Week 1 – Valdosta, GA – Massillon overcame a 14-0 deficit and defeated Valdosta, Georgia (0-1), 28-17. Valdosta is currently the No. 1 team in the country in terms of total historic wins. After netting just 13 yards through the first quarter, the Tigers rolled up 432 yards of total offense. They were led by senior quarterback Da’one Owens, who rushed 13 times for 241 yards and scored two touchdowns, on runs of 69 and 65 yards.
Week 2 – Canton GlenOak – It took Massillon only five plays to go up 21-0 enroute to a 56-7 blowout. Four pass plays went for 136 yards and the run play was for a 4-yard TD. And that’s the way the rest of the night went. Jalen Slaughter and Da’one Owens ended up combining for 278 yards and five touchdowns in the air, while Peytton Mitchell accounted for another 127 on the ground. Jacques Carter and Kyler Wiggins each scored twice off of pass receptions.
Week 3 – Mansfield – The Mansfield Tygers rolled into Paul Brown Tiger Stadium fresh off a 24-14 victory over defending Division 3 champion Canfield. But they were no match for a Massillon team that appears headed for another deep run in the state playoffs. The Tigers led at the half 35-10 and never looked back enroute to a running clock finish of 51-10. Massillon accounted for 443 yards of total offense, while the first team defense surrendered just a field goal. Quarterback Da’one Owens rushed five times for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns. Running back Peytton Mitchell rushed 17 times for 112 yards and scored one TD. The defense tackled the Mansfield runners behind the line of scrimmage nine times.
Week 4 – Elkhart, IN – Massillon rushed and passed for over 400 yards for the fourth consecutive week in a 55-0 romp over Elkhart, Indiana. Quarterback Jalen Slaughter completed 5 of 7 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Da’one Owens rushed for two scores, including a 42-yarder the first time he touched the ball. Also, running back Peytton Mitchell rushed 11 times for 91 yards. Meanwhile, the defense held the Lions to just 24 yards on the ground. The group accounted for 6.0 tackles-for-loss. The Tigers have scored over 50 points in each of the last three games, the first time that feat was accomplished since 1935.
Week 5 – Lakewood St. Edward – Massillon remained undefeated with a 15-13 victory over Lakewood St. Edward, the previously No. 9 team in the country and No. 1 team in Ohio Division 1. Quarterback Da’one Owens led the attack by rushing 26 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 8 of 11 passes, with five going to Braylyn Toles. The defense was challenged by an offensive line that averaged 6′-5″, 299 lbs. and considered to be the largest high school line in the country. But the D masterfully and held up with their great speed and physical play and limited the Eagles to a mere 1.9 yards per carry. Linebacker Dorian Pringle recorded 3.5 tackles-for-loss, two of which were quarterback sacks. The Tigers are currently ranked nationally in the Top 25.
Week 6 – Middletown, DE – Massillon played a complete game on both offense and defense in routing the Cavaliers, 41-7. Quarterback Jalen Slaughter completed 15 of 29 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. Eight of those passes were caught by the speedy Jacques Carter for 142 yards and a touchdown. His score came at the end of a rocket screen pass during which he sped through a very talented Middletown defensive backfield. Emy Louis Jr. and Braylyn Toles also scored TDs. On the ground, Dorian Pringle, who is used exclusively in short-yardage situations, scored three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense held the Cavaliers to negative 39 yards on the ground. Keying the effort was Pringle, who recorded two quarterback sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Also contributing was backup linebacker Shon Robinson, who had eight tackles, a sack and 2.5 TFLs.
Week 7 – St. John’s College HS, DC – Massillon played the final of four out-of-state opponents and came away victorious, 28-7. St. John’s, the No. 1 team in D.C. and boasting of ten Division 1, Power 5 recruits, provided a formidable test for the Tigers, bringing a potent offense and extremely fast defense to the game. They scored on their first possession with a 63-yard touchdown pass to take the early lead. But, Massillon responded with one its best drives of the season off a 7-play, 83-yard touchdown drive and eventually took a 21-7 lead into halftime. Ja’Meir Gamble led all rushers with 91 yards on 17 carries. Defensively, the Tigers controlled the talented skill-position Cadet players sufficiently enough to keep them off the board following their initial score. To date, Massillon’s first unit has yet to surrender a touchdown on the ground.
Week 8 – at Austintown Fitch – Massillon traveled to Austintown Fitch for their first road game of the season and came away with a convincing 42-7 victory. The Tigers rolled up 499 yards of total offense, while the defense held Fitch to just 12 yards on the ground. Junior running back Ja’Meir Gamble had a breakout game, rushing 17 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Near the end of the first half and with Massillon on top 21-7, the Falcons were driving for a margin-closing score, when defensive back Kyler Wiggins intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards to the Fitch 33 with just 21 seconds remaining in the half. From there, the Tigers managed to get in six plays, with Braylyn Toles catching a 6-yard pass from Da’Owens for the touchdown as time expired. The TD improved the score to 28-7 and put the game out of reach for the Falcons.
