Tag: <span>Akron Rubber Bowl</span>


2005: Massillon 21, Lakewood St. Edward 17

Thrilling rally propels Tigers past St. Ed, into title game


The Massillon Tigers will wear the underdog tag for the third consecutive Saturday when they take on Cincinnati St. Xavier for Ohio’s big school state football championship at Fawcett Stadium in Canton this coming weekend.

In a game that bore an eerie resemblance to their Week Six comeback victory over St. Ignatius. the Tigers rallied for two touchdowns in the final six minutes of play to stun previously unbeaten Lakewood St. Edward 21‑17 in the state semifinals as 14,100 watched at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Saturday afternoon.

The victory means Massillon will play for the state championship for the first time since 1982. Kickoff this Saturday is 7 p.m.

“Our guys just don’t quit,” said Tiger head coach Tom Stacy. “It reminded me a lot of the St. Ignatius game. We just battled and battled and battled.

“Our community takes a lot of hits in the way they promote football. I’ll tell you what, we have the best high school football fans in the country. They support this football program like you can’t believe and that’s a big part of it. They deserve this playoff run. They deserve this state championship game we’re going to play in.”

Trailing 17‑7 after St. Edward marched 54 yards to the end zone in 10 plays with just over seven minutes to play, the Tigers began their improbable comeback.

“We went into our two‑minute offense,” Stacy said. “We felt like we had to get a couple of scores, we don’t have a lot of time left, let’s go two minute. We’ve been pretty good in our two‑minute offense all year. We haven’t used it a lot but when we have we’ve done a nice job of it. We just had a bunch of guys make plays.”

Quarterback Bobby Huth connected with Brett Huffman on two throws for 18 yards then hit Brian Gamble on a flat pass that netted 26 more. Two plays later Massillon was right back in the game ,as Huth found Gamble running free on a post pattern in the end zone for a 18‑yard touchdown.

Steve Schott’s point after was true and the Tigers cut their deficit to three points at 17‑14 with 5:21 remaining.

Then the defense did its part, forcing St. Edward into a rapid‑fire three‑and‑out series. Massillon took over at its 45‑yard line after the Eagle punt rolled out of bounds.

Huth’s pinpoint passing resulted in a 10‑yard hookup with Zack Vanryzin to the St. Edward 45 and an 11‑yard strike to Gamble at the 29‑yard line as the Tiger Nation roared its approval.

That’s when disaster struck. Huth, seeing the Tigers were in a bad play call for the St. Edward defense, turned to ask for a timeout. But the ball was snapped before he could signal the referee and it sailed over his head. By the time the junior fell on the pigskin, the Tigers had lost 20 yards back to the St. Edward 49 and needed 30 yards for a first down.

Undaunted, Huth spotted Gamble on a crossing pattern in the middle a he field and hit the junior tailback in stride. By the time the Eagles pulled him down, the Tigers had a first down at the 14‑yard line.

“I know we have great playmakers,” Huth said. “If I can get the ball in their hands, anything can happen.”

Another Huth to Gamble hook‑up moved the ball to the 5‑yard line. On second-and‑one from there, Gamble found a nice seam over left tackle and went into the end for the game‑winner with 1:56 to spare.

“Bobby (Huth) and Brian (Gamble), the guys up front pass protected, Brett Huffman had some great passes and runs … we just had a bunch of guys make plays,” Stacy said. “It wasn’t anything magical in play calling. Just guys making plays.”

St. Edward head coach John Gibbons, who saw his junior‑laden team bow out at 12‑1, had nothing but praise for the Tigers.

“Anytime you can come back in the fourth quarter and put two touchdowns on the board after we had taken that lead…,” Gibbons said, his voice trailing off.

“Once they started going pass first and spreading, we didn’t come up with the answer. We tried to get the ball quick out of the quarterback’s hand, and he was very elusive and he found guys. It was hard for us to run with those guys in man, especially when the quarterback was getting in open spaces. Then we tried to mix it up and use some zone coverages and take the pressure off that way and they seemed to adjust their routes. They just made great plays.”

St. Edward took the opening kickoff and kept the football for eight plays, hitting the Tiger defense with a heavy dose of Nate Oliver, who started in place of the injured Frank Edmonds at tailback. The Tigers forced a punt when Paris McCall and Lorenzo Grizzard stopped Oliver on a third‑and‑eight trap play.

Massillon took over at its own 15 after the Eagle punt and Huth immediately went to the air, connecting with Trey Miller on a short pass. Miller turned it into a 17‑yard gain with some nifty running to set up a first‑and‑10 at the Tiger 33.

That’s when lightening struck. Huth ‑ who completed 14 of 20 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon ‑ picked out Vanryzin who was wide open down the right sideline. The senior wideout hauled it in at the St. Edward 43 and scampered untouched into the end zone for a 67‑yard touchdown at 7:26 of the first quarter. Schott nailed the conversion kick and Massillon led 7‑0.

St. Edward came right back, marching from its 36 to the Massillon 15. But on third‑and‑five, a Brandon Frohnapple to John Dvoroznak completion turned into a nightmare for the Eagles. Dvoroznak was belted down along the right sideline and fumbled the ball. Robert Morris recovered for Massillon and Dvoroznak ‑ St. Ed’s best pass rusher ‑ would leave the game with a knee injury. He didn’t return.

St. Edward finally got on the scoreboard with 3:39 to play in the first half, moving 80 yards in nine plays for the game‑tying touchdown. Oliver’s 7‑yard run over left guard capped the nearly five‑minute march and Ben Rios’ extra point made it Massillon 7, St. Edward 7. All four Eagle first downs on the drive came via the air as Frohnapple went 16 of 22 for 173 yards on the day.

The Eagles owned a five minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, so it was key when Massillon opened the second half with a seven‑play, four‑minute drive, even though it did not yield any points.

However, St. Edward took over at its own 20 and moved 60 yards in nine plays to set up a 38‑yard field goal by Rios that gave the Eagles a 10‑7 lead at 2:31 of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter opened with St. Edward moving 54 yards in 10 plays to open up a 10‑point lead. On third‑and‑goal from the 5, Frohnapple hit Kyle Hubbard in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Rios’ boot made it 17‑7 St. Edward at 7:02 of the fourth.

But the Tigers found paydirt on their next two drives for their 13th victory of this memorable 2005 campaign.

Both teams had just over 250 yards of total offense but Massillon limited the vaunted St. Edward ground game to just 84 yards in 37 attempts.

“We talked about three things we had to do to win the game,” Stacy said. “First and foremost was to stop their run. We knew they had a great offensive line. Big, strong and physical.

“We knew we had to play well in the kicking game and for the most part we did that. We thought we had to run the ball vertically better. We didn’t do a great job with that but we made up for it with our passing game.”

Stacy and Gibbons met at midfield after the final whistle.

“He said, ‘Go win it,”‘ Stacy said. “He said, ‘Go win it all.”‘

Dailey’s sack sets up
Game-winning drive


The lasting memory of Massillon’s 21‑17 state semifinal victory over the St. Edward Eagles will be the Tigers’ two clutch fourth‑quarter touchdown drives that punched their ticket to this Saturday’s state championship game against Cincinnati St. Xavier.

But Massillon gave itself an opportunity to record one of the biggest victories in this storied program’s history when the Tiger defense forced St. Edward into a three‑and‑out series in the game’s final five minutes of play.

The Eagles were still on top at 17‑14 after Bobby Huth’s 18‑yard touchdown pass to Brian Gamble with 5:21 to play and with the way St. Edward had run the football and eaten up game clock all season long, its partisans didn’t seem all that concerned.

The Tiger defense, however, knew their assignment was to get the ball back and to do it as quickly as possible. ‑ St. Edward began at its own 26 after Nate Oliver’s 18‑yard kickoff return.

On first down Oliver hit into the middle to the Tiger defensive line but tackles Lorenzo Grizzard and Emery Saunders and ends Dirk Dickerhoof and Antonio James yielded only one yard.

Facing second‑and‑long, Eagle quarterback Brandon Frohnapple, who was having a fine day passing the football, hit wideout Kyle Hubbard along the left sideline. But Hubbard was out of bounds when he caught the ball, setting up a key third down play.

St. Edward had converted five of 11 third downs up to that point and most had come on the strength of Frohnapple’s accurate right arm.

The junior signal caller took the snap in shotgun formation and again looked toward Hubbard along the left sideline.

Tiger junior safety Andrew Dailey came swooping in from Frohnapple’s blind side and earholed the St. Edward quarterback for a 7‑yard sack that forced the Eagles to punt.

“That was huge,” St. Edward head coach John Gibbons said. “They’re rushing five. They have three guys playing zone underneath and three deep. There are places to throw the ball. However, you have to get it off.

“We’ve seen it before. They’ve been running that blitz all year. They didn’t blitz much in the game, until the end.”

Dailey was matter of fact about what amounted to the defensive play of the game.

“I just wanted to make sure I tackled him before he threw the ball,” he said.

“(The blitz) was called early in the game and there was confusion and we didn’t run it. We just stayed in normal coverage. We ran it a few more times in the game. That time I was wide open. I was unblocked.”

And Dailey made Frohnapple pay the price.

“We didn’t slide our protection the right way and (Dailey) came clean,” Gibbons said. “We do have a protection that can handle it but with all the screaming that’s going on out there…. When it gets that loud, guys don’t get the call.

“It’s one thing if the guy beats your blocker. When he can run clean in there on the dead run from the wide side, that’s not good for the offense.”

Dailey’s sack added to the momentum the Tiger offense had already generated on its previous scoring drive.

Massillon took the ensuing punt and quickly moved 55 yards in eight plays for the game‑winning touchdown and a trip to the Division I state title contest at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

Huth saves best for last


Third‑and‑30 isn’t exactly the situation a quarterback wants to find himself in. But that’s what stared Massillon quarterback Bobby Huth and the rest of his Tiger teammates in the face with just over 2:00 left in Saturday’s Division I state semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward at Akron’s Rubber Bowl.

On first down from the Eagle 29, the shotgun snap sailed high over the head of Huth as he was attempting to call a timeout. The junior wisely fell on the loose pigskin at the St. Edward 49 instead of trying to pick the ball up and force a bad pass.

“I guess he (the center) couldn’t hear me,” Huth said. “We were trying to get a timeout called. They had four guys guarding our two over there. I wanted to get a timeout called to get a better play called.”

That better play came two plays later, when Huth hit Brian Gamble running a dig route across the field for a 35‑yard gain and a first down at the St. Edward 14. Two plays later, the Tigers were in the end zone for the go‑ahead touchdown in a 21‑17 come‑from‑behind victory over the Eagles to advance to this Saturday’s Division I state championship game against nationally ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier at Fawcett Stadium.

“I was looking for B.G.,” Huth said. “He was supposed to run a deep post over the middle, and he saw the safety over the top. We were just on the same page. I just threw it to him, and he was there. He had a good run after the play.”

Huth had a good run himself the whole game, finishing 14‑of‑20 passing for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He completed his first five passes in the game ‑ including a 67‑yard touchdown pass to Zack Vanryzin in the first quarter ‑ for 97 yards.

“I’m pretty happy, but there were still some passes I should have completed,” Huth said. “I should have been 16 or 17 for 20.”

But Huth saved his best for last. And he did so with the Tigers’ season hanging precariously in the balance.

