Tag: Canton McKinley

History

2008: Massillon 17, Canton McKinley 0

Tigers unrelenting in The Game

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

If a piece of meat is dangled in front of a hungry tiger, that tiger is sure to pounce on it. Likewise, the Massillon Tigers were hungry for a trip to the playoffs as they walked into Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Seeing the opportunity for just such a trip, the Tigers pounced on it, and in the process tore apart archrival McKinley as well.

With a nasty defense setting the tone, and J.T. Turner continuing his strong season-ending push, the Tigers rolled over the Bulldogs 17-0 in front of 16,935 fans at sun-splashed Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

It is Massillon’s first shutout of McKinley since a 7-0 win in 1982, and the first shutout in the series by either team since 1996. The Tigers have also won four straight against McKinley, matching the sixth-longest win streak by a team in the series.

“It’s just a ton of pressure taken off your chest,” Tiger outside linebacker Brian Arelt said.

That win, coupled with Lorain Admiral King’s win over Lorain Southview, pushed Massillon into the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Tigers – 6-4 on the season – will now prepare for a trip to North Canton next Saturday evening to meet Hoover in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

“Knowing that if we win, we’re in the playoffs, it put an extra chip on our shoulders for McKinley just to go out there and rock some heads,” Tiger junior tackle Jeff Myers said.

Myers and his offensive line mates certainly did just that, as they controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed J.T. Turner to rush for 208 yards on 28 carries. It was Turner’s only touchdown of the afternoon – a 26-yard run with 7:38 remaining – which salted the game away and sent most of the red-clad portion of the crowd toward the parking lot.

“It was special,” said Turner, who had a first-quarter touchdown run negated by penalty. “Every time I score a touchdown, they usually take it back. I saw that the first time, and then I got in there the second time, and I knew it was a rout from there.”

Of course, it wasn’t so much Turner’s running and it was his hitting which set the tone for Saturday’s game. On three of McKinley’s first four plays, Turner delivered the blow to the Bulldog ballcarrier, forcing a punting situation.

When McKinley tried to fake the punt, it was Turner there again, blowing up the play and forcing a five-yard loss. That gave Massillon the ball at the Bulldog 31, field position it turned into a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard Jeremy Geier field goal with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

“I just knew I had to lead this team to victory,” Turner said. “Everybody was on my shoulders, so I just led the team to victory. And we were able to come out with a 17-0 victory.”

The Tigers’ first scoring drive may have also set the tone for the kind of game it was offensively for Massillon, one which was mired with penalties and turnovers. An illegal procedure penalty on a second-and-1 play from the Bulldog 2 pushed the ball back five yards, and eventually led to the Tigers having to kick the field goal.

Massillon had another promising drive short-circuited by what amounted to a 22-yard illegal block penalty, one of five penalties for 70 yards in losses for the Tigers. That doesn’t account for the four turnovers as well, two of which came on fumbles immediately after the Tigers had regained possession from McKinley, once on an interception and another time on a punt.

Those self-inflicted wounds were a big reason why Massillon was only able to take a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, a lead it gained when Bo Grunder caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Robert Partridge with 6:48 left in the half.

“We were a little disappointed, because I thought we weren’t able to take advantage of all of our opportunities,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. I think walking off the field at halftime, I thought we took control of the game.”

And the Tigers can thank their defense for that fact. With the front seven providing the pressure, McKinley was unable to consistently get anything going on offense, a fact reflected by the 97 total yards it mustered in the game.

“We were just going to make a point that they can’t do anything on us,” Tiger defensive end Matt Rose said. “We just bowed up and showed them what we’re made of.”

A big reason for that was the aforementioned pressure Massillon was able to get on Bulldog quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky, who regularly found himself ducking and dodging Tiger defenders when he dropped back to pass. Ohradzansky was sacked six times on the afternoon, three of those in the fourth quarter.

By the end of the day, the beating he was taking was starting to show on the sophomore quarterback, who took longer and longer to get up off the ground with each hit.

“Personally, at the end of the game, I felt bad for him a little bit,” Arelt said with a smile.

But not bad enough that Arelt and his teammates weren’t celebrating another win over McKinley – as well as a return to the playoffs.

GAME STATS

Massillon 17,

McKinley 0
at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

McKinley 00 00 00 00 00
Massillon 03 07 00 07 17

SCORING SUMMARY
Mas – Geier 33 FG
Mas – Grunder 26 pass from Partridge (Geier kick)
Mas – Turner 26 run (Geier kick)

Mas McK
First downs 10 16
Rushes-yards 45-50 48-287
Att.-Comp.-Int. 7-10-1 3-5-1
Passing yards 47 48
Fumbles-lost 3-3 4-3
Penalty yards 8-50 5-70

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Massillon

Turner 28-208 TD;

Roberson 9-44;

Partridge 7-23;

Reiman 3-10;

Clark 1-2

McKinley:

M. Williams 31-97;

Wilder 4-10.

Passing

Massillon:

Partridge 3-5-48 TD, INT.

McKinley:

Ohradzansky 7-10-47 INT.

Receiving

Massillon:

Grunder 1-26 TD;

Mattox 1-16;

Clark 1-6.

McKinley:

Morrow 2-17;

Shepherd 1-9;

Wilder 1-9;

Powell 1-8;

Farrakhan 1-7;

M. Williams 1-(-3).

Records:

Massillon 6-4;

McKinley 6-4.

Tiger defense makes a big impact, early and often

By DAVID HARPSTER
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

It didn’t take long for the Massillon Tiger defense to announce its presence in Saturday’s 117th renewal of the Massillon-McKinley rivalry at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Actually it only took the first few plays of McKinley’s opening series, when Massillon senior cornerback J.T. Turner came up and laid consecutive loud hits on McKinley tailback Monterae Williams. The tone had been set and the Tigers followed Turner’s lead by swarming to the ball and attacking relentlessly in what was an eventual 17-0 victory over their archrivals.

“Justin set the tone early with a couple big hits,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “It looks like (Williams) might have some room to run and then, bam, Justin comes in with a big hit. Stuff like that really sparks a defensive group and I was a defensive guy, so I’m jumping around on the sidelines after that.”

Added safety Cooper Ivan, who summed up McKinley’s first series pretty succinctly: “We tried to come out and smack them in the mouth on the first play of the game and that’s what we did. It helped set the tone for the game.”

By no means was keeping McKinley off the scoreboard an easy task for the Massillon defense, as the Tigers had to contend with sudden changes in momentum after their four turnovers. Each time, though, Massillon was able to find a way to repel the Bulldogs by making a big play when it was necessary.

“That’s always one of our goals: No touchdowns in sudden change situations,” defensive coordinator Steve Kovacs said. “That’s something that you work on and you try to prepare for them as best you can. McKinley’s a good football team and they had some guys who we were worried about getting loose. They just weren’t able to get loose today.”

Turner kept up the heat early by following up his big hits with a rush that led to McKinley’s punter being tackled for a loss, helping to set up an early field goal. Turner then stripped the ball from McKinley’s Alaun Morrow following a short reception, a turnover that led to Massillon’s first touchdown of the game and a 10-0 lead.

But Turner was far from the only Tiger doing damage on defense.

Ivan flew around the field with his usual reckless abandon, in the process notching a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. If Ivan wasn’t getting to the quarterback on safety blitzes up the middle, then Jamison Heath-Gates or Matt Rose or Brian Arelt or another Tiger was making life miserable for McKinley sophomore quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky.

“The best pass defense is pressure, so every game we go into, regardless of who the quarterback is, we’re going to find ways to pressure him,” Kovacs said. “Our guys did a good job and we’ve got some good quickness up front.”

Once one Massillon player got his name in the sack column, it appeared to be an open race to see who would be the next Tiger to take down Ohradzansky. The McKinley quarterback become the Tigers’ own personal chew toy in the second half, as he was sacked six times for 46 yards in losses while also absorbing countless other hits from rampaging Massillon defenders.

“The entire defensive line, it was just like we weren’t going to let him get the ball off,” Rose said. “We all just wanted to punish him when he dropped back to pass. We just wanted to show him what Massillon Tiger football was like.

“We had him dazed and wondering where it was coming from there at the end. They were pretty confused about where the rush was coming from and all our blitzes were working.”
Hall chalked up McKinley’s general confusion on offense to Massillon’s ability to hide its defensive schemes for the most part.

“The defensive game plan that Steve and the staff put together, they did a great job disguising a lot of things,” Hall said. “I don’t think their quarterback could figure out what we were doing. We’d disguise some of our blitzes and we got some free hits today. Anytime you can do that, then the quarterback is thinking about where it’s coming from.”

The pressure not only resulted in four McKinley turnovers and the first Massillon shutout of McKinley since 1982, but also put the Bulldogs in numerous long-yardage situations on second and third down. McKinley was 1-of-12 in third-down situations.

“Not many offenses, at any level, are going to be good when it’s third-and-10 or third-and-15 all game long,” Hall said. “I thought our defense did a great job all game making them fight out of a hole from a down and distance standpoint.”

