1945: Massillon 0, Warren Harding 0
Tigers, Presidents Battle To Scoreless Tie At Warren
Massillon Gridders Lose Pair Of Touchdowns When Penalties Rub Out Points
By FRED J. BECKER
Getting exactly nowhere on the path that leads to championships, Augie Morningstar’s Washington high school Tigers, at least, are going to create some unique records before they wind up their campaign in three weeks with their annual conflict with the Canton McKinley Bulldogs, now steaming along like nobody’s business.
In the years to come when future typewriter jockeys write about Washington high school’s 1945 grid campaign they probably will refer to it as the season of ties, for that is just what it is fast becoming.
Toss Away Golden Opportunities
The Tigers Friday night tossed into the ash can a golden opportunity to score their most impressive victory of the season; they kicked away a chance to gain splendid revenge for a defeat sustained in 1944 and put themselves back into the Ohio scholastic picture as one of the dominant football powers in the Buckeye state.
All this happened in Harding stadium in Warren when the unbeaten Tigers and Warren Harding Presidents clashed in their big gridiron classic before an overflow crowd of 12,000 – all the humanity that could be packed into the Trumbull county capitals’ stadium. And because they kicked away their scoring chances the Tigers today had to be content with another tie score – their third in seven games.
Flock Of Scoring Chances
Coach Morningstar’s lads actually scored two touchdowns against the formidable Presidents last night and otherwise made those rugged eastern Ohioans look bad but they lost both touchdowns because of offside penalties. On at least three other occasions they drove deep into Warren territory, once inside the five yard line, but they could not capitalize on their big chances and as a result what was billed as Ohio’s biggest scholastic battle of 1945 ended in a scoreless draw.
Reverting to the kind of football they played against Canton Lincoln and Steubenville Wells, the Tigers last night pushed the brawny, speedy Warren Presidents all over the gridiron but saw the punch in their attack wither and fade away when they came within striking distance of pay dirt. It was against Lincoln and Steubenville that the Tigers played their other two tie games, the duel with Lincoln ending in a scoreless draw and the Steubenville shindig in a 7 to 7 count.
Had the orange and black played the kind of football it put on tap in its two previous games against Mansfield and Alliance it would have smothered Warren under a flock of touchdowns and returned hone with a convincing triumph over a team that had been rated among the top notchers in the state.
Last night’s battle was the 21st between Massillon and Warren teams but it was the first game to end in a tie. Prior to last night the Tigers had defeated Warren 15 times while the eastern Ohio school has five victories to its credit.
The Tigers, as said before, actually scored two touchdowns against Warren only to lose both on penalties and messed up several other fine scoring chances, while Warren with its highly advertised speed merchants and formidable forward wall never actually threatened to score. In fact Heinie Beck’s gladiators never got inside Massillon’s 30 yard line at any stage of the conflict.
With the Warren battle a matter of history, the Tigers now have a record of four victories and three ties in their seven battles. Warren has a mark of five victories and two ties. Next Friday night the orange and black invades Cleveland for another big encounter, meeting the undefeated Cathedral Latin Lions who scored a 6 to 0 victory over the Tigers in 1944 and who are hoping to repeat next week.
In the Warren press box last night was Herb Eisle, veteran coach of the Lions, and a detail of scouts. They withheld comment after the game but they saw what most of the 12,000 fans jammed into the stadium also saw – a Washington high school football team that can play the finest kind of a defensive game but, after seven weeks, has still not become an opportunist – taking advantage of the opportunities which come its way to tally points.
The statistics once again reveal how thoroughly the Tigers out played an opponent but as in the games against Lincoln and Steubenville, statistics do not pay off – it still takes points to win football games.
