Category: <span>History</span>

Don James – Wall of Champions

Don James – Wall of Champions

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

Standing: Don, Tommy and Art; Seated: Bob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James received many deserving awards throughout his career, including:

Recapping the 2023 Massillon State Championship Football Season

Recapping the 2023 Massillon State Championship Football Season

What a great season it was.  Division II state champions.  Perfect 16-0 season.  Defeating the Division I state champion for the second consecutive year.  Besting the team having the most wins in the country.  The national rankings.  And on and on.  Here is a recap of a season to remember and one that all future teams will surely be measured against.

Pre-season outlook – Under ninth-year head coach Nate Moore, Massillon has over the last five years won 61 of its last 70 games and advanced to the state championship finals three times.  In 2022 the Tigers compiled a record of 12-2, which included a victory over Division 1 state champion Lakewood St. Edward.  With the return this season of eight starters on each side of the ball, plus newcomer quarterback Da’One Owens, the Tigers set their sights on a seventh trip to the state championship game and perhaps the title.

Schedule – The slate was one of the most formidable that Massillon has ever assembled, highlighted by three national powers, including Valdosta, GA, Lakewood St. Edward and St. John’s College, D.C.  Two other out-of-state teams were also on the schedule: Elkhart, IN, and Middletown, DE.  In addition, traditional rival Canton McKinley was waiting at the end.

Da’One Owens

Valdosta, GA, game – The game was part of the Northeast Ohio vs. America Showcase.  It also received more media hype than any other Massillon game in recent history, given that Valdosta was the winningest team in the country, with the Tigers, a previous No. 1 team, close behind.  Massillon was down 14-0 early when Valdosta hit on a couple of big plays.  But the Tigers were able to regroup and came away with a hard-fought 28-17 victory.  While both Owens and Jalen Slaughter were slated to share the quarterbacking duties this year, it was Owens that sparked the win, rushing 13 times for 241 yards and two touchdowns, including runs of 69 and 75 yards.

Canton GlenOak game – The Eagles were completely dominated as the Tigers led 49-0 at the half and rolled up 467 yards of total offense.  Slaughter completed 4 of 6 passes for 153 yards and two TDs.  Peytton Mitchell rushed for 127 yards.  Final score: 56-7.

Mansfield game – The Tygers finished the season 10-3, but they were no match for Massillon and their 320 yards rushing, resulting in a 51-10 margin.

Elkhart, IN, game – With a 48-0 halftime lead and 457 yards of total offense the Tigers cruised to another win, 55-0.

Lakewood St. Edward game – The defending Division 1 state champions paid a return visit to Massillon and, with revenge on their minds, should have won this game.  But the Tigers proved to be the better team that night, rolling up nearly 300 yards of offense and winning 15-13.  Only, Massillon could have scored more.  After suffering their only loss of the season, the Eagles went on to repeat as Division 1 champions.

Jalen Slaughter

Middletown, DE, game – Owens was not available as his eligibility regarding residency was held up by the OHSAA, this being the sixth game of the season (open enrollment rules).  Thus, Jalen Slaughter was alone at quarterback for this one and responded with his best performance of the season, completing 15 of 29 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 win.  Jacques Carter caught eight balls for 142 yards and a score.  Unfortunately, Slaughter was injured at the end of the game and didn’t return until the end of the season.

St. John’s game – With Slaughter out and Owens fighting eligibility issues, freshman quarterback Manny Patterson entered the picture as the potential starter.  However, Owens was cleared to play on the day of the game and Massillon went on to defeat the Number 1 team in D.C., 28-7.   But the match was marred by 23 penalties.  It also ended about a half quarter early when proper sportsmanship between the two teams waned away.  Don’t expect St. John’s to be back on the schedule any time soon.

Ja’Meir Gamble

Austintown Fitch game – The Falcons repositioned their linebackers to stop the rushing prowess of Owens.  However, the strategy opened up the running lanes for Ja’Meir Gamble, who rushed 17 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-7 victory.  Owens was held to 134 yards on the ground.

Warren Harding game – The Raiders, after blocking a punt deep in Massillon territory, scored the first and only rushing touchdown against the Tiger first unit the entire season.  But Warren proceeded to fall behind 42-7 by halftime and eventually lost, 48-14.  Owens completed 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards and three scores.

Canton McKinley game – Ranking services tabbed Massillon as a 35-point favorite and all that did was ignite problems on the field, as the 7-2 Bulldogs took offense to the slight.  It also didn’t help matters when the Tigers scored on a long bomb on their first play of the game, while taking a 28-0 lead into the locker room.  Chippy throughout, it ended with a post-game melee and the two teams promptly leaving the field, forgoing any award ceremony.  Final score: 35-0, with Dorian Pringle scoring twice.  It was the first shutout in the series in fifteen years.  McKinley never threatened during the game and was held to just 65 yards of total offense.

All-County team – Seven Massillon players were selected, sans Owens, who became the coach’s selection.  Other deserving players were also excluded.

Computer playoffs ranking – Massillon finished on top of Division II, Region 7, with a computer point total that was more than any other team in the history of the playoffs, regardless of division.  The strength of the Tiger schedule had a significant influence on this number, as nine of the ten opponents qualified for their respective playoffs.

Braylyn Toles

Grove City Central Crossing game – Massillon opened the playoff season with a 41-6 victory.  Owens had a career day passing, completing 20 of 27 for 341 yards and four touchdowns.  Eight passes went to Braylyn Toles for 125 yards and two scores.