Tigers KO Pups, now look to playoffs

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

Like a boxer, the Massillon Tigers have been knocked to the mat more than their share of times over the last 10 weeks.

They have taken body blows, and haymakers; uppercuts and jabs. They have stood on legs of jelly and have looked out of eyes swollen and bruised.

Yet, they managed to get back up on their feet. Their most faithful fans never counted them out. And on Saturday afternoon, the referee lifted the Tigers’ hand in victory.

Despite all of the punches the Tigers have taken, all the stumbles to the mat, they have emerged on top. It may not be the mountaintop, but they can at least see it from where they stand now.

For the Tigers find themselves with a chance to play for the championship, a chance to put together five more weeks of inspired football. Seven days ago, that chance was on life support; on Saturday, after delivering a 17-0 knockout punch to archrival McKinley, that chance is beating strong as ever.

A team that couldn’t seem to shake .500 for most of the season has done just that, and finds itself in the playoffs.

“We just bounce back every week, win or lose,” senior safety Cooper Ivan said. “It’s Massillon-McKinley and it’s always going to be a good game. I love playing football with these guys.”
The memories of questionable officials’ calls and disheartening losses are just that now – memories. They now serve as a foundation from which the Tigers can build to be a stronger football team as they prepare to take that next step, which is the playoffs.

“You have to handle adversity when you play football,” junior linebacker Spencer Leno said as his teammates celebrated with family and fans after the game Saturday. “It’s all about how you handle it and how you bounce back.”

The Tigers handled it by not falling apart, not pointing fingers or fracturing the locker room. They pulled even closer together.

The team that found itself in a literal fight at a camp at end of the summer showed the figurative fight of a champion at the end of the season.

“We have that team now,” senior outside linebacker Brian Arelt said. “We’ve been missing that the past couple of years. We just have that close bond where we’re one big happy family most of the time.”

Even within Saturday’s game, the Tigers didn’t let the events on the field tear them apart. When the defense found itself on a number of occasions having to go right back out onto the field after one of the four Massillon turnovers, there was no complaining or criticizing.

Instead, the defense just took its intensity up another level, ratcheting it up another octane, as each minute ticked off the clock. By the end of the game, that defense had beaten McKinley into a state of confusion.

Yet, there was no confusion on the Tiger sideline. Only celebrating and congratulating among teammates, among a band of brothers who were reaping the rewards of months of work, months of blood and sweat and tears.

“Our team is close together,” said J.T. Turner, who rushed for 208 yards on Saturday, while adding a fumble recovery and at least seven big hits on defense. “We’ve been with each other since December, so we’ve just been rolling together. We proved it today.”

And like the triumphant boxer, the Tigers stood at the end of the day with their arms raised to the sky, pointing the way to the top. Now, they get to take the next step in the journey to get there.

 

History

2007: Massillon 23, Canton McKinley 20

Tigers work extra for win. Willoughby’s QB sneak gives Massillon victory over McKinley in OT

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

The track record wasn’t good for the Massillon Tigers. Four times in the first nine weeks of the season, they trailed in the fourth quarter. All four of those times, they ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

So as the Tigers entered the fourth quarter Saturday at Fawcett Stadium looking at a 10-point deficit, they had two opponents staring back at them: history and the McKinley Bulldogs. And they decided to disregard both, sending the orange-clad portion of the 14,642 in attendance home jubilant with a 23-20 overtime victory.

It marked just the third overtime game in the 116 meetings between the rivals. The Tigers have won all three – in 1988, 1994 and Saturday.

The Tigers would not hold the lead in the game until Chris Willoughby fought his way in from a yard out in overtime to give Massillon the win and a 6-4 final record.

“When it was 17-7, we knew there were 12 minutes left in the game,” said Willoughby, who said it was his first quarterback sneak attempt since his freshman year. “We knew we still had time to come back. We had to keep together as a team and play hard and good things would happen, and it did for us.”

The good things were mostly happening for McKinley in the first three quarters, starting with an 83-yard Christian Griffin touchdown run for a 7-0 first-quarter lead. The Bulldogs seemed to have the big-play magic in the third, when Jordan Evans hit Ramon Brown for a 23-yard touchdown for a 17-7 lead with 50 seconds left in the half.

Justin Turner would begin to turn momentum in Massillon’s favor with a kickoff return to the Bulldogs 41. A McKinley personal foul penalty on the play pushed the ball closer to the goal line, at the Bulldog 26.

Buoyed by the short field, Massillon made it a one-possession game on a 5-yard DeVoe Torrence scoring run at the 10:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Torrence finished with a game-high 134 yards on 35 carries, with a pair of touchdowns.

“Boy, you’re down 17-7 over here, it didn’t look good,” said Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team was tied 7-7 at half. “J.T.’s kick return was big. It was really a turning point. We were able to come back from that and score, that was big.”

Massillon appeared to see its chances disappearing when it was stopped on a fourth-and-1 at the McKinley 25. But that’s when the second good thing happened for the Tigers.

Faced with third-and-9 from its own 26, McKinley attempted a short sideline pass. Tiger cornerback D.J. Spencer read the play perfectly, jumping the route and intercepting the ball at the Bulldog 31.

All of the sudden, Massillon’s hopes were resuscitated with 3:36 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.

“I felt like I had an opportunity to get it,” Spencer said. “I missed the first one down there around the 20. I seen that (the quarterback) was kind of floating the ball, so I felt like I could get it.”

Massillon would get a shot at a 37-yard field goal to tie, but was whistled for a false start as the kick was going through the uprights. Moved back to a 41-yard try, Steve Schott calmly knocked the ball through to square things at 17-all with 1:10 remaining.

“I kind of knew after I made the first one before the penalty that I wasn’t going to miss the second one,” said Schott, whose fourth-quarter field goal a year ago lifted the Tigers past McKinley. “I was kind of in the zone there. My confidence was up after making the first one. I just knew that once I got the second opportunity that it was going to be good.”

McKinley struck first in overtime, as Andrew Gage – whose 37-yarder in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead – kicked a 35-yard knuckleball for a 20-17 edge. But the Tigers came back, moving to the Bulldogs 2 when Willoughby, with a defender in his face, hit Torrence on a swing pass for a 21-yard gain.

“That play’s worked for us in the past,” Willoughby said. “Coach Stacy calls great plays. That was a great call, and it turned out good.”

Not as good as two plays later, when Willoughby plunged into the end zone and set off the Tiger celebration.

Turner’s return is ‘special’ play for Massillon

By CHRIS EASTERLING

The Massillon Tigers had just given up a big play to fall behind by 10 late in the third quarter, and all of the momentum was swinging on the side of the McKinley Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. But as soon as the subsequent kickoff nestled into the hands of Justin Turner, the momentum shifted back more toward Massillon with each yard he picked up.

By the time he was forced out of bounds, he was at the Bulldogs 41. An extra 15 yards tacked on for a personal foul penalty against McKinley gave the Tigers the ball at the Bulldogs 26.

The Tigers would convert that drive into seven points, cutting their deficit to just three with over 10 minutes left in regulation. They would go on to force overtime, where they would prevail 23-20.

“I gave up a big play on defense and they scored off of it,” Turner said. “I wasn’t reading my keys. Then I looked at the clock and realized I had to go out and make a big play.”

That Turner did. Then again, Turner – and the rest of the Tiger kickoff return team – was doing that just about all season long.

Turner came into the game with 252 yards on seven returns, an average of 36 yards per return. As a team, the Tigers were averaging over 27 yards per return,

For much of the game up to that point, McKinley had kept Turner in check on kickoffs. The best starting field position the Tigers had until then following a Bulldog kickoff was their own 30 to start the game.

“I just had to be patient,” Turner said. “We’ve been returning kicks all year. It was just that time, I had to do it.”

While McKinley had kept Turner under wraps for much of the game, Massillon’s coaches felt like he was on the verge of getting free at least once before.

“We told him the one before, we said ‘You hit it too quick,’” Tiger special teams coordinator Jamey Palma said. “We said ‘Be patient and let you’re wall set up. Just be patient, find your seam and go.’ He just did a great job of being patient and making a big play.”

When it came time to make that big play, Turner did so. And because of that, the Tigers brought the Victory Bell back to Massillon with them after the game.

Torrence answers call for Massillon

By CHRIS EASTERLING

When DeVoe Torrence transferred from Canton South to Massillon last spring, it was for moments like the one he experienced on Saturday afternoon at Fawcett Stadium playing in the 116th edition of the Massillon-McKinley game. Once he got his chance, he wasn’t about to not capitalize on that opportunity.

Torrence gained 134 hard-fought yards on 35 carries, yards which helped the Tigers pull out a 23-20 overtime victory over the Bulldogs.

“It was wild,” Torrence said. “Just being my first time being a Massillon Tiger playing in the McKinley game, it meant a lot to me. We went out there, I stepped up, Steve Schott stepped up, I mean, we all stepped up. We just got it done.”

