Tag: <span>2017 OHSAA Playoffs</span>


2017: Massillon 24, New Albany 6

Defensive dominance set tone for Tigers’ regional title

Chris Easterling – The Independent

MANSFIELD Massillon put together another four-quarter defensive performance. Because of that fact, the Tigers find themselves as one of the final four teams remaining in the Division II state football playoffs.

From start to finish, Massillon controled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and its defense never allowed New Albany to get its wing-T offense going in as it rolled to a 24-6 win in Friday night’s Division II Region 7 championship game at Mansfield’s Arlin Field.

Game action vs. New Albany 2017

“Our defense played lights out,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after the Tigers won their first regional title since 2009. “We gave up a touchdown on a blocked punt, but our defense pitched a shutout tonight against a really good offense. Flipping from a five-wide (offense) a week ago to a wing-T this week, I’m just really proud of those guys.”

New Albany’s offense, which was predicated on running the football, never really got up and running against Massillon, which will face Cincinnati Winton Woods in next Friday’s state semifinal at Columbus St. Francis DeSales High School. The Warriors rallied to beat three-time reigning Division II state champion Cincinnati La Salle 16-14 on a last-second field goal in another regional final Friday.

To get to that game, though, Moore’s team kept the Eagles grounded. New Albany was limited to just 145 total yards, including just 101 rushing yards on 37 attempts.

New Albany’s only points came on a 16-yard blocked-punt return by Jack Scharfe with 9:29 remaining. By that point, however, Massillon had run up a 24-6 lead.

Game action vs. New Albany 2017 (8)

“You just have to tip your hat,” New Albany coach Pat Samanrich said. “Tonight, Massillon was just a better team and, you know what, I hope they go win the whole thing for Region 7. I was very impressed with their defensive scheme. It was just guys running down-hill playing together.”

Massillon, meanwhile, was running down-hill all night on offense. That is, when the Tigers weren’t throwing it down-field as well.

The tone was set from the very start of the game, as Massillon pounded out a 14-play, 72-yard drive to take a 3-0 lead on a 25-yard Klay Moll field goal. While the Tigers ran on 10 of the 14 plays on the drive, they moved to the Eagle 7 thanks to a 41-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Jayden Ballard.

Longwell finished 20-of-30 for 258 yards passing for Massillon, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to Austin Kutscher with 1:20 left in the third quarter for a 24-0 Tiger lead.

Game action vs. New Albany 2017

The Tigers, meanwhile, ran the ball 49 times for 231 yards on the night. Jamir Thomas rushed for 130 yards on 33 carries, including a 2-yard scoring run for a 10-0 lead 1:33 into the second quarter.

“We were really balanced,” Moore said. “We hurt ourselves with the penalties tonight. I’m disappointed with that. But you have to play through that and keep swinging.”

Those Tiger penalties, 12 for 120 yards, were what prevented the game from really turning into an even-bigger rout. Massillon had a touchdown run called back for an illegal shift on its first drive, then had a a litany of flags on one fourth-quarter possession which left it looking at a first-and-41 situation from its own 40.

Those flags, as well as a missed field goal on the Tigers’ third possession of the game, were really the only blemishes on the night. Massillon only punted once, although it was blocked and returned for the lone Eagle touchdown.

2017 Region 7 Championship Trophy

Even those, however, couldn’t keep Massillon from its date with a football game on Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in eight years. That, Moore believes, is a credit to the players.

“They just play hard,” Moore said. “That’s the biggest key. When you get to this level of high-school football, that’s what you notice. The teams that get here aren’t necessarily the most talented; they’re the most disciplined and they just play hard.”




2017: Massillon 28, Ashland 7

Thomas, defense carry Massillon past Ashland

Chris Easterling – The Independent

Video courtesy of Brian Skowronski – An Ashland point of view

WOOSTER It was cold. The field had a thin layer of snow on it at the start.

In other words, it was perfect conditions for Jamir Thomas and Massillon’s defense to do what they do best in a 28-7 Division II Region 7 semifinal win over Ashland at Wooster’s Follis Field.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

“The weather conditions were great,” a happy Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his 9-3 team advanced to next week’s regional final against New Albany at a site to be determined. “This is playoff football. I don’t know what else you want; move to Florida if you don’t like this.”

Thomas and the Tigers defense certainly felt right at home in the conditions, with a 27-degree temperature at kickoff. The former carried the Massillon offense on his back, while the latter never let the explosive Ashland offense get off the ground.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Thomas bulldozed his way to a career-high 196 rushing yards on 37 carries. He also scored all four of the Tigers’ touchdowns on runs of nine, three, 27 and three yards.

“He did a great job,” Moore said of Thomas, who accounted for almost half of Massillon’s 409 total yards.

Thomas provided the only first-half score, a 9-yard run just 22 seconds into the second quarter for a 7-0 Massillon lead. He would blow the game open with a pair of third-quarter runs within 114 seconds of each other – a 3-yarder with 2:24 left and a 27-yarder with 30 seconds left – to make it 21-0 Tigers going into the final quarter.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

The final Thomas touchdown run came with 53 seconds remaining, a 3-yarder plunge.

“We got to go over and see them play McKinley (in Week 10), so I got to see them there,” said Ashland coach Scott Valentine, whose team bows out at 9-3. “We knew he was good. As time went on, he broke some runs, but I was proud of our defense the way they played, especially the first half and even in the second half as far as containing some of that stuff.”

