Keyes continues to roll as Massillon pulls away from Barberton
Oct 18, 2019 10:41 PM
BARBERTON Barberton was lying in wait for Massillon. Getting their first true home game against the Tigers since 1957, the Magics came ready to try and spoil their visitors’ undefeated season.
The problem for Barberton was that Massillon brought Terrance Keyes Jr. with it to the Magic City. And Keyes made certain the Tigers didn’t allow the purple-clad home fans a chance to end the night in celebration.
In a game which saw both teams struggle at times with composure, as they combined for 22 penalties and 230 penalty yards, Keyes provided a certain calming influence on the Massillon offense. His 255 yards and five touchdowns rushing helped the Tigers pull away for a 49-24 victory in front of a capacity crowd at Rudy Sharkey Stadium.
“I don’t think there’s anything really calm tonight, but he’s the guy who’s carrying the ball,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 8-0 while winning their 19th consecutive regular-season game. “The offensive line starts it and does a nice job blocking. You have to give those guys credit first, but Terrance made some nice plays tonight.”
The last three games have seen Keyes take control of the Massillon running game. Since Week 6, the senior has gained 582 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, with his latest performance the best of his career.
His previous high was 198 yards as a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary against, ironically enough, Massillon. He cleared that with his final scoring run, a 62-yarder which put the Tigers in front 42-16 early in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a definite plus when you running back is a plus-one,” Moore said. “A lot of times, he can account for somebody himself. Terrance is that kind of back, and he did a good job tonight.”
It was Keyes’ five scoring runs which helped the Tigers first rally from behind before pulling well ahead. He gave Massillon the lead for good with his first score, a 7-yarder with 6:46 left in the second quarter to make ti 14-9.
His second, an 8-yarder, made it 21-9 Tigers with 3:34 left in the half. Barberton, though, would come up with its own big play to stay within striking distance.
After giving the ball up to Massillon on an interception, the very next play Charlie Hornacek stepped in front of a Tiger pass and picked it off at his own 48. He would race 52 yards for the touchdown to pull Barberton within 21-16 with 2:03 remaining.
“As a sophomore, Charlie led us in interception,” said Barberton coach Tony Gotto, who 5-3 team led 9-7 on Ryan Watkins’ 60-yard touchdown catch from Chase Haywood with 9:21 left in the first half. “He’s a playmaker. That was huge. I don’t know what the score was at the time, but it put us right back there.”
The problem for Barberton was that it left Massillon plenty of time to regain control before the half. That’s exactly what the Tigers did, as Keyes capped a seven-play, 66-yard possession with a 1-yard run to make it 28-16 with 46 seconds left in the half.
Keyes would make it 35-16 when he capped Massillon’s first possession of the second half with another 1-yard run at the 7:24 mark of the third quarter. Barberton would take virtually the remainder of the quarter to reach the Tiger 2, but Caiden Woullard came up with an interception in the end zone on fourth down to turn away the threat.
Four plays after that pick, Keyes would get free on the fifth and final scoring run of the night to turn it into a 36-point Tiger advantage. It marked the seventh time in eight games Massillon has had a running clock at some point in the game.
“That’s a freaking good football team,” said Gotto, whose team was outgained 409-309 by Massillon. “They have athletes everywhere. They have size.”
AKRON ‑ As time ticked down to a few precious seconds, the Massillon Tigers slowly turned sure defeat into an amazing victory.
The Tigers trailed by two touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter, but came back to stun the Barberton Magics 22‑20 Saturday night at the Rubber Bowl.
A 1‑yard touchdown plunge by quarterback George Whitfield with 17 seconds left capped a game Barberton firmly had tucked away before Massillon came back to steal a win. The Tigers scored 16 unanswered points in the final 6:24.
“We were very lucky to win,” Massillon head coach Jack Rose said. “But I have to give my kids credit. They never gave up in the fourth quarter. They played their hearts out and found a way to win it.”
Massillon tailback Vinny Turner. who suffered a pulled hamstring in last week’s game against Austintown Fitch, did not start. But with the game, and possibly the season, on the line the Tigers had no choice but to put their top offensive threat in the backfield.
A 2‑yard touchdown run by Turner and the two‑point conversion cut Barberton’s lead to 20‑14 with five minutes left.
Turner, who finished with 46 yards on 11 carries, caught an 11‑yard pass from Whitfield on the game‑winning drive. From the Barberton 3‑yard line, he grinded out two yards on two carries before Whitfield scored the winning touchdown with the Tigers out of timeouts.
“My hamstring is hurting, but I had to go in there,” said Turner. “And we made the big plays. That’s all we had to do.”
The difference in the game came prior to the final Massillon drive when Barberton punter Chad Whipkey ran out of the end zone for a safety after the snap sailed over his head.
“I felt we could win regardless of the safety, but that*s the breaks,” Whitfield said. “You have to have breaks like that. They had one in the first half. This was ours.”
Barberton’s break came just before halftime.
Rohn Noirot, who kicked a 31‑yard field goal midway through the second quarter, lined up to attempt a 20‑yarder with 20 seconds left.
But holder Jay Winker, a backup quarterback, took the snap and threw a shovel pass to fullback David Holderbaum as he raced into the end zone. Noirot’s extra point increased the Magics’ lead to 17‑6 at halftime.
The Tigers had only 61 yards of total offense in the first half. They also turned the ball over three times.
Massillon’s first turnover gave the Magics a 7‑0 lead. The Tigers fumbled a Barberton punt deep in their own territory and Danny Villers fell on the ball in the end zone after a wild scramble.
A 33‑yard touchdown run by Whitfield sliced Barberton’s lead to 7‑6. It remained 7‑6 after Tiger place‑kicker Josh Hose missed the extra point.
Massillon’s mistakes continued. The Tigers handed the Magics a first down when they lined up offside on fourth‑and-one from the Barberton 25‑yard line. The Magics then drove 61 yards in 12 plays and used Noirot’s 31‑yand field goal to extend their lead to 10‑6. Barberton kept the drive alive by converting on fourth‑and-inches from midfield.
Massillon’s next two possessions ended with turnovers. Whitfield was intercepted both times. Winkler returned the second one 43 yards to the Tiger 11‑yard line.
That set the Magics’ final touchdown in the first half ‑ the shovel pass from Winkler to Holderbaum.
Massillon 6 0 0 16 22 Barberton 7 10 0 3 20
B ‑ Villers recovered fumble in the end zone (Noirot kick) M ‑ Whitfield 33 run (kick failed) B ‑ FG Noirot 31 B – Holderbaum 3 pass from Winker (Noirot kick) B – FG Noirot 35 M ‑ Turner 2 run (Wiles pass from Whitfield) M ‑ Safety, Whipkey ran out of the end zone M ‑ Whitfield 1 run (kick failed)
Tigers ‘D’eny Magics’ upset bid Defense key to 15-0 win
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
When the offense isn’t clicking, good teams rely on their defense to pull them through.
So it was for the Massillon Tigers, 15-0 winners over the Barberton Magics Friday night in front of 10,034 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
With starting quarterback Willie Spencer Jr., and starting right tackle Aric Simpson suspended for practice violations, the Tiger offense sputtered and stalled for most of the first half. But the defense refused to budge, yielding just 43 net yards to the Barberton offense.
They did it by blitzing Barberton quarterback Matt Jenson mercilessly all night, pounding the 6‑2, 185‑pound senior on virtually every pass play.
In the first half alone, Steve Griffith recorded three sacks from his CAT safety position. The last of the three forced Jenson to fumble, effectively stalling Barberton’s two‑minute offense, which appeared to be on a roll near midfield with :54 until intermission.
Senior defensive tackle Mark Wells had a pair of quarterback sacks in the first half, including one on the first play of the game, sending a message to Jenson that he would not be able to sit in the pocket and count the house all night long.
Wells also made a huge play on Barberton’s first possession of the second half. The Magics had driven from their 46 to the Massillon 25, but were facing a third‑and‑six situation. Jenson tried to execute the triple option, but Wells shot a gap and pulled him down before he could get started, for a three‑yard loss.
Barberton missed a 45‑yard field goal attempt on the very next snap.
That’s when the Tigers offense finally got untracked. Mark Hiegl, who stepped in at quarterback, marshalled a drive that began on the Massillon 20. Leon Ashcraft picked up 16 yards and a first down on a pitch around left end. Hiegl snuck for three yards to earn another first down near midfield. Ashcraft found a seam over left tackle to record the third first down of the drive at the 37.
Then, on second‑and‑long, Hiegl rolled right to pass under intense pressure from the Magics. He managed to get the ball off just before he was dragged down, avoiding a huge loss.
