Tag: <span>Antonio James</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2005: Massillon 31, Mentor 10

Tigers still perfect


Say this for Troy Ellis. The young man has a flair for the dramatic.

Massillon’s senior cornerback came up with an interception in the shadow of the Tiger end zone to quell a Mentor drive midway through the third quarter, just when it looked like the Cardinals were going to make a game of it.

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The Tigers then embarked on a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive that put Mentor away as Massillon stayed undefeated with a 31-10 victory in front of 8,578 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.

“That’s huge. That’s huge,” Tiger quarterback Bobby Huth said of Ellis’ pick. “We count on our defense. We know they’re going to make a play. Troy is great. What can I say?”

It was Ellis’ seventh interception this season and it came with Massillon leading 17-3 but Mentor clearly owning the second-half momentum. The turnover couldn’t have come at a better time for Tiger head coach Tom Stacy.

“Oh, it was big,” Stacy said. “It was big. Troy Ellis is a heck of a football player.

“I felt like our defense played really well. They had the one drive but they’re going to get that. They scored 35 on St. Ignatius. They’re a good offensive football team.”

Massillon was up 17-0 at halftime but Mentor got on the scoreboard with a field goal that capped a 14-play drive that opened the third quarter.

The Tigers were forced to punt after three snaps on their first second-half possession and Mentor was on the march again, moving from its 40 to the Tiger 9. On second-and-eight, Mentor quarterback Kellen Oleksak threw it to the right flat for Brand James but Ellis came up with the football and returned it 26 yards to break the visitors’ hearts.

“We were in a cover three,” Ellis said. “They were trying the flat all night and I saw it coming out and I was reading it. The ball was just thrown over his head and I just grabbed it.

“We saw it on tape and they were pounding the flats on us all night. We were trying to get to it and I finally got one. We definitely needed (a turnover). I didn’t know it was coming my way but I felt like the defense was going to get one.”

Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno called Ellis’ play the turning point.

“That hurt,” Trivisonno said. “That would have made it 17-10 at that point. That’s the whole ball game. We told them, “Let’s go into the fourth quarter 17-10.” That’s where we needed to be. But they got that turnover.”

After the pick, Massillon embarked on a nine-play, 70 yard drive – keyed by a 42-yard Huth to Zack Vanryzin bomb – to put the game out of reach. The drive bridged the third and fourth quarters and was capped by Brian Gamble’s one-yard burst into the end zone. The touchdown and Steve Schott’s conversion kick gave Massillon a 24-3 lead at 10:27 of the fourth quarter.

Massillon added a score when Huth completed a fade route to Ricardo Wells from 14 yards out to make it 31-3 with just over five minutes to play.

“Offensively we just weren’t in the normal synch,” Stacy said afterward. “I give Mentor credit. They played hard and took away a couple things we like to do and game-planned us pretty well.”

As has been the case in their first four games this season, the Tigers jumped out first with two Huth-to-Vanryzin aerials covering 71 yards. The first came on the opening play from scrimmage as the junior quarterback rolled right and dropped a pass over the shoulder of the Mentor defender and into Vanryzn’s hands for a 39-yard gain to the Mentor 41.

After Gamble picked up eight yards on a run up the middle, Huth dropped back and found Vanryzin open on a post pattern. The 5-8, 170-pound senior hauled it in at the 3 and stepped into the end zone. Steve Schott’s point after was true and Massillon led 7-0 at 10:58 of the first quarter.

“It’s kind of scary when you think about it,” Stacy said. “We talk about that all the time and we were able to do it again and then we stalled a little bit.”

The Massillon defense forced Mentor into four consecutive punts in the first half. The fourth one set up the Tigers’ second score of the night when a shank by the Cardinal punter gave Massillon the ball at midfield.

The drive began innocently enough and looked to be dead after three plays failed to net a first down. But on fourth-and-2 at the Mentor 41, Gamble went over his right tackle and wouldn’t be denied until he’d picked up the first down at the Mentor 37.

Two plays later, Robert Morris rumbled for eight yards to the 23 for another Tiger first down.

“I can’t say enough about how hard our running backs are running for us,” Stacy said. “They’re physical and finishing runs and holding onto the football. That’s really good to see.’

On second-and-eight, Huth faked a handoff, rolled to his right and hit Trey Miller at the 3-yard line. Miller did the rest and Schott’s conversion placement put the Tigers up 14-0 at 3:09 of the second quarter.