Westerville South game – The Tigers put the game away early, leading 42-0 at the half.  A balanced attack and a stingy defense led to a 50-7 win.  Unfortunately, star linebacker Pringle was lost to an injury at the beginning of the game and was out for four weeks.  Nevertheless, Shon Robinson filled in admirably and led the team in tackles during three of those four weeks.

Uniontown Lake game – The Blue Streaks always play a good brand of defense, and they were behind just 14-6 at the half.  But it wasn’t enough to stop Massillon from eventually winning 35-6, behind 421 yards of total offense.  Owens rushed for 164 yards and Gamble added 131.

Uniontown Green game (regional finals) – The Tigers were seeking revenge from a 26-25 upset to the Bulldogs in the 2021 regional finals.  This time around it was no contest, as Massillon cruised to a 31-6 victory.  Green was held to negative 19 yards on the ground, while the Tiger offense racked up 413 total yards.  With the win Massillon captured its 16th regional championship (second most among all large schools) and advanced to the state semifinals.

All-District team – Twelve players were named to the team, including Owens (Co-Offensive Player of the Year) and Pringle (Co-Defensive Player of the Year).  Four other players were named first team, including Chase Bond, Nolan Davenport, Cody Fair and Michael Wright Jr.

Cincinnati Anderson game (state semifinals) – The once-beaten Raptors were scoring over 40 points per game with their up-tempo offense.  However, after tallying on their first drive, they kept off the board the remainder of the night, as Massillon’s defense made the necessary adjustments.  Coupled with a balanced scoring attack, the Tigers prevailed, 55-7.

Akron Hoban game (state finals) – It was two great high school defenses battling it out in front of a near-capacity crowd (fifth largest in a Division II finals) at Tom Benson Stadium, with each team held below 200 yards of offense.  Massillon tallied in the second quarter on a 6-yard run by Mylen Lenix, only to surrender a safety later in the period.  The Knights, however, although stymied throughout most of the game, were in position to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, following a failed fake Tiger punt near midfield.  An errant 3rd down snap led to a 4th and 8 at the 17, setting up a Hoban pass into the end zone for the win.  But Pringle closed on the intended receiver and reached him just in time to break up the pass, securing both the game and the state title.  Pringle had returned from injury for this game and led both teams with 14 tackles and 3.0 tackles-for-loss.  The title was No. 25 for Massillon and the first in the playoff era.  Following the game Tiger fans welcomed the team back to town with a rousing celebration.  A parade with fireworks was held the following week as a formal salute.  And commemorative merchandise went flying off the shelves.

National rankings – (12th), USAToday and (12th) (20th) and Play Football (9th), all rated Massillon in their Top 25s.  The Tigers also moved into the Number 2 position for all-time wins in the country, tied with Louisville Male and just four games behind Valdosta.

Dorian Pringle

All-State team – Ten players received all-state honors, including Pringle, who was named Division II Co-Defensive Player of the Year.  Owens and Wright were also awarded 1st Team.  2nd Team went to Bond and Davenport, with Cody Fair was 3rd Team.  Honorable Mention: Jacques Carer, Ja’Meir Gamble, Tyler Hachenbracht and Brady Jones.  Coach Nate Moore was named Division II Co-Coach of the Year.

Mike Wright Jr.

Single Season Player Records – Slaughter set new records for Yards per Pass Attempt and Quarterback Efficiency.  Pringle set new records for Tackles-for-Loss (46) and Lost Yards (240).  Wright set new records for Quarterback Sacks (10) and Lost Yards (134).  Matero Hererra tied a record for PAT Kick Percent (100%) and Emy Lewis Jr. tied a record for Kickoff Return Touchdowns (2).  These players and several others also finished in various Top 10s.

Single Season Team Marks – Massillon’s 25 state championships are the most among all Ohio schools.  The sixteen wins was the most ever for the Tigers in a single season.  It was the 24th perfect regular season and first fully unbeaten/untied season during the playoff era.  This is the second time in a single season that the Tigers won at least ten games at home.  A running clock was in effect during 11 of the 16 games. Per game, the offense averaged 38.6 points, 387 yards and 6.6 yards per rushing attempt (4th all-time).  The defense averaged 7.3 points, 40.6 yards (3rd all-time) and 1.7 yards per rushing attempt (2nd all-time).  Only four teams rushed for 100 yards or more.  They also set records for tackles-for-loss and quarterback sacks.

Miscellaneous –Coach Nate Moore recorded his 99th win as head coach at Massillon.  The freshmen team compiled a fine 9-2 record, with 1-point losses to Lakewood St.  Edward (13-2) and Akron Hoban (9-1), and a 44-0 victory over Canton McKinley (6-2-1).


The 2023 Massillon Team is In Small Company When…

The 2023 Massillon Team is In Small Company When Compared to Previous Squads

There is very little argument that this year’s Massillon football teams is one of the better ones seen in the last several years.  They are undefeated and have won fourteen games.  They have beaten some very good teams and are nationally ranked by several rating services. And they are playing in the state semifinals this Friday.  So, how do they stack up against other Tiger teams throughout recent and past history?

Aside from counting championships, the best way to judge a team is through offensive and defensive statistics.  For the running game it is simple: yards per carry.  For passing, a little more complicated: pass efficiency rating, a calculation that involves attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.  Then there are the obvious stats of win/loss record and points scored.  Finally, there is the performance rating; i.e., the percentage of time that a team gains a first down or scores a touchdown after starting with a first down play (percentage of success).