On the next snap, Hiegl again rolled right, then turned and found tight end Ryan Shanor with a throwback screen pass on the left. Shanor avoided one tackler and raced down the sideline for a 41‑yard touchdown. Nick Pribich’s kick made it Massillon 7, Barberton 0 as time expired in the third quarter.
“The way they were coming so hard off the back side, we felt if we could get (the screen pass) in there at the right time, it would work,” said Tigers head coach Jack Rose. “We were just going for the first down. They were in a man‑to‑man. We got a good block out there and Ryan was able to go down the sideline for a touchdown.
“Mark made a heady play by avoiding the sack on second down. He is the kind of kid who can beat you from the head up.”
Barberton head coach Ed Robinson praised Rose’s play call.
“We were bringing the house and we had man (coverage) on and the guy who was in man coverage missed the tackle,” Robinson said. “When you do that you’re in trouble. They got a nice block out of their tackle and it was a nice play call for the situation. What are you going to do? That’s the one breakdown defensively we had all night long.”
On Barberton’s first play after the ensuing kickoff, Griffith came up with another monster play. The 5‑8, 150-pound senior plastered Jenson on the safety blitz, forcing him to fumble the football. Matt Robinson scooped up the pigskin in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 13‑0 with 10:52 to play.
“I had a lot of clean shots at the quarterback,” Griffith confirmer. “I was just waiting for this game because I knew I could get him in that shotgun. Coach had the calls perfect. Our line did a good job getting upfield and I just went in there and took it to him.”
Griffith indicated the defensive game plan was simple.
“We were running our regular coverage,” he explained, “but when they went to the shotgun, we checked to the blitz and it caused a lot of disruption.”
“We got after (Jenson) pretty good,” Rose said. “He hung in there pretty well. He has a lot of courage. But you can only take so much of that. Sooner or later you get a turnover.”
Wells put the final points on the scoreboard for the Tigers, tackling tailback Bryan Watkins in the end zone for a safety with 3:29 to play. The score was set up, appropriately enough, by Robinson’s sack of Jenson on the seven‑yard line on the preceeding play.
“Coach Wells told me to try to put some pressure on (Jenson) so we could take him out of the game early,” Wells said.
“We had rhythm going after beating Fitch. But with everything that happened this week, we felt we had to unite on defense to pull us through.”
Massillon held Barberton to just 71 net yards of total offense for the evening. The Magics managed just .5 yards per rush on 31 running plays. They fumbled three times and lost two.
Ashcraft, appearing to run even harder than usual, rushed for 111 yards in 17 carries. Vinny Turner and Nate Lewis combined for 104 yards rushing to keep the Magics from keying solely on Ashcraft.
“We had a lot of adversity this week coming off the big win last week,” summarized Rose. “A lot of things happened to keep the guys from being focused. I think we did a good job. We knew we had to do a great job on defense so Mark (Hiegl) had a chance to get his feet wet. I thought he got better as the game went on.”
The Tigers will host Cuyahoga Falls next Friday. Falls remained undefeated with a 37‑7 Metro League victory over Ravenna.
MASSILLON 15 BARBERTON 0 M B First downs rushing 10 4 First downs passing 1 3 First downs penalty 0 1 Total first downs 11 8 Net yards rushing 194 16 Net yards passing 50 55 Total yards gained 244 71 Passes attempted 8 11 Passes completed 3 6 Passes int. 1 0 Times kicked off 3 1 Kickoff average 55.7 56.0 Kickoff return yards 3 68 Punts 3 4 Punting average 30.0 36.8 Punt return yards 23 0 Fumbles 1 3 Fumbles lost 0 2 Penalties 4 5 Yards penalized 38 31 Number of plays 47 43 Time of possession 25.19 22.41 Attendance 10,034
MASSILLON 0 0 7 8 15 BARBERTON 0 0 0 0 0
THIRD QUARTER M ‑ Shanor 41 pass from Hiegl (Pribich kick)
FOURTH QUARTER M ‑ Robinson fumble recovery (kick failed) M ‑ Wells safety tackle of Watkins
AKRON ‑ Rubber Bowl goblins howled in record decibels Saturday night, but through the chaotic uproar John Maronto could hear the victory bell.
“Anybody who has been in coaching for a while will tell you a win is a win is a win,” said Maronto, whose Massillon football team won 34‑28 over Barberton in front of 8,000 fans. About 2,000 stragglers remained at the end. They learned that the way to a win is a maze with a billion possible courses.
Or, considering Barberton’s comeback from a 34‑7 deficit against Massillon’s second and third units, perhaps a billion‑and‑one. In this case, the Tigers won only after Barberton running back Jim Ferguson scored three touchdowns on short sweeps in the final three minutes of the game. The segment left the Tigers with two key injuries.
“Our guys played like little tigers,” said elated Barberton head coach Don Ault, whose assistants were telling the players, “We’re going 8‑2! We’re going 8‑2!” in the background. The loss dropped the Magics to 2‑2.
Massillon Tiger fans began seeking the path back to S. R. 241 soon after senior tailback Jerome Myricks capped the latest of his spectacular nights, sweeping right and breaking tackles until he broke clear along the sideline and finished off a 43‑yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half.
The run was at once a comment on Myricks’ ability and on the domination the Tiger first string imposed on the Magics. Sprawled flat either by textbook blocks or tackles broken by Myricks were Barberton defenders at the 47, 40, 35 and 30 yard lines. At the end of the connect‑the‑dots run, Lee Hurst booted a P.A.T. kick and the Tigers led 34‑7.
Myricks, a 5‑11, 181‑pounder with 4.5 40 speed and a rare slithering sense that makes tacklers miss, also scored on runs of 34 and 54 yards en route to rushing 190 yards in just 10 carries.
The Tigers won their third straight game, heading into Friday’s grudge match against Austintown‑Fitch, and improved to 3‑1. In the four games, Myricks has rushed 51 times for 466 yards at a science‑fiction 9.1 per carry. He has scored nine touchdowns, seven on the ground and two on passes.
Opponents are starting to look at Myricks and say, “Phone home, Jerome.” Except for sporadic bouts with the dreaded fumblitis, he’s been out of this world.
Ault, Barberton’s 57‑year‑old, first‑year head coach, called Myricks one of the nation’s best high school backs. And then he called attention to the fact the Tigers substituted with their second and third units after it was 34‑7.
“I want to thank Massillon and Coach Maronto for what they did for us,” Ault said. “That’s nothing but a classy operation.” Translation: Ault was elated his team could avoid a demoralizing blowout.
Myricks’ final touchdown lifted Massillon’s edge in net offense to 303‑92 at that point of the game.
“We asked our second and third teams to hold the lead,” Maronto said. “Some strange things happened, but they did hold the lead.”
In a bit of foreshadowing, four of the first eight plays of the fourth quarter resulted in one team recovering the other team’s fumble. The latter three fumbles occurred consecutively, and the last was Magic fullback Pat Robertson’s bobble that gave the Tigers possession at midfield. After three plays and a punt. Barberton took over at its own with seven minutes left in the game.
One of an endless stream of flags (the Tigers were penalized 14 times for 106 yards; the Magics lost 96 yards on 11 infractions) advanced the ball to midfield on an illegal block. Scrappy little Barberton quarterback Butch Momchilov, ineffective to that point, suddenly got hot. The 5‑foot‑10 junior delivered a strike over the middle to 6‑2 senior Jim Bell, who was tackled on the 6.
On the next play, Ferguson, a 6‑foot speedball, sprinted around left end and went untouched into the left corner of the end zone. Dan Dimick’s kick made it 34‑14, but only 2:53 remained.
Seconds later the Magics regained possession on a fumble 32 yards away from the goal line. Momchilov quickly passed over the middle again, this time to Ferguson at the 9. At that point, the Tigers sent their first unit back on the field.
But Ferguson scored again anyway on the same play that had got him the previous touchdown. Again he easily found the left corner of the end zone.
It was a costly play for the Tigers. Co‑captain John Miller, who had checked back into the game at inside linebacker, re‑injured a sprained ankle that sidelined him during much of the pre‑season. “It looks like John’s ankle is going to keep him out a while,” Maronto said solemnly. Attendants formed a human seat to carry Miller off the field. Dimick then kicked another P.A.T. and it was 34‑21 with 1: 37 left.
The Magics’ luck hadn’t run out. Barberton sophomore Mark Jung dove on the ensuing onside kick, which had squibbed all the way to the Massillon 36‑yard line. Momchilov again heaved a bomb over the middle to Ferguson, who caught the ball at the 5. The Magics called their second time out, then threw an incomplete pass, then turned Ferguson loose on the by‑now familiar sweep left. He scored again, Dimick made the kick ‘ and suddenly the Magics were within a miracle of victory with 28 seconds left in the game.
Barberton players turned to the few hundred fans left on the home side of the Rubber Bowl, exhorting them to get up and holler. Even though the Tigers got the ball when the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, and sat on it until the clock expired, the Magics hollered off into the night as if something wonderful had happened.
