Tag: <span>Buddy LaRosa Football Classic</span>


The Buddy LaRosa Football Classic

It began as a modest 30 x 30 square foot neighborhood eatery and grew in size to over 50 locations throughout the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas.  Today, LaRosa’s Restaurants employ some 2,000 full and part-time workers and are one of the most popular venues in the Queen City.  As a way of giving back to the community that supported him so well, Buddy LaRosa staged one of the finest high school football invitationals that Ohio has ever seen.

The event was held in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium on September 1, 1990, and billed as “Cincinnati versus the USA.”  In fact, the list of opponents for the classic was a literal “who’s-who” of prep school football, matched in the following five games (1989 records shown):

GAME 1: Brentwood Academy, TN (11-2), currently ranked No. 1 in the nation vs. Cincinnati LaSalle (7-3)

GAME 2: Berwick, PA (14-1) vs. Fairfield (5-5)

GAME 3: Massillon (10-3) vs. Covington Catholic, KY (11-2)

GAME 4: Mount Carmel, Chicago, IL (13-1), the 1989 Illinois state champion, vs. Cincinnati Moeller (11-3), Ohio’s 1989 state runner-up

GAME 5: Booker T. Washington, Tulsa, OK (13-2) vs. Cincinnati Elder (10-1)

In the opening game LaSalle upset Brentwood Academy 10-0 and then Fairfield beat Berwick 20-6, giving Cincinnati a 2-0 edge in the series.  Now it was time for the orange and black to take the field.

Covington returned an experienced team under 15th year head coach Lyn Ray.  In fact, the Colonels were 38-4 over the past three years, including a pair of state titles.  Massillon was coached by Lee Owens, who was in his third year as headman of the Tigers.  Considered as one of the top powers in Ohio each year, Massillon was coming off an impressive 51-0 opening week victory over Stow, which finished the 1990 season with an 8-2 record.

Covington struck first, one minute into the game, by intercepting a pass and returning it 35 yards for touchdown.  On their second attempt, the Tigers stalled at their own 25 and were faced with a punt situation.  Only it was a fake.  Up man Troy Burick took a direct snap and tossed a flair pass to Travis McGuire, who had adjusted his position to the outside.  McGuire gathered the ball and raced 20 yards for a first down.  From there, the Tigers drove to the end zone, with James McCullough scoring from the three.  The PAT failed, but the gap was closed to 7-6.

In the second quarter Massillon began to take control, with touchdowns by Quarterback Barry Shertzer and McGuire, putting the Tigers up a halftime, 18-7.

Covington scored in the 3rd to close the deficit to four points, but the Tigers exploded for 21 points late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.  First Shertzer went over from the 15 following a recovered fumble.  Then Falando Ashcraft tallied from 35 yards out.  Finally, Scott Karenbauer returned a punt 77 yards for a TD to ice the game.  Ryan John converted all three PATs.  All of this occurred in less than two minutes of play.

The Tigers ended up completely dominating the Colonels in the stats department, leading in total yards, 369-111.  On top of that, Ashcraft had a career day, rushing 28 times for 190 yards and was named the game’s MVP.  It made for a great ride home from Cincinnati.

In the late games, Mount Carmel bested Moeller 20-7, and Booker T. Washington turned back Elder 21-9, giving USA the edge, 3-2.

Covington Catholic finished 9-1 that year, winning a District championship, while Massillon ended up 8-3, losing to Sandusky in the playoff regional finals.  But this victory and rest of the season would set the stage for a greater 1991 season to follow.

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1990: Massillon 39, Covington Catholic, KY 14

Tigers beat ‘best team in Kentucky’

Tigers play like kings of the Jungle

Fourth ‑ down savvy, fourth‑quarter scoring flurry give Tigers 39‑14 win

Independent Sports Editor

CINCINNATI ‑ On the First of September, in the second week of the high school football season, during the third game of the Buddy LaRosa Classic, the Massillon Tigers became kings of the fourth down.

It helped that they were kings of the fourth quarter, ripping off 21 mind‑boggling points, whipping their thousands of highway followers into a frenzy, and scoring a 39‑14 victory over the Covington Catholic Colonels.

But had they not first become kings of the fourth down, who knows?

Maybe they would not have been kings of The Jungle, the name Bengals fans give Riverfront Stadium.

Program Cover

A scant 63 seconds into the game, the team from the Kentucky town across the Ohio River, just over yonder paddleboat, had struck like an unexpected plunge into icy water. Covington Catholic linebacker Nate Roedig swooped into the path of a Barry Shertzer pass and returned his interception 35 yards for a touchdown.