Here the rundown on the 2023 team:

  • Total wins (14) – This is the third time that the Tigers have accomplished this feat, the other two being in 2018 and 2019. And they can eclipse that mark with a win this Friday to become the all-time winningest team.
  • Average points scored (39.7) – This one is best measured using data from the years of the spread offense (1998-present). During those 26 years only four teams have a higher scoring average: 2018 (41.9), 2012 (40.8), 2019 (40.3) and 2002 (39.8).
  • Average points allowed (7.6) – This year’s mark is the best during the era of the spread offense.  The closest to that number was the 2019 team, which allowed 11.8 points per game.  Prior to that, the 1986 team surrendered 7.0, but finished 7-3 and failed to make the playoffs on account of a 2-point loss and a 4-point loss.
  • Rushing offense (6.7 yds/att.) – This is Coach Nate Moore’s best rushing attack in his nine years at the helm. The two most productive runners are quarterback Da’One Owens and running back Ja’Meir Gamble.  Owens, the first Tiger quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards, has put up 1,145 yards (9.7/att.) and Gamble has rushed for 893 yards (7.0/att.).   Should Gamble go over 1,000, this will be the first time since 1991 that two runners in the same season have accomplished that feat.  That year involved Travis McGuire (1,976) and Falando Ashcraft (1,353) and the team averaged 6.6 yards per attempt.  It is a potent offense when two high-caliber runners are in the backfield at the same time.
  • Rushing defense (1.6 yds/att.) – This is the best run defense in the last nine years (Nate Moore era), ahead of the 2021 team that allowed 2.8 yards per attempt. Recording of detailed statistics began in 1958 and no team since that year has matched that mark.  The 1952 team held opponents to 1.3 yards per attempt, but that number is estimated.
  • Passing offense (167 eff.) – The average efficiency rating over the last nine years is 168, so this mark is right on average. However, Owens has a rating this year of 166, while Jalen Slaughter has a rating of 189.
  • Passing defense (92 eff.) – This is by far the best mark over the past nine years, which demonstrates the improvement the Massillon coaches have made in this area. Opposing teams are completing just 42% of their passes.  The second best was the 2020 team, which had an efficiency rating of 122.  This asset should bode well against Cincinnati Anderson and their high-tempo, passing offense.
  • Offensive performance rating (86%) – The 2018 team had a rating of 85%. Prior to the spread offense, both the 1993 and 1970 teams had ratings of 84%.  The average over the past nine years is 80%.
  • Defensive performance rating (57%) – This is the second best mark during the era of the spread offense, behind the 2002 team, which had a rating of 51%. When a differential of offense rating minus defense rating is considered, the delta of 29% is surpassed by only two teams.  The 1970 team had a differential of 38% and the 1971 team had a differential of 30%.  However, neither played a schedule matching that of this year’s team.

So, one can see that the 2023 team is in small company in nearly every statistical category.  Nevertheless, they still need to prove it on the field.  And that resumes on Friday against Anderson and hopefully continues next week in the state finals.

2023 Booster Club Report – Week PO3 – Post-Uniontown…

2023 Booster Club Report – Week PO3 – Post-Uniontown Lake Game; Preview of the Green Game

Massillon (13-0) defeated Uniontown Lake (9-4), 35-6.  This week the Tigers return to North Canton to face Green (10-3) for a Friday, 7:00 pm kickoff in the playoff regional finals.  The Tigers are No. 1 in Division 2, Region 7, while the Bulldogs come in at No. 3.  Massillon is behind the all-time series, 0-1, with the last game played in the 2021 playoffs when they fell to Green 26-25 in the regional finals.

Link to the Uniontown Lake Game Story

Link to the Uniontown Lake Game Statistics

Review of the Uniontown Lake game

It was win No. 945, which keeps Massillon in the No. 3 position nationally for all-time wins.

Missed opportunities by Massillon in the first half kept Lake in the game.  But in the second half, the Tigers took care of business behind a strong running attack, winning 35-6.  The trio of Da’One Owens, Ja’Meir Gamble and Mylen Lenix simply took  over the game, as they combined for 41 carries for 351 yards, at 8.6 yards per attempt.  The attack overwhelmed the Blue Streaks and they appeared to be gassed throughout the fourth quarter.  Meanwhile, the defense once again turned in a great performance, holding Lake to just 138 yards of total offense, including just 52 yards on the ground.  Federal League Player of the Year Nathan Baker, who was coming off back-to-back 200-yard games, produced just 46 yards in 10 attempts.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Massillon Head Coach Nate Moore.  “We played a great game against a very physical team.  Defensively, another great performance, especially in the second half.”

The guest players were defensive back Zach Liebler and offensive lineman Sam Snodgrass. “We didn’t come out as hot as we expected,” said Liebler.  “But we played really well together.  It felt really great to get my first interception as a senior.”  Liebler also said the team is taking Green seriously and doesn’t plan to sleep on them.

“We started out really slow,” said Snodgrass.  “But picked it up in the second quarter.  Then we dominated.”