For all the big-name opponents Torrence faced for the first time this season, teams like St. Ignatius and Mentor, there is still nothing like the atmosphere surrounding a Massillon-McKinley game. But he wasn’t about to let that effect him.

“There were no jitters,” Torrence said. “(Tiger coach Tom) Stacy got us coached up and had us ready to play.”

The Ohio State-bound senior came into the game needing just 72 yards to top the 1,000-yard plateau. He did that by halftime, when he had 81 yards on 17 carries as the two teams went into the locker room tied at 7-7. He finished with 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns, after scoring a pair against McKinley.

“DeVoe is just a heck of an athlete,” Tiger center Blake Seidler said. “I give him all the credit in the world. He got over that 1,000-yard mark today, so what’s that tell you.”

Torrence did so despite the fact McKinley was attempting to key on him every time he touched the ball. He only had three plays over 10 yards or more, as he had to fight – like the rest of his Tiger teammates – for just about every yard.

“DeVoe’s a warrior,” Tiger quarterback Chris Willoughby said. “He has heart and he runs the ball hard every play. He did a great job.”

Not that Torrence and the Tigers weren’t used to seeing a defense keying on the run. While the Bulldogs kept Massillon’s offense out of the end zone on all but two drives in regulation, there was little they were doing differently than what the Tigers’ nine previous opponents had been doing.

Still, Massillon was able to gain 233 yards on the ground as a team.

“It was just a case of more guys in the box,” Torrence said. “That was what teams have done all year. They’ve just put guys in the box.

“It came down to who was going to be the most physical,” Torrence added. “We felt like we showed that.”

Torrence and Willoughby burned that defensive scheme for the biggest play of the game in overtime. After Torrence had been dropped for a 3-yard loss on the Tigers’ first play from the McKinley 20, Willoughby threw a swing pass to the tailback – just ahead of the Bulldog pass rush – which turned into a 21-yard gain to the Bulldogs 2.

Two plays later, Willoughby ended the game with his game-winning touchdown plunge.

“We almost didn’t get it off,” Torrence said. “Chris, he got it up there in time. I was just thinking ‘I’ve got to catch this ball.’ I just caught it.”

And the Tigers – and Torrence – have the win to show for it.

Spencer is latest Tiger to step up in big game

By CHRIS EASTERLING

Five weeks ago, D.J. Spencer wasn’t even in the Massillon Tigers’ starting lineup. Today, he is just the latest in a long line of unlikely heroes to emerge in the ancient rivalry that is Massillon-McKinley.

With 5:15 left in regulation in Saturday’s 116th installment of the rivalry at Fawcett Stadium, things looked bleak for the Tigers. They had just given the ball back to McKinley on downs at the Bulldog 25 down by three points.

However, Spencer – a senior cornerback – jumped an out pattern on third-and-9 to get an interception at the McKinley 31. That would lead to the game-tying field goal, and Massillon went on to get the 23-20 overtime win.

“My team needed a play, and it was clutch time,” Spencer said. “We had to buckle down. Coach was telling us that that was the time and the crucial point.”

Spencer hadn’t seen a whole lot of time through the first half of the Tigers’ season, as he was behind Kevin Massey at cornerback. However, when Massey was sidelined for the Buchtel game in Week Seven due to a concussion, that opened the door for Spencer to get his chance.

The senior has more than held his own since getting the chance. He hasn’t left the starting lineup since that game, even though Massey returned to action the very next week.

“He didn’t start for us at the beginning of the year,” Tiger defensive backs coach Jamey Palma said. “I remember it was about Week Four or Five, I had a meeting with him, and I said ‘Just hang with us, you’re going to help this team.’”

And he did.

“Right after the St. Ignatius game, we started playing him a lot more. He’s played excellent. He’s going to remember that play for the rest of his life.”

Spencer is just the latest Tiger to go from relative unknown to hero because of what he did in the McKinley game.

A year ago, it was Corey Hildreth getting a blocked punt to help set up a Tiger score. In 2001, it was Craig McConnell whose interception helped to seal a hard-fought Massillon win.

In other years, it has been a Victor Redrick or a Dave Sheegog. Whoever it is, they instantly become immortalized for making a play which turned the tide in favor of the Tigers.

“We’ve got great kids with a great mentality,” Palma said. “They never quit. D.J. is one of those kids. We were down 17-7, we needed to make a play, and he has a great mentality.

“They don’t think about the negative, they’re thinking ‘Let’s make a play’ and go ahead and do it. It’s great for him. He’s a great kid, and people are going to remember him forever here.”

GAME STATS

History

2006: Massillon 10, Canton McKinley 7

Win punches Tiger’s ticket

By CHRIS EASTERLING
Chris.Easterling@IndeOnline.com

Football isn’t a game of life-or-death. That is, unless one is talking about a team’s playoff life or an offseason spent wondering “What if?”

The Massillon Tigers didn’t fall asleep Saturday night pondering that question. They didn’t have to, after knocking off previously-undefeated McKinley 10-7 in front of 17,950 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium earlier in the day.

Program Cover

“I’m really proud of this group of kids,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “It’s really special, because they fought and they fought. We’ve been so close all year to winning a big game. To finally able to do it against your archrival, and an undefeated team, is big.”

The win punches Massillon’s ticket back into the Division I playoffs, sending the Tigers to Perry to face the 9-1 Panthers in a Region 2 quarterfinal game.

There was a chance – a good one – Massillon could have qualified for the postseason, even with a loss to McKinley. But, for the 6-4 Tigers, Saturday’s win was certainly a confidence-builder – as players puffed up their chests and sprinted across the turf to take the Victory Bell back from the Bulldogs.

“This is probably the best win I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said senior linebacker Antonio Scassa. “We beat McKinley and we’re going to the playoffs and we’re going to make a run. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

The record will officially state that it was Steve Schott’s career-long 47-yard field goal with 6:38 left in the third quarter which won the game for the Tigers.

But, the Tiger defense deserves a lot of the credit.

The Tigers forced three Bulldog turnovers, held All-Ohio running back Morgan Williams out of the end zone and set up both Massillon scores with big plays.

“We just figured we had to come out and play defense,” Tiger senior free safety Darion McGuire said. “The defense always says that we can win the game ourselves. No putting down our offense, but we know that they can’t win if they (the other team) can’t score.”

McKinley scored on its third play of the game, when fullback George Tabron ripped off a 23-yard touchdown scamper on a simple trap play. Tabron ran through a gaping hole and wasn’t touched until his teammates swarmed him in the end zone.

Zack Campbell’s extra point made it 7-0 Bulldogs with 9:31 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers wouldn’t give McKinley many more chances to score. In fact, the closest the Bulldogs would get to the Massillon end zone was the Tiger 35 in the fourth quarter, a drive which ended on an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Not that McKinley didn’t move the ball on Massillon. Williams, who rushed for over 300 yards combined in two games against the Tigers a year ago, looked well on his way to another huge performance in the first half.

The Bulldog senior rushed for 131 yards on 17 first-half carries. Because of Williams, McKinley took at least one snap in Massillon territory on four of six first-half possessions.

Williams found the sledding much tougher in the second half. He would only muster 29 yards after halftime on 12 carries.

“It’s hard to keep Morgan in check if you just play regular football,” McGuire said. “If you play off of your emotion and heart, then you can keep any running back or any offense in check. … Everybody just played with a lot of heart today.”

It was the Tigers’ ability to change the field position with a big defensive play that made all the difference. All three of Massillon’s fumble recoveries were made in McKinley territory, including one by Cody Colly at the Bulldog 47 which set up Schott’s go-ahead field goal.

“You can’t beat your sister if you turn the ball over three times,” said McKinley coach Brian Cross. “A couple of those were pretty good hits, but a couple of those, we just didn’t secure the ball. That’s the name of the game.”

But it was a big play in the special teams department which got Massillon back in the game in the first half. After McKinley was forced to punt at their own 45, Corey Hildreth swooped in up the middle on the rush and blocked the kick, and Colly fell on the ball at the Bulldog 30.

It was Hildreth’s second blocked punt of the season. He also blocked one, which he returned for a score, against Moeller.

“It was a totally different scheme (than against Moeller),” Hildreth said. “There was totally different blocking up front, so we had to do a totally different scheme. The blocking for our team was amazing. It opened the hole right up, and I just came right through.”

Two plays later, Bobby Huth hit Trey Miller down the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 7:21 mark of the second quarter. Schott’s PAT tied the game at 7-7.

“We run a lot of outs, quick outs and stop routes,” Stacy explained on the call. “When we get opportunities in the red zone, we like to go over the top some. People overplay those routes sometimes. We had an opportunity to do it. Bobby put it up there, and Trey ran underneath it. I think their defensive back slipped. That was a big play for us.”

From there, it became a chess match of sorts. Neither team could get an edge on the other – until Scassa forced the fumble early in the third quarter.

The Tigers took the fumble recovery and moved the ball to the Bulldog 27. But a sack pushed the ball back, and Massillon slowed to a halt at the McKinley 30.