“We were down 17‑7, and we just went to our two-minute offense,” Massillon coach Tom Stacy said. “We felt like ‘Hey, we have to get a couple of scores, and we don’t have a lot of time left.’ We’ve been pretty good in our two‑minute offense all year. We haven’t used it a lot, but when we have, we’ve done a pretty nice job with it. We just had a bunch of guys make plays, whether it was Bobby or Brian, or the guys up front in pass protection.”

Utilizing that pass blocking, as well as the skills of Gamble, Huth was 9‑of‑12 for 133 yards in the final quarter. Five of those completions went to Gamble for 98 yards and a touchdown.

“I was in a pretty good rhythm,” Huth said of the fourth‑quarter performance. “I like going to the two-minute offense. I wish we’d start the game off like that.”

For Huth, it was a chance to finish a job he started but was unable to complete against St. Ignatius back in Week Six. He was knocked out of that game with a concussion on Massillon’s final drive, and Shawn Weisend came in to direct the Tigers to the go‑ahead touchdown and their first‑ever win over the Cleveland parochial power.

On Saturday, it was Huth showing the poise and moxie of a grizzled veteran as he helped Massillon get another monkey of its back ‑ a 23‑year championship game drought ‑ with a come‑from‑behind performance against the Ignatius’ bitter rival.

“Shawn did a great job against St. Ignatius,” Huth said. “I don’t remember a lot of that game. I was pretty messed up. But I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it today.”

Drop gets Gamble fore


When Brian Gamble fumbled on Massillon’s first play of the fourth quarter in Saturday’s Division I state semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward at Akron’s Rubber Bowl, it looked like a back‑breaking play for the Tigers. That was especially true after the Eagles converted it into a touchdown for a 10‑point margin.

It turns out it might just have been a back‑breaker, only for St. Edward.

The fumble lit a tire under the 6‑foot, 190‑pound Tiger junior, who accounted for 103 total yards on six touches following the turnover. He also scored a pair of touchdowns as Massillon rallied for a 21‑17 victory and the program’s first state championship game berth since 1982.

“After I fumbled, I felt like I let the team down,” Gamble said. “I just wanted the ball in my hands so I could try to make up for it and make a play. Coach (Tom) Stacy gave me an opportunity to do that.”

Gamble finished the game with 62 rushing yards on 14 carries, but had just one carry after the fumble. Still, that one carry was huge ‑ a five‑yard touchdown jaunt with 1:56 remaining which set off a delirious celebration among the Tiger players and the orange‑and‑black clad portion of the 14,100 in attendance.

“Cory Shane did a good job of pulling up in there,” Gamble said of the touchdown run. “(Cory) and Quentin Nicholson did a great job opening it up for me, and I just found a crease and got into the end zone‑”­

Where Gamble was most productive ‑ and most damaging to St. Edward ‑ was in the passing game. The receiver‑turned‑tailback did not have an official catch he did have a nine‑yard touchdown grab at the end of the first half called back due to holding ‑ through the first three quarters of play.

But when it mattered most, with the pulse of Massillon season weakening as each second ticked off the clock, Tiger quarterback Bobby Huth was able to find Gamble. Not just once, but five times for 98 yards.

“Sometimes they’ll have maybe a linebacker on me or a nickelback,” Gamble said. “I think I have an advantage because a lot of our plays go to the inside, so I’ll have leverage on them. Bobby just threw the rock to me, and I tried to make a play.”

No play outside of Gamble’s two touchdowns was as big as the 35‑yard catch and run, which converted a third‑and‑30 situation into a Massillon first down at the Eagle 14. Gamble made the catch across the middle, picked up a huge block from junior wideout Trey Miller and got the first down with 2:14 left to play.

Two plays later, Massillon was in the end zone for the go‑ahead score.

“We were on the same page,” Gamble said. “I was supposed to run a post, and I saw that they had it double covered so I just broke it off to the inside, and I was hoping Bobby saw me. He did and I caught it, and I knew I had to get a first down and get out of bounds and stop the clock.

“I think they started playing some ‘Cover 2,’ where they’d press up on me and try to double cover me. That’s what happened on the third‑and‑30 play, so I broke it off into a dig, and me and Bobby were on the same page.”

Gamble also hurt St. Edward in the kicking game. He averaged 26 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 31‑yarder which help set up the Tigers’ next‑to‑last scoring drive.

“He can do it all,” St. Edward coach John Gibbons said of Gamble. “He’s a defender, a kick returner, long snapper … what else can he do? I guess they could find another job for him to do. He’s tough kid.”


Antonio James

2005: Massillon 21, Canton McKinley 3

Redemption at the Rubber Bowl


Call it redemption.

Call it revenge.

Call it … Massillon 21, McKinley 3 in front of 16,111 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron Saturday night.

Call it ripping your archrival and kicking down the door to the Division I final four as the Tigers advance to a state semifinal game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the 13-0 Eagles of Lakewood St. Edward. That game will also be played at the Rubber Bowl.

All of this just three weeks after Massillon absorbed a 38-8 haymaker from McKinley in Week 10 that left the Tigers wobbly but still standing.

Head coach Tom Stacy and the Tigers ended McKinley’s 12-game winning streak with an offensive gameplan that had the Bulldogs on their heels most of the night and an aggressive, fundamentally sound defense that just wouldn’t let Pup playmaker Morgan Williams break off the big one for much of the game.

“Awesome,” beamed Tiger junior safety Andrew Dailey. “It’s the most exciting time to be a part of in Massillon.

“We came out with a better plan, which we executed well. And then it was “Hit ‘em, hit ‘em, hit ‘em!”

Keeping Williams in check, after the junior rushed for 234 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers in their first meeting, was job one according to senior inside linebacker Paris McCall.

“That was our goal … to stop him and we did that,” McCall said.

Williams finished with 108 yards in 25 totes.

“McKinley embarrassed us the first time,” McCall said. “We had to come out and show them who the real Tigers are.”

McKinley came into the regional championship game having scored five touchdowns in each of its past five contests and averaging nearly 40 points a game in 2005.

That the Tiger defense held the Bulldogs to a single field goal was clearly the story of the game.

“Revenge, baby,” grinned Tiger senior cornerback Neal James, who helped limit McKinley speedster Joe Morgan to two harmless receptions. “Revenge is sweet.

“We came at them. We came at them. We just wanted to play. We played. Non-stop. The defensive line pressured the quarterback and Troy (Ellis) and I just stuck to them.”

Both teams’ initial possession of the game set the tone for the entire contest.

McKinley got a first down on its first snap when Williams gained 11 yards up the middle. Then Massillon battened down the hatches as the junior tailback was held to six yards on the next two plays and quarterback Dan Grimsley threw an incompletion on third-and-four, forcing a Bulldog punt from its 39-yard line.

Massillon took over at its 31 and senior tailback Lanale Robinson, behind a strong push from the Tiger offensive line, picked up seven yards off left tackle. One play later, Quentin Nicholsen picked up a first down up the middle on third-and short.

Then the passing game got going as Bobby Huth found Trey Miller along the right sideline for a 26-yard gainer to the McKinley 32. A screen pass left to Brian Gamble netted 19 more to the Bulldog 13.

On second-and-five from the 8, Gamble hit off right guard, spun off a tackle at the line and ran through another at the 5 on his way to the end zone as the Tigers drew first blood.

Steve Schott’s conversion was good at 7:08 of the first quarter and Massillon led 7-0.

It was just how Stacy wanted the game to begin.

“That was really important because when we’ve played well this year, it’s when we’ve come out and played well early,” he said. “When we’ve won in big games, we’ve played well early in the game.”

McKinley looked like it might take back the momentum as Brian Williams returned the ensuing kickoff from his 2 to the Tiger 46. But three snaps later – a Williams run and two incomplete passes – the Bulldogs were again forced to punt.

Massillon set up shop at its own 11. On second down, Huth sprinted left and zipped a short pass to Zack Vanryzin at the 20. The senior wideout carried to the 25 for a first down.

Huth rolled right on first down and threw back left to Gamble who picked up 12 yards to the 37.

Another Huth aerial, this time to Dailey, was good for still another first down but the Tiger drive looked to be stalled on third-and-seven at McKinley’s 49.

The Tigers, however, had other ideas as Huth took the snap, flipped a lateral pass right to Gamble, who suddenly pulled up and let fly with a bomb of his own. Vanryzin ran under the ball and carried it home as the Bulldog Nation wondered what hit them.

“Brian told me a couple of weeks ago, “I can throw the football,” Stacy said. “I told him we were going to put in the pass. We had just the play to do it on. It’s a play we’ve run a lot to him, a swing pass. It worked out great. Zack Vanryzin ran a great route.”

Schott’s point after kick was true and Massillon had taken just three minutes to cover 89 yards in eight plays, good for a 14-0 lead at 3:01 of the first quarter.

In its first two possessions of the game, Massillon had generated more offense than it had in four quarters against the Bulldogs back in October.

McKinley’s next possession was another three-and-out series as Neal James defended a long pass to Morgan along the right sideline on third-and-six.

The Tigers couldn’t gain on first down on their next possession but Shawn Weisend got off a 48-yard punt to put McKinley at its 30.

Williams then embarked on his longest run of the evening, a 31-yard gainer up the middle to the Massillon 39.

The Bulldogs worked their way to the Tiger 9 but a third down slant pass was high and the Pups were forced to settle for Zack Campbell’s 26-yard field goal at 7:42 of the second quarter, closing the first half scoring.

The Tigers took the second half kickoff but fumbled it away on their second snap of the third quarter.

The Massillon defense rose to the occasion as three straight Williams runs failed to net a first down, forcing McKinley to punt.

The Tigers marched from their 40 to the McKinley 26, thanks in part to a 19-yard Huth to Vanryzin slant pass. A sack and a penalty left the Tigers with a third-and-25, but the Bulldogs bailed Massillon out with a pass interference penalty that extended the drive.

On third-and-one from the Pups’ 18, Huth faked a handoff and found senior tight end Brett Huffman open over the middle at the 2. The pass was there, Huffman pulled it in and Massillon had expanded its lead to 21-3.

McKinley would threaten once more, driving from its own 2 to the Massillon 28 with over seven minutes still to play. But Troy Ellis intercepted a Bulldog pass in the end zone to turn the Pups away one final time.

“The whole team was angry since the last game,” Ellis said. “We just wanted to prove to everybody that we could hang with these guys and beat them.”

Mission accomplished

This page was created November 21, 2005
Copyright ©2005 The Independent

Huth at fore of rivalry reversal


You’d be hard pressed to find one Massillon Tiger who thought he’d performed well against the McKinley Bulldogs back on Oct. 29 in Fawcett Stadium.

It was reflected in the final score: McKinley 38, Massillon 8.

Everyone – offensive players, defensive players, special teams players, assistant coaches, head coach Tom Stacy – felt as if they’d let the team, the program and even the community down.

And while it was Stacy who stepped up and assumed the blame publicly, saying he hadn’t done a good job preparing the team that week, every member of the team readily assumed at least some of the blame.

That no one was pointing a finger at a teammate, that the defense wasn’t laying the blame at the doorstep of the offense – or vice versa – speaks to the character Stacy has instilled in the young men who proudly wear the orange-and-black into battle every weekend.

They had won nine in a row as a team.

They had lost to their longtime nemesis as a team.

And no one in Tiger football program was going to throw anyone else under the bus in the aftermath of that devastating defeat.

