Tag: <span>Austintown Fitch</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 21, Austintown Fitch 9

‘Air Raid’ slowed but Tigers find a way
Massillon records fifth straight Victory against stubborn Fitch

Independent Sports Writer

It’s not all about offense for the Massillon Tigers.

For the second straight week, the running of senior tailback Perry James and a solid performance by the “Black Swarm” defense proved to be the decisive factor as the Tigers survived their first road test ‑ and only regular‑season game on grass ‑ by defeating a very game Austintown Fitch squad 21‑9 in front of a crowd of about 7,000 at Falcon Stadium.

Program Cover

“We’re not at all surprised by this game,” said Massillon coach Rick Shepas, who is no stranger to Steel Valley football, having grown up in Youngstown. “We have a lot of respect for this team and the job (Fitch coach) Carl (Pelini) is doing with this program. I think they are a greatly‑improved team and they showed that tonight.”

The Tigers’ defense stepped up to the plate while the “Air Raid” offense struggled to get off the ground against a Fitch defense that was mixing in a nickel defense to go with its base 50 front. Massillon rolled up 317 yards – but struggled to connect on several long passes that might have opened things up a bit on the scoreboard.

“We feel great about (our defense),” Shepas said. “They’re playing very solid football. Our offense didn’t take advantage of a couple of opportunities. We didn’t consistently move the football. They were just playing a nickel, nothing that we weren’t prepared for. We worked on it all week.

“We just didn’t take care of certain possessions where we ran a play‑action pass and didn’t hit it and had to go 10 yards and came up short on second and third downs. We really didn’t take care of the football on certain situations.”

Meanwhile, James took advantage of the opportunity to show off his running skills against a team that looked to be guarding against the pass. The senior finished with 156 yards on 22 carries, including an 18‑ yard burst into the end zone with 4:01 left that iced the game.

“I’m excited about that,” Shepas said. “It forces teams to prepare for both.”

James, who rushed for 180 yards in the Tigers’ win over Mansfield Senior in Week Four, said that Mas­sillon was just looking to take what the Fitch defense was giving it.

“We knew that they were going to play that 50 defense, and that we could beat it with the run,” James said. “That really opened up the pass.”

The Tigers looked to have things going on their first drive of the evening, moving down to the Fitch 37 where they had a second‑and‑six. Two incompletions later, Massillon’s 54‑yard field goal attempt fell short.

Massillon’s breakthrough came on its third possession of the game, which started at its own 44 with 3:09 left in the first quarter. An incompletion on first down was quickly followed when Justin Zwick ‑ who was 12‑of‑27 for 142 yards with two touchdowns, but only 7‑of‑17 for 64 yards in the first half ‑ hit Jeremiah Drobney on a crossing pattern that moved the ball to the Fitch 37.

Two James runs netted nine yards before Terrance King broke through the line on a fullback trap play and burst up the left side for 21 yards down to the Falcons’ six‑yard line. King would get rewarded for his effort as Zwick, rolling to his right, found the big fullback for a seven‑yard touchdown just inside the pylon on second down with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.

David Abdul nailed the conversion kick to give the Tigers a 7‑0 advantage.

Starting at its own 30 after an offsides call against the Tigers, Fitch went to work running right at Massillon with fullback Ray Betts. With Betts carrying it eight times for 23 yards, the Falcons moved to the Tiger 29, but stopped short on a fourth-and‑one situation.

The Tigers went three‑and‑out and then were flagged for interfering with the attempt to catch the punt to give the Falcons a first down at the Tiger 44. A 19‑yard strike from Steve Burnich to Ross Watson moved it to the Massillon 25, and the Falcons got on the scoreboard with a 41‑yard field goal by Chris Castillo with 2:55 until half.

Fitch could do nothing with the opening kick of the second half. But Massillon found a way to move it.

After a short gain on first down and an incomplete pass, Zwick found James on a screen pass to the left, and he scampered 18 yards to the Tiger 40. One play later, James again broke free for 20 down to the Fitch 34.

James ran for four yards, then Zwick dropped back and found Jesse Robinson streaking toward the end zone on a post pattern. The junior lofted a perfect pass that Robinson came down with across the goal‑line for a 14‑3 Tiger lead with 8:20 left in the third after Abdul’s PAT.

Both offenses stagnated for the remainder of the third quarter, but Fitch came alive on its first possession of the fourth quarter ‑ with a little help from the officials.

Using three running plays, the Falcons found themselves with a second‑and‑two at the Tiger 37. Burnich fired an incomplete pass on a deep post route, but the officials flagged the Tigers for pass interference, giving Fitch the ball at the Massillon 22.

Fitch was forced to try a 39‑yard field goal after it could only pick up one yard on three plays, but the Falcons missed wide left on the attempt. However, Massillon roughed the kicker, giving Fitch a first down at the Tiger 11.

After two running plays, Brian Sudetic burst across the goal‑line from three yards out to pull Fitch to within 14‑9 with 7:34 remaining. The two‑point try failed.

James seemed to swing momentum back to the Tigers with a 39‑yard run off right tackle on Massillon’s first play after the score. Then the Tigers received a break when Fitch was flagged for pass interference to move the ball to Falcon 30.

The Tigers failed to moved the ball and settled for a 51‑yard field goal try with just over five minutes left. It sailed wide left, giving Fitch a glimmer of hope.

Three plays later, that hope faded when the Falcons coughed the ball up on a third‑and‑10 play from their 20. Senior defensive end Brian Leonard recovered and brought it back to the 18. On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage after the turnover, James broke through a gigantic hole on a draw play, going 18 yards for the final touchdown with 4:04 left.

First downs rushing 8 4
First downs passing 6 4
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 15 11
Net yards rushing 170 108
Net yards passing 147 50
TOTAL yards 317 158
Passes attempted 27 18
Passes completed 12 6
Passes Intercepted 0 0
Punts 5 5
Punting average 29.8 40
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/1
Penalties 10 3
Yards penalized 90 40

MASSILLON 7 0 7 7 21
FITCH 0 3 0 6 9

M ‑ Zwick 7 pass to King (Abdul kick)
F ‑ Castillo 41 field goal
M ‑ Zwick 30 pass to Robinson (Abdul kick)
F ‑ Sudetic 3 run (Pass failed)
M ‑ James 18 run (Abdul kick)

Massillon rushing: James 22‑156, King 2‑21.
Fitch rushing: Betts 18‑55, Sudetic 15-40.

Massillon passing: Zwick 12‑27‑142 2 TD
Fitch passing: Burnich 6‑18‑50.

Massillon receiving: Drobney 5‑57, James 4‑37, Robinson 1‑30, Williams 1‑11, King 1‑7.
Fitch receiving: Watson 4‑43.

Statistics courtesy RICHARD CUNNINGHAM

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1999: Massillon 41, Austintown Fitch 7

Tigers rip Fitch
Massillon scores on first play of game and doesn’t look back

Independent Sports Editor

When the Austintown Fitch Falcons were tardy coming out of the locker room for the opening kickoff against Massillon Friday night, some wise guy in the press box cracked the visitors weren’t interested in taking on the undefeated Tigers.

Program Cover

While Fitch showed plenty of enthusiasm on the field, the Falcons surrendered a 58‑yard touchdown to Massillon on the Tigers first play from scrimmage and were never in the game, falling 41‑7 in front of 7,977 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

It got so bad that Fitch attempted a 65‑yard field goal with three seconds remaining on the first half, apparently looking for a moral victor despite a 34‑0 deficit at the time. The kick was well short.