That brought Schott on to kick the 47-yarder while the wind swirled through the stadium. But the junior got plenty of leg on it, and the ball – which seemed in slow motion as it sailed through the air – cleared the crossbar with a little room to spare to give the Tigers the lead.

“Right off my foot, I knew it was good,” Schott said. “I didn’t have any second-guesses about that.”

No doubt, some may have second-guessed Stacy late in the game when he elected to go for it facing a fourth-and-3 at the McKinley 27. A field goal there, and it’s a six-point game.

“We talked about it,” Stacy said of kicking the field goal. “The thing I didn’t want to have happen was them block it and have a chance to return it. If they were going to win it, they were going to have to earn it by driving the football against our defense. Obviously, our defense, the way they played in the second half, had a pretty good chance to stop them even if we didn’t get it.”

But the Tigers went for it, and the move paid off when Huth hit fullback Tommy Leonard in the flat for an eight-yard gain to the 19. From there, all that was left was the countdown to the playoffs for the Tigers.

Tiger offense makes good on pledge:

No turnovers

By CHRIS EASTERLING

Chris.Easterling@IndeOnline.com

The Massillon Tigers finished Saturday’s game with 140 yards of total offense. Or, to put it differently, 20 yards fewer than Bulldog All-Ohioan Morgan Williams rushed for in the game.

But, when the dust settled in the 115th installment of the “The Game” at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, the only numbers that mattered at all to the Tigers were illuminated on the scoreboard. Those numbers read, Tigers 10, Bulldogs 7.

“I don’t care if you win by a point in this game,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “It doesn’t matter. A win’s a win. I can’t reiterate enough, I thought both teams played outstanding defense.”

And while the Massillon offense may not have worn out the lights on the scoreboard, it did something even more important, something which was critical to the Tigers’ success.

It took care of the football.

“No turnovers,” Tiger senior Brian Gamble said with a smile in the locker room afterwards.

“No turnovers” was a mantra for the Tigers in the days leading up to the McKinley clash. That’s because, in the seven games prior to it, Massillon had turned the ball over 21 times.

But on a day in which the weather was typical Ohio – dreary, then rainy, then snowy, then sunny, all the while windy and cold – Massillon took care of the football like it was its first-born.

“We emphasize it every week,” Tiger senior Andrew Dailey said. “We talk ball security, ball security. People stepped up in the big game. We played to our potential.”

The Tigers struggled to get the big play on offense for much of the day.

The first such play came in the midpoint of the second quarter, after Massillon blocked a Bulldog punt and recovered at the McKinley 30. On the second play of the series, Bobby Huth rolled to his right, avoided the rushing defender, and threw downfield.

Trey Miller, who had run an out pattern, turned up field and got by the Bulldog defensive back. About the time the defender fell down, Miller hauled in the pass and raced into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.

Amazingly enough, that was one of only three plays which went for more than 10 yards for Massillon all game long. That doesn’t count a 33-yard touchdown pass to J.T. Turner which was called back due to a penalty.

In fact, the Tigers only amassed 46 yards in the second half. But, considering the way they were protecting the football, and the way their defensive counterparts were taking it away from McKinley, it was more than enough.

“We certainly didn’t play well enough on offense,” Stacy said. “That’s to the credit of their defense. I just thought they played tremendously. They have a tremendous defense. You just have to give their staff a lot of credit.”

“We had trouble moving the football period in the second half. I’m just thankful we got a pass there for the first down to run the clock out. That was big.”

As big as the numbers on the scoreboard which recorded the Tiger victory.

Bottom line for Dogs: ‘We didn’t execute’

By GREG KOHNTOPP

Greg.Kohntopp@IndeOnline.com

McKinley had already wrapped up a playoff berth and a first-round home game by the time it traveled to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium to face rival Massillon in Saturday’s 115th showdown between the two storied programs.

Massillon, on the other hand, was fighting for its playoff lives.

It would be easy to say Massillon just wanted it more, but don’t tell that to McKinley head coach Brian Cross after the Tigers’ upset No. 3-ranked McKinley 10-7.

“That had nothing to do with it,” the fourth-year coach said after his team fell to 9-1. “We turned the ball over, and we didn’t get the job done. We had a lot to play for, too. We played for pride, and that’s bigger than anything else. That’s what this game was about. It’s pride. You have to live with it for 365 days, so they had nothing more to play for than we did.”

The Bulldogs lost three fumbles and had a punt blocked, leading to all 10 of Massillon’s points.

The Tigers’ first seven points came immediately following Corey Hildreth’s blocked punt, which was recovered at the McKinley 30. It set up a Bobby Huth to Trey Miller 29-yard touchdown strike with 7:21 remaining before the half.

The final three points came after Massillon linebacker Antonio Scassa blitzed McKinley quarterback Danny Grimsley in the third quarter, chased him back 12 yards then stripped the ball. Fellow inside linebacker Cody Colly fell on the loose ball at the McKinley 47. From there, the Tigers only penetrated to the 30-yard line, but it was close enough for Steve Schott to split the uprights for a 47-yard field goal for the winning points.

“We had two turnovers lead to those 10 points,” said Cross. “That’s the name of the game. That’s what it’s all about. You have to give them credit for forcing those.”

There is no doubting how big of an impact the turnovers had. But it was more than turnovers that put the Bulldogs on the short end of the score. McKinley put the ball on the turf two more times and also had a muffed punt, which the Bulldogs recovered on their own three yard line. Then, there was the 2-of-12 passing for 21 yards for McKinley.

“We didn’t throw the ball well,” Cross said. “We didn’t execute and that’s the bottom line. We had guys open and we didn’t make plays. We have got to do a better job throwing the ball.”

If there was a bright spot in the defeat, it was how well the McKinley defense played. That unit held the Tigers to just 57 yards rushing on 40 carries and 83 yards through the air.

Linebacker George Tabron was a part of 14 tackles and defensive end Martavian Thigpen was also in on several plays, including a pair of sacks.

“Looking at the stats, I thought our defense played really well,” said Cross. “We held them to 40 rushes and 57 yards. You can’t play much better than that.

GAME STATS

History

2005: Massillon 21, Canton McKinley 3

Redemption at the Rubber Bowl

By JOE SHAHEEN

Call it redemption.

Call it revenge.

Call it … Massillon 21, McKinley 3 in front of 16,111 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron Saturday night.

Call it ripping your archrival and kicking down the door to the Division I final four as the Tigers advance to a state semifinal game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the 13-0 Eagles of Lakewood St. Edward. That game will also be played at the Rubber Bowl.

All of this just three weeks after Massillon absorbed a 38-8 haymaker from McKinley in Week 10 that left the Tigers wobbly but still standing.

Head coach Tom Stacy and the Tigers ended McKinley’s 12-game winning streak with an offensive gameplan that had the Bulldogs on their heels most of the night and an aggressive, fundamentally sound defense that just wouldn’t let Pup playmaker Morgan Williams break off the big one for much of the game.

“Awesome,” beamed Tiger junior safety Andrew Dailey. “It’s the most exciting time to be a part of in Massillon.

“We came out with a better plan, which we executed well. And then it was “Hit ‘em, hit ‘em, hit ‘em!”

Keeping Williams in check, after the junior rushed for 234 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers in their first meeting, was job one according to senior inside linebacker Paris McCall.

“That was our goal … to stop him and we did that,” McCall said.

Williams finished with 108 yards in 25 totes.

“McKinley embarrassed us the first time,” McCall said. “We had to come out and show them who the real Tigers are.”

McKinley came into the regional championship game having scored five touchdowns in each of its past five contests and averaging nearly 40 points a game in 2005.

That the Tiger defense held the Bulldogs to a single field goal was clearly the story of the game.

“Revenge, baby,” grinned Tiger senior cornerback Neal James, who helped limit McKinley speedster Joe Morgan to two harmless receptions. “Revenge is sweet.

“We came at them. We came at them. We just wanted to play. We played. Non-stop. The defensive line pressured the quarterback and Troy (Ellis) and I just stuck to them.”

Both teams’ initial possession of the game set the tone for the entire contest.

McKinley got a first down on its first snap when Williams gained 11 yards up the middle. Then Massillon battened down the hatches as the junior tailback was held to six yards on the next two plays and quarterback Dan Grimsley threw an incompletion on third-and-four, forcing a Bulldog punt from its 39-yard line.

Massillon took over at its 31 and senior tailback Lanale Robinson, behind a strong push from the Tiger offensive line, picked up seven yards off left tackle. One play later, Quentin Nicholsen picked up a first down up the middle on third-and short.

Then the passing game got going as Bobby Huth found Trey Miller along the right sideline for a 26-yard gainer to the McKinley 32. A screen pass left to Brian Gamble netted 19 more to the Bulldog 13.

On second-and-five from the 8, Gamble hit off right guard, spun off a tackle at the line and ran through another at the 5 on his way to the end zone as the Tigers drew first blood.

Steve Schott’s conversion was good at 7:08 of the first quarter and Massillon led 7-0.

It was just how Stacy wanted the game to begin.