In the Massillon camp, there was concern over injuries to Miller and to defensive tackle James Bullock, who also re‑injured an ankle during one of the late defensive stands.
The Tigers had established their dominance early. Barberton received the opening kickoff and punted after three plays. Massillon unleashed several of its weapons on a 10‑play, 75‑yard touchdown march. Runs by Myricks, Stafford and Vernon Riley and passes from quarterback Erik White to Wrentie Martin and Gerald Pope systematically moved the ball from the Tiger 30 to the Magics’ 34.
The Tigers were so confident they could move the ball that they went for it on fourth and inches from their own 39. White sneaked for the first down. On second down from the 34, Myricks followed fine blocking on an apparent 10‑yard gain up the middle. But using his surprising power, he exploded out of a three man pack to streak into the right corner of the end zone. The point‑after kick failed and it was 6‑0.
The Tigers forced another punt then had to punt themselves, but got the ball back when Magic return man Erik James fumbled. Jason Relford pounced on the ball at the Barberton 34.
White drilled a rocket into the end zone that Craig York couldn’t contain. It became fourth and four, when the bench sent in a play that worked beautifully, the old bootleg. Martin went in motion right, influencing the Magic defense in that direction. White deftly faked a handoff right to the fullback and tucked it in his gut while whirling around the left side. The 6‑51/2 senior weaved his way into the end zone on a 27‑yard run. A two‑point run failed and it was 12‑0 with 10:17 left in the first half.
“The Tiger defense again stopped Barberton on three plays. Massillon took over on its own 46 after the punt. On the first play, Myricks followed good blocking over the right side then popped outside to where he had clear sailing for a spectacular 54‑yard touchdown run. Lee Hurst’s kick made it 19‑0 with 8:23 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers would have had good field possession again moments later but Myricks, playing deep man on the punt, fumbled and the Magics’ instead got the field possession at their own 46. Aided by two personal foul penalties, they moved 54 yards in six plays, capped by a 4‑yard run by Ferguson, who started left on a sweep then made a quick cutback and scored easily.
Late in the half, the Tigers mounted another running passing drive that resulted in a score. They covered 63 yards in seven plays, with Miller, playing running back, bolting over from the one. Riley ran for a two‑point conversion and it was 27‑7 with 1:37 left in the first half.
Stafford wound up with another good night at fullback, gaining 78 yards in only eight carries. Ferguson carried 15 times for 103 yards. Robertson, the brother of NBA point guard Alvin Robertson, carried 19 times for 70 yards.
White completed four of 10 passes for 40 yards before being relieved early in the second half by Hurst. Momchilov finished with nine completions in 18 throws for 111 yards.
In Rubber Bowl games against Barberton, the Tigers lost 9‑7, in 1977, won 21‑6 in 1979, lost 26‑24 in 1981, won 38‑7 in 1983, and came from behind at halftime to win 30‑20 in 1985.
Meanwhile, most of the Massillon‑Barberton games played in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium have been Tiger romps, including last year’s 56‑0 blowout.
The Tigers now turn their attention to Austintown Fitch, which desperately needs a win after its 2‑2 start. Fitch leads the all‑time series with the Tigers 2‑0, having won in 1985 and ’86. Fitch’s head coach is former Massillon player David Hartman.
Asked about getting ready for Fitch, Maronto said, We have a lot of work to do. We have to reshuffle our thoughts a little bit and make a decision on what the best course will be.”
MASSILLON 24 BARBERTON 28 M B First downs rushing 13 9 First downs passing 0 5 First downs by penalty 1 2 Totals first downs 14 16 Yards gained rushing 320 202 Yards lost rushing 2 8 Net yards rushing 318 194 Net yards passing 33 130 Total yards gained 351 324 Passes attempted 12 19 Passes completed 4 10 Passes int. by 0 0 Times kicked off 6 5 Kickoff average 56.0 29.8 Kickoff return yards 24 29 Punts 2 6 Punting average 25.0 29.3 Punt return yards 5 4 Fumbles 6 4 Fumbles lost 5 3 Penalties 14 11 Yards penalized 106 96 Number of plays 41 61 Time of possession 19:02 28:58
Massillon 6 21 7 0 34 Barberton 0 7 0 21 28
First quarter M ‑ Myricks 34 run (kick failed) 5:51. Drive covered 75 yards in 10 plays. Second quarter M ‑ White 27 run (pass failed) 10:17. Drive covered 33 yards in 4 plays. M ‑ Myricks 54 run (Hurst kick) 8:23. Drive covered 54 yards in 1 play. B ‑ Ferguson 4 run (Dimick kick) 4:26. Drive covered 54 yards in 6 plays. M ‑ Miller 1 run (Riley run) 1:37. Drive covered 63 yards in 7 plays. Third quarter M ‑ Myricks 43 run (Hurst kick) 10:57. Drive covered 63 yards in 3 plays. Fourth quarter B ‑ Ferguson 6 run (Dimick kick) 2:53. Drive covered 81 yards in 10 plays. B ‑ Ferguson 9 run (Dimick kick) 1:37. Drive covered 32 yards In 2 plays. B ‑ Ferguson 5 run (Dimick kick) 0:28. Drive covered 36 yards In 5 plays.
A blowout … a washout Tigers’ 56‑0 win called early in fourth quarter
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Gotta hand it to ya’, Koontzie. That was better than Art Modell’s postgame fireworks stuff.
Hey, this one was during the game, such as it was, a 56‑0 Massillon Tiger tirade against Barberton that was mercifully waved off Friday after three quarters and some small change and a lot of Bart Letcavits.
“Weatherman Mark Koontz,” P.A. announcer Walt Bronczek was saying along about the time a wind that would have seared the bloomers off Auntie Em kicked up, “tells us dangerous lightning and heavy rains are heading this way from the north.”
At that point midway through the third quarter, most folks among a crowd of 8,621 in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium did a fly pattern to the parking lot. The crowd included weather sleuth Koontz, a ’65 Washington High grad and currently Dick Goddard’s No. 1 caddy at Channel 8, up north.
The rains and the lightning came, as predicted, but long after Barberton’s chances had vamoosed.
It was 42‑0 at halftime, and even though Barberton claims the nickname Magics, Houdini himself wouldn’t have had a prayer in the second half. As lightning cracked and rain poured crazily down, referee Dick Szink called head coaches John Maronto of Massillon and Jack Foltz of Barberton to midfield, where all parties agreed to call it a night with 10: 08 left in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good decision,” said Foltz, whose team was outgained 339‑10 in total yardage, numbers you wouldn’t have expected in a battle of teams that entered with 3‑1 records.
“We‑weren’t doing anything, and we weren’t about to put the ball up. It was over. We just crapped down our legs.”
As for Maronto, it was a night for singin’ in the rain. Well, humming, maybe.
“We can’t spend too much time praising ourselves,” the Tiger tutor said, “We play at Fitch next week, and they’re a very tough team.
“We only got to play three quarters tonight, and really, who would have expected this? Never in a million years…”
Well, never in a few years, anyway. The Tigers have a history of burying Barberton (43‑0 in 1982, 46‑0 in 1971, 90‑0 in 1959). But the Magics often play Massillon tough (they beat the Tigers 26‑24 in 1981 and 9‑7 in 1977) and the Tigers were coming off a wrenching 9‑7 loss to GlenOak.
As it worked out, the orange and black washed that loss right out of their hair.
The game was called shortly after Shannon Dryden plowed into the end zone from three yards out to make it 53‑0 at the 10:43 mark of the fourth quarter, amid thundershowers.
“We like the rain,” Dryden said. “It was kinda fun playing in that. Something new.”
Letcavits had his fun in the first half.
Early in the first quarter, he ran a “waggle pattern” right past speedy cornerback Jim Ferguson. Junior quarterback John Miller delivered a strike to a wide‑open Letcavits in the right corner of the end zone for a 33‑yard touchdown play.
That capped the game’s opening series, in which the Tigers got Barberton “thinking run” with seven straight rushes.
Moments later, Letcavits hustled under a short punt at the 40 and returned it 23 yards to the Barberton 17. That set up a 4‑yard touchdown run by tailback Jerome Myricks, who finished the half ‑ and the game ‑ with 87 yards in 11 carries and two touchdowns.
The sky was dry, but the floodgates were open ‑ the Tigers went on to outgain the Magics 243 to minus‑two in first‑half yardage.
The next touchdown was set up by Myricks’ 44‑yard run around the right side. That put the ball on the 7, from where Myricks took it over the left side on the next play for a TD. The PAT kick sailed wide and it was 20‑0 with 8:26 left in the half.