Tigers In Great Defensive Game
The Tigers, by playing a brilliant defensive game, one of their best of the campaign, thoroughly bottled up Warren’s famed speed merchants – Len Corbin, all-Ohio end in 1944, Abe Williams and George Pulca. As a matter of fact they stopped them dead in their tracks throughout most of the encounter. And with Corbin, Williams and Pulca stopped the Presidents were out on the gridiron with only a prayer. In justice to the speedy Len Corbin it must be said that he was not up to par last night. Injured in the game against Cleveland Shaw a week ago, Len was slowed down to a walk and spent most of the time on the bench, nursing that bad shoulder and some other bumps he picked up through some vicious, but clean, tackling on the part of the Tigers.
Walter Corbin, Len’s brother, starting his first game for the Presidents, bothered the Tigers more than any other member of the Warren team but he never got free long enough to become a scoring threat.
Getting back to the statistics, they show that t he Tigers manhandled the Presidents quite thoroughly but most of that manhandling took place in precincts other than those usually referred to as scoring territory.
Figures complied on last night’s battle show that the Tigers made 11 first downs to three for Warren, that they had a net yardage from both rushing and passing of 181 yards to 70 for Warren and that they fumbled four times and lost the ball on each miscue while Warren fumbled five times and recovered three of its bobbles.
The Tigers missed connections last night on both their running and passing games. Against both Alliance and Mansfield they swept to convincing victories behind some effective aerials and a torrid running attack. Last night this type of game sputtered and finally died out entirely.
But there was a reason for this. Warren’s scouts had been following the Tigers for weeks and they knew that the orange and black had developed its passing and running game to quite an effective point.
So this week Warren’s preparation for repelling the Tiger invasion was devoted to building up a defense designed to stop Massillon’s running attack and its forward passing. And the Presidents succeeded quite well because the Tigers completed only two of 13 attempted passes and had two intercepted.
Presidents Watch Webb
The Tigers kept an eagle eye on Len Corbin, Williams and Co., but the Presidents also kept an equally potent eye on one Bert Webb, the little Massillon Negro speed merchant with the result that Bert was quite effectively checked, except on one occasion and that was early in the battle when he tore off a brilliant dash of 34 yards to set up Massillon’s first opportunity for a touchdown – a touchdown that was lost because of over anxiety on the part of the local lads to get that “quick one” for which they had been aiming for all week and a touchdown which might have turned the battle into another Massillon victory instead of a scoreless draw.
With Webb fairly well shackled by the alert and determined Presidents, the task of toting the ball for Massillon gains fell upon the shoulders of Don McGuire and Gene Zorger and they did quite a good job of it, particularly McGuire who many times ripped and fought his way through the Warren forward wall for substantial gains.
On defense the Tigers were out-standing. The entire team played a bang up game in this department with the result that Warren’s pet offensive, speed on end around plays and off tackle thrusts, was smashed to smithereens.
The Presidents had hoped to turn Len Corbin and Abe Williams loose around the ends but Jack Zeller, playing in the secondary, took care of one side in brilliant fashion while Bernie Green and Capt. Fred Bonk were always messing up Warren’s pet plays on the other side.
Zeller and Green were particularly outstanding, turning loose some brilliant defensive playing, while Bonk, Merle Darrah, Gene Krisher, Tony Uliveto and Tommy Brooks also did their part when it came to nailing Warren ball toters. Virgil Edie, Zorger, McGuire and Webb also contributed their share to stopping the Warren attack.
The jammed spectators had hardly quit trying to squeeze closer together to make room for just one more person on the Warren stands before the Tigers were knocking at the touchdown door.
The orange and black received and Zorger raced Bill Balekly’s kickoff back 11 yards to the Massillon 31. McGuire smashed off tackle for eight and Webb made it first down on the Massillon 43. Massillon picked up five yards when Warren was offside and then Zorger rammed through the line for another first down to the Warren 43.
Webb Picks Up 32 Yards
On the next play, Webb, on a beautiful reverse, scampered through his right tackle and raced 32 yards to Warren’s nine before being pulled to earth. It looked as if the Tigers were on the loose again.
