1961: Massillon 7, Canton McKinley 6
Tigers Beat McKinley
Bengal Team First In local History To Win 11 Games In A Season
By LUTHER EMERY
The ballots have been cast and in their number is the 1961 Ohio high school football champion.
Which team will it be?
Massillon’s Washington high school Tigers have the best record in games won and lost – 11 straight this season. No other state power can boast that many, and the Tigers have met and conquered many of Ohio’s strongest teams.
They deserve the title.
Last week they led the Associated Press poll by 29 points, and since last week they have added an 11th triumph to their schedule a 7-6 victory over Canton McKinley Saturday, to become the first team in Massillon history to win 11 games in a season.
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UNFORTUNATE the determining factor of some pollsters appears to be how close Massillon comes to losing a game, rather than by how many points the Tigers have measured some of the state’s powerhouses.
Since Saturday’s game was a close one, this could again be a factor in this week’s final voting in the AP poll which is recognized by the Ohio High School Football Coaches association as the poll to determine the state champion. The results of the poll will be officially announced Tuesday afternoon.
A gallant Canton McKinley team gave the Tigers all they could handle Saturday afternoon before 20,000 fans at Fawcett stadium Canton, and outplayed the Tigers in many departments except points.
Here the Tigers led and 50 years from now the score will still read Massillon 7, McKinley 6.
Both touchdowns were scored in the first half – Massillon going across the first time it got the ball – McKinley scoring early in the second period.
The Bengals won by a toe and a foot so to speak. The toe was that of Wil Paisley, the guy who came out of the halls to boot 16 of 17 extra point attempts from placement, including the point that beat McKinley, and the foot was the measurement of ground the Tigers refused to yield when the Bulldogs had them hanging on the goal line in the fourth quarter.
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THAT GOAL LINE stand brought out the championship caliber of the Massillon team.
McKinley folk had much to be proud of even in defeat.
Their fighting Bulldog eleven, which had been made underdog by as many as 32 points, became aroused and fought the Bengals to a standstill. They had the advantage in total net yards gained from scrimmage and in first downs, and made more serious threats than the Tigers, who actually had but the one scoring opportunity.
The McKinley team by far played its best game of the season. The Bulldogs’ coach Pete Ankney, asked each boy to give a little extra measure Saturday and they all did. And for it Ankney, bitterly disappointed at having an upset victory so near his reach, never-the-less was thankful and praised his boys for it.
“We gave it everything we had,” he said in a little room off a quiet McKinley locker room.
“Our boys for their size did a Herculean job and I thought they deserved to win it. We worked hard for this game. I thought all day we would win. I was real proud of our team right down the line, offensively and defensively. Our assistants and our associates did a good job of scouting Massillon. I knew Massillon had a great team and a great staff. I want to congratulate Strang and his fine team for a great year.”
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AND STRANG, whose eyes were dripping too – but from tears of joy – said in a happy Massillon dressing room. “It is a tremendous feeling to know your team has set a school record of winning 11 games in a season. That was a great McKinley team we played out there today. Ankney has done a great job of bringing them along this season. Why today they could have beaten most of the teams in Ohio.”
We asked Strang why he didn’t open up more. “We were probably more conservative than we should have been,” he replied.
“But gosh, when you have two passes intercepted and you are leading by a point, you don’t like to take a chance on much ball handling. Remember from the start of the second half when we fumbled the kickoff and were downed on our own five yard line, we never had the ball where we could afford to take chances.”
Strang was particularly proud of the goal line stand of his Tiger team that thwarted McKinley in its bid for a winning fourth quarter touchdown and Ankney was still second-guessing himself hours after the game, if maybe he should have tried a field goal on fourth down instead of trying to ram a foot through the Tiger line for a touchdown.
We asked Pete if he had considered a fourth-down field goal attempt at the time. He said, “I did, and I have a thousand times in the last 20 minutes, but I thought the chances of getting that foot and a touchdown were better than trying for a field goal and three points. If the ball had only been on the five-yard line, there wouldn’t have been any question, we would have tried for a field goal – and maybe we would have won the game.
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BUT ANKNEY, we are certain, made the choice that 40 out of 50 high school coaches would have made and tried for the touchdown.
Massillon fans will be talking the rest of the year about that goal line stand.
McKinley, trailing 7-6, had gained possession of the ball on its own 49-yard line when Ken Austin covered Ken Dean’s fumble, which would have given the Tigers a first down. The Bulldogs marched to a first down on the Massillon three and the Tigers dug in.
Mark Hall banged into the line for no gain. Willie Dent dented the center for a yard and a half to put the ball not much more than a foot from the goal line. Came the last big effort for both teams.
The Tigers were dug in with their toes just on the goal line when Williams came crashing forward again. Ken Ivan and Charles Whitfield met him with a thud that could be heard in the stands. Williams’ forward momentum was stopped and he coughed up the ball which was grabbed quickly by Ivan. The Bulldogs had been stopped in their tracks and the Tigers had saved the day. Three plays later they had moved the ball out nine yards for safe punting distance and as the game turned out that was it.