Statistics leaders:

  • Da’One Owens: 10 of 19 passing for 72 yards and 1 touchdown; 17 carries for 164 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Ja’Meir Gamble: 15 carries for 131 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Mylen Lenix: 9 carries for 56 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Braylyn Toles: 7 receptions for 55 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Malachi Cards: 5.0 (4-2) tackle points; 1.5 sacks; 2.5 TFLs
  • Mike Wright: 1.0 sacks; 1.5 TFLs; 1 rushing touchdown
  • Cody Fair: 0.5 sacks; 1.5 TFLs
  • Chase Bond: 1.0 sacks; 1.0 TFLs
  • Zach Liebler: pass interception
  • Tyler Hackenbracht: 37-yard kickoff return

(l-r) Ryan Page, Zach Liebler, Head Coach Nate Moore

Green Scouting Report

Green plays in the Federal League.  The Bulldogs are currently 10-3 with a 5-2 conference record.  Their big win of the year came in Week 10 when they defeated Uniontown Lake, 28-9.  Scores to-date:

  • Dover (6-5): 14-6 W
  • South Range (12-1): 21-7 W
  • Tallmadge (5-5): 41-14 W
  • Massillon Jackson (5-6): 13-20 L
  • Canton McKinley (9-4): 27-28 L
  • Canton GlenOak (7-5): 31-28
  • Louisville (1-9): 42-7 W
  • Massillon Perry (4-7): 14-20 L
  • North Canton (6-6): 41-34 W
  • Uniontown Lake (8-4): 28-0 W
  • Columbus St. Charles (5-6): 44-14 W
  • North Canton (6-6): 31-7 W
  • Canal Winchester (11-2): 10-0 W

“Green is an excellent team,” said Moore.  “Very well coached.  Very physical.  Some good athletes.  Everybody playing now is really good.  And Green is no exception.”

The Green offense is more diverse than two years ago, employing a lot of empty backfield, while also featuring the run game.  The will utlize both short and long passing attacks.

The strength of the offense lies with the wide receiver group.  Two players really stand out for Moore.  Senior Zachary Baglia (6′-1″, 180) is a 2-year returning starter and 1st Team Federal League selection.  As the top target he has caught 70 passes for 917 yards (13.1 ave.) .  He has a good release and good hand.  And he is also a good blocker.  Junior Antonio Martin (6′-0″, 185), the brother of former player Trey Martin, is also a 1st Team Fed selection.  A 2-year starter, he is the No. 2 target and is featured in the bubble screens.  He has seven receiving touchdowns and five rushing TDs, as he is used at times as a running back.

The quarterback is senior Camino Manson (6′-3″, 195), a returning starter  and 2nd Team All-Federal League selection.  He is an accurate passer when not under pressure.  Manson began the year as the starter, but broke his collar bone in Week 5 against Canton McKinley, in that game he completed 5 of 7 passes for 173 yards.  Healed up, he returned to the field in time for the first round of the playoffs.  In an earlier loss to Jackson he completed 36 of 55 passes for 308 yards.  Last week  against Canal Winchester he completed 20 of 28 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown.

When they use a running back it is senior Jorden Beyl (5′-10″, 170).  He is a downhill, vertical runner.  He has also rushed for over 100 yards in three of the past four games.  Against Lake he carried the ball 30 times for 125 yards.

The best lineman are Junior Michael Schaal (6′-1″, 235) and senior Jesse Miller (6′-2″, 260).  Both are All-Federal League honorees.  Schaal is a 2-year returning starter, with high a motor and good feet.  The interior of the line is smallish, weighing between 215 lbs. and 220 lbs.

In the win over Lake, Green led in total yards 313 to 89.  Lake’s Nathan Baker was held to 60 yards on 14 carries.  In the win over Canal Winchester, Green led in total yards, 367 to 121.  However, the Bulldogs managed just 47 yards on the ground in 24 carries, as Winchester played all night in the Green backfield, sacking the quarterback five times.  Winchester struggled to move the ball on Green, rushing 30 times for 82 yards and completing just 5 of 16 passes.

On defense, Green uses an odd front and some even, with occasional bear.  With the odd front, it resembles an odd-stack.  The strength lies with the defensive line. starting with Michael Schaal, who also starts on the offensive line.  He leads the group with 14 sacks and 25 tackles-for-loss.  Two other players to keep an eye on are senior returning starter Nick Schaal (6′-2, 260) and senior returning starter Jesse Miller.  Miller also starts on the offensive line.

The next best group is the defensive backfield.  The best player of that group is Martin, who also starts at wide receiver.  The four linebackers havew average size, ranging from 165 lbs. to 205 lbs.  Two of the players go both ways. In fact, Green will employ six 2-way players.

Go Tigers


2023: Massillon 41, Grove City Central Crossing 6

Massillon Demolishes Central Crossing in First-Round Playoff Action

Game Statistics

The state playoffs got underway Friday with Massillon, the Number 1 team in Region 7,  hosting Number 16 Grove City Central Crossing.  Using an overwhelming passing attack and a devastating defense, the Tiger rolled past the Comets, 41-6, with a running clock in place for the entire fourth quarter.  With the win, Massillon advances to the second round, where they will host No. 9 Westerville South (7-3), a winner over No. 8 Columbus Briggs, 49-30.

Grove City perhaps knew that they couldn’t take away the entire Massillon offense due to the many weapons at their disposal.  So, they elected to focus on stopping the run by using constant blitzes, very similar to the strategy employed by Warren Harding in an earlier Tiger game.  While they did hold the Massillon running attack to just 100 yards and produced eight tackles-for-loss, they opened themselves up to the pass.  That’s when quarterback Da’One Owens and his bevy of swift receivers clocked the Comet secondary to the tune of 341 yards passing and four touchdowns.  The Tigers also scored the first four times they had the ball in rolling up nearly 250 yards of offense through the first quarter and a half.