“That was really important because when we’ve played well this year, it’s when we’ve come out and played well early,” he said. “When we’ve won in big games, we’ve played well early in the game.”

McKinley looked like it might take back the momentum as Brian Williams returned the ensuing kickoff from his 2 to the Tiger 46. But three snaps later – a Williams run and two incomplete passes – the Bulldogs were again forced to punt.

Massillon set up shop at its own 11. On second down, Huth sprinted left and zipped a short pass to Zack Vanryzin at the 20. The senior wideout carried to the 25 for a first down.

Huth rolled right on first down and threw back left to Gamble who picked up 12 yards to the 37.

Another Huth aerial, this time to Dailey, was good for still another first down but the Tiger drive looked to be stalled on third-and-seven at McKinley’s 49.

The Tigers, however, had other ideas as Huth took the snap, flipped a lateral pass right to Gamble, who suddenly pulled up and let fly with a bomb of his own. Vanryzin ran under the ball and carried it home as the Bulldog Nation wondered what hit them.

“Brian told me a couple of weeks ago, “I can throw the football,” Stacy said. “I told him we were going to put in the pass. We had just the play to do it on. It’s a play we’ve run a lot to him, a swing pass. It worked out great. Zack Vanryzin ran a great route.”

Schott’s point after kick was true and Massillon had taken just three minutes to cover 89 yards in eight plays, good for a 14-0 lead at 3:01 of the first quarter.

In its first two possessions of the game, Massillon had generated more offense than it had in four quarters against the Bulldogs back in October.

McKinley’s next possession was another three-and-out series as Neal James defended a long pass to Morgan along the right sideline on third-and-six.

The Tigers couldn’t gain on first down on their next possession but Shawn Weisend got off a 48-yard punt to put McKinley at its 30.

Williams then embarked on his longest run of the evening, a 31-yard gainer up the middle to the Massillon 39.

The Bulldogs worked their way to the Tiger 9 but a third down slant pass was high and the Pups were forced to settle for Zack Campbell’s 26-yard field goal at 7:42 of the second quarter, closing the first half scoring.

The Tigers took the second half kickoff but fumbled it away on their second snap of the third quarter.

The Massillon defense rose to the occasion as three straight Williams runs failed to net a first down, forcing McKinley to punt.

The Tigers marched from their 40 to the McKinley 26, thanks in part to a 19-yard Huth to Vanryzin slant pass. A sack and a penalty left the Tigers with a third-and-25, but the Bulldogs bailed Massillon out with a pass interference penalty that extended the drive.

On third-and-one from the Pups’ 18, Huth faked a handoff and found senior tight end Brett Huffman open over the middle at the 2. The pass was there, Huffman pulled it in and Massillon had expanded its lead to 21-3.

McKinley would threaten once more, driving from its own 2 to the Massillon 28 with over seven minutes still to play. But Troy Ellis intercepted a Bulldog pass in the end zone to turn the Pups away one final time.

“The whole team was angry since the last game,” Ellis said. “We just wanted to prove to everybody that we could hang with these guys and beat them.”

Mission accomplished

This page was created November 21, 2005
Copyright ©2005 The Independent

Huth at fore of rivalry reversal

By JOE SHAHEEN
Joe.Shaheen@IndeOnline.com

You’d be hard pressed to find one Massillon Tiger who thought he’d performed well against the McKinley Bulldogs back on Oct. 29 in Fawcett Stadium.

It was reflected in the final score: McKinley 38, Massillon 8.

Everyone – offensive players, defensive players, special teams players, assistant coaches, head coach Tom Stacy – felt as if they’d let the team, the program and even the community down.

And while it was Stacy who stepped up and assumed the blame publicly, saying he hadn’t done a good job preparing the team that week, every member of the team readily assumed at least some of the blame.

That no one was pointing a finger at a teammate, that the defense wasn’t laying the blame at the doorstep of the offense – or vice versa – speaks to the character Stacy has instilled in the young men who proudly wear the orange-and-black into battle every weekend.

They had won nine in a row as a team.

They had lost to their longtime nemesis as a team.

And no one in Tiger football program was going to throw anyone else under the bus in the aftermath of that devastating defeat.

But when you’re the quarterback, the one individual other than the head coach who is most readily seen as the leader of the team, you do feel responsible.

You do feel like that cross is on your shoulders, that the burden is for you to bear.

Junior Bobby Huth wears that mantle of leadership for the Tigers, though he was in a three-way fight for the job when Stacy took over way back in June.

Despite not possessing prototypical size or speed for a Division I high school quarterback, Huth won the job and guided the offense to nine straight wins by playing mistake free football and by making good decisions a the line of scrimmage.

Knocked out of the St. Ignatius game late, Huth bounced back in the 13-0 win over Warren Harding.

Harassed into a poor passing performance against McKinley in Week 10, the mop-haired youngster rebounded with two highly efficient performances in playoff victories over Hoover and Findlay.

Most figured the end of the line would be Saturday against unbeaten McKinley at the Rubber Bowl.

Not Huth.

He completely turned around his 8 of 18, three interception performance in the first game by completing 9 of 11 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers- 21-3 regional championship victory over the Pups.

“I played the worst game of my life, by far, the first time we played them,” Huth said amidst a sea of orange that flooded the Rubber Bowl field immediately after Saturday’s game. “I felt like I had to come out here today and play my best game. I didn’t play my best game but I played pretty good.”

Pretty good, huh?

After an incompletion on his first threw, Huth connected on six straight passes, using a variety of roll outs, sprint outs and screens to baffle the McKinley defense and put his teammates in positions to make plays.

He initiated the play that resulted in Massillon’s second score of the evening, zipping a swing pass laterally to Brian Gamble to set up Gamble’s long bomb to Zack Vanryzin that put the Tigers up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

And it was Huth’s deceptive play-action that froze McKinley’s defense for an instant just before he laid a touchdown pass in the arms of tight end Brett Huffman to all but put the Bulldogs away late in the third quarter at 21-3.

“We had a great game plan,” Huth said. “It turned us around. We came out here focused and we played great.

“We knew the first game was kind of a fluke. We came out here focused. We had a great week of practice. And our O-line really stepped up and play great for us today.”

Asked what was the difference between the team that lost to McKinley 38-8 and the one that had just shocked just about everyone outside of Massillon, Huth smiled, looked down for an instant and then spread the credit.

“Great focus. Great game plan,” he said. “We had a great week of practice and we practiced hard.”

And that little quarterback who is too small and too slow showed everybody how it’s done.

This page was created November 21, 2005
Copyright ©2005 The Independent

GAME STATS

Antonio James
History

2005: Massillon 8, Canton McKinley 38

Showdown turns into a mauling

By DAVID HARPSTER

The Massillon Tigers undoubtedly hope their next encounter with a Federal League team ends up much better than the last.

Program Cover

Massillon qualified for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs with a 9-1 record, but it was that lone blemish – a 38-8 mauling at the hands of archrival and Federal League champ McKinley Saturday in front of 24,242 fans at Fawcett Stadium – that left the Tigers smarting.

They don’t have long to recover, though, as the Tigers will host North Canton Hoover this Saturday at 7 p.m. in a regional quarterfinal matchup. The Vikings finished in a tie for second in the Fed and qualified for the playoffs by virtue of last week’s 10-7 win over Jackson.

Massillon will have to regroup this week after the Bulldogs manhandled them in virtually every conceivable area.

“McKinley outcoached us, they outplayed us and give them all the credit,’ Massillon coach Tom Stacy said. “We knew they were good and they certainly showed it today.”

McKinley got a standout effort from junior tailback Morgan Williams, who rushed for 234 yards and four touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 187-pounder broke off a 47-yard run – his longest of the afternoon – on McKinley’s second possession to help set the tone for the day. The play, on which McKinley caught Massillon in a blitz, took the ball to the Tigers’ 7. Williams scored on a 2-yard dive three plays later to give the Pups a lead they would never relinquish.

“We just happened to catch them in a blitz with that draw call,” McKinley coach Brian Cross said after his team wrapped up a 10-0 season. “That wasn’t really planning, it was more luck. It wasn’t like we saw something there and called it. We were just lucky. We called it at the right time and we’ve got a great tailback to give it to.”

Massillon’s offense, which entered the game averaging more than 38 points a game, was stuck in neutral most of the first half against a swarming McKinley defense. The Tigers went three-and-out on their first three series and didn’t record their initial first down until 5:33 remained in the opening half. By that time McKinley led 14-0 after quarterback Dan Grimsley hit Mark Jackson on a 21-yard scoring toss over the middle. Jackson made a splendid one-handed diving catch and landed in the end zone.

“That was a beautiful grab and we’d been trying to set that up before by cracking on the safety,” Grimsley said. “We ran a new play that we put in this week and Mark got open in the middle. He just went up and made a great play.”

The Bulldogs took the 14-0 lead into the locker room, as Williams piled up 192 of his yards in the first two quarters.