Both teams had difficulty moving and not much to show in the way of offense for an afternoon’s effort.
Ankney threw what amounted to a nine-man line against the Tigers all afternoon but the boys were able to drop back quickly enough to intercept the only two passes thrown by Massillon, thereby frightening the locals into clamming up. The Bulldogs jitterbugged on the defensive line and after the first quarter were fairly successful in jamming up the middle down which the local team ran most of its stuff.
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AND THE TIGERS were far from sharp. They gave McKinley the ball twice on fumbles and twice on intercepted passes and they had a couple of other fumbles which though they recovered, retarded their offense.
Looking at the statistics, Canton made 11 first downs to Massillon’s 8 and gained 42 yards passing to none for the Tigers. The Bulldogs gained 135 yards rushing, two more than Massillon, but lost 22 to the Tigers seven giving the locals a net rushing advantage of 126 to Canton’s 113. But in net yards gained rushing and passing, Canton again had the advantage, 155 yards to 126 for the Tigers.
The way the game started it looked as though the Tigers might be complete masters of the day.
They kicked off to McKinley, forced the Bulldogs to punt and poorly at that, to the Canton 47.
Charlie Brown got five yards on two tries and Philpott 11 for a first on the Canton 31. Brown hit tackle for two and Philpott 11 more for a first on the 18. Ken Dean banged through for nine yards on two lugs and Jim Alexander on a sneak put the ball on the Bulldog four. Dean slammed through to the one and Alexander went over. Paisley kicked the extra point and that was Massillon’s scoring for the entire day.
The Bulldogs took the kickoff and began a drive that carried over the centerfield stripe where Charlie Brown made a one-handed pass interception to end the threat. The Tigers came back into Canton territory but a pitchout was fumbled and Hall covered for Canton on the Tiger 49, on the first play of the second period.
AUSTIN made nine yards on a keeper and Jim Patterson fumbled and covered for a first down on the 36. McKinley was penalized back to the 41 for being in motion. Austin and Williams moved it up two yards and Lou Harris fired the ball on third down to Willie Dent for a touchdown. Dent getting behind the Tiger secondary to make the catch.
McKinley elected to run with the ball and try for two points to get the edge on the Tigers. Roy Yancey was thrown before he got to the goal line and the score stood at 7-6.
And that’s were it still stood when t he game was over.
The Tigers never threatened again in the entire game. In face, they only got as close as the 49-yard line once and that was on the last series of plays when the game ended with the Bengals in possession of the ball on the McKinley 28.
Canton was in Massillon territory four times after scoring its touchdown. It had a first on the 23 late in the second period but could not get any closer. It got over the midfield stripe on an intercepted pass early in the third period but lost the ball also on an interception by Floyd Pierce on the Massillon 40.
After being stopped on the one foot line the Bulldogs made one more bid and got down to the 21 before giving up the ball on downs.
The victory was Strang’s 38th against two losses and a tie since coming to Massillon four years ago.
From all appearances the game will be the last between Massillon and Canton until 1963, because of McKinleys suspension in Ohio interscholastic competition for one year for having allegedly used undue influence in getting a family to move from Portsmouth to Canton so that two boys could play football at McKinley high. Members of the McKinley Booster club and an assistant coach were named in the accusations. Canton school officials are considering taking the suspension into court.
The Big One
Ends – Ivan, L. Ehmer, Pierce, Paisley, Garland.
Tackles – Spees, Strobel, Mercer, C. Bradley, Clendening.
Guards – Radel, Clendenin, Whitfield, Poole.
Center – Ben Bradley.
Backs – Alexander, Philpott, Schenkenberger, Dean, Brown, Blunt, Davis, Snively, Baker.
Ends – Singleterry, Parks, Barboto.
Tackles – Day, Seymour, Peterson, Campbell.
Guards – Johnson, Currence, Ghezzi, Turner, Hall.
Centers – Wood, Pope.
Backs – Harris, Fontes, Dent, Patterson, Yancey, M. Hall, F. Hall, Williams and Auston.
Massillon 7 0 0 0 7
McKinley 0 6 0 0 6
Touchdowns – Alexander (one-yard plunge),
Dent (39-yard pass from Harris).
Point after touchdown – Paisley (placekick).
Referee – Tony Pianowski.
Umpire – Jim Lymper.
Head Linesman – Jack McLain.
Field Judge – Bobbie Brown.
First downs – rushing 8 9
First downs – passing 0 2
First downs – penalties 0 0
Total first downs 8 11
Yards gained rushing 138 135
Yards lost rushing 7 22
Net yards gained rushing 129 113
Yards gained passing 0 56
Total yards gained 129 169
Passes attempted 2 12
Passes completed 0 3
Passes intercepted by 2 2
Times kicked off 2 2
Kickoff average (yards) 47.7 45
Kickoff returns (yards) 0 30
Times punted 4 1
Punt average (yards) 34.7 28
Punt return (yards) 0 17
Had punts blocked 0 1
Fumbles 4 2
Lost fumbled ball 2 0
Penalties 0 2
Yards penalized 0 10