tink Ulrich.  In any case, he made an immediate impact during his first year and held down a starting linebacker position throughout his time at Massillon.  He was big and he was powerful and a thorn in the side for any opposing runner.  Edwards was also adept at kicking extra points, punting and kicking off.  By his third year he added fullback to the list.  A local newspaper reported that as a ball carrier “he was never brought down by a lone defender.”  He also hated wearing a football helmet, since it bothered his ears.  So, many times he just didn’t.

Bill EdwardsIn 1922 the Tigers finished 10-0, outscoring their opponents, 379-28.  With popular acclaim in vogue at that time, Massillon declared itself state champion.  During the season, Edwards kicked 13 PATs, just missed a drop-kick field goal, and against Warren recovered a fumbled punt snap in the end zone for a touchdown.  He was also instrumental in helping his team to a 24-0 victory over Canton McKinley.  But his big moment came against Cleveland Shaw when he drop-kicked an extra point with 27 seconds remaining in the game to give his team a 7-6 victory and keep the winning streak alive.

Edwards played left tackle on offense, blocking for stellar running back “Dutch” Hill, but he really excelled at linebacker on defense.  “On the line the work of Salberg and Edwards stood out prominently.  This pair of tacklers stopped many a Canton drive.” (Massillon Evening Independent).

In his sophomore year Edwards was named team captain, a first at Massillon for an underclassman.   Having been shifted to center and lining up alongside Carl “Ducky” Schroeder”, the team fashioned an 8-2 record.  Edwards shared kicking duties that year and kicked eight PATs.

In 1924, his junior season, Edwards was again named team captain and played with quarterback Paul Brown.  He was also a teammate of running back Elwood Kammer.  Both of these players would later coach Massillon.  In spite of outscoring their opponents 320-28, the Tigers finished 8-1, with the loss coming to Youngstown South 1-0 via forfeit when Stewart took his team off the field while challenging several referee calls.  During the season Edwards kicked 38 PATs and caught a touchdown pass.  He was also most likely the leading tackler (defensive records weren’t kept).

With his high school career over and the proud owner of a 26-3 team record and three wins over McKinley, Edwards looked forward to the next level.  But he looked back at three outstanding years as a Tiger.  In fact, the all-time Massillon High School football team, which was selected in 1958, noted that Edwards was the “Greatest Tiger of them all.”

He also played some basketball at Massillon, again teaming with his friend, Paul Brown.

Bill Edwards 1925 Massillon Washington Basketball Team. Paul Brown

Bill Edwards is pictured in the front row, third from the left.  Elwood Kammer is to his right and Paul Brown (black shirt) is to his left.  Coach Dave Stewart is in the second row, behind Brown.

By the time his senior year rolled around, Edwards was twenty years old, too old for Ohio high school football.  So, he enrolled in Kiski Prep, located in Pennsylvania, as a scholarship player before returning to Massillon for the second half of the school year.  There he received his diploma, and prepared for the collegiate level.


The first stop as a college player was Ohio State and the freshman team in 1927, where he roomed with Paul Brown.  He was also named captain.  But he left after the season for Wittenberg, joining six other former Massillon players, including Ducky Schroeder.

In his first year he kicked an extra point as time expired to help his team to a 7-6 victory over Ohio Wesleyan, which had beaten both Michigan and Syracuse.  The next two years he was named team captain and excelled at center.

Grantland Rice wrote, “Edwards is the best center in the nation, but I can’t name him All-American because of his team’s schedule.” Walter Eckersall did not overlook Edwards playing at a small college and named him to his All-America team.  He was also named to Sam Willaman’s All-American Team.

While at Wittenberg Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree (1931) and then attended a Master’s degree from Columbia University (1956) while coaching.