The Magics stalled on three plays and were hit with a safety when the long snap sailed high over punter Brian James’ head, and he had to smother the ball in the end zone. It was 22‑0 at the 6:22 mark.
Barberton then punted to Letcavits, who made a nice return to midfield. A rushing play netted nothing, then Miller uncorked another bomb to Letcavits, who had streaked open over the middle. The pass looked too long, but the 5‑11 senior made a spectacular fingertip catch while doing a belly‑smacker at the 1. Letcavits drew a spontaneous standing ovation as he left the field. Miller scored on a quarterback sneak on the next play and Lee Hurst’s kick made it 29‑0 at the 5:13 mark.
It took the Tigers 28 seconds to score again … when senior cornerback Matt Swank bolted in front of Barberton tight end Dan Cuckler, stole sophomore quarterback, Butch Momilov’s short pass and raced 48 yards down easy street for a TD. Hurst’s kick made it 36‑0.
Barberton went nowhere again and had to punt. It appeared the half would run out with no more damage to the Magics when Miller was under a heavy rush with time running out in the half. However, he scrambled out of trouble and took off over the middle … but lost the ball at the 23‑yard line. Letcavits was in the neighborhood, picked up the pigskin and raced in for another TD that beat the halftime gun by 13 seconds.
It wasn’t the first big night for a Letcavits in Tiger Stadium. Bart’s father, Jim, a veteran Tiger coach, was an All‑Ohio end at Massillon in 1953.
But what a night.
“It doesn’t hit me that heavy right now,” Letcavits said. “Really, it just seemed like another game. The main thing is that the team came out and executed the plays on offense and defense.”
It was a big night for Swank, too.
“I came here from GlenOak after my sophomore year, and it crushed me ‑ it crushed everybody on the team ‑ to lose to GlenOak last week,” Swank said. “This was a great way to come back. Our defense came in and right off the bat we intimidated them. Early in the game, after some of our plays were working pretty well, you could tell by looking in their eyes that they didn’t want to play us any more.”
Dryden said the Tigers quit thinking about GlenOak early in the week.
“When we came back to practice Monday everybody was quiet in the locker room,” Dryden said. “Coach Maronto came in and told us we just had to drop our feelings about GlenOak and get on with things. He was right. We’d put so much effort into this season that there was no point in letting one loss bother us any more.”
In‑the end, the Tigers led 339-10 in total yardage. Barberton had the ball for only 14 minutes, 31 seconds. Other than a first half series that followed a Barberton fumble recovery near midfield, the Magics never got the ball past their own 26‑yard line.
The Tigers so completely dominated the game that it’s hard to imagine what the 90‑0 contest in 1959 must have been like.
But one thing bothered Maronto. The Tigers fumbled five times, losing the ball once, all before it rained.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Maronto said. “If we fumble it five times against Fitch, we’ll get our butts blown out.
“We just need to perform with consistency no matter who our opponent is. Our opponent should be ‘X.’ Our job is to execute our plays. We’ve done that four weeks out of five.”
As top individual statistics, nine different Tigers carried the ball. Fullback Mike Norris traveled 75 yards in nine carries and scored a third‑quarter touchdown. Miller picked up 40 yards in four totes.
Miller completed three passes in five attempts for 91 yards. Senior Ken Hawkins, a 6‑8 tight end, got his first catch of the season. Backup quarterback Erik White started the second half. He tried only one pass, though.
Ferguson, Barberton’s speedy running back, gained 20 yards in 13 carries. Momchilov completed two of 15 passes for three yards. Plays that lost yardage were the reason the Magics wound up with just to total yards.
MASSILLON 56 BARBERTON 0
M B First downs rushing 9 2 First downs passing 3 0 First downs by penalty 2 0 Totals first downs 14 2 Yards gained rushing 256 36 Yards lost rushing 8 29 Net yards rushing 248 7 Net yards passing 91 3 Total yards gained 339 10 Passes attempted 6 17 Passes completed 3 2 Passes int. by 1 0 Times kicked off 8 1 Pickoff average 44.0 46.0 Kickoff return yards 39 70 Punts 1 6 Punting average 39.0 32.8 Punt return yards 31 0 Fumbles 5 1 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 3 4 Yards penalized 35 41 Number of plays 45 34 Time of possession 33:29 14:31 Attendance 8,621
BARBERTON 0 0 0 0 0 MASSILLON 14 28 7 7 56
MASS ‑ Letcavits 33 pass from Miller (Hurst kick) MASS ‑ Myricks 4 run (Hurst kick) MASS ‑ Myricks 7 run (kick failed) MASS ‑ SAFETY, punt snap sailed into end zone MASS ‑ Swank 48 interception return (Hurst kick) MASS ‑ Letcavits 23 advance of fumble recovery (kick failed) MASS ‑ Norris 50 run (Hurst kick) MASS ‑ Dryden 3 run (Hurst kick)
Fabianich: “We’re a team” Tigers bounce back in Rubber Bowl vs. Magics
BY STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
AKRON ‑ Maybe Saturday night’s 30‑20 victory over the Barberton Magics doesn’t mean it’s time for fans of the Massillon Tigers to get carried away.
Or maybe it does.
“I can feel McKinley week coming on,” tailback Michael Harris said in the locker room at the Rubber Bowl, where the gleeful Tigers were bouncing off the walls.
“This is the kind of game that gets you psyched,” said fullback Derick Newman, who scored three touchdowns and hammered out 123 rushing yards.
“This is the greatest feeling,” said quarterback Paul Fabianich, who engineered the Tigers’ march to a 4‑1 record, the same mark with which Barberton was left. “We’re a team. We’ve finally come together.”
Just when it looked as though the season was falling apart.
The first half had the orange army in the east stands feeling blue. Barberton scored touchdowns with 31 seconds and 14 seconds left in the half to take a 20‑9 lead.
The pleasant autumn evening which drew 12,500 to the Rubber Bowl seemed to belong to the Barberton offense.
A rerun of 1981 was developing. That season, Barberton handed the Tigers their second loss, putting the season on the skids.
In the bowels of the Rubber Bowl, Tiger head coach John Maronto did a “gut check” while the bands blared away on the artificial rug outside.
“Coach told us to keep our heads up, and we had ‘em up,” Newtown said.
“We worked to hard all summer to be down,” added Wes Siegenthaler. “We knew at halftime that we had to come together and beat somebody’s butts as a team.”
The road back took most of the third quarter to bear fruit. With 3:41 left in the period, Fabianich sneaked in on first and goal from the one. Newman took a quick handoff and went straight up the middle on a two point conversion run.
Now it was 20‑17.
Barberton wasn’t dead.
A 40‑yard kickoff return set up the Magics in good field position. They made a first down as they crossed midfield. But on first down, Tiger tackle Duane Crenshaw sacked Magic quarterback Joe Underation, setting up a Barberton punt.
The boot pinned the Tigers at their own 15 with the third quarter running out.
Things didn’t look good when tailback Mike Norris was thrown for a yard loss. But the Tigers came right back to Norris on a pitch left, and he broke into the clear for a 55‑yard gain that may have been the game’s biggest play.
Norris’ run served as a comment on the Tigers’ depth at running back. Norris was in the game because Harris had suffered a hand injury on the previous series. Harris started the game because Cornell Jackson remained sidelined while recovering from knee surgery.
The 55‑yard gain was followed by a no‑gain play to Crenshaw.
The second and 10 pickle spawned another big play.
Fabianich rolled right and looked for split end Bart Letcavits, who broke wide open on a flag pattern near the right corner of the end zone. A well thrown ball and a lunging catch resulted in a 30‑yard gain and a first down at the 1.
Crenshaw flew into the end zone on the next play. The PAT kick failed, but the Tigers led 23-20 with 10:39 left in the game.
Massillon got the ball back two plays later on Ettore Scassa’s fumble recovery at the Barberton 41. The Tigers stalled and had to punt, setting up Barberton’s chance for a last hurrah.
The Magics took over on Massillon only punt of the night at their own 17 with 5:40 left. They needed three to send the game into overtime and a TD for the win.
Pat Boone, a speedball tailback, immediately rushed 13 yards to the 30. But then Boone was stuffed for no gain, and Underation threw incomplete.
On third and 10, Underation bee-lined a strike to Charlie Ries over the middle, but the ball hit Ries in the chest and bounced away incomplete at the 45.
The Magics had to punt, and that’s bad news just about any time Siegenthaler is on the receiving end.
Siegenthaler turned what looked like nothing into a 26‑yard punt return, and the Tigers set up camp on the Barberton 36 with four minutes left.
Tigers bounce back, win
Newman plowed for two short gains before taking a third‑and‑five pitch over the right side for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Todd Manion’s kick made it 30‑20 at the 2:34 mark, and those wearing purple jackets started a mass exodus.