Mentor’s fifth punt of the first half gave the Tigers the ball at their own 43 after Troy Ellis’ eight-yard return.

Huth was sacked for an eight yard loss on first down but Gamble erased that with a 38-yard burst around the right end to the Mentor 27.

Two Tiger penalties set them back 10 yards but Huth hooked up with Brett Huffman on a short pass and the senior tight end carried the ball 20 yards to the 17.

Schott closed the first half scoring by drilling a 34-yard field goal with :04 until intermission to put Massillon up 17-0 at the break.

“I think the field goal right at the end of half was really big,” Stacy said. “You could see it lifted our kids back up offensively. It’s a good way to finish the half. It was a real key for us.”


Antonio James
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2005: Massillon 49, Chardon 7

Tigers blitz Chardon early, roll to fourth straight


It’s shaping up as a very special season of Mas­sillon football.

The Tigers amassed over 500 yards of total offense and scored a school record 35 first quarter points in dealing the Chardon Hilltoppers a 49‑7 setback in front of 8,495 yards at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.

For Jim DiPofi, Chardon’s sixth‑year head coach, it was his worst nightmare. Hoping to get into a ball control bat­tle in which his Wing‑T offense could eat up the game clock, DiPofi watched in hor­ror as the Tigers scored on their first five possessions to make it a rout early.

“That,” said DiPofi, “is a great football team. They hit us square on the chin early.

“They have a quarterback who was throwing darts to receivers with great hands. When you start chasing them that opens up a lot of gaps. Then they have that speed that just slices you. It’s like a three‑headed monster.”

Tiger head coach Tom Stacy was aiming to land a knockout punch early and that’s how things transpired.

“We got some big plays,” Stacy said. “In this stadium that’s what you’ve got to do to teams. We’ve got some guys who can make some big plays. We wanted to establish some domination early and we were able to do that.”

Massillon opened the game with a nine‑play, 90‑yard drive that took 4:12 off the clock and was culminated by a 12‑yard Bobby Huth to Brett Huffman touchdown pass.

Huth opened the march with a 26‑yard pass comple­tion to Brian Gamble. Five plays later, Huth rolled to his left and with pressure in his face found Huffman running free over the middle. The senior tight end juggled the ball momentarily, regained control and left the Tigers in the red zone when he finally went down at the Chardon 14.

“We started off throwing the ball a lot more tonight,” Huffman said. “Bobby threw one my way and I went up and got it for him.

“It was great getting into the end zone for the first time this year. I forget what it felt like. It was great. I was happy to get back there.”

Stacy was thrilled at that development also.

“As good as player as Brett is we haven’t used him quite as much as we should,” Stacy said. “It was nice to see him get involved more.”

Chardon went three‑and-­out on its initial possession and the Hilltoppers punt left the Tigers with first down at their own 45.

Huth dropped back and quickly found Gamble open at the Chardon 35. The junior running back cut to his right and was off to the races for a 55‑yard scoring play. Schott’s kick put Massillon up 14‑0 at 5:58 of the opening stanza.

It was another three‑and-­out for Chardon on its second possession and again the Hilltopper punt gave Massil­lon possession at its own 45.

Once again Tiger lightning struck the Chardon defense but this time there was a lit­tle trickery involved. Backup quarterback Shawn Weisend snuck into the game at a wideout position and took a pitch from Huth on what ap­peared to be an end around. But Weisend pulled up and~ threw a strike to Trey Miller at the Chardon 28. Miller was in the clear and easily raced, to the end zone. Schott did the honors again and the Tigers were running away and hid­ing at 21‑0 with 3:56 to play in the first quarter.

“We’ve got to keep people off balance and that play gives people something they have to prepare for in the fu­ture,” Stacy said of Weisend’s strike to Miller. “We talked about that this week as a coaching staff, that we have to do some more of those wrinkles to give people something else to prepare for.”

Chardon only ran two plays on its ensuing possession, fumbling on second down. Tiger cornerback Neil James recovered at the Hilltopper 28.

Lanale Robinson opened the possession for Massillon with a 12‑yard burst up the middle. One play later Robinson took a handoff and again attacked the middle of the Chardon defense. He broke through the line to the 12, bounced to the outside and raced to the corner of the end zone for Massillon’s, fourth touchdown in less than 10 minutes of play. Schott’s point after kick made it 28‑0 at 2:53 of the first.