It was apparent early this one would be no contest. After Jesse Scott returned the opening kickoff to the Tiger 41, Massillon quarterback Dave Irwin hit mighty mite Jesse Robinson in stride at the Fitch 35. Robinson skirted the left sideline untouched into the end zone. Brett Marshall’s conversion kick made it 7‑0 Massillon at 11:42 of the first quarter.
“Fitch practiced extra long for us this week, so we wanted to come out hit them quick and let them know this is our house,” said Robinson. “Their strong side linebacker and strong safety blitz a lot so we wanted to hit them off the corner and it was there really early.”
Robinson (5‑5, 141) has now caught six passes on the season for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging an amazing 41 yards per catch.
“Jesse is fast and he’s hard to find too,” said Tigers coach Rick Shepas. “He’s a tremendous athlete. We’re happy for him because he had such a great off season. This makes it all worth it.”
Shepas acknowledged the game plan called for the Tigers to go for the throat early.
“We haven’t had a big offensive game in the first half since the Buchtel game, so that was our intention,” Shepas said. “We simplified our blocking schemes up front so we wanted to come out and get into the end zone.”
Fitch went three‑and‑out on its initial possession and was forced to punt. Sam Young gave the Tigers superb field position when he returned the Falcon punt 44 yards to the Fitch 28.
“We got some good punt returns in the first half to give us good field position early,” Shepas noted. “We were able to capitalize on that.”
And how! After the long return, Scott picked up 14 yards on a carry around the right side on first down and Perry James tacked on 11 more to set up first‑and‑goal from the three‑yard line. Scott did the honors, spurting off left tackle for the touchdown at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter. Marshall’s kick made it 14‑0 Tigers.
“We wanted to hit them early and put them away,” Scott said. “We’re always waiting until the fourth quarter to get into the game so it was about time we stopped doing that.”
Fitch’s interception interrupted the Massillon rout monientary but the Tigers got back in synch on their next possession, which began at their own 20. Scott battled for 12 yards up the middle on first down, and Irwin found Dave Bumgarner with a short pass in the right flat that picked up 21 more.
Then, from near midfield, Scott bucked into the line, broke to the left sideline and was off and running for a 36 yard pickup.
Two plays later, James went over his left guard from three yards out for the touchdown at 11:56 of the second quarter. Marshall again tacked on the PAT and it was 21‑0 with most of the second quarter remaining.
A Fitch fumble gave the Tigers possession at their own 45 and on first down Irwin dropped back to pass. He stood in the pocket long enough to count the house as the Massillon line afforded him all the protection he needed. Finally, the senior tri‑captain found Joe Price open at the Fitch 25. Price snagged the aerial then picked his way through the secondary and into the end zone for the touchdown, a 55 yard pass and run to make it 27‑0.
Jason Jarvis closed the first half scoring for Massillon with less than a minute until the band show. The senior safety picked off a Fitch pass and raced 52 yards to pay dirt. Marshall nailed the PAT and it was a 34‑0 contest in the half.
Massillon added only one touchdown in the second half but it was of a spectacular nature. On an innocent looking second-and‑eight play from the Tiger 27, Irwin handed the ball to Scott. The senior speedster found a seam in the Fitch defense and was off to the races.
Seventy‑three yards later he crossed the goal line to close the scoring at 8:01 of the fourth quarter. “We can always do better but we had a good game,” Scott said. “We feel we can beat anyone we play.”
Scott finished the game with 126 yards and two touchdowns on just six totes as the Tigers rolled up 261 yards rushing. Massillon ‑ now 5‑0 – finished with a 424‑208 edge in total yardage but amazingly lost the time‑of‑possession battle 31:04 ‑ 16:56.
Fitch, which fell to 1‑4, averaged just 2.9 yards per play on first down and had three turnovers.


First downs rushing 10 12
First downs passing 5 1
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 15 16
Net yards rushing 242 181
Net yards passing 182 27
TOTAL yards 424 208
Passes attempted 12 9
Passes completed 7 2
Passes intercepted 2 1
Punts 2 5
Punting average 22 35
Fumbles/Lost 3/0 2/2
Penalties 7 3

MASSILLON 14 20 00 07 41
FITCH 00 00 00 07 07


M ‑ Robinson 58 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick)
M ‑ Scott 2 run (Marshall kick)
M ‑ James 3 run (Marshall kidk)
M – Price 55 pass from Irwin (Kick failed)
M ‑ Jarvis 52 interception return (Marshall kick)
F ‑ Wilson 1 run (Stewart kick)
M ‑ Scott 73 run (Marshall kick)


Massillon rushing: Scott 6‑126, Bumgarner 4‑42, Smith 4‑26, James 6‑23, Robinson 1‑16.
Fitch rushing: Sudetic 20‑82, Wilson 11‑42.
Massillon passing: Irwin 7‑12‑182, 2 TDs, 2 INTs.
Fitch passing: Burnich 2‑9‑27 1 INT.
Massillon receiving: Price 3‑79, Bumgarner 2‑39, Robinson 1‑58.
Fitch receiving: Sudetic 2‑27.

Dan Studer

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 3

Tigers end first half with road win

Massillon improves to 3‑2 with 10‑7 victory at Fitch

Independent Staff Writer

Chalk this one up to the defense and to the right foot of punter Luke Shilling.

The Massillon Tigers’ football team used a stellar effort from its defensive unit and another outstanding performance from Shilling to post a 10‑3 victory Friday night over host Austintown Fitch before an esti­mated 4,800 fans.

Massillon’s defensive unit, led by its front four, limited Austintown (2‑3) to a single field goal in the second quarter and to just 154 total yards of offense to improve the Tigers to 3‑2 on the year.

On the offensive side of the ball, Massillon put together a 76­-yard touchdown drive midway through the second quarter, and closed out !he scoring with a 26­-yard field goal from junior place kicker Brett Marshall with just 61 seconds to play.

But the difference in the game was the right foot of Shilling, who consistently kept the Falcons pinned deep in their own territory with his towering punts. The 5‑foot‑9, 162‑pounder booted the ball just four times, but averaged 44.5 yards, a kick.

By comparison, the Austintown punter, Brian Sudetic, kicked the ball seven times, but averaged just 28.1 yards a kick. As a result, the Falcons lost a large chunk of yardage every time they exchanged punts with the Tigers.

“Their punter controlled the field position all night long,” said Austintown coach Brian Fedyski,. “He’s a super punter. They have a real weapon when he kicks like that.”

Also controlling the action on the field was the Tigers’ defen­sive front wall, which recorded six sacks and hurried Fitch quarterback John Belak on a number of other occasions. Belak threw the ball an amazing 26 times, but completed just 9 of those passes for only 96 yards and one interception.

It was a sloppy game, but our defense did a great job,” said Tigers’ coach Rick Shepas. “Chris Turner made some big stops, and Jason Hahn and Ellery Moore also played solid games.”

Hahn, Moore and Turner each recorded a quarterback sack, while defensive end Neil Buckosh received credit for two QB sacks. All tolled, the Tigers, sacked the Falcons’ quarterback
six times for minus 45 yards.
Despite scoring just 10 points, Massillon quarterback Steve Eyerman made an impressive debut as the Tigers’ starter. Eyerman, who was filling in for the injured Tom Fichter, showed
his athleticism by scrambling out of a number of tight situa­tions throughout the night. The junior QB wound up completing 8‑of‑18 passes for 127 yards. He also threw an interception.

“This was a tough night for offensive football, but I think Eyerman may have come into his own a little bit tonight,” said Shepas. “He made some nice plays when we needed him to make them. He seemed to get more comfortable out there as the game went on. We’ve been waiting for one of the quarter­backs to step it up.”

By contrast, senior tailback Marc Cleveland had his rough­est night of the season. Cleveland entered the game with 468 yards on the ground and a 6.4 yards per carry aver­age. But the Fitch defense limit­ed him to just 55 yards on 23 Carries for a 2.4 per carry aver­age. Cleveland did manage to score the lone touchdown in the game, with a one‑yard run over left guard midway through the second period.

“Marc was running a little stiff in the second half. His mus­cles tightened up on him during the half,” said Shepas. “But what really hurts is we don’t have much of a running game from our fullback spot, so the other teams can zero in on Marc.”

“We wanted to stop Cleveland. He was the guy we wanted to stop,” said the Falcons’ Fedyski. “We figured Massillon would run the ball more with the starting quarterback out. But Eyerman did a nice job for them. He hurt us with his scrambles when we had the pressure on him.”

Fedyski said the absence of the freshman phenom running back Maurice Clarett also hurt the Falcons’ chances. Clarett had rushed for 469 vards on 61 carries and scored six touch­downs in Austintown’s first four games. But he injured an ankle during the second half of last week’s loss to Madison, and was on crutches during the game with Massillon.

” Not having Clarett hurt us,” said Fedyski. “Although he’ s just a freshman, he leads the Steel Valley Conference in all ­purpose yards with nearly 180 yards a game. It takes a lot of our offense when you lose a player of his stature.”

With Clarett on the sideline the bulk of Austintown’s ground game fell on the shoulders of senior fullback Tom Italiano. He rushed for 85 yards in 14 car­ries, most right up the middle into the heart of the Massillon defense.

After the two teams exchanged interceptions in the first quarter, Massillon finally put a sustained drive together midway through the second period. The Tigers moved the ball 76 yards in 12 plays, capped by the one‑yard run by Cleveland. During the drive, Eyerman completed four key passes, totaling 58 yards. Marshall added the PAT kick to make the score 7‑0.

Fitch responded by taking the Tigers’ kickoff from their own 22 down to the Massillon 21
before their 14 play drive stalled. Junior place kicker Jacob Stewart then booted a 38 ­yard field goal with just five seconds left in the half to make the score 7‑3.

Neither team could sustain a drive throughout the third quar­ter and well into the fourth peri­od. Finally, after several exchanges of punts, the Tigers got close enough to score making a 26 yard, field goal with 1:01 to play capped a 10-play Massillon drive, which began on the Fitch 34‑vard‑line.
The Falcons were unable to mount another scoring threat as Massillon walked off the field with its third win of the season. The Tigers will begin the second half of the 1998 campaign next Friday night when they host Pennsylvania football power Glen Mills High.