Week – 9 – Warren Harding – Massillon effectively took care of business on senior recognition night, downing visiting Warren Harding, 48-14. In fact, they built a large enough lead throughout the first half (42-7) that there was a running clock for nearly the rest of the game. The Raiders overloaded the line to stop the run, so the Tigers went to the passing game with great success, with quarterback Da’One Owens completing 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Two touchdown passes went to Jacques Carter. Defensively, Massillon held Warren to a negative 26 yards on the ground on 21 attempts and controlled the pass sufficiently to limit the Raiders to a single touchdown while the first team was on the field.
Week 10 – at Canton McKinley – The 134th game between Massillon and Canton McKinley went to the Tigers by the score of 35-0. 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. Ja’Meir Gamble led all rushers with 13 carries for 71 yards and Dorian Pringle scored twice on short runs. Da’Owens completed 9 of 13 passes for 108 yards and two scores. 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. Adonis Marshall and Cody Fair each had two tackles.
Week PO1 – Grove City Central Crossing – Massillon scored the first four times it had the ball in routing the Comets, 41-6. A running clock was in place for the entire fourth quarter. With Central Crossing blitzing on nearly every play to stop the run and pressure quarterback, the Tigers resorted with the passing game. Da’One Owens responded by completing 20 of 27 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns. On the receiving end were Braylyn Toles with 8 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns and Jacques Carter with 6 receptions for 100 yards and a TD. Dorian Pringle was in on nine tackles and recorded three tackles-for-loss. The Comets scored in the third quarter on a 5-yard drive following a blocked punt.
Week PO2 – Westerville South – It didn’t take long for Massillon to put this game out of the reach of visiting Westerville South, winning 50-7. With machine-like precision, the offense scored the first three times it touched the ball, on drives of 93, 59 and 49 yards, and led 42-0 at the half. A fourth that followed came via a fumble return, making the score 28-0 early in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the defense was its usual self, this time holding the opponent to a mere 75 yards of total offense, with most of that coming in the second half against the backups. Quarterback Da’One Owens rushed for two touchdowns and passed for a third. Ja’Meir Gamble rushed for 99 yards and scored once. South tallied their lone touchdown against the backups.
Week PO3 – Uniontown Lake – 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.
Week PO4 – Green – Massillon defeated Green (10-4) to capture its 16th regional playoff title in the 52-year history of OHSAA state tournament. The mark is the second most among all large Ohio schools, with only Cincinnati Moeller having more, with 19. The Tigers entered the season as a heavy favorite to win the region and they didn’t disappoint, with the players hoisting the award with great enthusiasm following the game. Massillon scored its final touchdown with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, sending the game into a running-clock situation. After that, the backups were inserted on both sides of the ball. Up until that time, however, they had rushed 45 times for 325 yards (7.2 ave). The first-team defense held the Bulldogs to negative 12 yards on the ground on 12 attempts and 5 of 24 passing for 57 yards. On special teams Chase Bond blocked a punt and Shon Robinson carried the ball 50 yards on a fake punt.
Week PO5 – Cincinnati Anderson – Massillon blasted Cincinnati Anderson (13-2), 55-7, in the state semifinal game played at Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus. Anderson, the Number 1 team in Region 8, had been averaging over forty points per game and was held to a single touchdown, coming on their first possession. After making the appropriate adjustments, the Tiger defense shut out the Raptors the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the offense never punted, although their were stopped on downs twice in Anderson territory. Massillon, which was in front 35-7 at the half, was led by quarterback Da’One Owens, who completed of 8 of 13 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 75 and TD. Michael Wright Jr. scored twice and Emy Lewis Jr. caught a 31-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 91-yard kickoff return, which followed the lone Raptor score.
Week PO6 – Akron Hoban – Massillon held off national power Akron Hoban (13-2) 7-2 to finish the season undefeated at 16-0 and capture the Division 2 State Championship. The crowd size was announced at 14,846, but it was surely larger as 20,000-seat Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium appeared at near capacity. The game was defensive struggle throughout, with both teams yielding rushing yardage grudgingly and negating the passing attacks. The two teams combined for eleven punts and there were only two penetrations into the red zone, one by each team. The Tigers scored their touchdown in the second quarter following a blocked punt by Chase Bond that gave Massillon the ball at the Hoban 28. Six plays later Mylen Lenix, lined up in the “jumbo” package, ran six yards through the middle of the Hoban line for the score. Vinny Keller added the PAT. Later in the quarter the Knights punted to the one, then scored a safety when Owens could not get the ball across the goal line. On Hoban’s final drive of the night they attempted a 4th down, 17-yard pass to take the lead. But the receiver could not secure the ball, with Dorian Pringle on coverage. The Tigers then ran out the clock. After returning to Massillon, the team, coaches, band and cheerleaders were greeted by several thousand boisterous Tiger fans, who celebrated the achievement into the night. It was Massillon’s first state championship during the playoff era and the first title since 1970. The Tigers now own 25 crowns and continue to lead all Ohio schools in that category. The win also propelled Massillon into a tie at the Number 2 position for all-time wins, behind Valdosta, Georgia, a team that the Tigers defeated in the season opener.