“Our line did a nice job, especially in the first half,” Cross said. ‘We kind of had Massillon guessing up front and our line really came off the ball well. Our running back was running the ball hard.”

A 32-yard punt return by Joe Morgan set up McKinley’s third score of the day, which came when Williams took a toss and found the end zone from 6 yards out to make it 21-0 McKinley with 8:40 left in the third quarter. Zach Campbell, who made all five of his extra points, nailed a 38-yard field goal three minutes later extend McKinley’s lead to 24-0.

The only offense Massillon got all afternoon came courtesy of its defense. Cornerback Troy Ellis picked off a McKinley pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown with just 24 seconds left in the third. A two-point run by Brian Gamble brought Massillon to within 24-8, but the Tigers would get no closer.

“I don’t think there was a key point necessarily,’ Stacy said. “McKinley just controlled things early on and we could never get into a rhythm offensively. We didn’t throw the ball well, we weren’t consistent in our running game. We just didn’t play well.”

Williams added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs, from 14 and 4 yards out, to wrap up the scoring.

Massillon was outgained 339-124, as the Bulldogs ran 70 plays to the Tigers’ 47. The Tigers were intercepted four times and turned the ball over five times in all. Gamble found yards tough to come by and finished with just 47 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Bobby Huth was 8-of-18 passing for 61 yards.

“We didn’t just try to take Gamble out, we had to defend their entire offense because Massillon has a lot of weapons,” Cross said. “We just played a good, sound game, got a little bit of a lead on them. Maybe that took them out of what they wanted to do and we were able to convert.”

In his first season at the Tigers’ helm, Stacy put the responsibility for his team’s first loss squarely on his shoulders.

“We just were outplayed and out coached today,” he said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with physical toughness. I just didn’t have our guys prepared. That’s pretty obvious … I’m the head coach and that’s my responsibility and we were not ready to play for whatever reason.”

GAME STATS

Antonio James
History

2003: Massillon 8, Canton McKinley 40

Bulldogs bottle up Tigers at Fawcett
Brinson’s four touchdowns key McKinley’s 40-8 victory

By JOE SHAHEEN
Joe, Shaheen@ I ndeOnline.com

You had the feeling the Massillon Tigers were in for a long day when they fumbled the first offensive snap of the game, then took a safety on the very next play.

Program Cover

It all pretty much went downhill from there as Massillon absorbed a 40‑8 thumping at the hands of their arch rivals the McKinley Bulldogs in the 111th meeting between the two storied high school football programs on Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

The loss marked the first time in the history of Massillon Tiger football the team has dropped five games in a row.

“Well, you know, that would have been a touchdown pass,” Shepas said of the game’s opening play from scrimmage which backed the Tigers to the 1-yard line. “Then we missed another touchdown pass. And we missed a couple of other open receivers. Then we had some interceptions, but that’s the way it goes.

“One way or the other it’s about making plays. They made more than we did today.”

in a tearful post‑game huddle, Shepas apologized to his players, saying he and the coaching staff may not have done as good a job of preparing them for McKinley as they could have.

“I thought our kids fought hard all season,” Shepas said. “We dealt with some different types of adversity and a lot of injuries.

“I’d like to apologize to the Tiger fans. We did not give them a good showing today and I feel responsible for that. One way or the other, I’m the leader of this program. Massillon is a great community. Our community came out and supported us in that parade. It was fantastic. It was just a disappointing day.”

McKinley’s 2‑0 lead held up through the first quarter. But even at that point, McKinley running back Ryan Brinson felt the game belonged to the Bulldogs.

“That first drive, when we got that safety, I knew it was over,” Brinson said. “When we got that safety, I knew we had their hearts.

“We were ready to play. They were scared. They had that sophomore quarterback and he wasn’t ready for this type of game. So we took it to them.”

Massillon penetrated to the Bulldog 22 late in the opening period but gave the ball up on downs following a delay of game penalty.

The Bulldogs began their first scoring drive at midfield after a 15‑yard punt return by Christian Smith. The Pups ran the ball effectively on their first three plays of the march, then junior quarterback Mike Shaffer used play action to freeze the Tiger linebackers and hit tight end Alex Rehfus for 20 yards to the Massillon 14.

On third down, the Tigers dropped a potential interception on a screen pass, and on fourth down Shaffer found Antwon Hight for 16 yards for a first down at the Tiger 2.

Brinson went over left guard and tackle for six on the next play. Zach Campbell tacked on the extra point and McKinley led 9‑0 at 7:11 of the second quarter.

Brinson picked off the Tigers near midfield on Massillon’s ensuing possession, then opened the game up by bursting up the middle for a 49‑yard touchdown at 5:19 of the second quarter. Campbell’s kick made it 16‑0 McKinley.

The Tigers’ second interception of the day ‑ they had four picked off ‑ set up McKinley’s final tally of the first half, a 22‑yard Campbell field goal that made it 19‑0.

“I didn’t think at any one point that we felt that we were going to be out of this football game,” Shepas said. “Even down 19 points I didn’t think so.”

But the Tigers never did get untracked offensively, finishing with 214 total yards, much of it coming after the game was decided. Massillon quarterbacks completed just 10 of 30 aerials for 130 yards.

“The plan that I had was to mix both Steve (Hymes) and Quentin (Paulik) into the game plan,” Shepas said of his quarterbacks. “It just didn’t work out. The idea was to mix up the shotgun run with the pass.”

They were confused on offense,” observed McKinley coach Brian Cross.

“Our defensive coaches did a great job with the game plan. Massillon just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Once they fell behind, we knew they had to throw the ball just about every down.”

Shepas admitted his charges didn’t seem to be at the top of their game mentally.

“I think we could have been more focused,” he said. “But it’s a great lesson.

“Hey, we’ve been on top in most. Sometimes you have to go through this to respect it and work hard to get back on top. We’ve been there before. This team has a lot of young guys. This football team is going to be good down the road.”

McKinley finished with a little more than 300 yards of total offense, but were presented with the short field on several occasions as Massillon’s spate of turnovers continued for the fourth straight week.

Brinson finished with 155 yards in 13 carries, including a 43‑yard touchdown scamper around the right side of the McKinley line. On that play, the 5‑10, 168‑pound junior was virtually untouched and he sprinted down the right boundary.

“I was running and Billy (Relford) was looking inside and I ran right by him so I just kept going,” Brinson said. “It was an excellent call by Coach Cross. I just ran as hard as I could.”

Massillon avoided the shutout on a 16‑yard Paulik‑to-Relford pass play, set up by three fine runs by sophomore Lanale Robinson late in the fourth quarter.

“We’ll be back,” Shepas said. “We’ll be back. We have a lot of young kids who have played.

“We’ll get rid of the distractions that have plagued us and get ready for the future.”

Asked if the brutal schedule his Tigers played this season may have sapped the team, Shepas refused to use that as an excuse.

“You’ve got to deal with it,” he said. “Bottom line, we played a playoff schedule. Our guys are not going to the playoffs. We’ve got to rise above it and that will be taking the next step. It’s all part of the journey.”

McKinley 40
Massillon 8

GAME STATS

Massillon 0 0 0 8 8
McKinley 2 17 21 0 40

SCORING
McK ‑ Safety McK ‑ Ryan Brinson 2 run (Campbell kick)
McK ‑ Brinson 49 run (Campbell kick)
McK ‑ Campbell 22 FG
McK ‑ Brinson 21 run (Campbell kick)
McK ‑ Goodright 1 run (Campbell kick)
McK ‑ Brinson 43 run (Campbell kick)
M ‑ Billy Relford 16 pass from Quentin Paulik (Kurt Jarvis pass from Relford)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Massillon rushing: Lanale Robinson 4‑35, Ramon Kelly 3‑21, Tuffy Woods 12‑20
McKinley rushing: Ryan Brinson 13‑147, 4 TDs, Theo Goodright 13‑64, 1 TD

Massillon passing: Quentin Paulik 8­-21‑108, 1 TD, 1 INT, Steve Hymes 2‑9‑22, 3 INT
McKinley passing: Mike Shaffer 3‑9‑55

Massillon receiving: Eric Copeland 3­-54, Wayne Gates 2‑26, Billy Relford 2‑23
McKinley receiving: Alex Rehfus 1‑20, Tyrone Gillespie 1‑20

Brock Hymes

History

2001: Massillon 35, Canton McKinley 19

DIVISION I REGIONAL PLAYOFFS
Tigers unrelenting in Beating Bulldogs again Massillon runs past McKinley 35‑19, will meet Hoover in regional title game

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

This time, the Tigers made it look easy.

Two weeks after their dramatic three‑point victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley, the Massillon Tigers parlayed a defense that held the Bulldogs without a first down for over two quarters and an offense that was 4‑of‑4 on fourth down while generating its usual 400 yards into a convincing 35‑19 victory in a regional semifinal game witnessed by 21,203 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.

Massillon (11‑1) advances to a regional final contest next Saturday, against North Canton Hoover at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association today.

While this is uncharted territory for the Tigers during the Rick Shepas era, Massillon’s sideline boss was not ready to characterize the win as his biggest in Tigertown.