First down rushing 4 6
First downs passing 7 5
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 11 12
Net yards rushing 72 58
Net yards passing 127 96
TOTAL yards 199 154
Passes attempted 18 26
Passes completed 8 9
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 4 7
Punting average 44.5 28.1
Fumbles/Lost 4/1 1/1
Penalties 6 8
Yards penalized 69 65

MASSILLON 7 0 0 3 10
FITCH 0 3 0 0 3

M ‑ Marc Cleveland 1 run (Brett Marshall kick)
F ‑ Stewart 38 field goal
M ‑ Marshall 26 field goal


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 23‑55,
Miller 8‑17,
Lynn 1‑2.
Fitch rushing:
Italiano 14‑85.

Massillon passing:
Eyerman 8‑18 127 1 INT.
Fitch passing:
Belak 9‑26‑96 1 INT

Massillon receiving:
Allman 2‑36,
Dorsey 2­-33,
Cleveland 2‑19,
Clemens 1‑31,
Jarvis 1-8.
Fitch receiving:
Sucletic 2‑24,
Burd 2‑23,
Densevich 2‑22,
Giordano 1‑11,
Wakiters 1‑10,
Italiano 1‑6.

Statistics courtesy of Richard Cunningham

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1997: Massillon 34, Austintown Fitch 6

Tigers run over, around Fitch

Hodgson’s 3 touchdowns do the trick

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers sent a message to the five teams that await them the second half of the 1997 high school football season.

Program Cover

Key on tailback Christian Morgan and Massillon is going to serve up mega‑doses of full­back Dave Hodgson until the defense changes its game plan.

Hodgson, a 5‑10, 205‑pound senior, rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries to lift the Tigers past Austintown Fitch 34‑6 in front of 7,862 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday. For good measure, he added a third TD on a 15‑yard pass from Tip Danzy.

It wasn’t as if Morgan was a non‑factor. The 6‑4, 215‑pound senior toted the football 30 times for 151 yards and a touch­down as Massillon’s offensive front was in control of the line of scrimmage practically all night long.

But Hodgson was clearly the spark for Massillon, which fin­ishes the first half of the campaign at 4‑1.

“Massillon’s known for running the tailback,” Hodgson said. “I just want to put our opponents on notice that both of our backs can run the ball. That should take some pressure off Christian. We spread it out a lit­tle bit, the coaches did a great job of picking the right plays and our line did a great job of blocking.”

“It’s like pick your poison,” said Tigers boss Jack Rose. “You want to defend the flanks, we’ll just rip the fullback up in there. If you want to close down in there and stop the fullback, we’ll come out around the cor­ner with it and pitch it.

“Our line is doing a good job of getting on people who can run and we just run around guys who can’t. As long as we continue to do that we have a chance to move the ball.”

Move the ball the Tigers did racking up 422 yards of total offense ‑ including 382 yards on the ground. Massillon averaged over six yards per rushing play and converted 5 of 11 third downs into first downs.

For the first time since their opener against Cardoza, the Tigers won the time of possession battle, 25:23 to 22:37.

But the turnover monster continues to rear its ugly head. Massillon had three first half giveaways or it would have held a much more substantial lead at halftime than the 7‑6 tally on the scoreboard. Overall, Massillon fumbled the ball seven times, losing three. The Tigers also had a pass intercepted.

“The way the game started it looked like it was going to be one thing after another,” Rose said. “Three turnovers in the first half, two touchdowns called back on penalties. It’s frustrating really.”

“The nature of this offense is we’re going to put the ball on the ground. It’s going to hap­pen. When you start tossing that thing around out there with people flying around, its going to happen. What bothers me is the unforced fumbles. It appears sometimes it’s a con­centration thing. That’s some­thing that has to be change the second half of the season or we’re going to give our defense a hole they can’t get out of.”

The Tigers did just that on the opening kickoff, fumbling the football away at the 1‑yard line, The Massillon defense bowed its neck, stopping Fitch cold on three straight snaps, before quarterback Michael Reynolds swept around right end for the touchdown at 9:58 of the first period. A running play out of PAT formation failed and the Falcons led 6‑0.

The Tigers moved from their 39 to the Fitch 30 on their first possession, but failed to con­vert a fourth and four and turned the ball back over to the visitors.

The Falcons got one first down but punted the ball away and Massillon began its initial scoring drive from its 30. On second down, Hodgson picked up 16 yards to midfield on a counter play out of the offset I.

Morgan added 11 more to the Fitch 35 on a pitch around right end and Hodgson found a hole over right guard for 13 yards down to the 24. Two snaps later, Hodgson hammered into the line, popped out to the left side­line and raced 15 yards to the end zone. Josh Hose’s kick made it 7‑6 Massillon at 3:02 of the first.

“We put a counter in this week because the coaches said we couldn’t run the trap from the I‑set,” Hodgson revealed. “Running off the guard and up the middle worked best.”

“The line deserves a lot of credit. They’re doing a great job of coming off the ball and moving the front.”

Fitch took the second half kickoff, but turned the ball over when Josh Kreider tipped a Reynolds pass and Corey Ball came up with the interception at the Falcons 40.

On second down, Morgan took an pitch from Danzy on an option play around right end, exploded through a seam creat­ed by a fine block by Hodgson and motored 37 yards for the touchdown. The conversion kick failed and the Tigers led 13-6 at 9:45 of the third quarter.

Massillon fumbled the ball way on its second possession of the second half, but marched 77 yards in 11 plays the next time it had the football. The drive was keyed by Danzy’s 17-­yard completion to Hodgson and Hodgson’s 36‑yard burst off right guard that moved the ball to the Fitch 16.

Three plays later, Danzy ­again found Hodgson in the right flat. The burly fullback looked to be stopped at the 3, but clawed his way into the end zone. Hose’s kick made it 20‑6 Massillon at 6:02 of the fourth.

“We ran the boot pass a lot today,” Hodgson said. “We weren’t running it at the begin­ning of the year. But I got on the coaches to run it. As junior var­sity players last year, Tip and I were successful running that.”

Hodgson made it 27‑6 with a 23‑yard touchdown, run over right guard and tackle, capping off an eight‑play, 42‑yard drive with 2:19 left to play.

Junior quarterback Tom Fichter’s 33-yard scoring scam­per with 37 seconds left to play put the finishing touches on the Falcons.

As impressive as the Massillon offense was, the defense again was in command. It yielded just five first downs and 75 total yards of offense. The Tigers held Fitch to an average of less than one yard per rushing play.

“I think it was our best game of the season defensively,” said cornerback Jamie Allman “We played as a team. No matter what happened on the other side of the ball, we kept our
heads in it.

“We’re getting a lot better. Mentally, it’s a big thing. When we get our heads in the game, we’re pretty good. When the mental part comes, the physical part comes with it.”

“The first four weeks we have physically handled every­body,” said Fitch coach Brian Fedyski. “Today, Massillon came ready to play and they handled us up front. Credit to Massillon’s staff and team.”

First downs rushing 18 2
First downs passing 2 3
First downs penalty 3 0
TOTAL First downs 23 5
Net yards rushing 382 28
Net yards passing 40 47
TOTAL yards 422 75
Passes attempted 8 14
Passes completed 3 5
Passes intercepted 1 3
Punts 2 5
Punting average 28 36.8
Fumbles/Lost 7/3 1/1
Penalties 10 11
Yards penalized 136 93

MASSILLON 7 0 6 21 34
FITCH 6 0 0 0 6

F ‑ Reynolds 2 run (Run failed)
M ‑ Hodgson 15 run (Hose kick)
M ‑ Morgan 36 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Hodgson 16 pass from Danzy (Hose kick)
M ‑ Hodgson 23 run (Hose kick)
M ‑ Fichter 33 run (Hose kick)

Massillon rushing:
Hodgson 15‑153,
Morgan 30‑151,
Danzy 10‑38.
Fitch rushing:
Wilson 13‑36,
Reynolds 14­-16.

Massillon passing:
Danzy 3‑8‑40 1 TD, 1 INT.
Fitch passing:
Reynolds 4‑12‑36, 2 INTs.

Massillon receiving:
Hodgson 2‑34, Kreider 1_15~
Fitch receiving:
Jarvis 2‑18,
Wellington 2-18,
McDougal 1-11.

Jared Stefanko

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 9

Tigers survive the trip to Fitch

Independent Correspondent

So, what about that Austin­town Fitch jinx?

It figured when the Massillon Tigers defeated the Falcons 10-­7 in 1994 at Falcon Stadium, the mystique was washed away.