Meanwhile, the defense was once again a dominating force, this time holding the opponent to a net 47 yards of offense, 14 on the ground and 33 in the air.  They also recorded three quarterback sacks, although it seemed like more, and eleven tackles-for-loss.  Linebacker Dorian Pringle was all over the field and ended the night with nine tackles and three TFLs.  The only time Central Crossing was able to get in the board was on a 5-yard drive following a blocked punt, when stellar running back Malik Kamara (Navy) scored on a sweep to the left.  It was the first running touchdown surrendered by the first team defense the entire season.

Massillon received the opening kickoff and drove 64 yards in ten plays to take an early 7-0 lead, with Pringle powering in from the three.  The key play was a third down, 24-yard pass from Owens to Emy Louis Jr.  Vinny Keller then kicked the first of his five successful PATs.

Braylyn Toles

After holding the Comets to a 3-and-out, the Tiger offense returned to the field at their own 33.  This time it took just three plays to cover the 67 yards, with the finish a perfectly thrown, 49-yard bomb from Owens to Braylyn Toles, who had beaten the defender down the middle of the field.

Once again Central Crossing was stopped, having started a drive at their own 25, then punting from the 18.  Owens passed 12 yards to Jacques Carter and then went deep to Carter for a 49-yard score and Massillon’s third touchdown, while still in the first quarter.

Another 3-and-out for the Comets.  Another punt.  This time it took eight plays to cover 56 yards.  An 18-yard run by Mylen Lenix for a first down.  A 14-yard pass to fullback Deangelo Zimmerman for a first down.  A 15-yard run by Lenix for a first down.  A 13-yard run by Lenix for a first down to advance the ball to the six.  On third and goal at the nine, the “jumbo” package entered the game, with Pringle and “Big” Mike Wright, one of the heroes of the McKinley game, lining up at running back.  Wright gained four and then Pringle bulled the rest of the way.  Score, 28-0.  Game over.

The Tigers had a chance to tally a fifth touchdown before halftime, but it was a near-miss at the end zone on a skinny pass to Carter.

In the third quarter, Owens fumbled at his own 41.  Central Crossing lost ground in three plays and was forced to punt, with Tyler Hackenbracht returning the ball 38 yards to midfield.  But a questionable block in the back (it was more a shove against his right shoulder), brought the ball back to the Massillon 30.  A holding penalty on the first play negated an 18-yard run by Owens and eventually Hackenbracht was forced to punt for the first and only time of the night.  That’s when the Comets blocked it and took over at the five, setting up their lone score.

A renewed energy was evident in the Massillon offense after that event and, following an onside kick that was recovered by Pringle, the Tigers needed just four plays to cover the 51 yards.  A 21-yard pass to Toles, an 11-yard pass to Toles, a 4-yard run by Owens and a 15-yard pass to Louis did the trick.  The Tigers then tried for a 2-point conversion to send the game into running-clock, but they came up just short.  That would need to wait for the next possession.

The final score came when Owens connected with Toles on a 20-yard pass.  It was set up by a 20-yard completion to Jadyce Thigpen.  After that, the backups took over.

Da’One Owens

Owens finished the night completing 20 of 27 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns.  The 341 yards is ranked sixth all-time in the Massillon record book.  Toles caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.  Carter grabbed six for 100 yards and a score.  Lenix led all rushers with six carries for 47 yards.  Hackenbracht had four kick returns for 73 yards.  Pringle had nine tackles and Cody Fair had seven.  Massillon was penalized seven times (traditional average) for 80 yards.

For Central Crossing, quarterback Luke White completed six of twelve passes for 33 yards.  White also led the team with eight tackles.  Kamara rushed 14 times for a net 26 yards and a touchdown.  Dyhlan Phillippi had a good night, punting eight times with an average of 38.1 yards per attempt.

On a comical note, Owens was flagged for a block in the back while he was on the bench, Zach Liebler was called for holding while he was returning a kick and some “red team” was called for an off-setting personal foul.  That third call sent the fans into a laughable frenzy, for there is no “red” in Massillon.  Shame!  Indeed, refereeing sports is a challenging profession.

Go Tigers!

2023: Massillon 35, Canton McKinley 0

Massillon Crushes Canton McKinley, Wraps Up Undefeated Regular Season

Game Statistics

The 134th game between Massillon and Canton McKinley went to the Tigers by the score of 35-0.  Simply put, Massillon dominated play on both sides of the ball and sent the game into a running clock situation midway through the third quarter.  Offensively, they moved the ball with a multitude weapons, both running and passing, and only punted once throughout the game.  Meanwhile, the defense held the 7-3 Bulldogs to a net 65 yards, with negative yards on the ground.  McKinley never snapped the ball in the red zone.

The victory for Massillon marks the eighth consecutive win in the series and the twelfth in the last thirteen years.  The margin of victory, 35 points, is the greatest on the Massillon end since 1960, when the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 42-0.  It also ranks fourth overall in Massillon’s long history.  Finally, it was the 24th time that McKinley was shut out in the game.  Massillon now leads the series 76-53-5.

Statistically, no individual Tiger player stood out, although they all had great games.  They do what they do.  Da’One Owens completed 9 of 13 for 108 yards and two touchdowns.  He also ran eight times for 52 yards.  Braylyn Toles caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.  Jacques Carter caught three passes and Emy Louis Jr. scored on a pass of 30 yards.  Ja’Meir Gamble rushed 13 times for 71 yards.  Dorian Pringle rushed for 54 yards and scored twice.  And Adonis Marshall intercepted a pass and recorded five solo tackles.

Mike Wright Jr.