But when you’re the quarterback, the one individual other than the head coach who is most readily seen as the leader of the team, you do feel responsible.

You do feel like that cross is on your shoulders, that the burden is for you to bear.

Junior Bobby Huth wears that mantle of leadership for the Tigers, though he was in a three-way fight for the job when Stacy took over way back in June.

Despite not possessing prototypical size or speed for a Division I high school quarterback, Huth won the job and guided the offense to nine straight wins by playing mistake free football and by making good decisions a the line of scrimmage.

Knocked out of the St. Ignatius game late, Huth bounced back in the 13-0 win over Warren Harding.

Harassed into a poor passing performance against McKinley in Week 10, the mop-haired youngster rebounded with two highly efficient performances in playoff victories over Hoover and Findlay.

Most figured the end of the line would be Saturday against unbeaten McKinley at the Rubber Bowl.

Not Huth.

He completely turned around his 8 of 18, three interception performance in the first game by completing 9 of 11 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers- 21-3 regional championship victory over the Pups.

“I played the worst game of my life, by far, the first time we played them,” Huth said amidst a sea of orange that flooded the Rubber Bowl field immediately after Saturday’s game. “I felt like I had to come out here today and play my best game. I didn’t play my best game but I played pretty good.”

Pretty good, huh?

After an incompletion on his first threw, Huth connected on six straight passes, using a variety of roll outs, sprint outs and screens to baffle the McKinley defense and put his teammates in positions to make plays.

He initiated the play that resulted in Massillon’s second score of the evening, zipping a swing pass laterally to Brian Gamble to set up Gamble’s long bomb to Zack Vanryzin that put the Tigers up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

And it was Huth’s deceptive play-action that froze McKinley’s defense for an instant just before he laid a touchdown pass in the arms of tight end Brett Huffman to all but put the Bulldogs away late in the third quarter at 21-3.

“We had a great game plan,” Huth said. “It turned us around. We came out here focused and we played great.

“We knew the first game was kind of a fluke. We came out here focused. We had a great week of practice. And our O-line really stepped up and play great for us today.”

Asked what was the difference between the team that lost to McKinley 38-8 and the one that had just shocked just about everyone outside of Massillon, Huth smiled, looked down for an instant and then spread the credit.

“Great focus. Great game plan,” he said. “We had a great week of practice and we practiced hard.”

And that little quarterback who is too small and too slow showed everybody how it’s done.

This page was created November 21, 2005
Copyright ©2005 The Independent


Antonio James

2001: Massillon 20, Cleveland St. Ignatius 49

Ten years later, History repeats as St. Ignatius
Iggy trips Tigers again; Tops Massillon for berth in state title game

Indenendent Sports Editor

Massillon was in this very same spot ten years ago, playing St. Ignatius in the Division I state semi-final game.

The Tigers dropped that 1991 contest by a single point, 14‑13.

On Friday night, the outcome was the same. Only the point totals were different.

The St. Ignatius Wildcats ‑ a team that lost four of five games during one stretch this season ‑ once again had too many bullets in the gun for Massillon and handed the Tigers a 49‑20 defeat in a Division I state semifinal game in front of an announced crowd of 29,871 at the Akron Rubber Bowl.

Two big plays went against the Tigers and the snowball effect was a 29‑point defeat in a game that was in doubt until the final six minutes of play.

Key play No. 1 came with a minute left in the first half and Massillon trailing 21‑14. St. Ignatius’ All‑Ohio linebacker John Kerr forced a Tiger fumble and teammate Ryan Franzinger fell on the football in the end zone to give the Wildcats a two‑touchdown cushion at halftime.

Key play No. 2 came after the Tigers had cut the lead to 28‑20 deep in the third quarter and needed a defensive stop to really put some pressure on the Wildcats. St. Ignatius faced a third‑and‑nine deep in Tiger territory but converted a first down on a pass interference penalty against Massillon.

Three pays later Franzinger bucked over left tackle and into the end zone from three yards out to re-establish a two‑touchdown St. Ignatius lead.

Massillon would get no closer the rest of the way.

“The fumble right before the half, it did hurt us because it was just like the first meeting.” lamented Tiger coach Rick Shepard referring the St. Ignatius’ 40‑26 victory in Week Four of the regular season. “Something stupid before the half that gives them a cheap touchdown.

“That series after we scored to cut it to one touchdown, that was key for them as well.”

But Shapes stressed it isn’t so much about the plays St. Ignatius makes in a big game, as the mindset of some of the Tigers.

“We have a lot of great kids but they just struggle with confidence sometimes,” Shapes said. “We work harder on that than we do the X’s and O’s because that’s what it comes down to.

“St. Ignatius isn’t a complicated team. They’re fundamental. They go out and execute and they play with great confidence. We’re working toward that. We’re four years into this program. When you get to this point, you’d like to take it further I just have to remind myself that it’s only four years.”

As always seems to be the case in a big game, St. Ignatius jumped out to an early lead. The Wildcats faced a third‑and‑three situation at their own 22 after taking the opening kickoff. Quarterback Nate Szep dropped back to throw and zeroed in on junior wideout Tony Gonzalez at midfield.

Gonzales screened the defender away from the ball, made the catch and was off to the races for a 78‑yard touchdown. Phil Gibbs drilled the extra point and Iggy led 7‑0 at the 10:26 mark of the first quarter.

Massillon marched from its 22 to the Ignatius 39 but was forced to punt. The Wildcats failed to move the ball after three snaps and punted back to the Tigers.

Craig McConnell’s 7‑yard return set Massillon up with a first down at midfield. David Hill picked up a couple of first downs on runs of three and six yards. Ricky Johnson went up the middle for seven yards and a first down at the St. Ignatius 8 as the Tigers ran the football effectively.

On second‑and‑goal from the 7, Zwick pump faked and zipped a pass to Stephon Ashcraft in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. David Abdul’s kick was true and Massillon had tied the game 7‑7 at 2:32 of the first quarter.

St. Ignatius reclaimed the lead with a 10‑play, 80‑yard drive. The big play in the march was the final one. On third‑and‑10 from the Massillon 40, Szep found senior wideout Matt Miller open at the 30. Miller eluded the cornerback and went down the sideline, diving into the end zone for the touchdown after being hit at the 2.

Gibbs added the conversion kick and St. Ignatius was back on top at 14‑7 with 11:48 to play in the first half.

“We really felt good about the way our defense was playing the last three weeks,” Shepas said. “But they find out a way to jump out at 7‑0. I thought we answered well. We were hanging in there. They come out and score another touchdown on a crossing route. Just some things busted on us early.

“It’s kind of like trying to plug the dike sometimes. I just wish some of these kids would go out and feel the confidence I have in them.”

After two punts, a missed field goal attempt and another punt, Massillon took over at its 32‑yard line midway through the second quarter.

A Zwick to Devin Jordan sideline pass was good for a first down at the Massillon 43. Two plays later, Jordan ran a hitch and go and Zwick dropped the ball in his hands for a 29‑vard gain to the St. Ignatius 20.

Ryan Boyd picked up five yards on an inside handoff and Johnson added seven more on the same play to set up the Tigers with a first-and‑goal at the 9.

Again Zwick handed the ball to Boyd and the senior running back slashed up the middle. He was hit at the two by the Wildcats’ Kevin Stanek but dragged him into the end zone for the touchdown. Abdul’s kick was true and the Tigers had again tied the game at 14‑14 at 4:38 of the second quarter.

But St. Ignatius reasserted control of the game, taking the ensuing kickoff and driving 76 yards in nine plays. Chuck Flanagan’s 16‑yard burst up the middle on the first play set the tone. Then Franzinger came up with a big first down, picking up three yards on a fourth‑and‑1 from the Massillon 43.

On the very next play, Szep hit Gonzalez down the right sideline for 28 yards to the 12. Two snaps later Szep sneaked into the end zone from a yard out. Gibbs’ conversion kick split the uprights and the Wildcats were right back on top 21‑14 at 1:07 of the first half.

Disaster struck the Tigers on the second play after the ensuing kickoff. On second‑and‑10 from the Massillon 23, Zwick was pressured by Kerr, who batted the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. A wild scramble ensued and when the players unpiled, Franzinger had the football for a St. Ignatius touchdown with 44 seconds until the band show.

Gibbs again converted the point‑after and St. Ignatius carried a 28‑14 lead into the lockerroom.

“That was big,” agreed St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle. “You need the defense to get turnovers certainly, but that was an added bonus.

“That was one of those plays that seem to take forever.”

Massillon had to punt on its first possession of the second half but the Tigers got the ball back when Keith Wade drilled Szep and caused a fumble that Andy Alleman recovered at the Massillon 32.

A Zwick‑to‑Jordan pass earned a first down at the 42. Five plays later another Zwick‑to‑Jordan aerial netted another first down at the St. Ignatius 26. A pass interference penalty gave Massillon a first down at the Wildcats 13.

Then Hill took an inside handoff, bounced off Kerr at the 10 and jaunted into the end zone. The extra point failed but Massillon trailed by just one score at 28‑20 with 4:43 to play in the third.

St. Ignatius proved its mettle by taking the ensuing kickoff and driving 63 yards in 12 plays ‑ with the aid of a third‑down pass interference call ‑ to reclaim the momentum Massillon had sought from the game’s opening moments. The Wildcat touchdown came with 11:55 to play and made it St. Ignatius 35‑20.

Massillon moved to midfield on its next possession but the drive stalled and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs. That, essentially, was the ballgame.

“We play a good schedule but we played the big boys twice,” Shapes said of the eight‑time state champions. “We weren’t able to get these two and we’re just going to have to work on it. It is something we have to overcome as a program and as a community as well.”

Szep was sensational once again for St. Ignatius, completing 13 of 25 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. The senior signal caller also ran for a score and did not throw an interception all night long.

“He’s a good player,” Shepas said. “I didn’t think he’d play as well the second time around. I thought we’d get to him more than we did but we didn’t.

“We didn’t get a bad push on the front. We didn’t have the coverage behind it we worked on.

“Winners make things happen. It might look like they’re getting breaks, they’re just doing what they do. They’re making plays. That’s the way it should be really.”

First downs rushing 11 8
First downs passing 9 9
First downs by penalty 4 2
TOTAL first downs 24 19
Net yards rushing 173 171
Net yards passing 186 272
TOTAL yards 359 343
Passes attempted 42 25
Passes completed 20 13
Passes intercepted 1 0
Punts 3 3
Punting average 31.3 30.3
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 1/1
Penalties 3 6
Yards penalized 40 78

MASSILLON 7 7 6 0 20
IGNATIUS 7 21 0 21 49

I ‑ Gonzalez 78 pass from Szep (Gibbs kick)
M ‑ Ashcraft 7 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
I ‑ Miller 39 pass from Szep (Gibbs kick)
M ‑ Hill 8 run (Abdul kick)
I ‑ Szep 1 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑, Franzinger recovered fumble in and zone (Gibbs kick)
M ‑Hill 13 run (run failed)
I ‑ Franzinger 2 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑ Welo 20 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑Welo 29 run (Gibbs kick)

Massillon rushing: Johnson 14-71, Hill 9‑42.
Ignatius rushing: Welo 15‑101, Franzinger 10‑35.

Massillon passing: Zwick 20‑42‑186 1 TD, 1 INT.
Ignatius passing: Szep 13‑25‑273 2 TDs.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 11‑110, Ashcroft 4‑27 TD, Jovingo 2‑21.
Ignatius receiving: Gonzalez 5‑152 TD, Miller 4‑75 TD.