However, as quickly as they broke the four‑game losing streak on Fitch’s home field, the Tigers nearly allowed the Falcons to rekindled the jinx. Friday night in sloppy Falcon Stadium, No. 1 ranked Massillon dodged a bullet, edging Fitch 10‑9.

The Tigers won their fifth straight game while the Falcons fell to 2‑3.

As in 1994, this game came down to one big Massillon offen­sive play and the legs of both teams’ kickers.

Two years ago, then­ Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer Jr. ran 88 yards for the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Nick Pribich hit a lengthy field goal that provided the margin of vic­tory.

In this year’s renewal of the series that began in 1985, it was tailback Christian Morgan who came up with the big play. Kick­er Josh Hose added the big kick.

With Fitch holding a 7‑3 lead and its defense denying the Ti­gers entry into the end zone, Morgan took a deep handoff from quarterback Ben Hymes and broke off right tackle, racing untouched 74 yards for a touchdown.

Morgan’s touchdown came at the 2:18 mark of the third quar­ter. Hose added what proved to be the game‑deciding extra­ point.

“It was our zone run to the split‑side,” said Massillon head coach Jack Rose. “He had come close to popping a couple in the first half. He had a hard time in the first half keeping his foot­ing. He was getting frustrated.

“We found out our tailbacks are not mudders.”

Morgan finished with 136 yards on 23 carries.

The Tigers had a three‑point lead, but they were far from victory. They lost their second fumble on their next possession, giving Fitch one last chance from its own 46‑yard line and 6:04 left in the fourth quarter.

“Both turnovers were critic­al,” Rose said. “You lose a fum­ble and you lose field position.”

Fitch, which had taken the lead on a 5‑yard run by O’Dom­mi Wellington at the 6:47 mark of third quarter, promptly drove deep into Tiger territory.

A personal foul call against Massillon aided the drive. The ball was moved to the Tiger 18­yard line.

Three plays later, the Fal­cons were eight yards away from taking their second lead of ­the game.

On first‑and‑goal, Massillon senior Bud Kraft snuffed out an option play and stuffed Fitch quarterback Russ Houser for a 2-yard loss. Massillon defensive back Dustin Limbach then broke up a pass on second down. Kraft did likewise on third down.

“The defensive line was real­ly charged up and we had great leaders out there,” said Kraft. “We were worried, but we hung tough.”

Fitch opted to try and tie the game. Placekicker Chris Cal­cagni, who was being touted as a Division I prospect, tried a 26-­yard field goal. He sent the ball wide right by a matter of in­ches, his third miss of the game.

“We were so sure we’d get the three I was willing to go into overtime, especially with our kicker,” said Fitch head coach Jack Kenney. “Chris was 100 percent on field goals and extra points coming into the game. I feel bad for him.”

Calcagni also missed a poten­tial tying field goal in the 1994 Massillon game.

The final points of the game came on an intentional safety by Massillon. Punter Eric Lightfoot ran out of the end zone with 13 seconds left to play.

“We just get drilled by the No. 6 team (Lakewood St. Edward) and then comes the No. 1 team (Massillon),” said Kenney. “Our kids came off the field upset because they know we maybe should have beaten the No. 1 team.

“Massillon has all the ingre­dients (to be worthy of its No. 1 ranking). They have great coaches, big, fast players and the Massillon program in itself is outstanding.”

In an uneventful first half, the Massillon defense bent but did not break while the offense sputtered. Massillon’s four pos­sessions wound up with three punts and a lost fumble.

Finally, the Tigers got un­tracked on their last possession of the first half. Hymes ignited an 11‑play, 69‑yard drive.

The senior quarterback kept the drive alive with two third­ down completions to split end Devin Williams. The second completion covered 11 yards and moved the ball to the Fitch 36.

On the ensuing play, Hymes hit senior Brian Baer deep over the middle for 27 yards, moving the ball to the Fitch 9‑yard line.

The drive stalled, but Hose salvaged it with a 23‑yard field goal with only 15 seconds remaining until intermission.

That drive accounted for all but 52 of Massillon’s first half yards.

Fitch moved the football in­side the Massillon 35 on its first two series. The first drive ended when the Falcons turned the ball over on downs. The first of the three missed field goals en­ded the second march.

“It’s nice to be 5‑0, but with Walsh (Jesuit) next week, we don’t get a break,” said Kraft.

First downs rushing 7 8
First downs passing 3 2
First downs penalty 1 1
Total first downs 11 11
Net yards rushing 177 118
Net yards passing 58 33
Total yards gained 235 151
Passes attempted 11 11
Passes completed 5 4
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 46.0 60.0
Kickoff return yards 0 61
Punts 5 5
Punting average 29.8 37.2
Punt return yards 24 10
Fumbles 4 2
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 39 10
Number of plays 54 60
Time of possession 22:17 25:43

MASSILLON 0 3 7 0 10
FITCH 0 0 7 2 9


Second Quarter
M ‑ Hose 23 field goal

Third Quarter
F ‑ Wellington 4 run (Calcagni kick)
M ‑ Morgan 74 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
F ‑ Safety: Massillon punter downed in end zone


Morgan 23‑136, 1 TD;
Stefanko 6-4;
Hymes 10‑9.
Hunter 12-­42;
Wellington 11‑33 1 TD

Hymes 5‑11 ‑58, 0 TD, 0 ints.
Houser 4‑10‑33 0 TD. 0 ints.

Williams 2‑24;
Baer 1‑28.
London 2‑20.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1995: Massillon 21, Austintown Fitch 14

Tigers overcome injuries, Fitch

Independent Sports Editor

Call it a character builder.

The Massillon Tigers, severely handicapped by the loss to injury of their leading rusher and leading receiver, dug deep and came out with a 21-14 victory over an inspired Austintown Fitch crew in front of 10,922 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday.

Massillon (4‑1 ) had to do it without Vinny Turner, who suffered a pulled hamstring in the final seconds of the first half that prevented him from going 78-yards for a touchdown, and Vaughn Mohler, who may be done for the season with a torn lateral cruciate ligament.

Program Cover

Clinging to a 14‑7 lead, Massillon began the second half by marching 67 yards in 15 plays. The sustained drive ate 7:17 off the game clock and was capped by George Whitfield’s one‑yard quarterback sneak into the end zone. Josh Hose added the conversion kick and the Tigers had the game under control at 21‑7.

Whitfield ran the football six times on the drive for 32 yards and hit Dustin Limbach for seven yards and a first down.

Raphel Bradley (6‑2, 215­-pounds) started the second half in Turner’s place and came up big for the Tigers. The junior tailback rushed six time for 22 yards on the march and icked up a pair of first downs.

”That was a critical drive there,” Rose agreed. “We had to go with Raphel and he did a good job for us. He carried it well for us and blocked well.

”That drive took eight mi­nutes off the clock. You do that and you’re going to be hard to beat.”

Fitch head coach Jack Kenney admitted he was feeling good about his teams chances after learning Turner was through for the night.

“We said we’re going to come out and we’re going to stuff them right now and we didn’t and they go in and score,” Ken­ney said. “That was a defining moment in this ball game.

“When Turner Went down I was prepared for them to go into more of a passing game. But they just come up with somebody else. They have a lot of great athletes around here.”

Fitch came right back after Massillon went up by 14 and moved the ball from its 25 to the Tiger 23, where the Falcons had first‑and‑10. But Jared Stefanko stuffed quarterback Jeff Lawrence on an option keeper for a two‑yard loss, and two plays la­ter Henry McElroy batted down a pass in the end zone to quell the visitors’ threat.

The gang from Austintown wasn’t through, though. After a pass interference call on Massillon, Lawrence hit David Yargo between the numbers at the Tiger 30. The ball bounced off Yargo’s pads and was grabbed in midair by Fitch’s Chayne Mitchell who sprinted into the end zone for an “immaculate reception” touchdown that covered 53 yards.

Chris Calcagni tacked on the PAT and it was a 21‑14 game with just under six minutes to play.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Tiger’s went three‑and‑out and punted. Fitch took over at its 37 with 3:24 to play. The Falcons managed a pair of first downs and penetrated to the Massillon 40. On first down at that point, Eric Lightfoot sacked Lawr­ence for a six‑yard loss. Two plays later, with Paul Salvino pressuring Lawrence, Stefanko intercepted the Fitch quarter­back at the 30‑yard line to secure the victory.

“Jared had a great drop and read the quarterback real well,” Rose said. “That was a great play at a very important time.”

Whitfield had a fine all ­around game for the Tigers, rushing for 59 yards in 15 totes. He hit on 7‑of‑15 passes for another 59 yards and 1 touchdown. But it was the senior’s execution of the option that left Rose smiling.