The Hilltoppers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Mike Porrini recovered for Massillon at the Hilltopper 15.

“You don’t want to give them the ball inside the 15 yard line,” DiPofi said. “They don’t need any help. That’s great football team. You can’t give them the ball inside the 15.”

Massillon fullback Robert Morris gained nine yard around right end on first down, and Robinson traversed the final six yards to the end zone ‑ again around tight end ‑ and Massillon was up 34‑0 on Schott’s conversion boot.

Massillon’s final first half touchdown capped off an eight‑play, 71‑yard drive. Gamble covered the final 3 yards on an innocent looking run off left tackle. He was cornered at the 20‑yard line by a Chardon defender but ran through the tackle and didn’t stop sprinting until he reached pay dirt. Again Schott obliged and the Tigers carried a 42‑0 bulge into the locker room at halftime.

“You have to give credit where it’s due,” DiPofi said. “That’s a great football team. It is very well coached. We played our hearts our but it, wasn’t anywhere near enough. ,
“Tom is doing the right thing with these kids. He has them playing no‑nonsense downhill football. He has them executing.”

Huth’s final statistics were Roethlisberger‑like. He com­pleted 9 of 11 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

“Bobby is playing with a lot of confidence,” Stacy said. “He is making great deci­sions. He made a couple of great plays with his feet tonight to get balls to re­ceivers in tough situations. He continues to improve and impress. With the teams we play in the future, he needs to get better. We all do.”


Antonio James
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2005: Massillon 55, Mansfield Senior 0

Tigers dominate Mansfield


The Massillon Tigers didn’t have a letdown a week after defeating Greater Catholic League power Elder. The Tigers rolled up 465 total yards Friday, defeating the Mansfield Tygers 55-0 at Arlin Stadium to improve to 3-0.

Like a week ago, when the Tigers intercepted the Elder quarterback six times, the defense had sticky fingers. The Tigers picked off three passes against the Tygers (1-2), all of which eventually led to touchdowns.

First-year Massillon head coach Tom Stacy said he has never coached a team that intercepted nine passes in a two-game stretch.

“We have a good secondary,” said Stacy. “We’re also going to see some good quarterbacks. Ignatius has a real good quarterback, and I’m sure Mentor’s is going to be a good challenge. But our secondary is solid. We were able to see that in the 7-on-7’s this summer.”

Senior defensive back Neil James started the interception party by picking off a Justin Greene pass at the Tigers’ 24-yard line on the opening possession of the game. The Tigers then marched 76 yards on eight plays, scoring on a six-yard pass from quarterback Bobby Huth to senior receiver Trey Miller on a quick slant. Kicker Steve Schott’s extra point made it 7-0 with 6:09 remaining in the opening period.

“There are a couple of guys who are playmakers I look to,” said Huth, who finished 11-for-14 for 140 yards and two touchdowns. “(Brett) Huffman, (Zack) Vanryzin and those guys. You get them the ball, and they can make things happen.”

The Tigers’ Troy Ellis kept the party going by intercepting Greene’s next pass attempt at the Tygers’ 25 yard line. Ellis returned it to the 3-yard line, setting up a Lanale Robinson one-yard touchdown run with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter.

Ellis, however, was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury, but Stacy said he doesn’t believe it is serious. The biggest interception, however, came just before the half.

With the Tigers holding on to a commanding 24-0 lead with less than three minutes to go in the half, senior defensive end Antonio James nailed Greene just as he was about to release the ball. It floated into the arms of Emery Saunders at the Tygers’ 45-yard line, and he returned it for a touchdown to make it 31-0.

The offense, led by Brian Gamble, also hit on all cylinders. Gamble rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries and added three receptions for 60 yards. He also returned a kickoff for 39 yards and scored a 22-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.

“The line was great,” said Gamble, who left the game after the first possession of the third quarter. “They were blocking really well, and I did what I could to see the hole and go through the hole. I haven’t really been catching a lot of passes in games, but in practice I have been. Tonight, I had a couple of catches. It felt really good.”

Gamble played a major part in two of the Tigers’ first-half offensive touchdowns. He carried for 51 yards on four carries in the opening drive.

Gamble also set up another Tigers touchdown by hauling in a 28-yard Huth pass at the Tygers’ 9-yard line.

Two plays later, Huth rolled left and found receiver Vanryzin in the corner of the end zone from seven yards out.