They missed out on some mass confusion. With less than half a minute left, Siegenthaler was roughed up after carrying for a yard. He came up, swinging, touching off a wild brawl that carried on for three minutes.
“They were taking their shots, and one guy chopped me in the throat and kicked me in the stomach after the tackle had been made,” Siegenthaler explained. “I got up, and people were coming from everywhere.”
When the smoke cleared, the officials wisely elected to end the game even though there were 10 seconds left.
In the end, there was no love lost between the teams. The players were ushered off the field, but some of the coaches stuck around to shake hands. When two Barberton coaches refused to shake hands with two Massillon coaches, angry words exchanged by the rival brain trusts.
“It was an unfortunate way for the game to end,” said Barberton head coach Jack Foltz. “But these two teams have been meeting for a long time. Feelings can run pretty hot.”
The brawl seemed to heighten the ball the Tigers had in the locker room.
The noise was deafening.
“We made a couple of bad mistakes in the first half,” Moronic said. “But we stuck with the game plan. We never compromised, and we got some tremendous efforts.
“I knew that if we were going to be a good football team we’d have to show a lot of maturity, and we showed that tonight.”
Barberton lived up to advance bill as an outstanding offensive team early, driving 71 yards in eight plays for a score after taking the opening kickoff. A fake kick backfired, and the missed PAT left the score at 6-0.
Bart Letcavits’ interception set up a 56‑yard Massillon march that produced a 23‑yard field goal by Manion on the final play of the first quarter. The score stood at 6‑3.
The Magics then started on their own 20 but were stuffed and had to punt from the 10. Siegenthaler’s 16‑yard return gave the Tigers the ball on the Magics 32. Seven runs by Newman and Harris punched the ball into the end zone, Newman going in from the one. Manion’s PAT kick was wide right, but the Tigers led 9‑6 with 7:36 left in the half.
The Magics then launched an impressive, 77‑yard drive that took 16 plays and ended with a five‑yard TD pass from Underation to Boone. Underation’s kick made it 13‑9 Barberton with just 31 seconds left in the half.
Disaster struck as Siegenthaler fumbled while returning the kickoff, giving Barberton the ball at the 21. On the first play, Underation zipped a perfect pass to Ries in the end zone.
Underation’s PAT boot gave Barberton a stunning 20‑9 lead with 14 seconds left in the half.
The Tigers dominated the statistics, leading 314‑210 in total yards, 13‑9 in first downs and 284‑97 in rushing yards.
The rushing total was a reflection of the Tigers’ offensive line playing its best rest game.
The beneficiaries were Newman, who gained his 118 yards in 23 carries, Harris, who rambled 78 yards in 14 carries, and Norris, who traveled 75 yards in seven trips.
Boone picked up 69 yards in 16 carries and fullback Roy Ferguson added 50 yards in 12 totes for Barberton.
And now, the schedule gets interesting.
The Tigers face a four‑game home stretch against Austintown‑Fitch, Cleveland St. Joseph, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Perry, then head to Fawcett Stadium to take on McKinley.
The win over Barberton was electrifying.
But the Tigers will need to produce some magic of their own to keep their loss total at “l” when McKinley week arrives.
Massillon beats Barberton
Massillon outscored Barberton 21‑0 in the second half to gain a come‑from‑behind, 30‑20 non‑league victory in high school football Saturday night at the Rubber Bowl.
The Magics, ranked third in the Beacon Journal’s Division I‑II poll, suffered their first loss of the season after four victories. Massillon, ranked 10th in the poll, is also 4-1.
Barberton took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards touchdown on a 4‑yard run by Pat Boone.
The Tigers came back for a 9-6 lead on a 23‑yard field goal by Todd Manion and a 1‑yard touchdown ran by Derick Newman.
Barberton regained the lead when quarterback Joe Underation threw a 5‑yard touchdown pass to Boone with 39 seconds left in the first half. The Tigers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Barberton’s Jeff Graves recovered at Massillon’s 21‑yard line.
The Magics capitalized the next play with a 21‑yard touchdown pass from Underation to Charlie Ries with 14 seconds left, giving Barberton a 20-9 halftime lead.
However, Massillon took control of the game in the second half. Tigers quarterback Paul Fabianich scored on a 1‑yard run in the third quarter, and Newman rushed for two TDs in the fourth quarter. Newman rushed for a game‑high 118 yards on 23 carries.
MASSILLON ‑ Mike Currence made a plea for the defense Friday night.
“The defense hung in there, and that was important,” he said following the Tigers’ hard‑earned 25-6 win over Barberton at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“We wanted a shutout. We came close, and I’m proud of the way they came back,” the Tiger head coach said, alluding to last week’s wild 38‑31 affair against Stow, a game where the defenses rested their cases
“You can’t blame our defense for their (Barberton) score. If we don’t make the mistake we get the shutout,” Currence said.
The miscue Currence referred to happened in the second quarter when Jeff Smith failed to find the handle on a Barberton punt, the Magics’ Roy Fez Ferguson recovering at the Tiger 14.
Five running plays later and the Magics (0-6) scored when quarterback Joe Underation snuck over from less than a yard out with 1:26 left in the half.
By the time the Magics got on the board, they were faced with an 18‑0 deficit as the Tigers (4‑3) struck early and often.
Massillon, which has now won three straight, put it to the Magics right out of the starter’s gate as quarterback Mike Scott came at throwing.
Scott, who last week threw for 302 yards, attempted eight passes in the opening drive. For that matter, the senior put the ball in the air on the first four plays.
The Tigers easily marched into Barberton territory as Scott hit Bruce Spicer twice for 15 and 14 yards, Wes Siegenthaler for nine, and Irwin Hastings for 17 more.
The 14‑yard pass to Spicer came on a fourth and four from the Magic 20, and led to halfback Derrick Newman’s 6‑yard touchdown jaunt behind the blocking of fullback Duane Crenshaw and guard Jared Mayle.
After stopping the Magic on three downs, the Tigers took over on Barberton’s 49 following a poor 27‑yard punt for their next possession.
And if the passing game highlighted the first score, it was the running attack that was featured on the next TD drive, a six‑play, 49-yard march on the ground.
Newman, playing with a soft cast to protect a broken wrist he suffered two weeks ago, ran over and through several Magic defenders on a 23-yard scamper. Crenshaw then tacked on runs of 8 and 9 yards to give the Tigers a first-and-goal inside the 10.
Newman, who finished with 68 yards on 11 carries, then ran for four more yards before Crenshaw added two stripes to set up the second of three Newman TDs, this one from 3 yards out on the heels of a crunching Crenshaw block. A subsequent two point conversion pass failed.
It didn’t take the Tigers long to strike again as the ensuing kickoff eluded Barberton’s Mike Fields, ending in the arms of Chris Singer at the Magic 38.
Scott, ala Green Bay Packer great Bart Starr, went deep right away, connecting with Siegenthaler on an apparent 38 yard TD strike. An illegal procedure call on the Tigers nullified the score, albeit temporarily.
With the ball now nestled on the 43, Siegenthaler went 15 yards for a first down on a reverse. Crenshaw, the game’s leading ground gainer with 69 yards on 10 carries, then rambled for 14 more before Hastings was thrown for a yard loss.
Faced with a second-and-11 from the Magic 15, Scott rifled a frozen rope to Hastings over the middle with 1:43 left in the quarter for an 18‑0 lead. Another two point conversion pass was thwarted.
With their backs firmly planted against the wall, the Magics set out to do something about it.
Aided by a pass interference call and two key first downs on third‑and‑nine and fourth‑and‑three, the Magics found themselves with a first‑and‑goal from the Tiger 5. On their third crack into the Massillon defense, fullback Pat Boone fumbled after a vicious hit, the orange and black’s John Kroah recovering at the goal line.
Still, the Magics trailed just 18‑6 at intermission as they took advantage of a fumbled Tiger punt return.
If the first half belonged to Massillon, then the third quarter was strictly Barberton’s as the Magics had the ball for all but three minutes.
Following the band shows, it looked as if the Magics were going to make a game of it as they chewed more than six minutes off the clock on the second half’s opening drive only to come away empty-handed.
After then forcing a Tiger punt, the Magics promptly moved deep into Massillon territory once again. This time Brian Miller came up with the big play, intercepting Underation at the 1‑yard line.
“You can’t score if you don’t get the ball,” Currence said of the Tigers’ second‑half showing. “They kept us off balanced.”
Miller returned the ball 15 yards, and the revitalized Tiger offense went back to work, moving 84 yards in 12 plays with Newman scoring on a 3‑yard run. Big plays were third down passes for first downs to Spicer and Siegenthaler. Dan Kozma added the point‑after try and Massillon had its margin of victory in front of 8,681 fans.
The final minutes of the game found the Tigers substituting freely.