“That’s going to help us down the road.” Rose said. George was hitting option alley and took it right in there. He doesn’t need to pitch it a lot be­cause they’re going to try to take away the pitch man and make him run it. He is a big, strong back and he call take it up in there. He is a strong runner and he just needs to assert himself out there.”

Kenney, too, was impressed with Whitfield’s contributions.

“He gives Massillon a very, very balanced, nice attack,” Kenney said. ”That makes it difficult because we couldn’t gang up on anything.

“Their coaches were right in tune. Whatever we’d give, they’d take. They’re well prepared, as you’d expect from a class outfit like this. It was their balanced attack that kept us off guard.”

Massillon opened the scoring by moving the ball 42 yards in nine plays after Fitch went three-and –out on its first possession.

Turner, who finished with 123 yards on 10 carries, had the big play with a 14‑yard burst off right guard that took the ball to the 11. Two plays later, Whitfield rolled left and found tight end Chris Martin for a nine yard TD at the 6:00 mark of the first period.

Fitch counterpunched with a textbook, 14-play, 77-yard drive, that ate up nearly seven minutes. Chris Hunter scored standing up from a yard away with just over a minute gone in the second period. Calcagni’s kick made it a 7-7 contest.

After an exchange of punts, Massillon moved from its 39 to the Fitch 22 where it faced second‑and‑seven. Whitfield dropped back to pass and I threw what appeared to be a sure interception to Lawrence. But the pass went through the Falcon DB’s hands and was caught by Devin Williams at the three yard line.

On the next snap, Turner went in over right guard and tackle. Hose’s conversion boot made it 14-7 with 3:00 to go in the half.

“I think that was the real heartbreaker,” lamented Ken­ney. “If we go in at 7-7, we’d certainly have had a lot more confidence for the second half.”

Actually, Fitch dodged another bullet a couple of mi­nutes later when Turner pulled up lame on what looked to be a sure TD jaunt.

”Oh, yeah, he’s gone for a touchdown,” Rose said. ”We have it walled off and Vinny’s going down the sidelines for an 80‑yard run.

“But Raphel is going to do a good job for us. He is a strong back with great speed. he will break a tackle, get into the secondary and he will be gone.”

But Rose wasn’t all smiles afterward. In addition to the injuries to Turner and Mohler, he was upset with his team’s inability to keep the yellow flags in the officials’ pockets.

“We had six penalties tonight for 73 yards and they played error free ball evidently,” Rose said. “ We’re got to learn to not make those mistakes. We were in a mode where we could’ve got another touchdown drive going.

First downs rushing 10 8
First downs passing 5 4
First downs penalty 0 3
Total first downs 15 15
Net yards rushing 245 109
Net yards passing 59 108
Total yards gained 304 217
Passes attempted 15 14
Passes completed 7 5
Passes int. 1 1
Times kicked off 4 3
Kickoff average 52.0 52.7
Kickoff return yards 68 76
Punts 3 2
Punting average 37.7 25.5
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 0 1
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 6 0
Yards penalized 73 0
Number of plays 53 51
Time of possession 26:01 21:59
Attendance 10,922

FITCH 0 7 0 7 14
MASSILLON 7 7 7 0 21


First Quarter
M ‑ Martin 9 pass from Whitfield (Hose kick)

Second Quarter
F ‑ Hunter 1 run (Calcagni kick)
M ‑ Turner 3 run (Hose kick)

Third Quarter
M ‑ Whitfield 1 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
F ‑ Mitcliell 53 pass from Lawrence (Calcagni kick)


Turner 10‑123, 1 TD;
Whitfield 15‑59, 1 TD;
Bradley 7‑32
Wonsick 6‑31
Hunter 14‑54, 1 TD;
London 6‑27;
Lawrence 12‑19;
Mullennex 3‑6;
Toth 1‑3.

Whitfield 7‑15‑1, 59 yards 1 TD.
Lawrence, 5‑14‑1, 108 yards 1 TD.

Williams 2‑29;
Wiles 2‑9;
Martin 1‑9, 1 TD;
Limbach 1‑7;
Mohler 1‑5.
London 2‑40;
Chine 2‑15;
Mitchell 1‑53, 1 TD

George Whitfield

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 7

Pribich boots the Fitch ‘jinx’
Spencer’s long TD is key to win

Independent Sportswriter

It’s amazing what one play and a little momentum can do for a football team.

The play?

Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer’s 86‑yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Thus, the momentum.

The result?

A Nick Pribich 40‑yard field goal with 2:58 remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 10‑7 win over Austintown Fitch at Falcon Stadium on Friday.

“This is a great win. This puts us over the hump,” a tearful Spencer said as he made his way toward the locker room. “We beat a great team. It is ex­actly what we needed.”

The win ends the Tigers’ los­ing streak at Falcon Stadium ‑ Massillon had been dealt four losses in four tries ‑ but it didn’t come without some an­xious moments in the game’s final three minutes.

Pribich’s go‑ahead kick appeared to take the wind out of Fitch’s sails. The Falcons were down … but they weren’t out.

Starting from its own 11 after a mishandled kickoff, Fitch struck quickly.

On the first play from scrimmage, Falcon quarterback, Rich Marinelli found Jeff Hawkins down the middle for 53 yards, and a face mask, against Massillon put the ball on the Tiger 21.

The threat died two plays la­ter when Marinelli fumbled a snap and Massillon’s Brad Lambrou recovered, giving the Tigers the ball and ‑ it appeared ‑ the win.

Not so.

As the Tigers worked to run out the clock, Spencer swept left end and lost the handle, with Fitch recovering at the Massil­lon 11.

Fullback Mike Stanec bulled six yards to the five; Marinelli dove ahead to the 4; and, with no timeouts left, threw out of bounds on third down to stop the clock.

That left Falcon kicker Chris Calcagni facing a 21‑yard field goal to send the game into over­time.

Calcagni, who gave Fitch a 10‑7 win over Lakewood St. Ed­ward a week ago, couldn’t re­peat his heroics.

His kick sailed wide right, giving Massillon the win, an end to the Falcon Stadium jinx and a 4‑1 mark on the year.

“We called the keeper and we told Willie to just fall down instead of taking the hit,” Tiger coach Jack Rose said of the late miscue. “We were going to run one more play, then take a safe­ty. We figured there would be six or seven seconds left and we would win the darn thing 10‑9.

“Our defense made the big plays when it had to. It seemed like neither team wanted to win this one.”

“It was the greatest feeling ever. I just went numb,” Pribich said of his game‑winning boot. “When we got the ball back, coach told me to start loosening up and said that a field goal was going to win the game.”

Massillon’s clinching drive started on its own 43‑yard line after a Fitch punt.

On first down, Spencer hand­ed off to tailback Leon Ashcraft on a routine off‑tackle play. Ashcraft was stopped for no gain, but managed to pitch the ball back to Spencer, who gained 18 yards to the Fitch 39.

From there, Massillon moved to a first down at the 26, but the drive stalled three plays later at the 23.

On came Pribich, drilling his 40‑yarder to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

“Nick had been hitting con­sistent 30‑yarders in pregame, so we knew that if we could get it down around the 30 we had a shot,” Rose said. “We were trying to keep the ball on the left hash because he kicks better from there. That’s why we were running to the sideline.”

“Nobody stopped us, we stop­ped ourselves,” Fitch Head Coach Jack Kenney said. “We kept finding ways to win, but we kept stopping ourselves.”

In the days leading up to the contest, Rose stressed the strength of the Fitch defense. First‑half action proved him right, as the Tigers could man­age only 76 yards of total offense.

In that same span, the Falcons rolled up 224 yards and dominated on both sides of the ball, but managed only a 7‑0 halftime lead.

That score came on a 43‑yard touchdown strike from Marinelli to Mark Cruz.

Fitch continued to dominate in the third quarter, but failed to hit paydirt.

The fourth quarter was a different story, as the Tigers be­gan to roar. On the strength of play in the final period, Massil­lon wound up out gaining Fitch 176 yards to 157 yards over the final 24 minutes.

For the game, Spencer led the Tigers with 122 yards on the ground in 22 carries, while Ashcraft finished with 90 yards in 18 carries.

First downs rushing 7 15
First downs passing 2 3
First downs penalty 0 1
Total first downs 9 19
Net yards rushing 218 260
Net yards passing 32 119
Total yards gained 250 379
Passes attempted 12 17
Passes completed 4 4
Passes int. 0 0
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 53.7 57.0
Kickoff return yards 27 39
Punts 6 5
Punting average 31.7 31.2
Punt return yards 8 22
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 4 10
Yards penalized 39 96
Number of plays 49 66
Time of possession 20:40 27:20

FITCH 0 7 0 0 7
MASSILLON 0 0 0 10 10


Second Quarter
F ‑ Cruz 43 pass from Marinelli (Calcagni kick)

Fourth Quarter
M ‑ Spencer 86 run (Pribich kick)
M ‑ Pribich 40 FG


Spencer 15‑121, 1 TD;
Ashcraft 18‑90.
Stanec 24‑147,
Evans 11‑51.