Gamble also set up another Huth touchdown as he hauled in a 28-yard pass on the sideline at the Tygers’ 9-yard line. Two plays later, Huth rolled to his left and connected with a wide-open Vanryzin in the corner of the end zone.

The Tigers finished with 261 total yards in the first half.

It didn’t get much better for the Tygers in the second half. On top of Gamble’s 22-yard touchdown run, the Tigers also scored on an 18-yard run by Robinson and a 47-yard run by K.J. Herring.

If there were any doubts about the legitimacy of the Tigers, both Huth and Gamble believe those were answered. Both believe the Tigers are back to the level they are used to playing at.

“The tradition is definitely back,” said Gamble. “It was a good win. It
was good to finish somebody after letting Elder get back in the game.”

“We’re back for sure,” Huth added. “We believe we are a great team. We can go a long way if we stay focused.”


Antonio James
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2005: Massillon 35, Cincinnati Elder 31



When the Massillon Tigers return to the gridiron Friday against the Mansfield Tygers, they will do so with a 2-0 record, the knowledge they have knocked off one of the very best big school programs in the state and – in all likelihood – without the services of starting defensive end Dirk Dickerhoof and starting outside linebacker Quentin Paulik.

Dickerhoof and Paulik, both seniors, suffered injuries to the shoulder/collarbone area in the Tigers’ 35-31 upset of Cincinnati Elder on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Both had their arms in a sling in the second half of the game, though head coach Tom Stacy did not immediately know the extent of their injuries. It is feared Dickerhoof may have a separated shoulder.

While the loss of two of the Tigers’ top defenders did not put a damper on Massillon’s stunning performance in the third game of the Prep Classic, the way the game went after the locals took a 35-7 lead into the fourth quarter nearly gave Stacy and his coaching staff a group coronary.

Elder scored three touchdowns in the final stanza – two within a span of 40 seconds – to make what appeared to be a Tiger blowout victory into a nailbiter that went down to the final play.

“We’ve got to finish,” Stacy said shaking his head. “We didn’t finish last week and we didn’t finish this week. Now, we got two wins and that’s the positive part. But when you continue to play good teams like we play down the road and you get in this situation, we better learn to finish it off.”

Leading 35-14 midway through the fourth quarter, the Tigers were knocking on the door but failed to score from point blank range.

“The fact we didn’t finish it off is the offense’s fault,” Stacy said. “We get down there on the one-foot line, we’ve got to stick it in and finish the game off and we didn’t do that. It darn near cost us. That’s on the offense. That’s on me as the offensive coach. We’ve got to get that corrected.”

Compounding the Tigers’ failure to find the end zone one final time was an unsportsmanlike conduct call against them after they were stopped by the Elder defense.

“We lost our composure,” Stacy said. “You can’t lose your composure. It’s something we’ve been trying to work on during camp, during two-a-days. We have to continue to work on it. We can’t lose our composure.

“Our kids are really, really competitive and they play really hard. There’s a lot of pressure on them to win at Massillon. But that doesn’t give them an excuse to lose their composure. We’ve got to get that corrected as a coaching staff.”

Even senior cornerback Troy Ellis, who set a Massillon Tiger single game record with five – that’s right, five – interceptions, was disconsolate about how the game nearly got away from the Tigers.

“When Elder recovered the first onside kick, it was like a heart job,” he said. “It was scary but we pulled it out.

“This win is real big. The last two years we started 0-2 and 1-1. Now we’re 2-0 and it gives the team a lot of confidence.”

As for his thievery, which included a fumble recovery and 20-yard return for a touchdown to open the scoring on the afternoon, Ellis admitted he had no premonition he was going to have the game of his life on such a grand stage.

“I had no clue this was going to happen. No clue,” he said. “The coaches put me in a position to make plays. They gave me great coverage calls and I was just back there playing the ball. It was fun throughout the whole game. It was fun all the way around.”

Ellis was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player for the media.

Tiger junior tailback Brian Gamble must have been a close second in the voting after rushing for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. His first score of the afternoon came in the first minute of the second half on an off tackle run that appeared to be bottled up. But Gamble turned to his right, found the Elder defense out of position and bolted 60 yards to the end zone to put the Tigers up 21-0.

“That was a great run,” Stacy said. “It was just a power off tackle play and Brian Gamble broke it.”

Gamble refused to take any credit for his heroics.

“It’s not me,” Gamble said. “Our line has been blocking excellent and we’ve got Lanale Robinson running the football, too.”