Justin Zwick


2001: Massillon 35, Canton McKinley 19

Tigers unrelenting in Beating Bulldogs again Massillon runs past McKinley 35‑19, will meet Hoover in regional title game

Independent Sports Editor

This time, the Tigers made it look easy.

Two weeks after their dramatic three‑point victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley, the Massillon Tigers parlayed a defense that held the Bulldogs without a first down for over two quarters and an offense that was 4‑of‑4 on fourth down while generating its usual 400 yards into a convincing 35‑19 victory in a regional semifinal game witnessed by 21,203 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.

Massillon (11‑1) advances to a regional final contest next Saturday, against North Canton Hoover at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association today.

While this is uncharted territory for the Tigers during the Rick Shepas era, Massillon’s sideline boss was not ready to characterize the win as his biggest in Tigertown.

“I don’t know,” Shepas said. “There, have been some great ball games in the four years I’ve been head coach here. I don’t know if I’d consider this the biggest win.

“This is where I pictured our team to be last year and we didn’t get it done. We’re working hard with determination. We’ll just keep coaching our kids, trying to get better.”

Just two weeks after McKinley ran up over 400 yards of offense against the Tigers, the Massillon defense held the Bulldog attack to half that total when it truly counted the most.

“We were just a little more fundamental this time,” Shepas explained. “We’re taking less risks. We’re watching our substitutions and we’re asking our kids to work hard.”

“We changed things on defense,” explained senior linebacker Justin Princehorn. “We played a ’50’ look against them and I think that shut down their run game.”

Indeed, McKinley netted just 89 yards rushing, 61 of which came on one play. That’s 160 yards less than the Bulldog ground game generated in the Week Ten contest.

As was the case in the first game, Massillon carried a double‑digit lead into the halftime locker room. But the Tigers – who turned the ball over on their first possession of the second half two weeks ago ‑ came out and put together a textbook 15‑play, 97‑yard scoring march to open the third quarter and close the door on McKinley.

The drive began with a Justin Zwick nine‑yard completion to Stephon Ashcraft and concluded when Joe Jovingo laid out to snare a Zwick pass in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown at 5:39 of the third quarter. David Abdul’s point‑after made it Massillon 28, McKinley 7.

Throughout the drive, the Tigers continually beat the McKinley blitz as the Bulldogs sold out to try to get pressure on Zwick.

“We thought McKinley would bring more pressure than they did in the first game,” observed Zwick.
“Tonight they blitzed us and we had stuff counteract it and it worked for us.”

“Justin Zwick was very determined tonight,” Shepas said. “Our offensive line has improved greatly during the season and you saw that tonight. And I can’t say enough about our backfield combination of those three guys (Zwick, Robert Oliver and Ricky Johnson) back there.”

Zwick, who passed the 10,000‑yard mark in career passing yardage on the touchdown pass that capped the game‑clinching third‑quarter drive, savored the victory for its historical significance.

“Our guys came out and we executed the way we wanted to,” Zwick said. “The defense played a great game, we did our thing on offense and scored some points.

“It’s ‑ real special. It’s the first time the Tigers have beat the Bulldogs twice in the same year since 1963.”

The Tigers scored the first time they touched the football after the Massillon defense forced McKinley into a three-and‑out series on the Bulldogs initial possession after the opening kickoff.

Junior running back Ricky Johnson ‑ who left the game in the first half with an ankle sprain ‑ took a handoff and hit into the middle of the McKinley line on third‑and‑two from the 41, and cut left for a 13‑yard gain and a first down at the McKinley 46.

Zwick then found Ashcraft wide open along the left sideline for 20 yards to the Bulldogs’ 26.

Two plays later, on third‑and‑10, Zwick zeroed in on Devin Jordan in the right corner of the end zone for a 26‑yard touchdown at 7:02 of the first quarter. Abdul drilled the extra point and Massillon had drawn first blood at 7‑0.

McKinley was forced to punt after running four plays but the Tigers fumbled the kick and the Bulldogs recovered at the Massillon 29. The Pups stayed with the running game and moved to the Tiger 4‑yard line but Shalamar Gilmer coughed up the football when he was sandwiched by Cody Smith and Shawn Crable. Massillon junior safety Markeys Scott recovered the loose ball at the 2.

The teams traded punts with Massillon regaining possession at its 26 after Craig McConnell’s nine‑yard return. The Tigers then embarked on a 17‑play drive. A 10‑yard Zwick‑to‑Jordan pass gave Massillon a first down at the McKinley 45.

Zwick hit Ashcraft on a seam pass for 16 yards, but it took a clutch three‑yard run by Oliver on a fourth‑and‑one play for Massillon to sustain the drive at the McKinley 36.

Jordan’s leaping catch gave Massillon another first down at the 15. One play later, Oliver found a gaping hole up the middle, broke a McKinley tackle at the 5 and drove into the end zone to make it 13‑0 Massillon at 5:19 of the second quarter.

McKinley countered on its ensuing possession when Gilmer went around right end and sprinted 61 yards to paydirt to cap a three‑play drive. Matt Campbell’s conversion kick was good and the Bulldogs had cut their deficit to 13‑7 at 3:42 of the first half.

Massillon came right back for its third score of the half. Zwick hit Jordan for 12 yards, then David Hill gained 13 yards over left guard to give the Tigers a first down at the McKinley 36. Oliver found another huge hole up the middle to the Bulldog 20.

Two plays later, on thirdand‑two from the 12, Zwick rolled left and found Ashcraft, who made a leaping catch along the left sideline at the 1.

Zwick called his own number on a bootleg around left end and walked into the end zone with just nine seconds to play in the half. The Tigers went for the two point‑conversion and Zwick completed an aerial to Jordan to give Massillon a two‑touchdown cushion at the half, 21‑7.

Then Massillon came out of the locker room and overcame a mishandled kickoff for the long scoring drive that put the contest out of reach for McKinley and started a mass exodus of Bulldog partisans from the Rubber Bowl.

The Tigers added another touchdown at 3:22 of the third quarter When Robert Oliver snagged a middle screen pass and picked his way into the end zone from 12 yards out, capping a nine‑play, 64 yard drive. Abdul’s extra point kick closed the scoring for the Tigers.

“We came out and wanted to make a little bit of history by beating them twice in a season and we got it done,” said Oliver, who had a game‑high 76 yards rushing. “It was all in the preparation during the week. That and our enthusiasm got it done. The difference between this game and the one two weeks ago is we settled down and played our game.”

“We’re on our way now,” added Princehorn. “Everyone said this is the year to do it and that’s what we’re going to do.” “I think this is our biggest win because it is a another step closer to our goal,” pointed out Tiger co‑captain Marquis Williams. “The closer we get to our goal, the bigger the wins are.”

First downs rushing 12 3
First downs passing 12 4
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 24 10
Net yards rushing 163 89
Net yards passing 239 123
TOTAL yards 402 212
Passes attempted 33 20
Passes completed 24 10
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 4 5
Punting average 43.5 35.0
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 4/2
Penalties 7 2
Yards penalized 70 15

MASSILLON 7 14 14 0 35
McKINLEY 0 7 0 12 19

MAS ‑ Jordan 26 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 15 run (Kick failed)
McK ‑ Gilmer 61 run (Campbell kick)
MAS ‑ Zwick 1 run (Jordan pass from Zwick)
MAS ‑ Jovingo 7 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 12 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
McK ‑ Gilmer 2 pass from Palumbo (Run failed)
McK ‑ Green 3 pass from Palumbo (Pass failed)

Massillon rushing: Oliver 17‑71, D. Hill 8‑67, Zwick 7‑12, Johnson 4‑17.
McKinley rushing: Palumbo 10‑17, Gilmer 9‑70.

Massillon passing: Zwick 24‑33‑239 3 TDs, INT.
McKinley passing: Palumbo 10‑20‑123 2 TDs, INT.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 6‑84, Ashcraft 6‑65, Jovingo 4‑53, Oliver 4‑27.
McKinley receiving: Smith 2‑45, Gilmer 2‑23, Corner 2‑15, Everett 2‑10.
Statistics courtesy of RICHARD CUNNINGHAM

Justin Zwick


1996: Massillon 6, Brunswick 7

Tigers go cold at Icy Rubber Bowl

Brunswick to take on Pups next

Independent Sports Editor

When it was all said and done, the Brunswick Blue Devils secured a berth in the Division I regional finals against the McKinley Bulldogs the old fashioned way … they earned it.

The Massillon Tigers, beneficiaries of four Brunswick fumbles, could not convert any of the takeaways into points, and dropped a 7-6 heartbreaker in front of 6,839 at the Akron Rubber Bowl, Saturday.

Massillon’s speed and quickness was negated by the snow covered and slippery Rubber Bowl artificial turf, and Brunswick established an advantage at the line of scrimmage that finally paid off on its final drive of the evening.

“They have some very strong kids,” observed Jack Rose.
We had a hard time moving them out of there, When we did, we got some plays run.

“But you only get so many opportunities They had a couple turnovers that gave us great field position. We didn’t capitalize on them. You knew it was going to be a one-touchdown game. We had a chance to get it done.”

Brunswick overcame a size disadvantage on both lines to win the game’s statistical battle out gaining the Tigers 194 to 123.

“I’d like to think we controlled the line of scrimmage,” said Brunswick coach Tom Fasko.

“We did a great job in the second quarter coming off the football and in the fourth quarter as well.”

The Blue Devils employed two tight ends and their attack was at its best when it had to be. The Brunswick defense came ….. takeaway, recovering a Massillon fumble at midfield with 6:43 to play and the Tigers leading 6-0.

Tailback Brian Kolin carried the football on five consecutive plays, including a 14-yard burst up the middle, as Brunswick moved from its 48 to the Massillon 25. Jesse Peticca got the football on the counter trey on two of the next three snaps to set up second-and-six from the 10. Then Kohn took the pitch around left end to the two yard line.

Kolin capped off the drive by going into the middle of the line for the touchdown at 2:31 of the fourth quarter. Nick Gargano’s conversion kick was good and Massillon’s post-season was over.

Easko acknowledged his charges were able to execute on the final game-deciding drive …. field conditions.

“We couldn’t afford a mistake at that point,” he said. “We couldn’t have a penalty. We couldn’t have a turnover. We had to execute flawlessly under these conditions. It was a tribute to our offense. And except for one play, our defense played a great game also.”

“We were pretty confident coming in,” said Kolin, who finished with 73 yards and no fumbles in 18 carries. “We were underdogs for the first time this season and that was motivation.”

On the final drive, Kolin knew he was going to Brunswick’s featured runner after splitting tailback duties with Dave Harris most of the game.

“We marched on them,” Kolin said. “We knew we could. It’s just that the cold and wetness really made the football slippery, so you’re never sure about your traction out there/”

“We knew we had six-and-a-half minutes left and we said, “Hey, this is it. It’s now or never,” said Fasco. “Our kids buckled it up, We had some nice runs and we got some great calls from upstairs.”

Christian Morgan put the Blue Devils in a comeback mode midway through the third period. Brunswick had buried the Tigers deep in their territory with a punt and a clipping penalty. But on first-and-10 from the Massillon 11, quarterback Ben Hymes checked off to toss sweep around right end.