Spencer 4‑12‑32.
Marinelli 4‑17‑119, 1 TD.

Mohler 1‑20.
Yargo 2‑23.

Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1993: Massillon 34, Austintown Fitch 15

Danzy is dandy as Tigers top Fitch

Independent Sports Editor

It’s beginning to look like the Massillon Tigers might be headed into a Week 10 show­down against the McKinley Bulldogs with an undefeated re­cord.

The Tigers cleared a major roadblock to a perfect regular season by handing the previous­ly undefeated Austintown Fitch Falcons a 34‑15 setback in front of 14,792 wind‑swept fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Fri­day night.

Program Cover

Massillon, 5‑0, did it with what is fast becoming its trademark … a big‑time second half comeback.

Fitch, using its misdirection running attack to perfection, built a 15‑7 first half advantage. The visitors did it by averaging 4.4 yards per rush and hitting on 3‑of‑4 first half aerials in the first two quarters. The Falcon defense was a big part of their success in the first 24 minutes, holding Massillon to just three first downs and 59 net yards offense.

But the second half was the Mike Danzy Show. The Tigers’ 5‑foot‑8 jitterbug of a quarter­back rushed for 116 yards after intermission, decimating the Fitch defense by attacking its perimeters with option runs. When the Falcons did draw a bead on No. 17, he used a lethal combination of quickness and strength to make the big play.

Austintown head coach David Hartman left town a believer.

”Danzy’s their man and rightfully so,” Hartman said. “His speed and quickness is ex­ceptional. Our perimeter folks did not do a very good job tech­nique wise. But give Massillon credit. They blocked our flanks … our perimeter very well in the second half.”

Tigers head coach Jack Rose revealed his quarterback was a big part of the Tigers’ second half game plan.

“We wanted Mike to carry it,” Rose said. “We had our tight end lock on their outside backer. We told Mike to get the corner and then pitch off the secondary support. But the secondary was so deep that Mike just ran at the guy and he didn’t know who to take.”

Danzy indicated play action fakes were fooling the Fitch de­fense.

“They were getting sucked up inside and we’d just bounce it outside and run a little bit,” he explained. “The coaches said I could get around the defensive end, and with the help of the tail­back and fullback I was able to get outside.”

Massillon jumped out 7‑0, scoring on its second possession of the evening. Taking over at the Fitch 39 after a punt, Danzy hit Greg Merchant on a deep curl for 24 yards to the Falcon 13. Four plays later, Leon Ashcraft found a gaping hole over his right tackle and went in for the touchdown at the :33 mark of the first period.

Fitch came right back and marched 76 yards in 12 plays. Quarterback Jason Senvisky, using some deft play faking to slow the Tiger pass rush, hit Mike Polder with a nine‑yard touchdown strike with just under seven minutes to play in the half. The Falcons’ extra point attempt faded right and it was a 7‑6 contest.

The Tigers could not get a first down on their next posses­sion and a bad snap from center rolled out of the end zone for a Fitch safety to make it 8‑7 with 3:45 until halftime.

The Falcons weren’t through. They took the ensuing free kick and set up shop at their 49. On third‑and‑14, Senvisky pulled a rabbit out of the hat. He drop­ped back to pass, nearly slipped down, then found Jayson Hill on the left sideline for a 21‑yard gain and a first down.

Five plays later, fullback Wally Hurdley bucked in from just inches away. The PAT made it Fitch 15, Massillon 7 at the half. And while the margin was just a touchdown, there was concern in the Tiger locker room. The defense had been un­able to stop the Falcons in the first two quarters.

The Tiger offense took the field to start the second half, moving from their 38 to near midfield. A motion penalty set up first‑and‑15 at the 44. Danzy ran the option around his right end and slashed for 19 yards to the Falcon 37. One play later, Danzy rolled right, found a gap and tight-roped down the side­line to the 4.

On the next play, Danzy again rolled right. When the defense came up to meet him, the senior co‑captain left fly a bullet to tight end Isaiah Jackson for the score. Nick Pribich’s extra point made it a 15‑15 game with just under nine minutes left in the third period.

“The key was the second half drive,” Rose related. “We felt we could get it down the field on them. We got the dive option going with Mike going out around the corner. Mike did a great job. He’s an awfully quick kid.”

“As an offense we felt like we had to go down and score to start the second half,” Danzy said, “and we did.”

The score remained dead­locked for the balance of the quarter as both offenses had trouble getting untracked. But the Tigers caught a break at the 9:43 mark of the fourth when Fitch’s punter shanked one from his own 27 to give Massil­lon a first down at the Austin­town 46.

Danzy appeared to bobble the first down snap, but righted himself and found a huge cavity over his right guard for 27 yards to the Falcon 20. Mike Paul then bucked up the gut for 14 more to set up first‑and‑goal at the five. Two plays later, Ashcraft had his second TD of the evening. The conversion was botched and it was a 21‑15 Massillon lead with just over eight minutes to play.

At that point, Hartman and the Falcons were still confident.

“All we needed was one of our patented eight minute drives,” he remarked. “We score a touchdown and get the extra point and they have something like nine seconds left.”

Even Rose admitted there was some concern on the hosts’ sideline after the extra point went awry.

“We missed the extra point and everybody’s getting these negative thoughts,” Rose said.
“’Oh, no, A 22‑21 game.”‘

Fitch took over at its 31. On first down Senvisky hit Shawn Davis for a 24‑yard pick‑up to the Tiger 45. Four plays later, Hurdley picked up another first on a fourth‑and‑inches dive play. On the next snap, Senvis­ky dropped back to throw a short hook. The pass was tipped into the air and Massillon safety Tim Menches grabbed the ball and began running. He spun. He stiff armed and he didn’t stop running until he was in the end zone, some 67‑yards later.

Ironically, the Tiger coaching staff nearly yanked Menches out of the game just prior to the pick.

“That was a terrific intercep­tion,” Rose said. “Tony got dinged up the play before and we were trying to figure out a way to get him off the field and he makes that interception. He got a couple of good blocks and he broke a couple of tackles.”

Menches admitted he didn’t recall all that much about the play.

“I saw their slot hook out,” he explained. “Then I looked back to see if someone was coming out behind him. There was no one there, so I jumped the slot man. He got a hand on it and I saw the ball tipped in the air. I just caught it and ran.

“I just kept running hard, stiff arming their guys was just looking for that goal line. I was just thinking about touch­down.”

“We were cooking there,” Hartman said. “But we made a bad throw and their kid made a great play. He made a great play. That’s what its all about. You’ve got to make the plays.”

Willie Spencer Jr., iced the cake three plays later, stepping in front of another Senvisky ae­rial and racing 54 yards to pay dirt and a 34‑15 final.

“Massillon played a great football game,” Hartman con­cluded. “We didn’t play very well. What did we turn it over? Four times. You can’t beat a good football team turning the ball over.”

“I’m disappointed. Our kids played hard but they didn’t play well. We played stupid some times. We turned the ball over and that’s not us. it cost us the game.

“Offensively we made the mistakes in the second half. Their defense stopped us and we didn’t sustain anything in the second half.”

“I think we sent a message to Fitch that they’re going to have to play well to beat us from now on,” he said.

First downs rushing 9 10
First downs passing 2 4
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 11 14
Net yards rushing 193 168
Net yards passing 37 87
Total yards gained 230 255
Passes attempted 9 11
Passes completed 5 6
Passes int. by 2 0
Times kicked off 6 3
Kickoff average 47.8 43.3
Kickoff return yards 41 49
Punts 1 3
Punting average 51.0 29.0
Punt return yards 8 0
Fumbles 0 2
Fumbles lost 0 2
Penalties 4 3
Yards penalized 59 20
Number of plays 44 52
Time of possession 23.04 24.56
Attendance 14,792

AUST. FITCH 00 15 00 00 15
MASSILLON 07 00 08 19 34

M ‑ Ashcraft 2 run (Pribich kick good)

A ‑ Polder 7 pass from Senvisky (kick failed)
A ‑ Safety
A ‑ Hurdley I run (Lawrence kick)

M ‑ Jackson 4 pass from Danzy (Danzy run)

M ‑ Ashcraft 4 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Menches 67 pass interception return (pass failed)
M ‑ Spencer 54 pass interception return (Pri­bich kick good)


Danzy 11‑136,
Paul 8­-34,
Dixon 7‑25.
Ashcraft 6‑15 (2 TDs),
Herring 1‑3,
Heck 1‑5;
Hurdley 15‑74,
Lawrence 2‑33,
Senvisky 5‑21,
Turner 12‑15,
Polder 2‑12.