Zorger picked up three yards in a smash at the line and McGuire also rammed for three, taking the ball to Warren’s three. Webb then scooted through a hole and went over but Massillon lost the touchdown when the officials called the ball back and slapped a five yard penalty on the Tigers for backfield in motion. That put the leather back on the eight, making it third down with goal to gain. Webb carried the ball twice but on his second attempt he was stopped short of a touchdown and Warren took possession on its one yard line.
Again late in the first quarter the Tigers opened another march toward the Warren goal. McGuire and Webb negotiated a first down in two plays. The next first down came in four plays with McGuire lugging the ball to Warren’s 38. At this stage Coach Morningstar replaced McGuire with Bob Richards and Brooks with Bill Piper. Webb then tossed a pass to Zeller, the first to be completed by the Tigers, for another first down to the Warren 22. It was good for 17 yards. This play was completed just as the quarter ended.
The Tiger drive for a touchdown, however, was washed out early in the second period when Richards fumbled and Nick Spelich, Warren right tackle, covered on his 34.
But the Tigers came roaring back for another touchdown bid late in the period, only to see another golden opportunity fade. The Tigers got their break when Webb snared a Warren pass, tossed by Walter Corbin, and raced it back from Massillon’s 45 to the Warren 26 before being grounded.
With McGuire doing the heavy work, the Tigers battered their way to Warren’s six yard line before the drive was halted by the Presidents. On second down with three to go for a first down Richards was stopped without gain; McGuire’s attempt to pass over the goal line was batted down and then he was nailed on Warren’s three, inches short of a first down and Warren once again took possession of the ball as the period expired.
Offside, Tigers Lose Points
An offside play robbed Massillon of its touchdown in the third period. Fullback Jack Phillips dropped back to punt but Bernie Green blocked the kick and Gene Zorger scooped up the ball and raced about 20 yards for what looked like a touchdown. But once again the points were washed out when the officials ruled the Tigers had been offside on the kick.
Massillon had two more opportunities to go places in the fourth quarter, once when McGuire, on a brilliant theft, stole the ball right out of George Pulca’s hands and raced it back to midfield. But Massillon’s passing attack failed again.
A short time later Pulca fumbled and Zorger covered on the Massillon 39. Steady plunging by McGuire and a neat run by Webb and a screen pass from McGuire to Webb took the ball to Warren’s 26 but here McGuire fumbled and Dan Lefhgerber covered for Warren to give the Presidents the ball which they retained until the final play of the game when Webb intercepted a Warren pass just as the gun sounded.
Massillon – 0 Pos. Warren – 0
Zeller LE L. Corbin
Green LT Spelich
Uliveto LG Lefhgerber
Darrah C Rogers
Brooks RG Blakely
Krisher RT Cardinal
Bonk RE Nader
Edie QB Dunkerton
Webb LHB W. Corbin
McGuire RHB Williams
Zorger FB Phillips
Referee – Lobach.
Umpire – Gross.
Head Linesman – Brown.
Field Judge – Shafer.
In Fourth Place
Massillon’s Tigers were rated as the fourth
best scholastic football team in Ohio in Dunkel
high school ratings released by the Scholastic
Sports Institute at New York which took into
consideration games played through last week.
Newark’s undefeated grid club topped the Ohio
list with a rating of 72.5 while Cleveland
Cathedral Latin was second with 70.6; Warren
third with 70.1; Massillon fourth with 69.8; and
Canton McKinley fifth with 69.0.
First downs 3 11
Yards gained, rushing 102 153
Yards lost, rushing 32 —
Net yards gained, rushing 70 153
Yards gained, passing — 28
Forward passes, attempted 4 13
Froward passes, completed 0 2
Passes had intercepted 2 1
Number of punts 9 4
Average distance of punts 27 23
Distance of punts returned 27 23
Number of fumbles 5 4
Times ball lost on fumbles 3 4
Number of penalties 9 4
Yards lost by penalties 65 20
Total yards gained 70 181