But if there was one player who rose above with his outstanding play it was “Big” Mike Wright Jr.  The 280 lb. junior played on both sides of the ball and was an impact player the entire day.  Playing on the defensive line, he harassed the McKinley quarterback again and again and managed to catch him three times for sacks that resulted in a loss of 22 yards.  Then on offense, when Massillon was in the “jumbo” set, he rushed twice for 11 yards and scored a touchdown.  He also tallied a PAT.  And he was the lead blocker for Pringle when he found the end zone twice.  “Big” Mike stepped up and what a game he had.

McKinley fumbled the opening kickoff, recovered and then lost seven yards in three rushing attempts to start the game.  It was an omen of things to come for the entire day.  After punting into the wind to their own 41, Owens on the first play from scrimmage unloaded a rainbow pass to Toles, who had comfortably beaten the defender on a post pattern.  Toles easily secured the ball in the end zone and the Tigers were on their way.  The PAT, which came following 30 yards in penalties, was wide.

On the next Bulldog possession, they fumbled at the Massillon 44 and the Tigers went right back to work.  However, they were stopped on downs at the Bulldog 14.  McKinley was playing good aggressive defense throughout the game and that meant Massillon needed to use the entire arsenal to move the ball effectively.  This Massillon drive was halted on downs, but not the next four.  For Massillon was able to find the right plays to beat this defense and move the ball effectively, while also overcome numerous technical penalties.

The next time the Tigers had the ball, they drove 39 yards in six plays with Pringle taking it in from the 18 off a great block by Wright.   Wright then ran in the PAT to make the score 14-0.  Now came a perfectly executed onside kick by Vinny Keller to kickstart yet another scoring drive.  This time Wright ran the ball in from the eight at the end of a six play 49-yard effort that was keyed by a 21-yard, third down run by Owens.  Finally, Owens hit a wide-open Lewis on a skinny post for a 30-yard score, upping the margin to 28-0 headed into the locker room.  The drive was kick-started by a 24-yard burst up the middle by Gamble, with a facemask penalty tacked on at the end.  Two plays later Gamble raced for another 28.  Those two runs accounted for most of his yardage, as the Bulldog defense was taking that part of the game away.

The final score came following the second half kickoff when Massillon engineered a masterful 16-play, 74-yard drive that consumed most of the third quarter.  It culminated in a 4-yard touchdown run by Pringle, again with a great block by Wright, and sent the game into a running-clock mode.  Each time the Tigers were faced with short yardage during the drive the “jumbo” set entered the game.  And they never failed to pick up the first down.

Interestingly, on McKinley’s final possession toward the end of the game, the referees huddled for at least two minutes to determine whether Massillon had recovered a fumble.  Meanwhile, the clock continued to run.  Perhaps, the referees had enough of the unsportsmanlike play that was evident throughout the game and they just wanted to get it over with.  Once they agreed that the Tigers had the ball, Owens took a knee twice to end the game.

McKinley quarterback Keaton Rode was the catalyst of the offense and the Tigers did a great job of minimizing his production.  He ended up completing 8 of 12 passes for 80 yards, with one ball intercepted by Adonis Vaughn.  But nearly all were thrown under the coverage.  He was also sacked five times.  Four completions went to Keith Quincy for 35 yards.  Backup running back Stephon Thomas was the leading ball carrier for the Bulldogs and he gained just 19 yards.

Unfortunately, the game turned into a flag fest, with 18 thrown on the Tigers and 14 on the Bulldogs.  For Massillon, sixteen were of the execution variety, while two were for personal fouls.  Eleven of the technical penalties were on the offense, but fortunately not enough to slow down the powerful Tiger offense.  But several of the defensive penalties did aid the Bulldogs to the tune of five first downs.  For McKinley, seven were technical and seven were 15-yarders.  Six of the seven major ones occurred in the second and third quarters, after Massillon had essentially salted the game away.  Losing is tough.

Overall, the penalty part of the game wasn’t pretty.  But show me a team that played penalty-free and I’ll show you a team that lost.  The physicality of play is not absent in this game and sometimes it spills over into extra-curricular activities.  But both sides have that passion to win.  And if that passion goes by the wayside, then this rivalry is surely gone forever.  For the passion within a rivalry greatly outweighs any domination in the win-loss column.

That being said, the negativity spilled over into the handshake and continued when the Bulldog players chased the retreating Tigers to the opposite side of the field.  Most of it was posturing, although a handful of players were looking for some action.  Eventually, the coaches were able to separate the two groups and all departed to their respective locker rooms, foregoing the victory celebration and award ceremony.  It was a sad ending to such a great rivalry and something both schools will need to address.

Massillon will now head into the playoffs where they will first host Grove City Central Crossing (4-6) next Friday at 7:00 pm.  McKinley will host Strongsville (3-7).

2023: Massillon 42, Austintown Fitch 7

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

Game Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ja’Meir Gamble

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

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

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

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

Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in High School Are a Rare Breed

Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in High School Are a Rare Breed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Tigers!

2023: Massillon 15, Lakewood St. Edward 13

Tigers are Legit; Down Ohio No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward in Powerhouse Showdown

Game Statistics

It was billed as the second-best matchup in the country for this week.  No. 9 Lakewood St. Edward vs. No. 20 Massillon.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Big offensive plays.  Stifling defenses.  Special teams highlights.  And points left on the table.  But most of all, it had heart.  Lots of heart.  By both teams.  In the end, The Tigers came out on top 15-13, but the game itself showcased two of the best teams in the state, if not the country.