Morgan broke two arm tackles at the line of scrimmage and was off to the races. Eighty nine yards later he crossed the goal line and the Tigers led 6-0.

But other than that play. Massillon was unable to get any thing going on offense. In fact, when Morgan’s 89-yard touchdown jaunt is subtracted, the Tigers had just 44 yards rushing. They also were an abysmal 0-12 on third down conversions and committed six penalties for 45 yards.

Rose was not about to attribute the defeat to the emotional baggage of the McKinley game or the less than ideal field conditions.

“I really thought we had over … had really good practices. Wednesday and Thursday, I really felt good coming into this game except for the fact we had so much flu going through the team that we didn’t have everyone together for practices at one time.

“This is northeast Ohio, It’s going to be 70 degrees one day and like this the next. We didn’t get out on the perimeter with the option. We did run the toss sweep, but we thought we could get to the corner on them. Hey, they played in this, too. They are more of a hammer team than we are, but I’m not going to … .

Massillon had two golden opportunities to convert Brunswick turnovers ito scores. In the first period, the Blue Devils muffed a punt at their 23 and the Tigers recovered. Four plays (including two incompletions and a sack) and minus four-yards later, Massillon turned the ball back to Brunswick on downs.

Brunswick’s second gift to Massillon came with 10:52 to play when B.J. Burick fell on another muffed punt at the Blue Devil’s 22. Hymes gained eight yards on a second down sneak, but the Tigers again failed to get a first down in four snaps.

“We had our chances,” Rose said. “We had our chances …”

M Man
First downs rushing 2 11
First downs passing 1 0
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 3 11
Net yards rushing 123 194
Net yards passing 10 5
Total yards gained 133 199
Passes attempted 12 5
Passes completed 2 2
Passes int 1 0
Times kicked off 2 2
Kickoff average 31 36.5
Kickoff return yards 14 0
Punts 6 5
Punting average 32.8 30.4
Punt return yards 1 0
Fumbles 3 4
Fumbles lost 1 4
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 45 20
Number of plays 44 52
Time of possession 21:53 26:07
Attendance 5,839

BRUNSWICK 0 0 0 7 7
MASSILLON 0 0 6 0 6


Third Quarter
Mass – Morgan 89 run (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter
Brun – Kolin 1 run (Gargano kick)


Morgan 19-109, 1 TD;
Stefanko 3-6;
Hodgson 2-3;
Hymes 7-4;
Blake 1-1.
Horba 7-37;
Kolin 18-73 1 TD;
Hendricks 6-(-8);
Harris 13-79;
Peticca 2-13.

Hymes 1-11-18, 0 TD, 1 int.;
Morgan 1-0-0 0 TD, 0 int.
Hendricks 2-5-5 0 TD, 0 int.

Morgan 1-16;
Martin 1-(-6)
Peticca 1-3;
Kolin 1-2

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1995: Massillon 22, Barberton 20

Massillon snatches’ victory from defeat

Repository sports writer

AKRON ‑ As time ticked down to a few precious seconds, the Massillon Tigers slowly turned sure defeat into an amazing victory.

The Tigers trailed by two touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter, but came back to stun the Barberton Magics 22‑20 Saturday night at the Rubber Bowl.

A 1‑yard touchdown plunge by quarterback George Whitfield with 17 seconds left capped a game Barberton firmly had tucked away before Massillon came back to steal a win. The Tigers scored 16 unanswered points in the final 6:24.

“We were very lucky to win,” Massillon head coach Jack Rose said. “But I have to give my kids credit. They never gave up in the fourth quarter. They played their hearts out and found a way to win it.”

Massillon tailback Vinny Turner. who suffered a pulled hamstring in last week’s game against Austintown Fitch, did not start. But with the game, and possibly the season, on the line the Tigers had no choice but to put their top offensive threat in the backfield.

A 2‑yard touchdown run by Turner and the two‑point conversion cut Barberton’s lead to 20‑14 with five minutes left.

Turner, who finished with 46 yards on 11 carries, caught an 11‑yard pass from Whitfield on the game‑winning drive. From the Barberton 3‑yard line, he grinded out two yards on two carries before Whitfield scored the winning touchdown with the Tigers out of timeouts.

“My hamstring is hurting, but I had to go in there,” said Turner. “And we made the big plays. That’s all we had to do.”

The difference in the game came prior to the final Massillon drive when Barberton punter Chad Whipkey ran out of the end zone for a safety after the snap sailed over his head.

“I felt we could win regardless of the safety, but that*s the breaks,” Whitfield said. “You have to have breaks like that. They had one in the first half. This was ours.”

Barberton’s break came just before halftime.

Rohn Noirot, who kicked a 31‑yard field goal midway through the second quarter, lined up to attempt a 20‑yarder with 20 seconds left.

But holder Jay Winker, a backup quarterback, took the snap and threw a shovel pass to fullback David Holderbaum as he raced into the end zone. Noirot’s extra point increased the Magics’ lead to 17‑6 at halftime.

The Tigers had only 61 yards of total offense in the first half. They also turned the ball over three times.

Massillon’s first turnover gave the Magics a 7‑0 lead. The Tigers fumbled a Barberton punt deep in their own territory and Danny Villers fell on the ball in the end zone after a wild scramble.

A 33‑yard touchdown run by Whitfield sliced Barberton’s lead to 7‑6. It remained 7‑6 after Tiger place‑kicker Josh Hose missed the extra point.

Massillon’s mistakes continued. The Tigers handed the Magics a first down when they lined up offside on fourth‑and-one from the Barberton 25‑yard line. The Magics then drove 61 yards in 12 plays and used Noirot’s 31‑yand field goal to extend their lead to 10‑6. Barberton kept the drive alive by converting on fourth‑and-inches from midfield.

Massillon’s next two possessions ended with turnovers. Whitfield was intercepted both times. Winkler returned the second one 43 yards to the Tiger 11‑yard line.

That set the Magics’ final touchdown in the first half ‑ the shovel pass from Winkler to Holderbaum.

Massillon 6 0 0 16 22
Barberton 7 10 0 3 20

B ‑ Villers recovered fumble in the end zone (Noirot kick)
M ‑ Whitfield 33 run (kick failed)
B ‑ FG Noirot 31
B – Holderbaum 3 pass from Winker (Noirot kick)
B – FG Noirot 35
M ‑ Turner 2 run (Wiles pass from Whitfield)
M ‑ Safety, Whipkey ran out of the end zone
M ‑ Whitfield 1 run (kick failed)

Records: Massillon 5‑1; Barberton 3‑3

George Whitfield


1994: Massillon 20, Canton McKinley 27

Mistakes doom Tigers’ title run
Massillon ends with 10-2 slate

Independent Sports Editor

The one constant in the Mas­sillon Tigers’ late‑season three ­game run of excellence was missing in their 27‑20 Division I regional championship loss to the McKinley Bulldogs before a throng of 34,208 at the Akron Rubber Bowl, Saturday night.

The Tigers simply did not play mistake‑free football against their arch‑rivals the way they did in averaging 36 points in defeating St. Vincent-­St. Mary’s in Week 9, McKinley in Week 10 and Fremont Ross in the playoff opener.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley – Playoffs

Massillon’s mistakes weren’t all of the glaring variety, but the Pups ‑ who meet St. Igna­tius this Saturday at the Rubber Bowl in the Division I state semifinals ‑ seemed to always capitalize. Among the more costly errors:

The Tigers fumbled away the football at midfield on their first possession and the Bull­dogs drove 52 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

The Bulldogs’ second score came on Adrian Brown’s 71­-yard burst and included several broken or missed tackles within 10 yards of the line of scrim­mage.

McKinley’s third tally appeared to be on a blown coverage assignment in the secondary which resulted in a 47‑yard Josh McDaniels‑to-­Mark Thewes TD strike.

Massillon’s second‑to‑last drive included a key illegal pro­ceedure penalty. It ended in a punt with 7:47 to play.

The Tigers’ final ill‑fated series reached the McKinley side of the field when an illegal shift penalty, a delay of game penalty and a dropped pass doomed their comeback.

“You can’t have those kind of things, missed tackles and penalties, against a quality opponent like McKinley,” Tiger mentor Jack Ross said after­ward.

“But I wish McKinley all the best. They are a very good foot­ball team and they played a great game out there tonight. They will represent the region well.”

Massillon certainly did not self destruct in the 12th week of the season. The Tigers had the Pups holding their collective breaths until the final seconds, ticked off the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs scored first 26‑yard wingback reverse, ex­ecuted to perfection by Jaiyvon­ne Richards.

Massillon took the ensuing kickoff and drove 73 yards in just seven plays to knot the score at 7‑7. Willie Spencer Jr. was at his best on the drive, run­ning the option with a magi­cian’s sleight of hand, all the while frustrating the McKinley defense.

On the first snap of their next possession, the Bulldogs re­gained the lead. Brown got the ball on a draw play and dashed to paydirt, leaving several Ti­gers in his wake. The conver­sion kick was wide and the Pups led 13‑7.

It was the type of play, com­ing right after Massillon scored to even the game, that could’ve broken a lesser team’s spirit. But the Tigers came resolutely back, marching 80 yards in 17 plays. Spencer covered the final seven on an option keeper around his left end. Pribich’s boot gave the locals the lead 14­-13 with 6:44 until halftime.

The Bulldogs took the second half kickoff and made a state­ment, driving 65 yards in nine plays. Kinta Mitchell’s 32‑yard gallop eventually led to his one­-yard scoring burst at 7:10 of the third stanza. McKinley failed on a two‑point pass play and it was a 19‑14 game.

Spencer got the TD hat trick as the Tigers regained the lead with an 11‑play, 62‑yard drive. The senior signal caller com­pleted clutch passes to Devon Williams (18 yards), Ryan Sha­nor (10 yards), and Leon Ashcraft (5 yards), before sweeping in from the 3‑yard line for his third tally of the evening.

After a pass fell incomplete on the try for a two‑point conversion, the Tigers owned a 20‑19 lead at 1:32 of the third period.

But the Bulldogs would land the final punch on this night. It was a roundhouse right in the form of the 47‑yard McDaniels to Thewes pass play. Julius Lancaster took a pitch from McDaniels, then hit the senior QB on a throwback for the two ­point conversion that made it McKinley 27‑20 with 11:11 to play.

Massillon drove to the McKin­ley 49, where an illegal procedure penalty changed a second-­and‑five play call into second­-and‑ten. Ace Gillens sacked Spencer two plays later to force a punt.

Spencer was injured on McKinley’s ensuing series when he brought down Brown on a pitch out around left end. The Bulldogs were forced to punt one play later and the Ti­gers last chance began at their 9‑yard line.

Ashcraft asserted his cham­pionship mettle by getting Mas­sillon out of the hole on a 34‑yard first down burst behind Aric Simpson and Tim Mendenhall. The 5‑foot, 7‑inch, senior tail­back finished the night with 131 yards on 21 carries.

With senior Mark Hiegl now at the controls, Jeremy Fraelich gained 11 yards up the middle to the McKinley 46. An illegal shift penalty followed, then a delay of game one play later set up second‑and‑20 at the Massillon 44. Hiegl rolled right and hit a receiver at the McKin­ley 33, but the ball fell incom­plete.
Two plays later the Bulldog pass rush forced an incomple­tion and Massillon’s unlikely run had ended.

“That’s the problem in the playoffs,” Rose concluded, unless you go all the way, you end on a sour note.