Now, Gamble says, people around Ohio are going to sit up and take notice of the Massillon Tigers once again.

“That put us on the map,” he said. “It will get us a lot of respect. People were underestimating us and I think we came out here and proved what we had to prove.

“The way it ended teaches us a great lesson. Come playoff time or big games we have to learn to finish, to suck it up. Hopefully we’ll do a better job next time.”

After Ellis’ fumble return put the Tigers up 7-0 at 5:57 of the first quarter, the Elder offense was unable to get anything going and was forced to punt.

A 37-yard Gamble burst on the second play of the drive moved the ball to the Elder 33. Six plays later, junior quarterback Bobby Huth ran the bootleg keeper around the left end and galloped into the end zone. Steve Schott’s point after made it 14-0 Massillon at 1:18 of the first quarter, leaving the purple-clad Elder throng in stunned silence.

Elder marched from its 28 to the Massillon 22 on its next possession and appeared to have regained the momentum. But on second-and-two, Ellis made his first interception of the day at the 4-yard line, then returned it to the 17 to give the Tigers some breathing room.

On Elder’s next possession, following a Tiger punt, the Panthers drove from their 35 to the Massillon 5. But the Tiger defense stiffened and Elder turned the ball over on downs late in the second quarter.

Massillon then drove to the Elder five before time ran out in the first half.

Gamble opened the second half with his long touchdown run.

After a Massillon offside penalty on a punt gave Elder a new set of downs, Ellis made his second interception of the afternoon and ran the ball back to the Elder 12. Junior fullback Quentin Nicholsen went over left tackle on first down and found the end zone to break it open at 10:13 of the third quarter. Schott tacked on the point and Massillon was running away at 28-0.

Massillon’s final touchdown was set up by yet another Ellis pickoff. Six plays later, Gamble went in from the two and Schott’s conversion closed the Tigers’ scoring … but not the excitement.


Antonio James
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2005: Massillon 34, Dover 0



There was a lot to like for Massillon Tiger partisans in the season-opening demolition of the Dover Tornadoes.

But it was Tornado head coach Dan Ifft who sounded a note of caution.

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“I don’t know that we were an indicator for them,” Ifft said after his team trudged off the field at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on the short end of a 34-0 tally.

A better indicator will come one week from today when the Tigers journey south to the Queen City to take on Cincinnati Elder in the third game of the Prep Classic at Paul Brown Stadium.

“We’re going to play a better team next week,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said moments after his head coaching debut in Massillon. “Dover is a good football team but Cincinnati Elder will be a much tougher test for us.

“It was a great way to start but let’s take it from here.”

Clearly the Tigers have the makings of a dominating defense. They possess size, speed and athleticism on that side of the football and have a fine coordinator in Steve Kovacs and an another unheralded but highly thought-of assistant in Mike Babics to mentor the defense.

That said, there were one or two opening game breakdowns, especially in the secondary. Fortunately there were also a couple of inaccurate passes when the Tornado receivers did find a seam, and a big-time play by Andrew Dailey, stripping the football away from a Dover wideout after a 30-yard catch and run.

Against Elder, the Tigers won’t have the overwhelming size advantage they enjoyed against Dover. Massillon will have to stop the running game first, and that will be quite a test of their manhood by a program that has back-to-back state championships to its credit this decade.

But you had to like the fact Massillon did nothing to hurt itself on Thursday night.

Penalties were kept to a minimum, with five overall but only one in the first half when the starters were on the field.

Even more important, the Tigers did not have a turnover in the first half with their frontline players.

“That’s pretty good coaching,” Ifft observed. “For the short amount of time Tom has had them, they appear to be very disciplined.”

For all of their success during the previous seven years – and let’s not forget the Tigers reached the state semifinals twice under Rick Shepas – they were a penalty-prone football team most of the time and one that turned the ball over more often than you’d like.

They were able to overcome those shortcomings most of the time but – for whatever reason – never seemed inclined to address the problem, especially the flurry of penalty flags that seemed to follow them from game to game.

The good news is the Tigers have an extra day to prepare for Elder – call it a going away present from Shepas, who scheduled the Thursday night opener – and they may need it as they venture into enemy territory to take on a worthy foe.

One thing is for sure, if the Tigers are anywhere near as successful in Week Two as they were in Week One, people around the state of Ohio will sit up and take notice that Massillon football is back and in a big way.


Antonio James