The scoring

The Eagles got on the board in the second quarter following a pass interception at the Massillon 31 yard line.  On 2nd down at the 31 quarterback Thomas Csanyi hit Brian Sullivan on a skinny post at the ten and he ran the rest of the way for the score.  But the Tigers’ Dorian Pringle broke through the line and blocked the PAT attempt.  Score, 6-0.

Massillon came right back and engineered an 8-play, 69-yard drive that ended with quarterback DaOne Owens running it in from the eight yard line.  It came on the last of his eight carries on that drive that netted 42 yards.  Vinny Keller’s kick was good and the Tigers took a 7-6 lead into the locker room.

Late in the third quarter Owens got loose again, outracing the St. Ed secondary around the left side for a 20-yard touchdown run.  It capped a 4-play 62-yard drive.  Now, seizing a point differential opportunity, the Tigers elected to go for two to make it a 2-score advantage.  The gamble paid off when Owens found a seam up the middle and the margin improved to 15-6.

The score remained that way throughout most of the fourth period, with the clock continuing to expel precious time and thereby limit opportunities for the Eagles to find two scores.  Eventually, Csanyi found Kyan Mason along the right sideline on a 38-yard pass to convert a fourth down and 32 with about a minute and a half left in the game.  That placed the ball at the 15 yard line.  Then on third down, Sullivan outjumped the Massillon defender in the corner of the end zone and came down with the touchdown pass.  The PAT made the score 15-13 and all that now remained was the onside kick, which the Tigers’ Owens recovered.

The entire game can simply be described as a slugfest.  Clean, but brutal.  Massillon ended up punting three times, while losing the ball three times on turnovers.  Meanwhile, St. Edward punted six times and was intercepted once.

The offenses

The Eagle mantra for all of last season and up to this game was quarterback Casey Bullock running the read-option.  Although he is considered an average but effective passer, his forte was running the ball.  And he was instrumental in using his feet to lead his team to the Division 1 state title last year.  But he was injured last week at the end of the game against Elder and was not available for this one.  In stepped junior Thomas Csanyi.  Although he is not the runner Bullock is, he is certainly a very good passer.  Last week he led the Eagles to victory with his arm and against Massillon he threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns.  St. Eds may have been hampered a bit with the loss of Bullock, but not too terribly much.  Six of his catches went to Mason and another five to Sullivan.

Owens was the first Massillon quarterback on the field and he immediately drove the team near the goal line, on the heels of an explosive 42-yard run.  Slaughter was on next and brought the air game.  But it fizzled on account of a stiff Eagle pass rush, which included three future Power-5 players in their front-6.  So, the coaching staff opted to remain with Owens for the rest of the game.  After searching for what would work against a stout Eagle defense, they settled on an empty backfield set with three wide receivers and put the ball in Owens’ hands.  He responded admirably by rushing 26 times for 176 yards (6.8) and scored two touchdowns.  He also completed 8 of 11 passes for 50 yards, five of which went to Braylyn Toles for 30 yards.

The defenses

The Eagles were able to completely control any ground game by the Tiger running backs.  They held the combination of Peyyton Mitchell, Ja’Meir Gamble and Dorian Pringle to just 30 yards in 9 attempts (3.3).  They also controlled the middle of the field in defense of middle and long-range passes.  But the corners and safeties played a bit off the edge wide receivers and that’s where Owens exploited them with his passes, converting several third downs to move the sticks.  Of course, they were not able to fully shut down Owens with his running.  St. Edward switched to an uncharacteristic for them odd front defensive line for this game, although the Massillon offensive line was able to adequately adjust.

Meanwhile, the Tiger front-7 was facing one of the largest offensive lines in the country.  The Eagles average 6’-5”, 299 lbs.  They have two players going to Ohio State and one to Michigan, and all were 4-star recruits.  On paper, it was an obvious mismatch.  But someone forgot to tell Massillon.  Especially, linemen Mike Wright Jr., Chase Bond and Malachi Card.  And particularly, linebackers Dorian Pringle and Cody Fair.  Collectively, along with a swift defensive secondary, they held the Eagle ground game to just 59 yards off of 39 carries.   1.9 yards per attempt.  Not a bad night’s work.  St. Edwards did find some modest success up the middle behind that massive line, with their running backs gaining 78 yards.  And speedy Akron commit Kyan Mason ran four times in the jet sweep for another 15.  But Csanyi was sacked three times for a loss of 34 yards.

Special teams

Dan Tome, the Eagle punter, did a great job, several times pinning the Tigers back toward their own end zone.  He finished the game with a 37.7 yard average and placed three punts within the 20 yard line.  But then St. Edward had that extra point blocked and in the end it made all the difference.

The onside kick following the final St. Ed score took a nice hop over the first line of defense.  But Owens was right behind to secure the ball and fall to the ground.  It also locked up the win.

Missed opportunities

 For St.  Edward

  • 3rd quarter – Drove to the Massillon 29 and was intercepted by Adonis Vaughn. Mike Wright was putting all kinds of pressure on the quarterback, which caused Csanyi’s pass to fall short in the attempt to throw it away to avoid the sack.
  • 4th quarter – Drove to the Massillon 31 but lost the ball on downs when the running back was tackled in the backfield.

For Massillon

  • 1st quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 7, aided by a 42-yard run by Owens to the Eagle 14. The Tigers were stopped on downs at the seven when Pringle was caught in the backfield on fourth and one.
  • 2nd quarter – Da’One Owens completed a long touchdown pass to Jacques Carter, but called back for holding in an area remote from the play.
  • 3rd quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 23 and fumbled the ball.
  • 4th quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 31 and was stopped on downs.