“I don’t know,” Shepas said. “There, have been some great ball games in the four years I’ve been head coach here. I don’t know if I’d consider this the biggest win.

“This is where I pictured our team to be last year and we didn’t get it done. We’re working hard with determination. We’ll just keep coaching our kids, trying to get better.”

Just two weeks after McKinley ran up over 400 yards of offense against the Tigers, the Massillon defense held the Bulldog attack to half that total when it truly counted the most.

“We were just a little more fundamental this time,” Shepas explained. “We’re taking less risks. We’re watching our substitutions and we’re asking our kids to work hard.”

“We changed things on defense,” explained senior linebacker Justin Princehorn. “We played a ’50’ look against them and I think that shut down their run game.”

Indeed, McKinley netted just 89 yards rushing, 61 of which came on one play. That’s 160 yards less than the Bulldog ground game generated in the Week Ten contest.

As was the case in the first game, Massillon carried a double‑digit lead into the halftime locker room. But the Tigers – who turned the ball over on their first possession of the second half two weeks ago ‑ came out and put together a textbook 15‑play, 97‑yard scoring march to open the third quarter and close the door on McKinley.

The drive began with a Justin Zwick nine‑yard completion to Stephon Ashcraft and concluded when Joe Jovingo laid out to snare a Zwick pass in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown at 5:39 of the third quarter. David Abdul’s point‑after made it Massillon 28, McKinley 7.

Throughout the drive, the Tigers continually beat the McKinley blitz as the Bulldogs sold out to try to get pressure on Zwick.

“We thought McKinley would bring more pressure than they did in the first game,” observed Zwick.
“Tonight they blitzed us and we had stuff counteract it and it worked for us.”

“Justin Zwick was very determined tonight,” Shepas said. “Our offensive line has improved greatly during the season and you saw that tonight. And I can’t say enough about our backfield combination of those three guys (Zwick, Robert Oliver and Ricky Johnson) back there.”

Zwick, who passed the 10,000‑yard mark in career passing yardage on the touchdown pass that capped the game‑clinching third‑quarter drive, savored the victory for its historical significance.

“Our guys came out and we executed the way we wanted to,” Zwick said. “The defense played a great game, we did our thing on offense and scored some points.

“It’s ‑ real special. It’s the first time the Tigers have beat the Bulldogs twice in the same year since 1963.”

The Tigers scored the first time they touched the football after the Massillon defense forced McKinley into a three-and‑out series on the Bulldogs initial possession after the opening kickoff.

Junior running back Ricky Johnson ‑ who left the game in the first half with an ankle sprain ‑ took a handoff and hit into the middle of the McKinley line on third‑and‑two from the 41, and cut left for a 13‑yard gain and a first down at the McKinley 46.

Zwick then found Ashcraft wide open along the left sideline for 20 yards to the Bulldogs’ 26.

Two plays later, on third‑and‑10, Zwick zeroed in on Devin Jordan in the right corner of the end zone for a 26‑yard touchdown at 7:02 of the first quarter. Abdul drilled the extra point and Massillon had drawn first blood at 7‑0.

McKinley was forced to punt after running four plays but the Tigers fumbled the kick and the Bulldogs recovered at the Massillon 29. The Pups stayed with the running game and moved to the Tiger 4‑yard line but Shalamar Gilmer coughed up the football when he was sandwiched by Cody Smith and Shawn Crable. Massillon junior safety Markeys Scott recovered the loose ball at the 2.

The teams traded punts with Massillon regaining possession at its 26 after Craig McConnell’s nine‑yard return. The Tigers then embarked on a 17‑play drive. A 10‑yard Zwick‑to‑Jordan pass gave Massillon a first down at the McKinley 45.

Zwick hit Ashcraft on a seam pass for 16 yards, but it took a clutch three‑yard run by Oliver on a fourth‑and‑one play for Massillon to sustain the drive at the McKinley 36.

Jordan’s leaping catch gave Massillon another first down at the 15. One play later, Oliver found a gaping hole up the middle, broke a McKinley tackle at the 5 and drove into the end zone to make it 13‑0 Massillon at 5:19 of the second quarter.

McKinley countered on its ensuing possession when Gilmer went around right end and sprinted 61 yards to paydirt to cap a three‑play drive. Matt Campbell’s conversion kick was good and the Bulldogs had cut their deficit to 13‑7 at 3:42 of the first half.

Massillon came right back for its third score of the half. Zwick hit Jordan for 12 yards, then David Hill gained 13 yards over left guard to give the Tigers a first down at the McKinley 36. Oliver found another huge hole up the middle to the Bulldog 20.

Two plays later, on thirdand‑two from the 12, Zwick rolled left and found Ashcraft, who made a leaping catch along the left sideline at the 1.

Zwick called his own number on a bootleg around left end and walked into the end zone with just nine seconds to play in the half. The Tigers went for the two point‑conversion and Zwick completed an aerial to Jordan to give Massillon a two‑touchdown cushion at the half, 21‑7.

Then Massillon came out of the locker room and overcame a mishandled kickoff for the long scoring drive that put the contest out of reach for McKinley and started a mass exodus of Bulldog partisans from the Rubber Bowl.

The Tigers added another touchdown at 3:22 of the third quarter When Robert Oliver snagged a middle screen pass and picked his way into the end zone from 12 yards out, capping a nine‑play, 64 yard drive. Abdul’s extra point kick closed the scoring for the Tigers.

“We came out and wanted to make a little bit of history by beating them twice in a season and we got it done,” said Oliver, who had a game‑high 76 yards rushing. “It was all in the preparation during the week. That and our enthusiasm got it done. The difference between this game and the one two weeks ago is we settled down and played our game.”

“We’re on our way now,” added Princehorn. “Everyone said this is the year to do it and that’s what we’re going to do.” “I think this is our biggest win because it is a another step closer to our goal,” pointed out Tiger co‑captain Marquis Williams. “The closer we get to our goal, the bigger the wins are.”

MASSILLON 35
McKINLEY 19
MAS McK
First downs rushing 12 3
First downs passing 12 4
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 24 10
Net yards rushing 163 89
Net yards passing 239 123
TOTAL yards 402 212
Passes attempted 33 20
Passes completed 24 10
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 4 5
Punting average 43.5 35.0
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 4/2
Penalties 7 2
Yards penalized 70 15

MASSILLON 7 14 14 0 35
McKINLEY 0 7 0 12 19

SCORING
MAS ‑ Jordan 26 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 15 run (Kick failed)
McK ‑ Gilmer 61 run (Campbell kick)
MAS ‑ Zwick 1 run (Jordan pass from Zwick)
MAS ‑ Jovingo 7 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 12 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
McK ‑ Gilmer 2 pass from Palumbo (Run failed)
McK ‑ Green 3 pass from Palumbo (Pass failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Massillon rushing: Oliver 17‑71, D. Hill 8‑67, Zwick 7‑12, Johnson 4‑17.
McKinley rushing: Palumbo 10‑17, Gilmer 9‑70.

Massillon passing: Zwick 24‑33‑239 3 TDs, INT.
McKinley passing: Palumbo 10‑20‑123 2 TDs, INT.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 6‑84, Ashcraft 6‑65, Jovingo 4‑53, Oliver 4‑27.
McKinley receiving: Smith 2‑45, Gilmer 2‑23, Corner 2‑15, Everett 2‑10.
Statistics courtesy of RICHARD CUNNINGHAM


Justin Zwick

History

2001: Massillon 29, Canton McKinley 26

BIG FINISH
LATE GAME HEROICS BY OLIVER, McCONNELL LEAD TIGERS PAST PUPS
McConnell’s play saves day for Tigers 108th MASSILLON-McKINLEY GAME

By MIKE KEATING
Independent Sports Writer

The Massillon defense bent throughout the game and even broke down on four occasions, but it held up at crunch time.

With arch‑rival McKinley threatening to score in the waning seconds, cornerback Craig McConnell made the game‑saving play.

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With only 11 seconds left and McKinley just 18 yards from a go‑ahead touchdown, McConnell stepped in front of the intended receiver and picked off the pass, cementing Massillon’s 29‑26 victory at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon.

“We tried to put more pressure on their quarterback by bringing people,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said. “But the real credit goes to Craig. He made the big play,”

The Tigers, who defeated the Bulldogs for the third consecutive year and finished the regular season at 9‑1 with a six‑game winning streak, were in a nickel defense when McConnell made the interception.

“It was a slant pattern,” McConnell said. “I just followed my man (Reggie Corner) and played my role in that defense.

“My role was to follow the man (over the middle). I was fortunate enough to get a good jump on the ball and make the play.”

McConnell’s interception came with six seconds left to play.

McKinley head coach John Miller, whose team finished regular‑season play at 7‑2, admitted there were several reads on the pass that McConnell intercepted.

“Whoever was open, that’s who we were going to throw the ball to,” Miller said.

Had the pass fallen incomplete, McKinley was going to try and send the game into overtime.

