The Massillon football program has always been known for its great traditions. Many of these are unique to the football season, while others are carried on throughout the year. Over time some will end, others will change and there will always be new ones. But the avid Tiger fans that uphold them make no excuses, for these traditions are dear to their hearts.
The Football Team
- Freshmen players receive an orientation of Massillon football history from a Booster Club member.
- A Lift-a-Thon is conducted whereby players in various weight classes are tested for strength. Winners receive medals and boasting rights.
- The Tiger Moms perform a great service by soliciting area businesses for food to feed the players during preseason practices.
- “Sideliners” are paired up with the players to provide season-long mentoring. A joint dinner is held on Thursday prior to each game.
- Uniforms and helmets are continuously upgraded for the latest designs and up-to-date safety features.
- Pre-season practice opens with a team camp wherein the players are sequesters for 2-3 days to bond with each other.
- Prior to the game, the team walks formally from the high school to the stadium and pauses in front of the Paul Brown statue to pay homage to the father of Massillon football.
- An attitude prevails on the team that they are going to win every game.
- At the conclusion of the game, the team gathers at midfield to perform 15 pushups, symbolizing the 15 games that are played (10 regular season and 5 playoff) in order to win a state championship. The fans stay to count each pushup.
- After the pushups, the players join the band, arms on shoulders, to sing the alma mater, a ballad unique to the high school.
- Massillon’s slogan is the “City of Champions.”
- The Booster Club generates funds for various team needs through a host fund raising activities, such as club memberships, business discount gold card sales, corporate sponsorships and the golf outing.
- The Spring Kickoff is a dinner event held every April or May, providing an opportunity for the head coach to brief the Booster Club members and general public guests on the prognosis for the upcoming season. It normally features a guest speaker, such as the head coach of Ohio State or other high ranking NCAA team.
- Fans are invited to purchase Booster Club memberships. Each member is presented with a unique hand-painted Obie membership pin.
- Miniature footballs are presented in the hospital to all newborn babies associated with Tiger fans.
- Periodically, Massillon players who have demonstrated achievement throughout their football career and through other non-football activities are inducted into the Wall of Champions.
- Annually, deserving football players, coaches and other persons connected with the Massillon program are inducted into the Tiger Hall of Fame.
- Avid fans and businesses purchase monogrammed bricks for display in the Walk of Pride located at the home entrance of the stadium.
- The Obie logo adorns everything in Massillon related to the football program. It is also incorporated into many non-football elements, such as auto license plates emblazoned with the Obie logo available for purchase through the DMV.
During the Season
- Lincoln Way in downtown Massillon is decorated with Tiger flags hung from utility poles.
- Tiger Signs are placed in the yards to indicate the residences of Massillon players.
- A Season Kickoff Rally is held at Duncan Plaza during the week prior to the first game. The event features the football team, senior bandsmen, cheerleaders and local guest speakers. Tiger stripe ice cream is provided by the Booster Club after the event.
- The Booster Club meets each week to provide fans an opportunity to hear the head coach review the previous game and preview the next one. Selected team captains also address the audience. The Booster Club was formed at the request of Coach Paul Brown in 1934.
- The Touchdown Club meets each week to enjoy lunch and a presentation by the head coach. At the end of the season, the club honors a deserving player with the “Bob Commings Memorial Hardnose Award.”
- Orange paper strips are printed to denote the each week’s opponent, worded with “Beat (opponent)” and distributed to the fans.
- Occasionally, a live tiger is present at the game.
- “Go Tigers” signs can be found along the route to each away game.
- It would not be unusual to hear the “TIG-ERS” chant in a restaurant prior to a road game.
- Tailgating occurs before every home game. A calliope playing fight songs entertains the fans on the home side as they enter the stadium.
- A 20-foot tiger balloon is inflated in the northeast corner of the field.
- A blowup tiger head and tunnel are inflated in the northwest corner of the field, where the players will cue prior their entrance.
- The band performs a pre-game show, initiated by the drum major launching his baton high into the air, while the fans hope for good luck if he catches it.
- The band forms a block “M” providing a pathway to the sidelines for the players when entering the field. Within the “M” is a unique themed hoop manned by cheerleaders for players to run through, while the band urges them on with the playing of Tiger Rag. A student mascot garbed in a pseudo tiger skin and head (at one time a real tiger skin and head was used) leads the way.
- Senior football players, band members and cheerleaders are recognized at the last home game.
- During a selected mid-season game, the homecoming court is presented and the queen is crowned.
During the Game
- A rabid 12th man fan base, outfitted in orange and black attire, celebrates every big play and touchdown with a loud roar and high-fives.
- Fireworks are set off after each score.
- Fans on the east and west side of the stadium alternate with a “TIG” – “ERS” cheer.
- During halftime the band opens the show by marching up and down the field playing Fanfare, Tiger Rag and Carry On, tunes written by former band director George “Red” Bird. Midway, the drum major tosses his baton over the north goal post.
- After a big win, the fans may spontaneously erupt in the “We Are … Massillon” chant.
- Fireworks are set off after each win.
- The scoreboard displays the latest total count of historical victories.
- The flag is lowered, accompanied by the band playing a patriotic tune.
- A street party follows any major win and all playoff victories
Canton McKinley Game
- “Beat McKinley” paper strips are released from the home side room at the conclusion of the prior week’s game.
- The blowup tiger head is rotated among the various schools to welcome the students in the morning to the school.
- The high school is heavily adorned in orange and black banners and crepe paper supporting the Tigers; the school is then open to the public on Thursday before the game.
- The senior band members and cheerleaders provide entertainment at the Monday Booster Club meeting. On Thursday they march and play through the downtown business and include a brief stop at the Touchdown Club.
- The mayors of Massillon and Canton place personal wagers on the outcome.
- A blood drive and food drive are conducted.
- On Friday evening is the Beat McKinley parade and bonfire.
- On Saturday morning the team gathers at a local church for a traditional ceremony.
- Throughout the morning, fireworks bombs are launched every 15-30 minutes to remind fans to stay focused on the game.
- Tailgating prior to the game rivals that of the colleges.
- Orange and black balloons are released as the team enters the field.
- Following the game, the rotating Victory Bell is awarded to the winner.
- The live tiger was maintained for the entire season by the Tiger Crew; fans were encouraged on a selected game to help feed the tiger through their donations; the tiger was displayed at the various schools during the week of the McKinley game.
- There was a snake dance during the downtown party.
- Prior to the installation of mercury vapor lighting, the lights in the stadium would be turned off during band show and the band members would turn on their leg lights.
- Prior to the game, players would throw pennies over both crossbars for good luck.
- Each goal post was wrapped in crepe paper; the west halves in orange and black and the east halves with the opponent’s colors.
- The starting Massillon players were introduced individually when entering the field. The band would form a double line and each player would run through the formation with the stadium lights off and a spot light on the player.
- Women wore decorated mums for the McKinley game.
- During conditioning, the players would run up the hill next to the practice field to touch the rock and then quickly return.
- While the game was being played, in order to provide in-game updates to people who work the afternoon shift, the Booster Club distributed scoreboards and had a designated individual call selected businesses from the press box.
- The tune “Shout” was played following each Tiger touchdown.
- On the next morning following the game, local radio station WTIG would rebroadcast the game and then host “The Coach’s Hot Seat,” providing an opportunity for call-in fans to have their questions addressed by the head coach.
- Playoff tickets were at such a premium that fans would begin to form a line to the ticket window on the evening prior to the sale. Over a thousand fans would be in line when the window opened.