1st – 1994 – MASSILLON (8-1) vs. CANTON MCKINLEY (8-1) – 42-41, o.t.
- Coaches – Massillon: Jack Rose: McKinley: Thom McDaniels
- Prelude – It was the 100th game in this long-standing rivalry and the media coverage leading up to it was unlike any other Massillon-McKinley game. ESPN gave it national exposure and even Bart Starr (Green Bay / Pro Football HOF) was on hand for the coin toss. All focus was on the game as both teams were finishing off outstanding seasons and had already qualified for the playoffs. Each teams possessed high-powered offenses that featured the quarterbacks. For Massillon it was Willie Spencer Jr. (Akron / Chicago), an athletic player that was the team’s leading scorer and second leading rusher. For McKinley it was Josh McDaniels (John Carroll / offensive coordinator at New England / head coach at Denver and Las Vegas), son of Bulldog head coach Thom McDaniels. Josh’s forte was the passing game.
The Game – Attendance: A sellout crowd of 19,125 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. After a scoreless first quarter the offenses took over in the second and the two teams combined to score four touchdowns, two by each team. For the Tigers, Spencer scored from the three and Leon Ashcraft went over from the two. McKinley’s second score came with 18 seconds left in the half, sending the teams to the locker room tied at 14. The points continued into the third with Massillon scoring twice. The first was a 62-yard pass to Victor Redrick from Spencer, who had handed off the ball and immediately received it back for the throw. On McKinley’s next possession, Adrian Brown (Youngstown State) scored on a short run and then the Tigers responded with another Spencer TD pass, this one going six yards to Vaughn Mohler. That gave Massillon a 28-21 lead going into the fourth. But the onslaught continued, with McKinley’s Kinta Mitchell scoring his third touchdown of the day to re-tie the game and Ashcraft putting Massillon back ahead on a 20-yard run. Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs then drove 68 yards in seven plays to tie the game at 35 and send it into overtime. It was fitting indeed that this classic continue on. Mitchell scored his fourth touchdown on McKinley’s initial overtime possession, but McDaniels, who was also the kicker, missed the extra point, leaving the door open for the Tigers. On second down from the 20, Spencer initially kept the ball on a run off-tackle, but then lateraled to Victor Redrick, who grabbed the pigskin at the 16 and sped untouched to the end zone to tie the score. Nick Pribich’s kick (photo) was true and it was all pandemonium on the home side. The two teams had combined for over 700 yards of offense, with Leon Ashcraft rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns and Spencer rushing for 94 and a score, while passing for another 103 yards and two scores. McDaniels was 14 of 20 for 148 yards. But for Massillon fans, they partied well into the night.
- Postscript – The two teams would meet again in the second round of the playoffs, with favored McKinley winning this time, 27-20. The Bulldogs would lose the following week to eventual state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius. Spencer was named 1st Team All-Ohio.
2nd – 1996 – MASSILLON (7-0) vs. CINCINNATI MOELLER (6-1) – 20-15
- Coaches – Massillon: Jack Rose; Moeller: Steve Klonne
- Prelude – Massillon had lost seven straight games to the Moeller and then finally won in 1995. Except, the Crusaders were down that year and finished 5-5. The game in 1996 was different. This time Moeller was back to form, coming to Tigertown with a 6-1 record, with a 2-point loss to Cincinnati Elder.
- The Game – Attendance: 13,102. Massillon led 13-12 at the half with the Tigers’ Josh Kreider returning a pass interception ten yards for a score and Elijah busting off a 35-yard TD run. Moeller managed a touchdown run and kicked two field goals. That 1-point margin would hold up well into the fourth quarter until halfback Massillon’s Dave Hodgson ripped off a 74-yard run to put the Tigers up 20-12. The defense then held Moeller to just a field goal the rest of the way. The Tiger defense was terrific throughout, surrendering a mere 96 yards of offense in the second half and just 93 in the air for the full game. Hodgson finished with 134 yards.
- Postscript – Massillon held onto its No. 1 state ranking in the A.P. Poll on the strength of this win and a prior victory over eventual playoff state champ Lima Senior. But more importantly, the win assured Massillon of a spot in the post-season playoffs, which now counts more than any poll. Massillon would lose 7-6 to Brunswick in Round 1 of the playoffs, a game that was played in six inches of snow. Moeller would lose to Elder in Round 2, their second to the Panthers that year, and post a 9-3 record.
3rd – 1994 – MASSILLON (9-1) vs. FREMONT ROSS (8-2) – 35-28
- Coaches – Massillon: Jack Rose; Fremont Ross: Rex Radeloff
- Prelude – It was the first round of the playoffs and the Tigers were facing one of the best running backs to ever play high school football in Charles Woodson, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy at Michigan and enjoy a long professional career at Green Bay and Oakland.
The Game – Attendance: 12,000 at Byers Field. As expected, this one was all about the offense. A back and forth affair, it was tied at 21 apiece at halftime, with Woodson scoring all of the TDs for Ross. Tied again at 35, the Tigers tallied with 10:53 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard pass from Willie Spencer Jr. (Akron) to Vaughn Mohler. The drive went for 71 yards. They then needed to buck up and stop Woodson. Which they did. Leon Ashcraft rushed for 136 yards and score. Spencer rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 130 on a 7 of 11 effort. Woodson lived up to his billing and gained 231 yards, scoring four TDs. But where was Woodson on Ross’s final drive?
- Postscript – Massillon would lose the following week in a rematch with Canton McKinley, 27-20. Spencer was named 1st Team All-Ohio.