Danzy 5‑9‑0, 1 TD;
Senvisky 6‑10‑2, 1 TD;
Lawrence 0‑1‑0.

Merchant 1‑24,
Simp­son 1‑8,
Dixon 1‑5,
Jackson 1‑4 (1 TD);
Hill 2‑37,
Davis 1‑24,
Airato 1‑15.
Polder 1‑7,
Minter 1-4.

Mark Fair
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1992: Massillon 0, Austintown Fitch 14

Tigers fall at Fitch

Independent Sports Writer

AUSTINTOWN ‑ Falcon Stadium is a 10,000‑seat facility. It is also a torture chamber to the Massillon Tigers. The Austintown‑Fitch Falcons, occupant of the structure, added to the agony with a 14‑0 high school football decision over the Tigers Friday.

Fitch scored a touchdown on the last play from scrimmage to win the 1986 game, won on a 40‑yard field goal in 1988, and deviated from its running game to capitalize on two touchdown passes to win in 1990.

There were no last‑second heroics or surprises by Fitch in the most recent meeting, but the Tigers were stuffed by the Steel Valley Conference school’s steel‑like defense and lost before 8,000 fans on a cool, breezy Friday night.

The Tigers fell to 2‑3. The last time they had that mark was 1984, Mike Currence’s final year as head coach.

Massillon has also lost its last three games, the first time that has occurred since 1988, when Lee Owens’ first team dropped decisions to Fitch, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Warren Harding.

The Tigers were shut out for the first time since an 8‑0 loss to Cleveland St. Joseph in the eighth‑game in 1987 on a muddy field in Euclid during John Maronto’s final year as Massillon head coach.

It was a dry field when the Tigers and Fitch played Friday. David Hartman, Fitch head coach and Massillon native, was pleased his team survived a battle of smash mouth football.

“It was a fight,” he said. “They’re much … much better than what we saw on film against Alliance and (Akron) Garfield.”

Jack Rose glanced at the post‑game offensive statistics while seated in the Fitch gym, adjacent to the Tiger lockerroom. The first‑year Massillon head coach was perplexed about his team’s offense. “We cannot score in the red zone,” he said. “We have to get that fixed.”

The Tigers had one scoring drive stopped inside the Fitch 20 and two others inside the Falcon 30. Rose noted the Tigers had problems finishing off scoring drives in both the Garfield and Cincinnati Moeller games.

“We worked a lot in practice on moving the ball inside the 30,” he said. “We’ve tried to get them in a frame of mind they have to execute once they get down there. We’ll just have to keep working.”

Part of Fitch’s defensive game plan was to contain Massillon quarterback Mike Danzy. “We felt he had done so many things against the teams they’ve played,” said Hartman “Our goal was not letting him make any big plays. Their offense is different, but we had to prepare for more things than we did when Lee Owens was coach.”

Fitch took the rollout away from Danzy and that forced him to scramble up the middle, where he was often greeted by a host of players wearing all‑red uniforms. He was either sacked or tackled behind the line of scrimmage five times and finished with minus‑35 yards rushing.

“This was our third, shutout,” said Hartman, “We have a good defensive team.”

Fitch has posted shutouts in three of its last four games, even though linebacker Dan Inglis missed most of the second half after he was ejected early in the third quarter. “The official told me he kicked somebody,” Hartman said.

The Tigers were held to only 83 yards in total offense. “I figured we could get 300 yards in total offense against them,” Rose said. “I thought we could get 150‑160 rushing and 140‑150 passing.” The Tigers unveiled the running game on their first series, but Fitch stopped it without allowing a first down.

Fitch then reciprocated with an 8‑play, 59‑yard drive that was capped by a big play on fourth down. Fullback Shawn Kamrad, 6‑1, 195, made a statement on his first carry when he blasted off left tackle for 12 yards to the Massillon 47.

The Tigers gave ground grudgingly on the next six plays and forced Fitch into a fourth‑and six at the 31.

Quarterback Nick Siciliano rolled left and flipped a pass to Kamrad over the middle. The Fitch fullback caught the ball at the 30, motored upfield, received a punishing block near the 20 and the short pass turned into a 31‑yard touchdown. Joe Ferraro hit the P.A.T. and Fitch led 7‑0 at the 5: 47 mark of the first quarter.

The Tigers responded with their best sustained drive of the game after Dan Hackenbracht returned the kickoff to the 33. Wide receiver Jarmey Elder made a one‑hand grab of a Danzy pass on a slant pattern for eight yards. Dan Seimetz picked up six on a counter‑gap and the ball was at the 47.

An offensive holding call appeared to stop the drive, but Danzy rolled left and hit Jerry May on an out pattern for 18 yards to the Fitch 40. Stinson picked up 12 of Massillon’s next 13 yards on the counter‑gap play and the first quarter ended at the Fitch 27.

On the first play of the second quarter, Stinson blasted off left guard and into the Fitch secondary. He was jarred at the 15, the ball popped loose and Fitch’s Chris Inglis recovered.

Early in the third quarter, Massillon defensive tackle B.J. Payne recovered a fumble at the Fitch 23. Eugene Copeland picked up a yard off right tackle, Stinson was held to another yard on another off‑tackle play and nose tackle Jason Kokoski, 5‑11, 210, diagnosed a screen pass and Copeland was thrown for a four yard loss.

On fourth‑and 14, Danzy rolled right, was blindsided and ‘Chris Inglis picked up the ball at the 30 and was eventually tackled at the Fitch 47.

After the Tigers held, Danzy hit May on a corner route for 34-yards to the Fitch 36. But the Tigers couldn’t net another first down in the drive and Hackenbracht was thrown for a 2‑yard loss on a fourth‑and‑three with 3:28 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons executed their Wing‑T offense to perfection on their next series with Kamrad running the dives and Siciliano running the keeper up the middle or taking the ball outside on the option. The drive consisted of 18 plays, covered 69 yards and was capped by Kamrad’s 1‑yard burst off left tackle. Ferraro’s placement made it 14‑0 with 7:18 to play.

Ferraro, also a defensive back, ended any Massillon comeback hope with an interception at‑the Tiger 45 with less than 6: 00 left to play.

First downs rushing 2 10
First downs passing 2 2
First downs by penalty 1 0
Totals first downs 5 12
Net yards rushing 24 179
Net yards passing 59 43
Total yards gained 83 222
Passes attempted 12 4
Passes completed 5 2
Passes int. by 0 1
Kickoff average 47.0 50.3
Kickoff return yards 72 21
Punts 4 4
Punting average 29.3 29.0
Punt return yards 10 17
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 2 1
Penalties 1 5
Yards penalized 11 59
Number of plays 37 50
Time of possession 18:58 29:02

Fitch 7 0 0 7‑14
Massillon 0 0 0 O_ 0

F ‑ Kamrad 31 pass from Siciliano (Ferraro kick)
F ‑ Kamrad 1 run (Ferraro kick)


M – Stinson 13‑41, Seimetz 3-12, Copeland 2‑3, Hackenbracht 2‑3;
F – Kamrad 23‑105, Siciliano 9‑46, Turner 11‑13.

M – Danzy 5‑12‑1, 59;
F – Siciliano 2‑4-0, 43.

M – May 2‑52, Elder 2,11;
F – Kamrad 1‑31, Moore: 1‑12.

Dan Hackenbracht
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1991: Massillon 26, Austintown Fitch 7

Massillon rebounds Tigers smashing in 26‑7 win
Biggest point spread ever against Fitch

Independent Sports Editor

At 8 p.m. Friday, he was Falando the Forgotten Man.

By the time Dick Goddard was doing the weather, the fore­cast had changed. It was: Be­ware of the Fabulous Falando.

That is, watch out for the guy who rushed for 214 yards to car­ry Massillon to a 26‑7 victory over Austintown‑Fitch before 11,376 at Paul Brown Tiger Sta­dium.

Program Cover

“I was getting tired of hear­ing that if you stopped No. 1 (Travis McGuire) you stopped our running game,” Massillon head coach Lee Owens said af­ter his team improved to 4‑1 on the coolest night of the season (Fitch is 2‑3).

Amazing anyone would think so, considering Ashcraft rushed for 1,182 yards last year as a junior, but true, Owens insisted .

The false perception was cre­ated by the fact Ashcraft’s run­ning mate, Travis McGuire, is off to such a hot start. McGuire came into the game with 439 rushing yards to Ashcraft’s 281.

“Falando,” Owens added, “was tired of hearing it, too.”

Ashcraft didn’t sound a bit like a vindicated man after the game, though. He spoke matter of factly about becoming the fifth‑leading ground gainer in a single game in Massillon his­tory (ahead of him are Homer Floyd, 263; Bill Harmon, 224; Art Hastings, 220; and Ace Grooms, 215).