And now the Tigers must prepare for the home stretch against Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary (6‑1), Perry (6‑1) and Canton McKinley (4‑3) in subsequent weeks. ***** It was announced that former Tiger Craig Johnson, now a member of the Michigan State Spartans, has reached the final 50 in Wheaties’ Search for a Champion II. Johnson and the rest of Tigertowners will have to wait until December 31 to find out if he made the final six, which would put him on the cover of the cereal’s box.
Johnson is being backed by CAATS (Concerned about All Tiger Sports), just like Chris Spielman was a year ago. ****** Tiger cheerleader Meg Arciello was named Homecoming queen prior to the game. ****** Don and Anita Barnes were in attendance. They came all the way from Juneau, Alaska, The Barnes’ were in town for a 35th reunion and were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bonk. Mr. Bonk was the captain of the 1945 Tiger team that went 5‑0‑5, and he caught a touchdown pass in front of 60,000 fans in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium that year to tie Cathedral Latin. ****** The Tiger Booster Club honored M.C.A. Sign Company at halftime for 48 years of service. M.C.A. has promoted enthusiasm among Tiger fans by printing and handing out lapel stripes for free.
In 1937, the late Alvin “Dutch” Wampler founded the program, and it’s been going strong ever since. Booster Club president Bob Bushaman presented Paul Stoner, vice president of M.C.A. with a plaque. ****** Another former Tiger is doing well on the collegiate level. Steve Walterhouse was named defensive captain of the University of Pennsylvania’s freshmen team Friday. The cornerback sparked the Quakers to a 31‑14 win over Brown in an Ivy League meeting.
Prep gridsticks MASSILLON 25 BARBERTON 6
M B First down rushing 8 8 First downs passing 9 4 First downs by penalty 1 2 Totals first downs 18 14 Yards gained rushing 172 132 Yards lost rushing 2 8 Net yards rushing 170 124 Net yards passing 143 67 Total yards gained 313 191 Passes attempted 24 24 Passes completed 12 8 Passes int. by 1 0 Times kicked off 5 2 Kickoff average 42.4 54.0 Kickoff return yards 33 74 Punts 3 3 Punting average 38.0 33.3 Punt return yards 5 12 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 3 3 Fumbles lost 1 3 Penalties 7 5 Yards penalized 55 36 Touchdowns rushing 3 1 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 53 59 Time of possession 20:19 27:41 Attendance 8,681
MASSILLON 18 0 7 0 25 BARBERTON 0 6 0 0 6
M ‑ Derrick Newman 5 run (kick failed) M ‑ Newman 3 run (pass failed) M ‑ Irwin Hastings 15 pass from Mike Scott (pass failed) B – Joe Underation 1 run (kick failed) M – Newman 3, (Dan Kuzma kick)
MASSILLON – “We don’t expect this to be an easy task. It’s another year and they’ll remember last year.”
Mike Currence told the Tiger Touchdown Club Monday that the 1983 Barberton Magics are a lot different than last year’s version which the Tigers beat soundly 43-0.
“This is a very strong Barberton team,” he said. “Our scouts said that this may be the best offensive team that we’ve seen since Garfield. They know how to move the ball and they scored against Moeller a couple of weeks ago.
“In fact, they had Moeller on the ropes,” Currence continued. “The score was only 14-7 in the fourth quarter and if Barberton hadn’t turned the ball over, it could have stayed that way or gotten even closer.”
Currence said that the staff was dismayed when the Magics dropped their opener to Akron Garfield 48-7.
“We thought Barberton was going to be down this year, but then we found out how good Garfield was.”
It will be a veteran Magic team that the Tigers face in the Rubber Bowl Saturday night. Seven offensive starters return from last season, including quarterback Ken Rector and tailback Greg Butcher. Four starters return on the offensive line including tackle Ken Adams, guard Curt Rafferty, center Dennis Meachan and right end Mike Babbin.
“A season can make a difference with an offensive line,” he said. “You can move the ball better with a seasoned line.”
Defensively, the Magics have four returnees. Adams plays defensive tackle and Mike Keim will alternate with Joel Hurst at defensive end. But the key players are the two linebackers, — junior Bill Livingston and senior Dan Jones.
“They are the biggest linebackers we’ve seen,” said Currence. “They are the strength of the defense.”
Currence added that Adams and Mike Fields (split end-defensive back) are the only two-way players on the team.
“They play two-platoon football so most of their players can rest. They should be rested for us.”
The Tigers will be playing on a new turf at the Rubber Bowl, installed this past spring after constant use beat up the old rug.
Going back to the Gonzaga game, Currence felt that the defense played superbly, but the offense made some mistakes.
“Mistakes hurt us,” he said. “That’s why we didn’t’ score more. They put pressure on us and dared us to throw the ball. Gonzaga wasn’t a bad team. Their defense gave us some problems.
“We made enough mistakes for the rest of year on offense,” he said. “We dropped a lot of passes that were right on the mark and other things. Hopefully, we’ll work those out.”
Tigers hope ‘bowl’ magic is all theirs
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON – Playing Barberton in recent years has been no bucket of joy for Tiger football teams.
Only one team has beaten a Mike Currence-coached Massillon squad more often than Barberton, and than stalwart opponent—nemesis is none other then Cincinnati Moeller.
Moeller, a perennial state powerhouse, has beaten Currence’s Tigers in all three meetings. Barberton has two wins, like Canton McKinley, over Massillon.
The fact that Barberton went 1-9 a year ago and suffered a humiliating 43-0 setback at the hands of the Tigers, should be treated with disdain.
For one thing the Magics of this year do not resemble last year’s unit in any way. Barberton, which had an idle week, brings a 3-2 record into tonight’s clash at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.
“Barberton has just played some great football up there against us,” noted Currence about the Magics’ ability to beat Massillon in the Rubber Bowl. “They seem to get really excited.”
Although the road game will be the first for Massillon this season after six home frays, Currence doesn’t expect that to be any factor against Barberton.
“We’ve played scrimmages on the road this year,” he said. “Barberton has been a thorn in our side, no doubt about that. Why, it’s not even their home field and they play us tough there.”
Currence recalls the 1981 game when Barberton pulled out a spine-tingling 26-24 win at the Rubber Bowl with anything but fondness.
“We had that game won and a kid runs back a kickoff after we had scored to beat us,” he said. “That Barberton team of 1977 (which won 9-7) was a great football team; they had more Big Ten college-caliber kids than we did.”
For the first time this season, and for the first time in some while against Barberton, the Tigers will be at full strength. All-everything Chris Spielman, though, is still nursing a bruised leg, but is expected to see his usual share of playing time.
“We are going in healthy. This is one game I wanted to go into with a completely healthy roster,” Currence said.
“Our scouts think they (Barberton) have got the best offense we’ve seen, and for our scouts to come back with that type of report is something else.
“Our defense will get a real challenge up there, I can tell you that much,” Currence said.
One thing the Tigers will have to adjust to is the artificial surface inside the Rubber Bowl. Due to the synthetic fiber, Massillon will wear either tennis shoes or turf shoes. The Rubber Bowl has a ‘shoe bank’, but Currence said members of the team have their own gear.
Magics’ enthusiasm keys grid fortune
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
BARBERTON – Jack Foltz likened Barberton to the community of Massillon – places where people like their high school football nearly as much as they do weekly pay checks.
“You have to realize that Barberton is very similar to Massillon,” Foltz, in his first year of directing the Magics, said. “The kids are winners, and they want to win. They love to play football.
“If something happens in the community pertaining to football you can bet it’ll get back to me,” Foltz said. “I may be the last to hear about it, but I’ll hear about it.”
Folts, who is a disciplined class instructor, hopes he can take what he preaches in the class room onto the football field Saturday night when his Magics (3-2) meet Massillon (5-1) in the Rubber Bowl.
“Our kids appreciate what we’re (the coaching staff) is trying to do,” Foltz said, noting the Magics have rebounded well from last year’s 1-9 record. “We didn’t get as much leadership last season as we expected. Hopefully, we’re turning things around.”
Both of Barberton’s losses have come at the hands of highly rated teams – Garfield (48-12) and Cincinnati Moeller (28-7).
“Our kids just seem to get up for the big games,” Foltz said. “I’m looking forward to the same type of attitude for this one.”
Foltz said his Magic unit has been diversified on offense, mixing the run with the pass.
“We do try to mix it up,” Foltz noted. “We do have a good dose of passing and we have a good dose of running. We’ll do what we have to.”
Main cog in Barberton’s offensive attack has been quarterback Kenny Rector, who Foltz said is extremely intuitive. Rector, the Magic grid boss pointed out, ranks 15th in his senior class in terms of grades.
Barberton and Massillon have played each other 37 times, with the Magics on the short end of a 29-7-1 record. The first time the two teams met was in 1904 when the Tigers won 15-0.