“Unfortunately, it had to hap­pen against (McKinley). That certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”

First downs rushing 12 9
First downs passing 6 5
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 18 14
Net yards rushing 253 226
Net yards passing 92 120
Total yards gained 345 346
Passes attempted 13 12
Passes completed 7 9
Passes int. 0 0
Kickoff return yards 89 41
Punts 2 2
Punting average 36.5 44.0
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 1 0
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 41 35
Number of plays 55 38
Time of possession 27.52 20.08
Attendance 34,208

MASSILLON 7 7 6 0 20
MCKINLEY 13 0 6 8 27


MCK ‑ Richards 26 run (McDaniels kick)
M ‑ Spencer 21 run (Pribich kick)
MCK ‑ Brown 70 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Spencer 6 run (Pribich kick)
MCK ‑ Mitchell 1 run (pass failed)
M ‑ Spencer 4 run (pass failed)
MCK ‑ Thewes 46 pass from McDaniels
(McDaniels pass from Lancaster)


Ashcraft 21‑131;
Spencer 15‑96,3 TDs;
Fraelich 3‑17.
Brown 13‑139, 1 TD;
Mitchell 7‑63, 1 TD;
Richards 1‑26 1 TD.

Spencer 7‑10 92
Hiegl 0‑30.
McDaniels 9-12 120, 1 TD.

Redrick 4‑58;
Wil­liams 1‑19;
Shanor 1‑11;
Ashcraft 1‑5.
Thewes 3‑63, 1 TD;
Brown 3­-25;
Richards 2‑21;
Mitchell 1‑11.

Leon Ashcraft


1993: Massillon 20, Walsh Jesuit 30

Walsh Jesuit holds on: Massillon finishes 10-2

Independent Sports Editor

Jack Rose knew 16 points would not be enough to beat the Massillon Tigers.

And he told his team that at halftime of Saturday’s Division I regional championship game against Walsh Jesuit at the Akron Rubber Bowl. The Tigers trailed the Warriors 16-0 at the time.

With 8:48 left in the contest, Rose looked like a prophet as Massillon had pulled to within 23‑20 on a 55‑yard touchdown bomb from Mike Danzy to Lonnie Simpson.

At that point, not only were the Tigers believers, so was Walsh Jesuit head coach Gerry Rardin.

“I was thinking, ‘We can’t let this happen again,”‘ confided Rardin after the game. “I was. I’ll admit it now.”

Rardin had seen Massillon come from behind to defeat his team in the 1989 playoffs and last year during the regular season. This time, however, Walsh Jesuit was able to hang on for a 30‑20 victory and a berth in the state semi-finals against Cleveland St. Ignatius on Dec. 4 at Fawcett Stadium.

The Warriors cemented the win with a clutch seven‑play, 48‑yard touchdown drive following Simpson’s TD catch. It was set up when Matt Lloyd gave his team superb field position with a hard‑driving 39‑yard kickoff return.

After quarterback Todd Riddle started things off with a 22‑yard strike to Brock Kreitzburg that moved the ball to the Massillon 26, Lloyd finished the Tigers off the way he does all of his rushes. The senior tailback carried on four of the next five plays, scoring on a two‑yard smash into the middle of the line with 4:38 to play.

“Matt Lloyd’s a great kid. Matt Lloyd’s an outstanding tailback,” Rardin said, “He just runs with a great deal of heart and determination.”

Those same remarks would apply to more than one Tiger on what turned out to be a disappointing evening. Danzy showed enormous heart in rallying his team in the second half with a 68-yard touchdown run on an option keeper and the lone bomb to Simpson. The 5‑7, 165‑pound senior was a heavyweight this day with 120 yards and 107 yards passing.

Ali Dixon and Courtney Herring played key roles also. Dixon breathed life into the running game in the second half while, Herring’s two‑way play at tailback and linebacker belied his lack of experience.

The Massillon defense, despite Walsh Jesuit’s 30 points, hung in against a well‑balanced Warrior attack. It forced and recovered two fumbles in the third quarter to get the comeback started. The second one, recovered by Chris Porrini, led to Jake Laughlin’s 3‑yard touchdown dive that made it 16‑7 with 3:39 to go in the third period.

Walsh Jesuit countered with an eight‑play, 78‑yard touchdown march. Lloyd personally accounted for 71 of those yards (54 rushing, 17 receiving) and put the points on the board with a 28‑yard scoring run on a counter gap play over the Warriors’ right side. The PAT made it 23‑7 with :07 to go in the third.

Massillon showed why if is appropriately dubbed the City of Champions by fighting right back. Danzy electrified the crowd of 11,765 with his 68‑yard TD scamper on the option keeper. His conversion pass failed but it was 23‑13 with just under 11 minutes still to play.

The Tiger defense made another stand on Walsh’s next possession, forcing the Warriors into a three‑and‑out sequence by sniffing out a screen pass to Lloyd on third down.

After the punt, Massillon had it first‑and‑10 at its own 45. Danzy rolled right found Simpson wide open along the right sideline at the ­Walsh 25 and put the pigskin on the money. Simpson did the rest, outrunning the secondary to the end zone to make it 23‑20 with just under 9:00 to go.

That’s when Lloyd and the Warriors put together their final scor­ing march, drawing the curtain down on a fine comeback season for the Tigers.

“It was a heck of a season,” a disconsolate Rose said softly in the empty Massillon locker room. “Going 10‑2 isn’t too shabby, coming back from a 5‑5 season.

“We’ve got a real nice junior class coming back and we should have another real fine season in 1994.”

Rose cited two factors contributing to the Walsh Jesuit victory; third‑down efficiency and pass protection.

“They did a real nice job on third down,” he noted. “They converted a lot of third down plays. They had to have a great percentage, (56 percent for the game) especially on that first drive when they got the field goal.

“Riddle is a strong kid. He can shake off a guy. They did a good job of protecting him and he really threw the ball (12‑for‑20, 173 yards). He was on. He can throw the ball well.”
Unlike the week before against McKinley, Walsh Jesuit was not able to be one‑dimensional on offense. The Warriors went to the air early and often – Riddle was 8 of 12 for 127 yards in the first half alone – to keep the Tigers defense off balance.

“We felt we would have to mix it up a lot more to keep them­ honest,” Rardin said: “The kids executed a lot‑of‑things well, even when it got tough and they were stuffing us. They kept their poise and they continued to execute. That was the difference.”

First downs rushing 10 10
First downs passing 3 3
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 13 18
Net yards rushing 236 203
Net yards passing 108 173
Total yards gained 338 355
Passes attempted 13 20
Passes completed 3 12
Passes int. by 1 0
Times kicked off 4 6
Kickoff average 45.5 58.0
Kickoff return yards 54 83
Punts 3 1
Punting average 35.0 28.0
Punt return yards 2 3
Fumbles 2 3
Fumbles lost 2 2
Penalties 2 1
Number of plays 44 59
Time of possession 18:41 29:19
Attendance 11,765

WALSH JESUIT 3 13 7 7 30
MASSILLON 0 0 7 13 20

Mark Fair

1991: Massillon 13, Cleveland St. Ignatius 14

Ugh! Big Ig nips Tigers

Independent Sports Editor

A hungry Massillon defense spent most of Saturday night di­ving shark‑like into the bally­hooed Cleveland St. Ignatius offense.

Ignatius, however, turned the second half into a “touchdown sandwich” ‑ scoring at the start of the third quarter and end of the fourth quarter ‑ to bag a 14‑13 victory in front of 20,150 at the Rubber Bowl in the Division I high school football playoff semifinals.

Jason Woullard, who played a whopper of a game on defense, became a hero on offense with a fourth down, 42‑yard TD pass reception from quarterback Nick Mossides to break a 7‑7 tie with 4:36 left in the game.

Someone asked Massillon head coach Lee Owens if the play was ad libbed.

“We’ve practiced it 100 times,” Owens said. “It was just a play‑action fake and pass.”

The play was unusual, though, because it was Woul­lard’s first varsity reception. It was reminiscent of the recent regular‑season finale against McKinley, when star lineback­er Eric Wright’s first rushing attempt as a varsity player went for a touchdown.

After Woullard’s TD catch, Jason Brown’s extra‑point kick try hit the right crossbar and bounced away. The uprights at the Rubber Bowl, home field for the University of Akron, are the NCAA width, 5 feet. narrower than the high school width. The kick would have made it be­tween the wider uprights.

That kept the score at 13‑7.

The Tigers went for the kill on the subsequent kickoff. Brown was to attempt a pop‑up kickoff designed to travel 25 to 30 yards to an open side of the field.

“It was the same type of kick we used to gain possession right at the end of the first half,” Massillon head coach Lee Owens said.

Even if the Tigers didn’t re­cover, Owens said the maneuv­er seemed safer than allowing the threat of a kickoff return.

“We practice that kind of kick every day,” he said.

Brown, who became Massillon’s all‑time, single‑season point‑after‑touchdown record holder earlier in the game, ap­plied his foot too low on the ball, creating a very short kickoff. Ignatius took over on its own 47­-yard line, then drove 53 yards for a touchdown.

Senior running back Jack Mulloy went in from two yards out to make it 13‑13 with 1:23 left in the game. Fernando Paez boomed the P.A.T. kick into the 18th row of seats at the closed end of the Rubber Bowl. It be­came the game‑winning point.

Paez then kicked off into the end zone for a touchback that forced the Tigers to start from

their own 20. A 14‑yard Mossides‑to‑Geoff Merchant pass on first down offered hope, but the next four plays went no­‑where, returning the ball to Ignatius on downs with 51 seconds left.

Ignatius quarterback Kevin Mayer fell on the ball twice and the game was over.

“I give all the credit to our kids.” said Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle. “They never lost faith in themselves.”

“They were up against a ,real team that had all the motivation in the world ‑ they’d dedicated the season to Paul Brown.”

“I feel the same way about this team I’ve felt all season,” Owens said. “I’m very proud of the way they conducted them­selves all year. This is a special group.”

“It’s just a shame all the work they put in had to end this way. It doesn’t seem fair. But give Ignatius credit. They’re an out­standing team.”

The Tigers led 7‑0 at halftime, thanks to a single play that was the same length as Ignatius’ de­cisive, final TD drive.

On third and seven from the Massillon 47, Tiger senior Marc Stafford beat defensive back Bill Craighead in man to man coverage, then took in a perfect­ly thrown bomb from Mossides and easily ran in for a touch­down. The 53‑yard play ended with just 39 seconds left in the first half. Brown’s kick made it 7‑0.

At halftime, Ignatius had mustered just 61 yards against a Massillon defense that put a hard pass rush on the All‑Ohio candidate, Mayer.

An interception by Dan Hackenbracht snuffed out Ignatius’ first possession. A crunching sack by Woullard and Wayne Gallion stopped the second one.

At the start of the second half, though, Ignatius set up at its own 48 after a squib kick and return. Having sputtered while using formations with four wide receivers, the Wildcats switch­ed to an option attack with just two wideouts.

“That’s just normal for us, to switch around,” Mayer said.

A 21‑yard scramble by Mayer became the key item in a nine ­play, 52‑yard touchdown drive capped by sophomore fullback Eric Haddad’s six‑yard run on second‑and‑goal. The kick by Paez was good and it was 7‑7 with 7:46 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers then drove 49 yards in seven plays, featuring a 32‑yard run by Travis McGuire, who wound up with 118 rushing yards. On second and six from the 20, Falando Ashcraft plowed for four yards but lost the football. Mike McHale recovered for Ignatius at the 16.