Not only did the Colonels lead 7‑0. They stopped the Tigers on three plays to set up a fourth‑and‑11 on the Massillon 25‑yard line.

What the Tigers did next defied all the laws laid down by men named Knute and Woody and, for that matter, Paul Brown, who was Massillon head coach Lee Owens’ personal host the night before during an NFL exhibition game.

You might have seen a thousand games and never witnessed a fake punt in that precarious situation. But that is what the Tigers did.

Scott Karrenbauer’s snap went not to punter Chris Roth, but to one of the ”up men,” a “blocker” named Troy Burick, who happens to be a quarterback. One of the “punt coverage” men happened to be Travis McGuire, a running back with exceptional receiving skills. McGuire faded off the line to a wide-one spot. Burick flicked him the ball. McGuire raced 20 yards for a first down.

“Punt,” Owens pointed out, “is a four‑letter word. It’s like surrendering.”

From there the Tigers maneuvered for a touchdown in 11 plays (on Falando Ashcraft’s six‑yard run on fourth down). James McCullough went in from the 3, the point after kick failed, and it was 7‑6.

On Massillon’s next possession, Ashcraft rushed five yards on fourth‑and‑one from the Colonel 42, Shertzer gained three yards on fourth‑and‑one from the 30, and Ashcraft made four yards on fourth‑and‑one from the 8. Shertzer scored from three yards out, a conversion pass failed, and it was 12‑7 with 6:36 left in the first half.

On their next possession, set up by a Dan Hackenbracht interception, the Tigers again turned a fourth‑arid‑one into a first down. But this time the drive ended with a punt.

Hackenbracht came right back, intercepting another pass from sophomore quarterback Adam McCormack and returning it 40 yards to the 8 with 1:09 left in the half.

McGuire, one of the aforementioned masters of deception, caught a conventional pass from Shertzer on an eight‑yard scoring play that gave the Tigers an 18‑7 halftime lead.

Covington Catholic cut the gap to 18‑14 midway through the third quarter, and it stayed that way until late in the fourth period before the Tigers exploded.

First Eric Wright recovered a fumble to set up a 15‑yard bootleg run for a touchdown by Shertzer with 3:27 left in the game.

Then Wayne Gallion recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Ashcraft roared 35 yards for a touchdown on the next play.

Then Covington Catholic went nowhere in three plays, and Scott Karrenbauer weaved through tacklers before breaking into the clear on a 77‑yard punt return for a touchdown.

Ryan John converted all three P.A.T. kicks. The Tigers had scored 21 points in a span of 104 seconds.

Massillon’s share of the crowd spent the final three minutes of the game on its feet, rocking the stadium with noise.

”We don’t like to be in close games … we don’t like anyone to be close to us,” said Ashcraft, who was named game MVP in a media vote after rushing 28 times for 190 yards. “We started executing the way we should have been doing all along.

“This is great … this is better than the McKinley game.”

Ashcraft was clearly enjoying himself as he celebrated with teammates on the field long after the game. Before the Tigers gave way to Cincinnati Moeller and Mount Carmel (Ill.), combatants in the fourth of Saturday’s five Classic games, they united in front of their fans and basked in a long, loud ovation.

The Tigers out gained the Colonels 369‑111 in net offensive yards en route to a 2‑0 record.

“To tell you the truth,” Owens said, “I was not real concerned even when they made the game 1814 (on a 42‑yard TD pass from McCormack to Nate Cogswell). Their receiver was hit by two of our defenders and he basically just bounced into the clear. That was pretty much all the offense they got the entire day.”

Owens wasn’t wrong. Not counting the 42‑vard pass, the Colonels gained an average of 2.03 yards in their other 34 offensive plays.

“It was another great game by the defense,” Owens said.

The Tiger offense had planned to pick apart Covington Catholic with a passing game but Shertzer was not sharp, completing seven of 23 throws for 67 yards, with one touchdown.

“Barry was not his normal self,” Owens said. “Part of that is inexperience. Part was the tough man-to‑man coverage they used. One thing about Barry … he never gets down on himself.”

The offensive line got down to business and blocked large running gaps for Ashcratt and McGuire ‑ 12 carries, 52 yards).

“We used about all we had on defense as well as offense,” said Covington Catholic head coach Lynn Wess, who has had his team in the Kentucky Class 3‑A state championship game the last three years. “We had quite a few problems with their delay draw. They block it very well.”

David Wilson, the Colonels’ star senior running back, said the Tigers were a little bigger and a little faster. “They play good football.”

Chad Buckland