Last year Barberton suffered a 43-0 setback, but since Mike Currence has directed the Tiger grid fortunes Massillon owns a 4-2 record over the Magics.
Only one team – Moeller – has managed to beat a Currence-led team more times. Both of Massillon’s losses to the Magics have occurred at the Rubber Bowl, by a 9-7 score in 1977 and 26-24 in 1981.
The Magics have beaten Cuyahoga Falls (13-3), Akron East (35-12), and Lancaster (24-13).
Tigers holding statistical edge over opponents
By The Independent Staff
MASSILLON – Heading into Saturday night’s Rubber Bowl game against Barberton, the Tigers hold wide margins of difference in team statistics over their opponents.
Massillon has totaled 95 first downs for an average of nearly 16 per game, while the opposition has just 46 total.
In total yardage the Tigers hold a huge 1,926 to 829 advantage. Rushing wise Massillon has 1,219 yards as opposed to 481, while passing favors the local unit 707 to 348.
The number of plays from scrimmage also favors Massillon 337 to 292. Average gain per down finds the Tigers at 5.7 and their foes at a paltry 2.8.
Individually, Craig Johnson is an offensive leader in three categories. The senior has gained 661 yards rushing on 89 carries for an average 7.4 per tote, while scoring 72 points and returning four kick-offs for 74 yards.
Senior Chris Spielman is the top punt returner with an average of 14.9 with 13 come-backs for 194 yards.
In the receiving department, both Bruce Spicer and Johnson have nine receptions. Spicer’s yardage gained stands at 130.
Quarterback Brian Dewitz is completing 48 percent of his passes, connecting on 24 of 50 tries for 442 yards and four touchdowns.
Punter Tom Gruno is averaging 39.1 yards per boot.
On defense, Robert Neff has two fumble recoveries to lead that category while Steve Walterhouse and Spielman share the top spot in interceptions with three.
Spielman leads the defense in tackles with 41 and assists with 23, but Neff is right behind with respective totals of 38 and 18. Gruno is next at 34 and six.
Johnson’s TD ramble of highlight quality
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
AKRON – If Massillon Tiger football had a highlights film at season’s end, Craig Johnson made a strong bid for squatter’s rights to the opening scene.
The 5-foot-10 inch, 185-pound senior displayed more moves than a belly dancer on a 47-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brian Dewitz.
Johnson’s razzle-dazzle TD scamper came on the first play of the fourth period of Saturday’s 38-7 win over the Barberton Magics at the Rubber Bowl.
“That was the best reversed-field run I’ve seen in a long while,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said of the spectacular dash. “I had already grabbed someone by the shirt on the sidelines to send him in with our next play.”
“I thought Johnson was going to be tackled,” he added. “I asked Craig if he was down and he said ‘No, coach.’”
The TD pass-run occurred one play after Cornell Jackson picked off the fourth Barberton pass of the game. On the first play following the theft, Dewitz hit Johnson on the right sideline near the Magic bench.
Johnson was hit, grabbed by another would-be tackler and spun around. Massillon’s leading ground gainer took it from there, running parallel to the end zone to the left sidelines and eventually to pay dirt.
“I was wide open, caught the ball and a guy grabbed me by the shirt and spun me around in the right direction,” Johnson said. “I just saw things opening up from thee.”
Johnson, who also gained 69 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, is a newcomer to Tiger football. He transferred from Canton Timken, and ran track as a junior.
“It was kinda hard at first,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t open myself up the way I wanted to. I already knew quite a few of the guys on the team from track last season.
Currence said Johnson has had no trouble adapting to his teammates this season, though he said the senior has made great strides in learning the system.
“The thing about Craig is that he gets along well with everybody. He has such a pleasant personality,” Currence said. “Nearly all the kids on the team have been under the system for eight years, and they know it almost was well as the coaches.
“Yeah, it’s been tough on Craig from that standpoint the Tiger grid boss said. “He was going both ways, but we decided to have him concentrate on offense. He’s a great kid.”
‘Not so sharp’ Tigers grind out 265 yards rushing in 43‑0 rout
By MIKE HUDAK Independent Sports Editor
So how good are the Massillon Tigers?
“We really weren’t very sharp tonight,” said Tiger head coach Mike Currence. “We were sharp last week against Newark, and its hard to be real sharp two weeks in a row.”
“Even the crowd was flat,” chipped in grizzled offensive coordinator Nick Vrotsos. “The fans didn’t get aroused until that bad penalty call late in the third quarter, and then they went flat again.”
The final score? The Tigers 43, Barberton 0, the proverbial “sweet revenge” for last years 26‑24 upset at the hands of the Magics.
The game itself wasn’t very exciting – the Tigers dominated from start to literally the finish. From a reporter’s standpoint, the highlight came afterwards in the Barberton lockerroom, when an ‘upset’ Magic head coach Rudy Sharkey seemed convinced that the Tigers had tried to run up the score. (The Tigers did score on the final play of the game, a seven‑yard sweep by junior Kirk Ivan.)
“No, this loss didn’t hurt,” he fumed. “Some other year, Currence will get his. If the guy needs points that bad, fine. Like I said, another year, and that’s all I have to say.”
But you can’t really blame the guy for being grumpy ‑ he entered this season with a .718 winning percentage in 10 years at the helm of the Magics, and this year’s 1‑5 start is bound to be a blow to even the strongest ego.
But Currence disavowed running up the score. In fact, it was only earlier this week that he told a luncheon audience that he always tried to refrain from doing so; it only hurt the opponent’s confidence for future games, valuable for computer points, plus aroused the victims for the next rematch.
(A final memory of the Barberton lockerroom: Sharkey’s devastated troops gathered around him; the coach bellowing the answers to reporters’ questions. “There’ll be another year, ” Sharkey grits his teeth. “RIGHT, TEAM?” “RIGHT COACH, ” scream the players back.)
“In the first place, the players called that final timeout late in the game, not me. Two, as far as I’m concerned, we tried to run out the clock. We ran the exact same sweep four times in a row, and they didn’t defend against it right once, which isn’t our fault. In fact, I was surprised that they stayed in the exact same defense all night; I don’t think they shut down one of our sweeps the entire game,” Currence said.
There was a final mitigating factor to the late score, incidentally. The player who scored on the jaunt, Ivan, just happened to be celebrating his birthday ‑ and as his teammates knew, what better time to score your first touchdown as a Tiger!
Neither team scored on its first possession. But the Tigers kept Barberton backed up in the shadow of its goal on their second possession, forcing the first of many short punts which kept the Tigers in great field position the entire night.
The Tigers began possession on the Magic 25 and scored in five plays. Bushe, who led Tiger rushers with 97 yards in 13 carries, had gallops of nine and 10 yards en route to the end zone. He then plunged over from the one with 4:40 left in the quarter, followed by a Bronc Pfisterer conversion kick.
Massillon didn’t score again until 3:51 remained in the half. Another short punt after being penned deep gave the Tigers possession on the Barberton 39. The first play from scrimmage saw quarterback Brian DeWitz hit receiver Jim Geiser with a 21‑yard pass to the 18. Four plays later Chris Spielman pounded over from the one, with the kick no good. Tigers see five backs tally The ensuing kick went into the end zone and on the first play from scrimmage, junior Ken Rector’s pass was picked off by Marcell Stephens, giving the Tigers possession at the Magic 41.
This time it took the Tigers six plays to score. Fullback Tim Sampsel did final honors on a one‑yard plunge with 1:02 remaining, following a nine‑yard scramble by DeWitz. Pfisterer’s kick was good for a 20‑0 halftime lead.
The Tigers made it 26‑0 with their second possession after intermission. A 73‑yard drive began when DeWitz underthrew a wide‑open Geiser, who retreated for the ball for a 38‑yard gain, with a late hit moving the ball down to the Magic 20. Six plays later, DeWitz, dropping straight back for one of the few times all evening, found Bushe wide open over the middle for a nine-yard scoring pass. The kick failed, but the Tigers led 26‑0 with 4:57 left in the third period.
Massillon went on to score 17 points in the final period ‑ all following the contest’s most controversial moment.
Typically, Barberton was forced to punt, and the short boot sailed towards the Tigers’ Stephens, who plainly signaled for a fair coach. The Barberton defender ran right through the signal and smashed into Stephens while the ball was still in the air, an obvious infraction. But the official call was a fumble, with Barberton recovering the ball! The home crowd let out a long chorus of boos, followed by Massillon’s defense regaining the ball 22 yards the other direction following a 10‑yard sack on fourth down registered by middle guard John Franke!
The Tigers didn’t score with that possession, but the next time they touched the ball it was at Barberton’s 30, following, you guessed it, another short, wobbly punt out of the end zone!
