Tag: <span>2018 Scrimmages</span>

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Tigers Even the Score Against St. Edward

In 2017, a youthful Massillon squad faced off against a powerful Lakewood St. Edward team in the final scrimmage and was pasted quite handily in one half of football, 31-0.  This year however these same Tigers, now older and loaded with talent and experience, returned to the field against the Eagles and came away a 21-14 winner.  What a difference a year makes.  Throughout the scrimmage, Massillon was able to effectively go toe-to-toe with St. Eds and looked at least on par with a team that is considered as a contender for the Division 1 state title.

Both offenses came out ready to showcase their explosive offensives and they didn’t disappoint.  On the first play from scrimmage, the Eagle running back broke through the Tiger line and raced 65 yards to the Massillon five.  From there, St. Eds scored on a 3rd down 5-yard pass that just crossed goal line, going up 7-0.

But the Tigers came right back, driving 70 yards for their initial score using a combination of Jamir Thomas runs and short-to-mid range passes from Aidan Longwell to a variety of receivers.  It all culminated in a leaping catch in the end zone by Tre’von Morgan, which covered 11 yards and knotted the score at seven apiece.

St. Edward’s next drive was stopped on fourth down at the Massillon five, in spite of a 38-yard run on the first play of the series.  However, Massillon failed to score and punted from the 14.  The Eagles then drove rapidly down field, but a Tyree Broyles interception in the end zone of a 32-yard pass brought an early termination the threat.  Unfortunately, the Tigers gave it right back after a pass bounced high off the hands of Aydrik Ford, with the defender timing the hit perfectly, which resulted in an interception.  It took just a couple of plays for the Eagles to cross the end zone, making the score 14-7 in their favor.

The Tigers, however, came right back and moved 70 yards for the tying score, coming on an 18-yard  pass from Longwell to Morgan.  Tre’von ran a very good post pattern and was hit right on the numbers at the goal line in front of several defenders.

After both teams punted twice, Kyshad Mack came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, picking off a pass at the 25 and racing untouched into the end zone.  That made the final score 21-14,  to the delight of the couple hundred Tiger fans in attendance.  The score came with just 24 seconds left on the clock.

After the break, both first units played one more series each, with Massillon gaining 25 yards and St. Edward failing to move the ball.  Overall, during first team action, Massillon led in total yards 204 to 186.

Then the backups took over, during which the Zach Catrone tossed a 21-yard pass to Andrew Wilson-Lamp and another TD pass to Darien Williams.

Offensively, Massillon showed a balanced attack with several players making key plays throughout.  The entire offense seems to have picked up where it left off at the end of last year.  Thomas ran harder and looked quicker than last year.  Longwell is bigger and stronger and has improved his accuracy.  Particularly effective was the bubble-screen to Ford, who has a knack for juking out the first potential tackler and gaining at least ten yards aided by a serious block from Morgan before being stopped.  In fact, all of the receivers showed that this group is a very dangerous lot.

Defensively, the long runs were the result of over-pursuit, something that was corrected by the second quarter.  In fact, the defense look stronger as the scrimmage progressed to the point where they were completely shutting down the Eagle offense near the.  In fact, during the last four series, the Tigers surrendered just 28 yards.  This is a unit that is much quicker and more physical than last year.

Massillon will open the season next Friday as they host Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.  Lake St. Edward will face Mentor.

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Tigers Explosive in Berea Midpark Scrimmage

The wealth of skill-level talent on this year’s Massillon football squad was on full display in Berea as the Tigers put on an impressive offensive display in their second of three scrimmages.  Both the running and passing games were uncorked, helping Massillon to move the ball almost entirely at will.  Defensively, the players were aggressive and brought a high degree of physicality to the game, completely shutting down the Titan running attack.

Midpark is a D1 team that one would probably rate as average, except for having a very good quarterback in Trevor Bycznski, a 6’-5”, 230 lb. senior.  He makes the Midpark eleven something special offensively.

The scrimmage was staged in two phases, the first involving two 10-play series for each team and the second one half of football.  Here is a rundown of each drive:

10-Play Series

Massillon – Advanced from their own 35 to the MIdpark 2 using a mix of running and passing plays.

Midpark – Advanced from their own 35 to the Massillon 10 using exclusively pass plays designed for short receptions.

Massillon – Scored on a 35-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Jayden Ballard.  With five plays remaining in the series, advanced from the Massillon 35 to the Midpark 1.

Midpark – Advanced from the MIdpark 35 to the Massillon 45.

One Half of Football

Massillon – Scored on a 58-yard Jamir Thomas run, with a fine block thrown by Jayden Ballard at the ten springing Thomas free for the score.  Jamir seemed to kick it into a second gear once he passed the line of scrimmage.  Score: 7-0.

Midpark – Scored on a 63-yard pass from Bycznski.  Massillon missed an open-field tackle at the 50.  Score: 7-7.

Massillon – Scored on a 3-yard run by Preston Hodges.  Score: 14-7.

Midpark – Scored on a 55-yard pass from Bycznski.  Massillon was in a blitz and missed an open-field tackle at the Tiger 40.  Score: 14-14.

Massillon – Scored on a 57-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Aydrik Ford.  The score came on the second play of the drive, which was set up by an 18-yard bubble screen to Ford.  Score: 21-14.