The Massillon defense adjusted to the option attack, forc­ing Ignatius to punt.

Again, the Tigers drove, this time from their own 45 to the Ignatius 23. Again, they lost the ball on second and six. This time, it was Mossides and McGuire unable to make the connection on a handoff. Igna­tius pounced on the loose pigs­kin at the 27.

On third down, Mayer’s deep pass was broken up by Hacken­bracht and Troy Burick, forcing another Ignatius punt. It had been raining for about five mi­nutes when the Tigers took over on their own 40‑yard line. On third and short, Mossides sneaked three yards to the Igna­tius 48. Moments later, it was fourth down on the 42, with less than half the fourth quarter re­maining.

Mossides made a play action fake, set up, and let loose a high­ arcing pass that floated over Ignatius linebacker Regan Fitz­patrick. Woullard caught the ball at the 32‑yard line and out­raced Fitzpatrick into the end zone to give the Tigers their momentary lead.

Ignatius came back with its decisive drive.

Massillon’s defense was out­standing through most of the night.

Take away the two touch­down drives and Ignatius gained just 79 yards on eight other possessions.

“We played good defense all night,” Owens said. “We couldn’t ask the defense to play much harder. The two times they scored, we gave them a short field on the kickoff, and they took advantage of it.”

Massillon wound up with a 293‑182 edge in total offense.

Ignatius, on the other hand, contained the Tigers’ powerful ground game. Massillon finished with 155 rushing yards, ­the second lowest total of the season (lowest was 134 yards against Moeller).

Mayer completed just 10 of 27 passes for 119 yards, with one interception.

“They played some of the best pass defense I’ve seen,” Mayer said. “They mix up their coverages and they come hard on the rush.”

The Ignatius ground game produced 104 forward yards, but when quarterback sacks were factored in, there were 41 yards in losses, giving the Wild­cats a net of 63 yards on the ground.

Junior Dean Lamirand rushed 12 times for 58 yards.

Mayer and Lamirand made the key plays on Ignatius’ game‑winning drive.

Mayer delivered one completion on third‑and‑six that took the ball to the Massillon 42‑yard line with 3:50 left in the game. On fourth‑and‑six, he hit Mulloy along the left sideline for a first down. Mulloy went out of bounds with 1:57 left in the game.

The Tigers were still in de­cent shape, though, until Lamirand took the ball on an op­tion pitch and bolted 22 yards up the middle to the 2. Mulloy scored on the next play.

“When we got to the 2,” said Ignatius’ 315‑pound offensive tackle, Juan Porter. “we pretty much knew there was no way we weren’t going in.”

Owens said this morning that the pain of the loss had not left him, and that he is not sure it “ever will completely.”

“I’m still dying inside,” the coach said. “The state title was right there. To come so close to the final game only to lose it at the end is difficult to take.”

Owens stressed that the final kickoff in the game was not an onside kick attempt.

He said that even though the Tigers had recovered a short kickoff earlier in the game, Ignatius had left an open por­tion of the field around the 25­yard line again, and the kick was designed to go there.

“The reason we didn’t call for a squib kick was that they have been effective at fielding and returning squibs,” Owens said.

Owens said Ignatius started the game in a different run de­fense set than had been antici­pated.

“They committed more peo­ple to the run than anybody we’d played,” he said,

The Tigers adjusted to how the Ignatius ends were blocking the Massillon tackles and the counter play opened up in the second half, Owens said.

Owens said the defensive staff had an excellent game plan.

“Everything Coach (Jack) Rose wanted to do, he was able to do,” Owens said.

Owens said Ignatius final drive was “a matter of only being able to hold down such an outstanding offensive team for so long.

First downs rushing 9 4
First downs passing 1 8
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 14 13
Yards gained rushing 186 104
Yards lost rushing 31 41
Net yards rushing 155 63
Net yards passing 138 119
Total yards gained 293 182
Passes attempted 13 27
Passes completed 7 10
Interceptions 0 1
Times kicked off 3 3
Kickoff average 26.7 53.7
Kickoff return yards 37 24
Punts 4 6
Punting average 41.8 28.3
Punt return yards 8 21
Fumbles 2 0
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 3 1
Yards penalized 25 5
Number of plays 62 57
Time of possession 26:19 21:41
Attendance 20,150

Ignatius 0 0 7 7 14
Massillon 0 7 0 6 13

M ‑ Stafford 53 pass from Mossides (Brown kick)
I ‑ Haddad 6 run (Paez kick)
M ‑ Woullard 42 pass from Mossides (kick failed)
I ‑ Mulloy 2 run (Paez kick)

Individual statistics

(Massillon) McGuire 24‑118, Ashcroft 17‑55, Wright 2‑5.
(Ignatius) Sako 1 ‑(minus)2, Lamirand 12‑56, Haddad 4‑14, Mul­loy 2‑3.

(Massillon) Mossides7‑13‑0 158.
(Ignatius) Mayer 10‑27‑1 119.

(Massillon) McGuire3‑19, Stafford 2‑63, Woullard 1‑42, Merchant 1‑14.

It was written in the skies:
Game would be electrifying

Steve Doerschuk
Independent Sports Editor

Sometimes you can see it in there eyes.

Sometimes you can see it in the skies.

Put your mind on rewind and stop the tape at Aug. 17, in Lakewood Ohio.


The Massillon Tigers, with a tradition older than the crusty, two‑story houses that frame Lakewood High Stadium, are playing a practice game of foot­ball against Cleveland St. Igna­tius, the Goliath come lately of Ohio high school football.

Wind kicks up. Heavens ex­plode. Thunder and lightning break dance in measure so vio­lent that play is stopped.

It is a late‑summer storm of foreshadowing.

The teams would meet again. They would bring the storm to the floor of a stadium dug out of the earth in Akron.

They would play one of the classic games in the history of the high school playoffs.

In the end, the outcome would pierce like lightning through the hearts of the Massillon players, coaches, fans.

Ignatius scores a touchdown and kicks the extra point to give itself a 14‑13 lead with 83 seconds left in the state semifinal conflict.

Joe Studer, a former Massillon player, a Massillon coach, a Massillon man, is bloodied but unbowed.

“We can win it! ” he yells on the sidelines. His eyes flash. He stands tall.

A cold rain is failing. There is no lightning in the sky. There is no miracle play.

The last of the thunder rolls through Massillon’s majority share of the phenomenal crowd, announced at 20,150, which if true would mean there were 15,000 empty seats in the Rubber Bowl ‑ and there surely didn’t seem to be.

The final score is 14‑13, Ignatius.

It had been a night of one team’s thunder against the other team’s lightning.

Massillon scores first on a bomb. Ignatius ties the game on a long drive. Massillon goes ahead with a fourth‑down pass that goes for a touchdown, followed by a narrowly missed extra ­point kick try. Ignatius gets the ball in a do‑or‑die and drives for 7.

If it wasn’t a classic game in terms of execution ‑ fumbles, dropped passes and missed assignments were sprinkled throughout ‑ it was a blockbuster in terms of drama and hard hitting.

“Ten, 20, 30 years from now,” Chuck Kyle, the Ignatius coach, said in his post‑game team speech, “people will talk about this game.”

Kyle underscored his thought by repeating the words.

“They will talk about this game.

For the moment, the talk will come easily in Cleveland. The words will come hard in Massillon.

This was, probably, the most painful among a handful of similar losses absorbed by the Tigers during the Lee Owens era.

There was a 43‑yard field goal by Jeff Wilkens that gave Austintown‑Fitch a victory over the Tigers in 1988. There was a last‑ditch drive capped by a last‑second touchdown pass to Carlos Collins that gave Cincinnati Moeller a win over the Tigers in 1990.

The loss to Ignatius was more painful than even the one to Moeller mainly because the Tigers have never been closer to winning a state championship than they were this year.

Sure, the Tigers made it to the state finals in 1980, but there they met a Moeller team that put away the game early.

They made it to the championship game again in 1982, but another loaded Moeller team won going away, 35‑14.

This time, the Tigers were one key play away from making it to the championship game with a loaded team of their own, against a Centerville team that is a clear underdog against, as it turns out, Ignatius.

Amid the pain, it must be remembered 1991 was the year Massillon, which went to the playoffs just four times in the first 16 years, made a habit of playing in the tournament.

It was the Tigers’ third straight playoff season.

It must also be remembered that they excelled in the 1991 tournament, winning two games by a combined 70‑27, then outgaining by a margin of 293 yards to 182 the team whose program is bucking for its third state title in‑the last four years.

Rewind your mind one more time, to the moments after Saturday night’s final gun.

The defeat stings infinitely more than cold rain on the face as the Massillon players trudge to the locker room.

The team passes through a human tunnel of people dressed in orange.

“We love you,” yells one of them, a man named Phil Glick. “Hold your heads up. We love you.”

Eric Wright

1989: Massillon 43, Akron Garfield 7

Two down two to go for Tigers

Independent ‑ Sports Editor

Did Dame Destiny and the Fickle Finger of Fate conspire to stop Lee Hurst and Craig Turkalj Saturday?

There stood Hurst on one side of a water bucket in the Akron Rubber Bowl. There stood Turkalj on the other side. There ticked the clock 0:08 … 0:07 … 0:06 ‑ on a scoreboard that read Massillon 43, Garfield 7.

“Let’s do it,” the two Tigers yelped at 0:01.

And away they ran with their sloshing cargo. But when they got there, the sideline was bare. Their head coach, Lee Owens, had been absorbed by a sea of celebrants.
“Where’d he go?” the quarterback yelled.

“I don’t see him,” the linebacker replied.

They scrapped the mission and joined the fun.

And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Maybe the cards have it that (attention Coach Owens ‑ do not read this and spoil your surprise) the grand dousing is to take place in Columbus two games down the playoff highway.

As for Owens, he went that‑a‑way ‑ the way that leads to the Division I state semifinals and from there to the state championship.

It’s two playoff wins down and two wins to go for the rampaging Tigers, who came home Saturday night to another frenzied moonlight celebration downtown.

Massillon will oppose defending state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Akron Rubber Bowl.

It won’t be all fun and games.

“This turf is terrible,” said Tiger guard Jim Goff as he walked off the field following Saturday’s Garfield game. “Our sand turf is so much easier on the body. I’m really sore.”

Many Tiger fans thought their team, first in the Region 3 computer rankings at the end of the regular season, should not have had to play against No. 4 Garfield where the Golden Rams saw action in five regular‑season games this year.

But there is a flip side.

The Tigers now have had a game in which to get the hang of the Rubber Bowl (winning by 35 points against a team whose only other loss this season was by 1 point in overtime).

Ignatius has not played at the Rubber Bowl this year.

Still, expect to hear plenty of talk this week painting Ignatius as the favorite. The Wildcats won it all last year, the talk will go, and they have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Joe ‑ Ohio State wants him bad – Pickens.

“I hope we do play Ignatius,” Massillon senior Todd Porter said before he knew Ignatius advanced by outlasting Euclid Saturday night. “We beat them in a scrimmage, but people will say it was just a scrimmage. We want to beat them in a game.”

The Tigers’ first opportunity to commence beating on someone other than their own teammates came Aug. 12 in Lakewood, when they beat Ignatius in a practice game.

