Greatest Victories of All-Time – The 1950s

1st – 1957 – MASSILLON (4-1) vs. WARREN HARDING (6-0) – 20-14

  • Coaches – Massillon: Lee Tressel;  Warren: Gene Slaughter
  • Prelude – Warren was undefeated and No. 1 in the state, while Massillon had a 13-7 loss to Cleveland Benedictine.
  • The Game – Attendance: 12,000 at Warren. Massillon scored two first quarter touchdowns, with Ivory Benjamin running in from the 4 yard line and Clyde Childers (Georgia) catching a 29-yard pass from Gene Stewart, to take a 14-0 lead.  Warren then fought back with two second half scores to tie it up at 14 apiece.  Then with 2:38  left in the game, the Tigers returned a punt to their 38 yard line to set up a final drive.  The ball was moved to  the Warren 46 and with just four seconds left, strong-armed sophomore quarterback Joe Sparma (Ohio State / Detroit Tigers) entered the game and tossed deep pass to Childers.  The 6′-2″ end snagged the pass between two Warren defenders at the three yard line and lunged across the goal line for the winning score, as the clock expired. Pandemonium erupted and the try for the extra point never did take place.   But there was still some post-game drama to come.  According to the Warren Tribune Chronicle, a Warren fan contacted the Harding coach on the sideline after the game and claimed that a minute of time was added to the clock after it reached the 0:59 mark, obviously aiding the Tigers during their final march to the end zone.  A later investigation by the high school association discounted the claim.  But it later became a great folklore story as the “clock game.”
  • Postscript – Massillon finished the season 8-1 with a second place ranking in the state. Their lone loss was to Cleveland Benedictine, which finished first.  Warren ended at 9-1 and was fourth.  Childers was named 1st Team All-Ohio.  Sparma was named 1st Team All-Ohio two years later as a senior.  Tressel would later coach Baldwin-Wallace.  Slaughter would later coach Capital University.

2nd – 1950 – MASSILLON (8-0) vs. BARBERTON (7-0) – 35-6

  • Coaches – Massillon: Chuck Mather; Barberton: June Ferrall
  • Prelude – Both teams entered the game undefeated.
  • The Game – Attendance: 21,198, one the largest ever crowds at Tiger Stadium.  Indeed, Barberton came to play and held Massillon scoreless in the first half, while scoring in the second period on a 25-yard pass to take a 6-0 lead into the locker room.  Three turnovers also plagued the Tigers.  It was the first time they had trailed in a game all season and the fans were on edge, with the outcome very much in doubt.  But in the second half, with the appropriate defensive adjustments having been made, the Massillon players increased the intensity and came roaring back to score 35 unanswered points and win going away.  Bob Howe (Kansas) scored three rushing touchdowns and Fred Waikem added two more.  Defensively, Barberton managed just six total yards in the second half.  In the end, the Tigers were just bigger and simply wore the Magics down.
  • Postscript – Massillon finished the season 10-0 and captured their third straight state title.  Barberton was 8-1 and ranked third behind 9-1 Hamilton.  Howe was named 1st Team All-Ohio.  Mather would later coach Kansas University.

3rd – 1951 – MASSILLON (2-0) vs. STEUBENVILLE (2-0) – 13-6

  • Coaches – Massillon: Chuck Mather; Steubenville: Roy Hoyman
  • Prelude – It was played early in the season, but with both teams coming off of outstanding seasons the previous year.  It was also a chance for the Big Red, which was coached by a Massillon alumni, to grab one at home against his former team in a venue that is entirely unfriendly to visiting teams.
  • The Game – Attendance: 10,000 at Steubenville.  It was a defensive struggle throughout, in spite of both teams possessing high-powered offenses.  As such, the score was tied at six apiece through three quarters, with Bob Grier (Pittsburgh) having scored for the Tigers on a short run in the second quarter and Steubenville tallying in the third.  But Massillon had the last say, driving 88 yard and breaking the deadlock with a powerful 2-yard run by Henry “Ace” Grooms (Kansas) with just ten seconds left in the game.  He just made it over the goal line on the play and had he failed to score the game would have ended in a tie, as the Tigers were out of timeouts.  Eight times during that final drive Grooms carried the ball and he gained yardage on each try, garnering 55 in all.  The other backs also contributed.  By game’s end, Massillon led in total offense 227-105.
  • Postscript – Massillon finished at 9-1, with a loss to Warren Harding, but was ranked first, for the fourth straight time.  Steubenville was 9-1 and second, while 8-3 Warren, which had a loss to Steubenville, was seventh.  Note: There were no significant undefeated teams that year.