With school behind him, Edwards chose a career path in the coaching world and had a laundry list of stops, including:

  • Bill Edwards WittenbergSpringfield High School (1931) – Assistant coach and history teacher.
  • Fostoria High School (1932-33) – Head coach. Produced an 8-2 record in year two, the school’s best mark in ten years.  His 1932 coaching offer from Fostoria was better than the offer he received from Massillon, which at the time was replacing Elmer McGrew.  With Edwards now out of the picture, the Tigers decided to go with Paul Brown.
  • Western Reserve University (1934) – Assistant coach.
  • Western Reserve University (1935-40) – Head coach, replacing Sam Willaman, who died suddenly. Compiled a 49-6-2 record.  Had three undefeated seasons.  Won five Big Four Conference championships (1935-38, 40).  Defeated Arizona State 26-13 in the 1941 Sun Bowl.  Coached future Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
  • Detroit Lions (1941-42) – Head coach. Compiled a record of 4-9-1.  Taking over early in the season, moved the team from last place that year to third the next, before enlisting in the Navy prior to season’s end.  Bill Belichick was one of his players.  Bill would later name his son after Edwards, young Bill’s godfather.
  • Saint Mary’s Pre-Flight (1943) – Assistant coach, lieutenant commander, World War II.
  • Cleveland Browns (1947-48) – Assistant coach, tackles. Coached under Paul Brown.  Cleveland won the AAFC championship both years and was undefeated in 1948.  Coached tackle Lou “The Toe” Groza.
  • Vanderbilt (1949-52) – Head coach and athletic director. Compiled a record of 21-19-2.  Introduced the passing game to the passing game to the Southeast Conference.  Was named National Coach of the Week six times.
  • North Carolina (1953-54) – Assistant coach.
  • Wittenberg (1955-68) – Returned to his alma mater as head coach and athletic director. Replaced the single-wing offense with a pro-style passing attack.  Established Wittenberg as an annual contender for the Ohio Athletic Conference title.  Compiled a record of 98-20-4.  All-time Wittenberg winningest coach.  Unbeaten in 1962, 63 and 64.  NCAA College Division Poll Champion by the Washington Touchdown Club (1962 and 1964).  Won or tied for the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship seven times.  Coach of the Year (1963 and 1964).  Coached future Oakland Raiders quarterback Charlie Green in 1962-64.  The Tigers went 15-0-1 during that span.  During his three years, Green passed for 5,575 yards and threw 61 touchdown passes.  In 2002, Green was inducted into the College Hall of Fame.

During his career, Edwards received several coaching honors, including:

  • Ohio College Football Coach of the Year (1957 and 1962).
  • Two times American Football Coaches Associated College Division Coach of the Year (1962–1963).
  • National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors Hall of Fame (1974).
  • Case Western Reserve Hall of Fame (1979).
  • Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1979).
  • Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor (1985).
  • Vanderbilt Hall of Fame (1986).
  • College Football Hall of Fame (1986).
  • Football Writers Association of America award for contributions to the game.
  • Massillon Wall of Champions (1994).
  • Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame (2019).
  • Honorary member of the American Football Coaches Association.

“Wherever I’ve been, from playing for Massillon High School to coaching college squads at Western Reserve, Vanderbilt and Wittenberg, I’ve had some wonderful experiences that I will always remember,” said Edwards.

“If I had it to do over again, I’d still be a football coach,” he said. “You know, I got as much out of coaching the kids as some of them say they got out of playing for me.  It’s a little tough sometimes to admit to yourself that one of your players has more humility than you do, or is a little more honest, but it happens.  If you teach a boy to compete, he will compete for the rest of his life.  Football coaches are educators who teach, among other things, discipline, loyalty, sacrifices for a common good, and cooperation to achieve a worthwhile goal.”

Paul Brown called him, “One of the greatest football players I have ever seen in high school or college.  Later he joined me on the Cleveland Browns and did an outstanding job.  The players admired, respected, and liked him.  He has been my lifelong friend and I cherish my association with him.  He has deserved every honor that has come to him.”  Other top-level head coaches also had great respect for Edwards.

Edwards left the coaching world after the 1968 season with 38 years on his resume, while leaving his mark at nearly every stop along the way.  He was simply a winner and rightly acknowledged throughout his career.  His overall head coaching record was 168-45-8, which included a 1-0 record in bowl games.  At time of retirement, he had the second-best winning percentage among active coaches with at least 100 wins and owned a commendation from President Richard Nixon for his achievements.

After coaching Edwards remained in Wittenberg as athletic director until 1973.  Wittenberg’s football stadium is named Edwards-Maurer Field in honor of both head coaches.  Also, the winner of the WittenbergCase Western Reserve football game receives the Bill Edwards Trophy.