Three months later, after 12 “count ’em” games, Ignatius owns a 12‑0 record. The Tigers are 10‑2.

In Saturday’s other semifinal battle, Cincinnati Moeller (10‑2) will take on Lima (10‑2) in a 7:30 p.m. clash at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.

Ask around the Massillon locker room and you’ll find a whole lot of folks who want to face Moeller again ‑ the Tigers lost to the Cincinnati kids 41‑7 Sept. 16.

They may get the chance.

And maybe they’re within striking distance because they had things in the right perspective all along.

This was co‑captain Ryan Sparkman talking shortly after the Tigers beat Ignatius in August:

“It was all right to go up there and practice against the defending state champions, but we still have a long way to go.”

It’s not so long anymore.

Massillon makes Garfield pay dearly for its errors
By Ralph Paulk
Beacon Journal staff writer

The Massillon Tigers stepped boldly into the Garfield Rams’ backyard ‑ the Rubber Bowl ‑ then proceeded to manhandle the Rams.

What was supposed to be a grueling battle of defense quickly developed into a Massillon blowout Saturday night before a crowd of 13,607.

The Tigers, racing off to a 29‑7 halftime advantage, advanced to the state Division I semifinals with a convincing 43‑7 victory.

The Rams got out of the blocks in good shape, scoring on their first possession to take an early 7‑0 lead.

After that the Rams’ faithful sat in stunned silence for 3 1/2 quarters. The Tigers whipped Garfield at every phase of the game.

The Tigers’ defense harassed Rams quarterback Marcus Sims, sacking him five times and intercepting two passes. They also recovered four Garfield fumbles in the second half.

As Massillon continued its onslaught the Rams lost their confidence and poise. They were flagged for three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and a rash of other penalties.

Garfield’s coach, Bill McGee, paced up and down the sideline in search of an answer. All McGee and his Rams could find was misery, misery and more misery.

Massillon’s coach, Lee Owens, adjusted his orange cap occasionally and put his hands in his pockets.

What else could he do? His team’s victory already had been put on ice.

“We just got on a roll and were executing very well,” said Owens. “We felt we had to execute well if were going to win.

“This team was playing with extreme confidence. The kids know they can go all the way (state title game).

“I thought we had to get off to a better start than we did last week. We couldn’t wait until the second half.”

Massillon (10‑2), which overcame a 24‑6 deficit to defeat Walsh 42‑24 in the regional semifinal last week, again rolled out of the gate slowly. This time, however, the Tigers started their scoring flurry late in the first quarter.

Massillon halfback Ryan Sparkman ignited an awesome first‑half scoring explosion with a 44‑yard run to the Rams’ 2. Two plays later, Sparkman bounced off left tackle for a 1‑yard touchdown, making it 7‑6.

Gary Miller’s conversion kick was blocked by Thomas Lewis. It was the only thing the Tigers didn’t execute perfectly.

Quarterback Lee Hurst who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, ripped apart the Rams’ secondary like a master surgeon.

“We knew there were some things in there defense that we could exploit,” said Hurst, an All‑NEO Inland Region first‑teamer.

Massillon, which made its last appearance in the state ‑ title game in 1982, took a 14‑7 lead with 8:35 left in the second quarter.

Doug Harig, who caught a 45‑yard pass, capped off a 7‑play, 61‑yard scoring drive by catching a 4‑yard touchdown pass from Hurst.

There was still hope for Garfield. That was until Tigers safety Keith Rabbit intercepted a Sims pass at the Garfield 37.

It took the Tigers six plays to get the hall into the end zone. Hurst bootlegged around left end for an 11‑yard touchdown scamper and tossed a 2‑point conversion pass to Rameir Martin to put Massillon ahead 21‑7 with 5:17 left in the second quarter.

The Rams, marched to the Tigers’ 46. But Kevin McCue intercepted another Sims pass at midfield.

Hurst wasted little time in making the Rams pay for their mistake. On first down. he rifled a 50‑yard touchdown strike to Martin with 2:31 left in the first half.

Martin’s touchdown, Owens said, is what really burst the Rams’ bubble.

“The touchdown to Martin probably sealed the game,” Owens said. “We were doing every thing right, and we knew we were in good shape.”

Hurst, catching Garfield’s defense off‑balance, bootlegged left for a 2‑point conversion to give Massillon its 29-7 lead at the half.

“I thought at the half we would play a strong second half”‘ said McGee, whose team lost to Cincinnati Princeton in the 1983 championship game.

“I think once they scored to begin the third quarter, I realized it wouldn’t be our night. It was frustrating for us because it was always something.

The Rams began the second half by fumbling the ball away to Massillon. Again, Hurst rewarded the Tigers’ defense by directing the offense into the end zone.

Hurst threw a 20‑yard touchdown pass to Harig with 6:42 left in the third quarter, giving Massillon a commanding 36-7 lead.

The Tigers got their final points a 3‑yard touchdown run by Lamonte Dixon ‑ which also was set up by a Garfield fumble.

“This doesn’t happen to its very often.” McGee said, “Massillon was very excited about playing.

“We weren’t overwhelmed physically, but I think emotionally we were never in it. It was hard getting our kids’ confidence back.”

Massillon will play Cleveland St. Ignatius in next weekend’s state semifinals.

Individual Statistics
(Mas) Sparkman 10‑70, Ashcraft 10‑34, Dixon 12‑21, Hurst 4‑17, Slicker 2‑5.
(Gar) McGhee 9‑62, Martin 10‑28, Sanky 3‑21, Lewis 1‑9, Sims 7‑(minus 41).

(Mas) Hurst 10‑14‑0 175, Shertzer 1‑1‑0 10.
(Gar) Sims 4‑16‑2 66, Conley 3‑6‑0 36.

(Mas) Martin 4‑77, Harig 3‑68, Manion 2‑21, Carpenter 1‑11, Sparkman 1‑8.
(Gar) Lewis 3‑41, Harrison 2‑42, Martin 1‑14, Keller 1-5.

Kickoff returns
(Mas) Dixon 1-20.
(Gar) Martin 4‑83, Lewis 2‑37, Sankey 1‑19.

Punt returns
(Mas) Blake 1‑17, Manion 1‑0.
(Gar) None.

Massillon 6 23 14 0 43
Garfield 7 0 0 0 7

G – Sims 3 run. Williamson kick
M – Sparkman I run. Kick failed
M ‑ Harig 4 pass from Hurst. Martin Pass from Hurst
M ‑ Hurst 11 run. Miller kick
M ‑ Martin 50 pass from Hurst. Hurst run
M ‑ Harig 20 Pass from Hunt. Miller kick
M ‑ Dixon 3 run. Miller kick


First downs rushing 9 3
First downs Passing 7 5
First downs Penalty 0 4
Total first down 16 12
Net Yards rushing 142 79
Net Yards Passing 185 102
Total net yards 327 181
Passes attempted 15 22
Passes completed 11 7
Passes intercepted 0 2
Fumbles/lost 1‑1 5‑4
Punts 2 3
Punting average 14.5 34.7
Penalties 6 6
Yards penalized 59 47

All‑around dominance
Massillon’s offense, defense click in 43‑7 rout

Repository sports writer

AKRON ‑ If’ you’re a fan of high‑powered offenses, the Massillon Washington High School football team has the fix you’ve been looking for.

That’s not an earth‑shattering statement. Most people know that.

But what’s becoming more evident each week is the Tigers have plenty to offer you fans of defense ‑ quick, hard‑hitting, in‑your‑face defense.

Massillon had both its units working to near perfection Saturday night against Akron Garfield at the Akron Rubber Bowl.

Of course, the results of the Tiger explosion of power wasn’t pretty for Garfield fans, as their Rams lost this Division 1, Region 3 championship game 43‑7 in front of 13,637 fans.

The win raised Massillon’s record to 10‑2 and placed the Tigers in a state semifinal game next weekend. The site, date and opponent will be determined later today. Garfield, meanwhile, ended its season at 9‑2.

“I get the strong feeling these kids want to go all the way,” said Massillon head coach Lee Owens.

“They’re playing with extreme confidence right now. They’re getting better and better each week, which is what you need to do.”

Massillon’s confidence began to soar last week against Walsh Jesuit when the Tigers scored 36 unanswered points to erase a 24‑6 halftime deficit. Massillon’s confidence never wavered Saturday, not even when Rams’ quarterback Marcus Sims capped a 46‑yard seven‑play drive with a four‑yard TD run to put Garfield ahead by a touchdown with 6:58 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers calmly reeled off 29 points before the half was over. Ryan Sparkman scored on a one-yard run, and quarterback Lee Hurst threw TD passes of four yards to tight end Doug Harig and 50 yards to Rameir Martin, and even ran for an 11‑yard score.

Martin’s TD reception came one play after an interception when Hurst layed a beautifully thrown pass on Martin’s fingertips. Gary Miller added the PAT to make it 29‑7 with 2:31 to go in the half.

“The pass to Martin is probably what sealed it,” Owens said “That play just shows how” balanced our offense is.”

“Before that, we were able to score with our running back, our quarterback and our tight end.” Owens added. “You can’t concentrate on any one weapon when you play us.”

Harig will attest to that. After catching just 13 passes all season, he caught three for 68 yards Saturday, including a 20‑yard TD pass in the third that extended Massillon’s lead to 36‑7 and convinced Garfield head coach Bill McGee that, “This maybe wasn’t going to be our night,”

“We can do anything we want to do,” Harig said “You can’t shut down just one guy and expect to beat us.”

Massillon tacked on another TD when Lamonte Dixon scored from three yards out with 29 seconds left in the third.

The Tiger defense didn’t let up in the second half. It added another four takeaways, giving itself six for the game.

“This is the best we’ve played defensively as a team all year,” said Massillon defensive coordinator Dan Boarman. “You have to say everyone played well. The main thing is we needed to control the line of scrimmage, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Massillon’s defense also threw gasoline on Massillon’s red‑hot offense in the first half. Safety Keith Rabbitt set up Massillon’s third score with an interception at the Garfield 37, and linebacker Kevin McCue set up the fourth score by returning an interception 12 yards to the 50.

Rabbitt also set up the first score of the second half when he recovered a fumble at the Garfield 48. Other players to recover fumbles in the second half were Eric Wright, Chad Tharp and David Whitfield.

Massillon out gained Garfield in total offense, 327 yards to 181. Massillon led in rushing, 142‑79, with Sparkman picking up 70 yards on 10 carries.

Hurst again was efficient at throwing the football. He completed 10‑of‑ 14 passes to five different receivers for 175 yards and no interceptions.

Martin led all receivers with four catches for 77 yards. He also caught a two‑point conversion on pass.

Owens tried to sum up just how bad his team beat Garfield, but somehow he didn’t come as close as a sign that was held Up by one of the younger Massillon fans.

The sign read, “Massillon kicks …” Well, uh, you know the rest.

Akron Garfield 7 0 0 0 7
Massillon 6 23 14 0 43

Garf ‑ Sims 3 run (Williamson kick)
Mass ‑ Sparkman 1 run (kick failed) I ‑
Mass ‑ Harig 5 pass from Hurst (Martin pass from Hurst)
Mass ‑ Hurst 11 run (Miller kick)
Mass ‑ Martin 50 pass from Hurst ( Hurst run)
Mass ‑ Harig 20 pass from Hurst (Miller kick)
Mass ‑ Dixon 3 run (Miller kick)

Rameir Martin