It was the second consecutive season that Massillon knocked off St. Edward.  Last year it ended up being the Eagles’ only loss enroute to a state title.  So, with another potential undefeated season gone by the wayside, this year’s loss had to sting a little.  But regardless, the Eagles are certainly not any less of a team after having lost and the Tigers have great respect for them.  In addition, this game is beginning to turn into nice little rivalry.

Next week Massillon (5-0) will host Middletown, DE (3-0).  Last year the Tigers came out on top, 42-24.  St.Edward (4-1) hosts River Rouge, MI (1-3).

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 2 – Post-GlenOak;…

2023 Booster Club Report – Week 2 – Post-GlenOak; Preview of the Mansfield Game

Massillon (2-0) easily disposed of Canton GlenOak (1-1) last Friday with a 56-7 victory.  For the Golden Eagles, it was the second worst defeat in their football history, behind the 1999 loss to Perry by the score of 62-0.  This week the Tigers play home against Mansfield (1-1).  Massillon defeated the Tygers last year 33-0 and leads the overall series, 44-4-5, the first game having been played in 1909.  The series is the Tigers’ fourth longest, behind Canton McKinley (133 games), Warren Harding (87) and Alliance (75).

Link to the GlenOak Game Story

Link to the GlenOak Game Statistics

Other scores:

  • 7th Grade (2-0): Defeated Canton GlenOak, 20-6.  Play home vs. Mansfield on Tuesday, August 29, at 6:00 pm.
  • 8th Grade (2-0): Defeated Canton GlenOak, 46-24.  Plays at Maple Heights on Wednesday, August 30, at 6:00 pm.
  • Freshmen (2-0): Defeated Canton GlenOak, 46-0, leading 40-0 at the half.  Plays at Mansfield on Saturday, September 2, at 10:00 am.
  • Junior Varsity (1-1): Defeated Canton GlenOak, 48-36.  Plays home vs. Canton McKinley on Monday, September 4, at 1:00 pm.

Review of the GlenOak game

“I thought our kids played really, really well,” said Head Coach Nate Moore.  “We executed.  We played hard.  We made big plays.  Our defense was lights out.”  He also stated that it was good to get the JV players on the field.

The guest players were defensive lineman Chase Bond and quarterback Da’One Owens.  “GlenOak was well-coached,” said Bond.  “Nothing negative to say.  We were just better.”  He also remarked that the experience the front-7 gained last year as starters keeps this group “one step ahead.”  Owens added that GlenOak was a pretty good team.  “They played hard,” he said.  “We were just better.”

During the film presentation, Moore said that the special teams had another good day.  The offense got a good push in the run game, especially in the red zone.  But it was the passing game that appeared to be emphasized in both of the past two weeks.  Is this by design?  Perhaps.  Moore said that he aims to put the ball into the hands of the team’s best play makers, in this case the quarterbacks and wide receivers.  Not to say the running backs don’t also have some good talent to throw into the mix.

Statistics leaders:

  • Jalen Slaughter: 4 of 6 passing for 153 yards, 0 interceptions and 2 touchdowns
  • Da’one Owens: 5 of 8 passing for 125 yards, 0 interceptions and 3 touchdowns
  • Peytton Mitchell: 12 carries for 127 yards (10.6), 0 touchdowns
  • Jacques Carter: 3 receptions for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Kyler Wiggins: 2 receptions for 60 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Deangelo Zimmerman: 2 receptions for 59 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Dorian Pringle: 6 tackle points (6-0), 1 sack, 3 tackles-for-loss
  • Team offense: 40 plays for 467 yards (11.7)

Mansfield Scouting Report

Offensively, the Tygers operate out of the spread, usually with four wide receivers.  It is within this group that Mansfield showcases its best all-around player, 6′-0″, 175 lb. senior Amarr Davis, who is a returning starter.  This is definitely the player the Massillon defense must keep an eye on, for he can take it to the house from any position on the field.  As the Tygers’ primary receiving weapon, his yards after catch are often used to great advantage.  He runs fast and can leap high over the defender to catch the ball.  At times, he will line up as a running back or wildcat quarterback.  And he also plays cornerback on defense.

Moore likes three of Mansfield’s offensive linemen:

  • Senior tackle Ahmaan Thomas (6′-4″, 290), a returning starter.  Good run blocker.  Physical.
  • Senior tackle Jahmere Dotson (6′-4″, 280), a returning starter.  Good on pass protection.  High effort.  Good hands.
  • Senior guard Carmelo Smith (6′-2″, 250), a returning starter.  Athletic.  Physical.  Plays hard.  Best lineman.

The quarterback is returning starter, senior Duke Reese.  He is a better runner than a passer.  Conversely, last year against the Tigers he completed 15 of 24 passes for for 125 yards in a 33-0 loss.  Although, he didn’t add much to the run game.  His status is questionable due to an injury, but his backup, junior Nate Dismuke (5′-10″, 185), can be just as effective.  The running back is returning starter, senior Zyion Brown (5′-9″, 190).  He has good speed and runs hard.

Defensively, Mansfield will line in up what Moore calls the “flavor of the week.”  Some 3-front,  Some 4- front.  Cover-1, cover-3 and cover-4.  Mostly based on the offensive formation.  Moore said that as a group they are pretty good, but only one player particularly stands out.  That is senor Carmelo Smith (6′-2″, 250).  He is their best defensive lineman.  A quick, physical, down hill player.  He’s also very aggressive when he moves to linebacker.

Go Tigers!