Not bad for a former coal miner.


Edwards enjoyed hunting and fishing in retirement and spending time with wife Dorothy and their three children.  He died in Springfield on June 12, 1987, at the age of 81.

Bill Edwards Wall of Champions Plaque


A Look Back at Ohio’s State Poll Titles –…

A Look Back at Ohio’s State Poll Titles – 1947-1971

For as long as competitive athletics has been a part of civilized society, it has always been crucial for avid sports enthusiasts to identify which team commands a position above the rest.  At any level, albeit at the league level, the state level or the national level, inherently there is always a best team.  And this best team must by demand be named.  But whatever process is used to determine that, it must be one that is formalized through an accepted institution and confirmed by those who matter the most, the sports fans.

In Ohio, state championships in football have been either claimed or awarded for well over one hundred years.  They were first recognized through popular claim and later statewide voting polls.  Recently, the procedure has evolved into the present-day post-season playoff system.

Presented here is a look back at the second method, sportswriters polling, which encompassed a timeframe from 1947 through 1971.  The narrative below describes the polling process, the justifications behind the selections of the Number 1 teams and the claims of irregularity.  But most important of all, it examines whether the polling process was a credible method for determining the state champion.

Click here for the story.

Massillon and Valdosta to Face Off in 2023. Finally!!!

Massillon and Valdosta to Face Off in 2023. Finally!!!

It’s an intriguing matchup that’s been years in the making, one that is sure to receive national exposure.  And it’s finally going to happen to open the 2023 football season.  Valdosta, Georgia, the current No. 1 team in the U.S. in  terms of historical wins, will play Massillon, a previous holder of the top spot.

The game will be part of the NE Ohio vs America Showcase, also featuring three other Ohio teams, including Lakewood St. Edward, Akron Hoban and Cleveland Glenville.  Their opponents have yet to be named.  The venue for all games is Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, which seats 16,884.  While Massillon is scheduled play on the Friday, the other games are slated for Saturday as part of a triple-header.


The Wildcats first fielded a team in 1913 and since that time have compiled an overall record of 944-262-44, which is seven wins ahead of the No. 2 team, Louisville Male of Kentucky.  They have won six national championships (between 1962 and 1992) and 24 Georgia state championships, the most recent coming in 2016.   In 2008 Valdosta was named as ESPN’s “Titletown USA.”  Later, Netflix created an 8-part series titled, “Titletown High,” which chronicles the 2020 season.

In 2022 Valdosta finished with a record of 8-3, losing 28-13 to Westlake in the first round of the state playoffs.  Their record over the past five years is 33-26.  Four times in that span they qualified for the playoffs and, as their best performance, advanced to the Division 6A state semifinals in 2020.

The Wildcats return defensive lineman Eric Brantley (co-Region 7A-1 Defensive Player of the Year), offensive lineman Demauree Bennet (1st Team All-Region), offensive lineman Jalen Burgess (1st Team All-Region), inside linebacker Aman Tomblin (1st Team All-Region), and 3-star recruit outside linebacker Jaylen Bentley (1st Team All-Region).


Massillon owns an historical record of 932-338-32 and is currently fourth in the national rankings, one win behind Mayfield, Kentucky.  The Tigers began playing football in 1891 and have won 9 national championships and 24 Ohio state championships (the most recent being in 1970).  Twenty-three times they finished the regular season unbeaten.  As the subject of numerous books and films, the most popular entry was the theater production, “Go Tigers,” which covered the 1999 season.

In 2022 Massillon finished with an overall record of 12-2, losing 41-20 the Division 2 state semifinals to Akron Hoban.  The lone regular season loss was to Cincinnati Moeller, which advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals.  A signature win came in Week 5 against Lakewood St. Edward, which went on to capture the Division 1 state championship.  The Tigers’ record over the past five years is 61-9, which includes five appearances in the state playoffs, four regional championships and three state finals appearances.

Massillon returns 8 starters on offense and 9 on defense, including linebacker Dorian Pringle (1st Team All-Ohio), offensive lineman Evan Sirgo (Honorable Mention All-Ohio), linebacker Cody Fair (Honorable Mention All-Ohio), and highly recruited 6’-6” tight end Nolan Davenport.