“Our scouting report showed that the plays I do were open against Fitch last year,” Ashcraft said. “So, that’s what we ran tonight.”

Ashcraft explained that Mas­sillon’s offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, McGuire provided tough lead blocks (“He’s a good blocker”), while receivers Geoff Merchant and Mark Hawkins cleared the way for some of his long runs with strong upfield blocking.

That wasn’t the whole story. Ashcraft broke more than a few tackles by knocking defenders into next Tuesday.

“I was also reading a little better tonight,” Ashcraft said. “I was waiting back a little more to see where the best openings were.”

Ashcraft and McGuire each scored two touchdowns. McGuire wound up with 96 yards on 13 carries, including a 46‑yard touchdown run on a counter play that broke open the game.

Fitch had used the passing of senior quarterback Jeff Melody to close a 13‑0 halftime deficit to 13‑7 midway through the third quarter. The Tigers answered that challenge by scoring on their next possession, on McGuire’s long run.

“We played some smash ­mouth,” Owens said. “Our thinking was to bust it up there, bust it up there, bust it up there … and having had some success with that, it opened up the coun­ter play.”

The Tigers tried only four passes and completed none, largely because the game plan was to run, partly because standout safety Troy Burick was thrust into the quarter­backing job due to starting QB Nick Mossides’ sprained knee suffered in last week’s loss at Cincinnati Moeller.

Burick played every snap Fri­day at both quarterback and safety.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” Burick said. “I feel a little bit bruised, but I’m all right.

“I started the game at quar­terback against Nordonia last year and played safety, too. But I didn’t play much in the second half because we were so far ahead.

“I was definitely rusty early in the week in practice. Playing quarterback against Garfield (three weeks ago for just one series) didn’t help much. But I thought things went pretty well as the week went on. I had a lot of confidence in the team and the coachers put me in a good position.”

It is probably fair to call Melody the second‑best quar­terback the Tigers have faced this year, after Moeller’s Shawn Brennan. As usual, the Tigers stuffed the running game (Fitch netted 20 yards on the ground) and the opponent resorted to the pass. Melody connected on 15 of 25 tosses for 180 yards. The Tigers wound up outgaining Fitch 331‑200 in total offense.

Fitch head coach David Hartman, who was a senior lineman on the 1964 Massillon team, attended the Moeller game last week. He nodded his head when asked if the same pass schemes that had worked for Moeller were the ones clicking for Fitch, that is, those that feature a lot of rollouts, bootlegs and scrambles by the quarterback.

“They (the Tigers) seem not to want to give up the big play,” Hartman said. “They give up a lot underneath. We tried to run on them, we just couldn’t.”

“Our kids fought. It’s just that they had some 300- and 250­-pounders going up against our 165‑pounders.”

If some aspects of the Fitch game were reminiscent of the one with Moeller, the products as wholes were far different. The Tigers did finish off Fitch to the extent the 19‑point spread was the biggest in the history of the series, still led by Fitch, four games to three.

“We had a lot better concen­tration than we had at Moel­ler, ” said the Tigers’ fine senior end, Jason Woullard. “We were aggressive the whole time. For some reason, we lost some of our intensity in the third and fourth quarters against Moel­ler. I don’t know if it was the long road trip catching up to us, or what. I don’t want to make excuses. We were intense to the end tonight.”

Hartman, using mostly juniors and off to the worst start in his 10 years at Fitch, now has three losses to playoff conten­ders. The two besides Massillon ‑ Mentor and Youngstown Chaney ‑ are unbeaten.

“Massillon,” Hartman said when asked to compare, “is the strongest team we’ve played so far, without a doubt.”

There is some doubt as to who will play quarterback next Saturday against unbeaten and state‑ranked Toledo St. Francis.

“If Nick is healthy,” Owens said, “he’s our quarterback.”

Mossides wore a knee brace and walked without crutches along the sidelines at Friday’s game. Owens said indications are there’s “a good chance” Mossides will be ready to face St. Francis.

It was clear right away Fri­day that Ashcraft was ready to face Fitch. On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, he gained 15 yards on a play called back by clipping. He proceeded to surge for gains of 5, 3, 9, 10, 4 and 16 yards, by which time the ball was on the 1. He took it in from there, Jason Brown added the P.A.T. kick, and it was 7‑0 three seconds past the halfway point of the first quarter.

The drive covered nine plays and 49 yards.

The defense stuffed Fitch on three plays and Ashcraft went right back to work.

Ashcraft bulled, twisted and sprinted for gains of 22, 4, 24 and 21 yards to ram the ball to the Fitch 16. On third down from the 10, McGuire stampeded over the left side for a touchdown. Brown’s kick was wide right and it was 13‑0 with 24 seconds left in the quarter.

The Tigers had a chance to make it an early blowout after Dana Wofford blocked a punt and Bubba Pachis recovered the ball at the Falcons’ 20‑yard line. However, Fitch stopped Ashcraft for no gain on fourth-­and‑goal, enabling the Falcons to escape with just a 13‑0 half­time deficit.

Melody started to warm up the passing game late in the half, when he kept drives alive and the ball away from the Ti­gers.

The Tigers’ Eric Woods shut off a last‑second Fitch scoring threat by blocking Gary Pritch­ard’s 35‑yard field goal attempt with three seconds left in the half.

The Tigers got the first pos­session of the third quarter and were poised to go for it on fourth‑and‑one from the Fitch 44. However, an offsides penal­ty against the Tigers led to a punt.

The situation led Owens to question Fitch’s “sports­manship.” Owens contended the Fitch defenders were call­ing Massillon’s cadence, which is against the rules. Owens said he tipped off game officials that Fitch might do this.

Fitch used the possession following the punt to make the game close. Melody mixed up his passes (junior Bob Moore caught six for 60 yards on the night) and drove the Falcons 79 yards in just eight plays. The touchdown came on an eight-­yard scramble by Melody. Pritchard’s extra point made it 13‑7 with 5: 21 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons got a bit cocky at that point. Senior lineman Todd Draper turned to the Massillon crowd and cupped his hand over his ear, as if to say, “I can’t hear you.” Dave Hackenbracht, a former Massillon linebacker whose brother Dan hopes to re­turn to the 1991 Tigers following an injury, stood and got into a jawing match with Draper.

The Massillon offense made a loud reply of its own. After starting on their own 47 follow­ing a short kickoff, Ashcraft plowed for a gain to the Fitch 46. The next play was the counter to McGuire that went for 46 yards down the right sideline for a score. A conversion run failed, but the Tigers led 19‑7 with 4:44 left in the third quarter. They were never seriously threatened again.

Ashcraft added the coup de grace on a three‑yard TD run with 1:26 left in the game. That capped a 10‑play, 63‑yard drive and was punctuated by Brown’s P.A.T. boot.

Owens was concerned about a few areas, such as the team’s failure to score after the block­ed punt, and another opponent’s ability to complete passes.

But the victory one week after an emotional loss to Moeller was more than welcome.

“Our pride had been ques­tioned,” he said. “We had some­thing to prove.”

St. Francis had no trouble im­proving to 5‑0 Friday, scoring a 35‑7 win over Grafton Midview (2‑3).

Moeller struggled Friday to outlast Cincinnati Xavier 28‑21.

Chaney, one of the teams that beat Fitch, beat Boardman 14‑3 a week after Boardman stunned defending state champion War­ren Harding.


First downs rushing 14 4
First downs passing 0 7
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 14 12
Yards gained rushing 337 54
Yards lost rushing 6 34
Net yards rushing 331 20
Net yards passing 0 180
Total yards gained 331 200
Passes attempted 4 25
Passes completed 0 15
Passes int. by 0 0
Times kicked off 5 2
Kickoff average 44.6 27.0
Kickoff return yards 16 79
Punts 4 6
Punting average 31.0 26.2
Punt return yards 5 48
Fumbles 0 0
Fumbles lost 0 0
Penalties 8 6
Yards penalized 66 54
Number of plays 48 51
Time of possession 20:34 27:26
Attendance 11,376

FITCH 0 0 7 0 7
MASSILLON 13 0 6 7 26

M ‑ Ashcraft 1 run (Brown kick)
M ‑ McGuire 10 run (kick failed)
F ‑ Melody 8 run (Pritchard kick)
M ‑ McGuire 46 run (run failed)
M ‑ Ashcraft 3 run (Brown kick)

Individual statistics

(Massillon) Ashcraft 25/214, McGuire 13/96, Burick 6/21;
(Fitch) Kamrad 6/16, Ferraro 8/‑2, Melody 10/0, Sandquist 1/6.

(Massillon) Burick 0-4-0;
(Fitch) Melody 15‑25‑180.

(Fitch) Moore 6/60, Vanek 3/33,
Ferraro 3/56, Sandquist 1/3, Barwick 1/20, Kamrad 1/8.

Eric Wright