While Ashland’s defense was able to contain Massillon some of the time, the Tiger defense was able to contain the Arrows almost all of the time. The only Ashland touchdown was a 27-yard pass from Keagan Armitage to Bryke Williams with 7:33 remaining to pull it within 21-7.

A week after the Arrows put up 48 points in a come-from-behind win at Columbus Mifflin, it could never consistently get going against Massillon as they were held to 223 total yards. At least, they weren’t able to get going enough to find the end zone.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

Armitage, Ashland’s Mr. Football candidate, was limited to just 17-of-32 passing for 129 yards and the score. He did run for 87 yards on 17 carries, but fumbled twice.

“We played well,” Moore said. “We forced some turnovers, which was huge for us, especially in the first half. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Of course, Ashland proved to be its own worst enemy in many regards. The Arrows turned the ball over three times, compared to just one Tiger giveaway.

All three of the Arrow fumbles came in Massillon territory. A second-possession fumble at the Tiger 24; a fumble on a second-quarter run as Ashland was about to score a touchdown that went out of the end zone; and a third-quarter fumble at midfield.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

“That’s the thing,” Valentine said. “When you’re playing good people in these situations, you can’t turn the ball over. You can’t have some of the penalties we had. Our kids laid it on the line; I’m proud of their effort. It’s just those things hurt us.”

Those turnovers also helped Massillon reach its first regional championship game since 2012



2017: Massillon 28, Youngstown Boardman 23

Massillon rallies to knock out Boardman

Chris Easterling – The Independent

MASSILLON Massillon threw the first punch. The Tigers threw the last one as well.

In between, they endured more than their share of body blows from a Boardman team that had no intention of letting its No. 7 seed define what kind of football team it really was. However, the final blow thrown by Massillon was enough to help it keep on playing, as it rallied for a 28-23 win in Friday’s Division II Region 7 quarterfinal at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“You just keep swinging,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, who picked up his first playoff win at the school, while ending the program’s three-game postseason losing streak.

Game action vs. Youngstown Boardman 2017

With just over nine minutes remaining, that streak looked like it may well be on its way to continuing. Boardman went in front 23-14 on quarterback Mike O’Horo’s 5-yard touchdown run with 9:19 left.

Then the Tiger offense, which had mustered just 50 total yards over its previous seven combined possessions, came alive. A passing game that had just 74 yards through three quarters exploded for 118 in the final 12 minutes.

On Massillon’s next two possessions after the Spartans opened up the two-score lead, it came up with touchdown passes from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutcher, a 36-yarder with 8:40 remaining, and to Dean Clark, a 19-yarder with 5:46 left.

Kutscher’s catch, part of a seven-catch, 104-yard night, pulled the Tigers within 23-21. Clark’s catch — one play after he nearly pulled in a pass in the end zone — put Massillon ahead to stay.

“We had great practices all week,” said Moore, whose team will play Ashland in a regional semifinal next Friday at a site to be announced. “For some reason tonight, the shots weren’t falling. They just weren’t. But if you play hard and keep swinging, hopefully you have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. That’s what happens.”

Longwell, who was 6-of-9 for 118 yards with the two scores in the fourth, finished the game 13-of-25 for 192 yards with the two touchdowns and one interception.

Game action vs. Youngstown Boardman 2017

It took all of 16 seconds for Massillon to throw the first punch of the game. Tyree Broyles took the opening kickoff virtually untouched to the end zone for a 91-yard touchdown return and a 7-0 Tigers lead.

“We actually thought that if they kicked it to Tyree, that we would take it to the house,” Moore admitted.

It was a lead that lasted less than two-and-a-half minutes. After Jujuan Forte brought back the subsequent kickoff 55 yards to the Massillon 35, Boardman took a quick six plays to traverse that distance for the game-tying score.

Maurice Pickard did the honors for the Spartans, scoring on a 7-yard run with 9:22 left in the first quarter. Tommy Fryda’s point-after kick squared it at 7-7.

Massillon’s response was almost as fast as Boardman’s. The Tigers took all of 2:19 to go 57 yards in eight plays, with Jamir Thomas running it in from the Spartan 6 for a 14-7 lead after Klay Moll’s PAT kick with 6:56 remaining in the first quarter.

With three touchdowns in the first 5:04 of the game, it seemed like a shootout was on the way. Except that it would take just over 14 minutes of clock time — and six combined possessions between the two teams — before another score.

Boardman would end the scoring moratorium with an 8-yard touchdown run by O’Horo with 4:47 remaining in the first half. The Spartans, though, missed the PAT kick to keep the Tigers in front at 14-13.

Massillon, after scoring the first two times it touched the ball, was limited to just 60 yards on its final five first-half possessions. Boardman, meanwhile, was held to 50 yards on its four non-scoring drives in the first half.

Boardman would take the lead on the opening drive of the second half. Fryda’s 36-yard field goal just sneaked over the crossbar to cap a 14-play, 52-yard drive to make it 16-14 Spartans.

O’Horo’s 5-yard touchdown run with 9:19 remaining made it 23-14 Boardman. O’Horo finished with 48 rushing yards on 17 carries, while throwing for 89 yards while completing 12-of-21 passing.