It took the Tigers three plays to score this time, with fullback Tom Gruno rambling in from ten yards out with 8:33 left in the game, followed by a successful boot.
Barberton tried again, but its next effort resulted in a Bill Davis interception, and the Tigers had the ball on the Magics’ 30. This time the Tigers settled for a 27‑yard field goal off the foot of Pfisterer for a 36‑zip lead with 3:35 left.
But the Tigers weren’t through yet. This time Mike Galant picked off a pass, the Tigers fourth theft of the evening, setting up Ivan’s final score as the Tiger reserves pushed the Magics all over the field.
The key to the game was reflected in the final rushing totals ‑ the Tigers racked up 265 yards on the ground, Barberton a mere 54.
After the game, all the Tiger running backs pointed to the dominance of the Tiger offensive line, consisting of the likes of Ty Beadle, Darrell Strickling, Tim Sweterlistch, Charles Calhoun, Rick Hamit, and others.
“They just kept opening hole after hole,” said Bushe, the Tigers’ game rushing leader. “If anyone should get the credit tonight, it’s those guys.”
Now, it’s on to next week, when the 6‑0 Tigers will take on the invaders from Pennsylvania, a team from Sharon shameless enough to bill themselves as the Tigers!
MASSILLON 49 BARBERTON 3 M 0 First downs rushing 16 3 First downs passing 3 4 First downs by penalty 1 3 Totals first downs 20 10 Yards gained rushing 270 76 Yards lost rushing 5 22 Net yards rushing 265 54 Net yards passing 78 59 Total yards gained 343 113 Passes attempted 10 22 Passes completed 4 9 Passes int. by 4 1 Yardage on pass int. 36 0 Times kicked 7 1 Kickoff average 53.1 34.2 Kickoff return yards 0 74 Punts 2 6 Punting average 35.0 25.0 Punt return yards 3 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 2 0 Penalties 3 4 Yards penalized 45 51 Touchdowns rushing 5 0 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 55 51 Time of Possession 23:26 24:34 Attendance 9,096
Magics’ Johnson, Breitenstein star Mistakes hurt Tigers in 26‑24 defeat
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“God bless Melvin Johnson,” said a Barberton football player in the jubilant Magic lockerroom after their 26‑24 win over the Massillon Tigers Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
Johnson had just erased a 24‑20 Massillon lead by returning a kickoff 75 yards for his third touchdown of the game with 2:48 remaining, sending the Tigers down to defeat for the second time in six games before approximately 15,000 fans. Barberton is now 5‑1.
But Johnson wasn’t the only Barberton player who seemed blessed Saturday night. Quarterback Bryan Breitenstein hit 14 of 18 passes for 295 yards and three scores ‑ two to Johnson and one to Randy Usko.
Despite Barberton’s inspired play, the Tigers were their own worst enemy. Their numerous mistakes kept them from putting the game away early, and even aided Johnson on his kickoff return that won the game.
Twice the Tigers moved inside the Barberton five and failed to score, missing a field goal one time and losing the ball on downs the other time.
And a penalty on the Massillon bench for charging onto the field after Gary Conley caught a 56‑yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rick Spielman to put the Tigers ahead 24‑20 hurt plenty. It forced Tim Manion to kick off from his own 25, and that’s the kickoff Johnson turned into the game‑winner.
All in all, it was a wild and exciting game, with three touchdowns being scored within a 49‑second span late in the game. It was a game that left Barberton coach Rudy Sharkey ecstatic and Tiger coach Mike Currence numb and pale.
“It’s a fantastic win, a great effort,” Sharkey said. “It was a great ball game, I suppose the fans went nuts with that ball game.”
“I don’t know what to tell you guys,” Currence said to the reporters after the game. “We just got beat. That’s all I can comment on. I have no other comments I can make on this team.
“I thought if we had the ball with two minutes to go we could score again. But we put it in the air and it got picked off,” he said.
That was following Johnson’s TD when Barberton’s kickoff went out of bounds and the Tigers got the ball at their own 40 with 2:46 to play.
Spielman went back to pass, scrambled to the left and threw long down field where Scott Murphy intercepted the ball at the 21 yard line. Murphy is the player Conley had beaten on his game‑tying TD play.
“It was a hard game to lose, we had it won three or four times,” Currence said. “We could have won the game, let’s just leave it at that.”
When told by a reporter that it was an exciting game, Currence said: “We’re always a good show, unfortunately we didn’t win tonight. I hope I never see this place again until the playoffs,” he added.
With a 4‑2 record, the Tigers’ playoff hopes are almost nil. And with undefeated Akron St. Vincent coming to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Saturday, the Tigers stand a chance of losing two straight games for the first time since Currence’s first two games as Tiger coach in 1976.
It didn’t start out looking like the Tigers would lose this game, as they took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards in 17 plays ‑ all running plays ‑ and scored on a three‑yard run by fullback Greg Grimsley with 7:56 gone in the quarter. Manion’s extra point kick was wide right.
But the Magics struck back on the accurate arm of Breitenstein who kept finding wide open receivers all over the Rubber Bowl’s artificial surface.
The Magics traveled 62 yards in five plays with Breitenstein hitting Johnson with a 23‑yard scoring strike. Jeff Sharkey’s kick was wide left and it was 6‑6 with 1:48 to play in the quarter.
A key play in that drive was a 16‑yard pass from Breitenstein to Josh Ferguson. The Magic tailback had leaped high into the air to catch the pass and was hit hard by a Tiger defender from behind almost as soon as he caught the ball. He seemed to lose control of the ball on the way down, but the officials ruled it neither an incomplete pass or a fumble (a Massillon player recovered the ball). They called it a completion, and two plays later Barberton scored.
Massillon got a break when Johnson fumbled a Manion punt at his own 14 early in the second period. The Tigers drove to the Magic three yard when Spielman bootlegged for a first down on a fourth‑and‑two play.
But he was stopped for no gain on a keeper on the next play, and a high pitch to halfback George Roknich resulted in a fumble and an eight‑yard loss. The Tigers ended up trying for a 33‑yard field goal, but Greg Radtka’s kick was wide left with 7:28 on the clock.
Barberton then drove 80 yards in 12 plays with Breitenstein hitting Randy Usko with a two‑yard TD toss at 1:52, Johnson swept left end for two points and a 14‑6 Magic lead.
That drive was aided early on when Massillon’s Sam Clark was called for a personal foul on a dead ball penalty. It gave Barberton 15 yards following a 13‑yard pass completion game. Clark was ejected from the game.
Massillon put together a drive of its own before halftime, as Spielman came out throwing and found halfback Larry Newman for 18 yards and 19 yards. The Tigers had the ball first‑and‑10 at the Barberton 34 with one minute left.
A long pass down the middle to a wide‑open Bob Catlin was slightly underthrown. Catlin slid to make the catch but the ball bounced off his chest, incomplete at the three-yard line.
The Tigers finally settled for a 29‑yard field goal by Manion with 11 seconds on the clock, cutting Barberton’s lead to 14‑9.
Murphy got off a 19‑yard punt the first time the Magics got the ball in the second half, and the Tigers took over at Barberton’s 48.
This time the Tigers struck like lightning, as Roknich followed some great blocking around right end and hotfooted it all the way for the TD with 9:30 to play in the third quarter. Spielman bootlegged left for the conversion and a 17-14 Tiger lead.
Another Magic punt gave the Tigers the ball at the Barberton 45 and they drove to a first down at the Magic four with 4: 10 to play in the quarter.
Grimsley gained three yards to inside the one and it looked like the Tigers might be ready to apply the KO punch.
But Grimsley was stopped for no gain and Spielman got nothing on a third‑down carry. On fourth down, Spielman started moving before he got the snap, and his one‑yard sneak for a TD was negated by a five‑yard penalty.
On fourth‑and‑goal from the six, Newman was stopped after a two‑yard gain.
Following an exchange of punts, Johnson hauled in a 24 yard scoring pass from Breitenstein with 3:37 to play in the game. Sharkey’s PAT kick was short and Barberton led 20‑14.
Newman returned the kickoff 31 yards to his own 44 and Spielman hit Conley with a 56‑yard touchdown pass on the next play with 3:00 remaining. That’s when the Massillon players illegally ran onto the field. After Jim Bushe booted the conversion, the Tigers had to kick off from their own 25.
That’s when Johnson did his thing.
Following Spielman’s interception, the Tigers looked as though they would get the ball back one last time, albeit with 18 seconds remaining and no timeouts left.
In an effort to block the Barberton punt, the Tigers sent in all their fastest players. However, they sent in one player too many, and Newman’s return to the Tiger 40 was negated by a penalty that gave Barberton the ball back and a first down and insured their second upset of the Tigers in four years. They defeated Massillon 9‑7 in the season opener in 1977 in the Rubber Bowl.