Midpark – Moved the ball 13 yards and punted.  End of the first quarter.

Massillon – Scored on a 1-yard run by Zion Phifer.  Score: 28-14.

Midpark – Scored on a 33-yard pass from Bycznski.  Score: 28-21.

Massillon – Game stopped with the ball at the Midpark 21.

Toward the end of the first quarter, play between the two teams started to get chippy and then some cheap shots and retaliations were seen after the whistle well into the fourth quarter.  This is something that the referees should have gotten control over immediately.  But with their failings, the chippiness just escalated.  Following the final recorded play, a Massillon player removed of the action appeared to be targeted and was unceremoniously punched to the ground.  The Midpark offender was immediately ejected, but the referees elected at that time to vacate the field with just over two minutes remaining, marking the end of the scrimmage.  Unfortunately, the JV teams did not get their opportunities.

Regarding statistics for one half of football, Massillon led in total yardage, 319 to 238.


Offense – run: Many running backs stood out, but particularly Zion Phifer, who ran with both power and speed while bursting time and again through a bevy of would-be tacklers to pick up chunks of yardage.  The new split backfield was also effective in producing good results.

Offense – pass: Aidan Longwell was much improved from the last scrimmage and connected on most of his passes.  It didn’t matter if they were short, medium or long.  The passes were where and when they needed to be.  The receivers also showcased the athletic talent this group possesses.

Defense – run: Midpark never got untracked, many times being caught in the backfield.  On a few occasions, the outside linebacker would blitz, which allowed the back to spring for some yardage.  But this did not appear to be the result of any errant play.

Defense – pass: It appeared that the Tigers were willing to give up the short pass and concentrate on making the sure tackle.  This worked all day, except for the two touchdowns noted above.  All of the deep passes were well-covered.  It’s just a matter of making the play.

Kicking game: All of the extra points were made.  Kickoffs landed around the 10-15 yard line.

The final scrimmage is scheduled for Friday, August 17 against Lakewood St. Edward.  Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm at St. Edward High School at 13500 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.

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Massillon and Avon Spar in Opening Scrimmage

Two Division 2 Regional Champions from 2017 squared off on Tuesday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in a much-anticipated matchup.  If you were keeping score, it was Massillon getting the better of Avon 16 touchdowns to 2.  But in reality a score doesn’t mean much in a first scrimmage.  It’s more important for the coaches to evaluate all of the players and also to find out what the key takeaways are as they prepare for their respective openers.  Nevertheless, several hundred Massillon and Avon fans were able to get an early football fix during the nearly 3-hour scrimmage.

The format for both the varsity and JV teams was a minimum 10-play series starting at their own 35 yardline, with the ability to keep the ball as long as first downs were attained.  After several reps, the teams practiced overtime simulations.  Here is how it all played out:

Varsity – Down and Distance

  • Avon – Stopped on a fumble at the Massillon 20.
  • Massillon – Stopped on downs at their own 43.
  • Avon – 18-yard touchdown pass.
  • Massillon – 24-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Luke Murphy.
  • Massillon – 21-yard touchdown run by Zion Phifer.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 39.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 39 again.
  • Massillon – 70-yard touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Aydrik Ford.
  • Massillon – Stopped at the Avon 35.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Massillon 45.
  • Avon – Stopped at the Avon 35.
  • Massillon – 23-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Heath Manson.

Varsity Overtime Simulation

  • Avon – 12-yard touchdown pass.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown run by Zion Phifer.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Jayden Ballard.
  • Massillon – 3 yard touchdown run by Jamir Thomas.
  • Avon – Missed 32-yard field goal.
  • Avon – Stopped at Massillon 30.
  • Massillon – Lost ball on fumble.
  • Massillon – 25-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Pedro to Luke Murphy.
  • Massillon – Stopped on pass interception.


  • Down and Distance: Massillon outscored Avon 4-0.
  • Overtime Simulation: Massillon outscored Avon 4-0.

The biggest takeaway for Massillon was the level of depth exhibited at each of the different offensive and defensive positions on the field.  This asset was prevalent throughout both the varsity and JV squads.  The coaches constantly shuffled players in and out and the Tigers did not miss a beat with their progress down the field.  Couple that with great athleticism and speed at the skill positions and you have the potential for something special this year.

Scheme-wise, the offense has been expanded a bit in two particular areas, both on account of the talent at the running back position.  The first is an occasional split back formation in the backfield, giving the QB two options in the running attack, as opposed to a single back with the fullback pushed up towards the line.  The second is the ability to float the ball to a back out of the backfield, now that there is better speed at that position.  Both of these techniques resulted in good success throughout the scrimmage.

Defensively, the Tigers utilized their traditional 3-4 alignment.  However, the speed and aggressiveness has definitely improved over last year.  Avon had only modest success on the ground and needed to rely on a very good quarterback to move the ball in short bursts.  But still Avon had great difficulty scoring in the red zone.

Massillon will be back in action on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. when they visit Berea Midpark and then at Lake St. Edward the following Friday at 7:00 pm.

Jamir Thomas (16) heads through the line on one of his few carries. Also shown are Deon Williams (50), Justin Gaddis (52) and Alejandro Salazar (72).
Jayden Ballard makes a leaping catch for a first down.
A Massillon receiver looks for running room after catching a pass over the middle.
The pass is just over the outreached hands of the Tiger receiver.