“We were going to kick the field goal,” Miller said. “It just didn’t work out.”

Miller, a defensive back during his playing days at the former Canton Lincoln High, said McConnell made a great read.

“He broke for the ball real well,” Miller said. “Give him credit. It was a fine play.”

Massillon senior Justin Princehorn, who played safety the first half and linebacker the final two quarters, said he felt as if he was in suspended animation awaiting the outcome of the play.

“I just remember watching the quarterback let go of the ball and it sailing over my head,” Princehorn said. “I turned around and saw McConnell break on the pass.

“He made a great play. I remember telling him to just go down and not risk getting hit and losing the ball on a fumble. When he went down, that is when I knew it was over.”

McConnell, who finished the regular season with three interceptions, said McKinley did not unveil any different pass patterns than it had shown in any previous games the Tigers watched on videotape.

“We knew what to expect; they just did a good job of executing,” he said. “Their receivers ran some good routes and were able to separate from us.”

Except, that is for McKinley’s final pass play of the game, much to the delight of the Tigers and the dismay of the Bulldogs.

MASSILLON 29
MCKINLEY 26
MAS MCK
First downs rushing 7 17
First downs passing 11 9
First downs by penalty 1 5
TOTAL fit first clowns 19 31
Net yards a rushing 156 255
Net yards passing 245 166
TOTAL yards 401 421
Passes attempted 25 28
Passes completed 16 18
Passes intercepted 2 2
Punts 4 2
Punting average 26 30
Fumbles/Lost 1/1 4/3
Penalties 12 8
Yards penalized 147 76

MASSILLON 7 15 0 7 29
MCKINLEY 12 0 14 0 26

SCORING
MCK ‑ Gilmer 9‑yard run (kick failed)
MAS ‑ Ashcraft 11-yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MCK ‑ Everett 1‑yard run (run failed)
MAS ‑ Jordan 36‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 15‑yard run (Ashcraft pass from Zwick)
MCK ‑ Gilmer 4‑yard run (Campbell kick)
MCK ‑ Abdul‑Zahir 7‑yard run (Campbell kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 27‑yard run (Abdul kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Massillon rushing: Oliver 13‑94, Johnson 5‑53.
McKinley rushing: Gilmer 22‑170, Huddleston 7‑39, Palumbo 11‑37

Massillon passing: Zwick 16‑25‑245 2 INT, 2 TDs.
McKinley passing: Palumbo 14‑21‑142 2 INT, Huddleston 4‑7‑24.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 10‑154‑1, Williams 2.41, Oliver 2‑14.
McKinley receiving: Corner 7‑61, Abdul Zahir 3‑25, Smith 2‑25.

‑ Statistics courtesy of RICHARD CUNNINGHAM

Tigers sluggish in second half,
But late-game heroics save day

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers, shut out for the first 22 minutes of the second half, drove 72 yards in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter and scored on a 27‑yard run by Robert Oliver to pull out a heart‑pounding 29‑26 victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley in the ‑108th game between the storied Ohio high school football powers.

McKinley, however, appeared poised to at least send the game into overtime with a field goal or even pull out a win with a touchdown after driving deep into Massillon territory with seconds to play.

Massillon senior Craig McConnell ‑ ended the threat ‑ and McKinley’s hopes ‑ when he picked off a Bulldogs pass at the 2‑yard line with six seconds left in the contest. The win, the Tigers’ ninth on the year, came in front of 23,815 fans on a chilly, gray Saturday afternoon at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

“I was just watching my receiver and doing what I was taught,” said an ecstatic McConnell, though he admitted he could recall few details of his game‑saving play.

Massillon’s game‑winning touchdown drive began at its 28 with 2:52 to play after the Tiger defense forced McKinley’s only punt of the second half.

Justin Zwick hit Devon Jordan on a crossing pattern for 11 yards on first down. Then Ricky Johnson broke a draw play for 20 more to the McKinley 41‑yard line.

Zwick then completed a short pass to Robert Oliver in the right flat and the senior running back picked his way for 16 yards to the McKinley 25.
Block paved the way
After a 2‑yard loss on first down, Zwick handed off to Oliver on a draw play that went over right guard and broke open. Oliver spun off one would‑be tackler, wideout Joe Jovingo laid a textbook block on McKinley cornerback Tyler Everett near the 20‑yard line, and Oliver read it perfectly to score the biggest touchdown of his memorable senior season.

“Our offensive line did a great job and stepped up when we needed them,” Zwick said. “Ricky (Johnson) and Robert did a great job in the backfield along with David Hill blocking and they got us in the end zone.

“Guys have been selling themselves for blocks to get more yards all year long and Joe did that on that play and got us a lot of yards and a big score.”

Ironically Jovingo, who a career high six catches for 156 yards last week, had not caught a pass all day long. But his block was as big as any play up to that point.

“I saw Robert coming around the corner,” Jovingo said afterward. “I looked up and saw Tyler Everett there and just, went heads up with him. Robert read my block and got into the end zone.”

Until final drive, the Tigers had been outplayed in the second half. Massillon held a 22‑12 lead at the break, but McKinley turned an interception into a three‑play, 14‑yard touchdown drive, capped by Shalamar Gilmer’s 4‑yard run at 11:29 of the third quarter.

Matt Campbell’s extra point was true, and the Bulldogs had cut the deficit to 22‑19.

Massillon ran six plays on its ensuing possession before being forced to punt.

McKinley took over at its 33 and embarked on a 15‑play drive that ate more than seven minutes off the third quarter game clock. More importantly, the Bulldogs found the end zone as Yusef Abdul‑Zahir scored on a 7‑yard cutback run at the 1:06 mark. Campbell’s extra point was true, and McKinley was up 26‑22 with all the momentum in the Bulldogs’ corner.

Massillon again was forced to punt after a six‑play possession, but junior safety Brian Hill’s interception at the 1‑yard line prevented McKinley from going up by two scores.

The Tigers offense remained dormant and was forced to punt. On the ensuing McKinley possession, however, junior linebacker Tony Graves recovered a McKinley fumble to give Massillon life at its 37‑yard line.

Massillon returned the favor with a fumble of its own three plays later and McKinley looked to be in business with possession of the football, a four‑point lead and just 6:01 on the clock.

The Bulldogs advanced from their 33 to midfield, but McConnell made a fine open field tackle on Gilmer that saved a big gainer, and Shawn Crable and Marquis Johnson sacked Palumbo to force the McKinley punt that led to Massillon’s game‑winning drive.

“I expected this kind of outcome, but with a 10‑point lead at the half, I thought maybe not,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “We came in the second half and made some mistakes offensively. We didn’t play very good defense all day.

“You’ve got two football teams with a lot of athletic ability and a lot of heart. We both represent tradition. Even though we won today, you’ve got to credit Canton McKinley for an outstanding job.”

McKinley got on the board first. The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, effectively mixing the short pass with a series of Gilmer running plays.

Gilmer tore off a 19‑yard gain on the firs play from scrimmage, then capped the eight play, 69‑yard drive with a 10‑yard touchdown run on a pitch play around right end. The Bulldogs senior running back hurdled a Tiger tackler at the 5‑yard line and bounced into the end zone at 9:31 of the first period. The conversion kick was wide left and McKinley was out to a 6‑0 lead.

The teams exchanged punts, with Massillon eventually taking over at its own 33 after a 15‑yard punt return by McConnell.
Jordan came up big
On the second play of the drive, Zwick hit Jordan for an 18‑yard gain to near midfield for the Tigers initial first down of the game. The senior signal caller then duplicated his throw to Jordan along the right sideline for 18 more to the Pups’ 23.

Jordan got open along the left sideline on the next play, and Zwick was accurate with his throw for a 12‑yard pick‑up to the 11. Zwick threw his fifth straight completion on the next snap, finding Stephon Ashcraft open in the end zone for six. David Abdul’s extra point kick was true and Massillon assumed a 7‑6 lead at 3:40 of the first quarter.

McKinley was undaunted, coming back to reclaim the lead on its next possession. A 33 yard kickoff return accompanied by a personal foul against the Tigers gave the Bulldogs great field position at their own 49.

A Massillon offside penalty gave the Pups a first down on a third‑and‑two play from the 43. Palumbo hit Abdul‑Zahir for 12 yards on the next play, then Gilmer skirted left end for 14 more to the Massillon 12‑yard line.

A Palumbo scramble netted 8 yards on second down. One play later, Tyler Everett went over right guard for a touchdown. A run for the two‑point conversion failed but McKinley was up 12‑7 with :28 left on the first quarter game clock.

A clipping penalty on the Tigers gave them tough field position on the ensuing kickoff at their own 8, but Zwick struck quickly ‑ hitting Marquis Williams, who made a juggling catch in traffic, for a 38‑yard gain to the 46 as the first quarter came to an end.

Oliver went around left end on the next snap, broke a McKinley tackle at the line and rumbled for 18 yards to the Bulldogs’ 36.
Right down the middle
On the very next play, Zwick ‑ off a fine play‑action fake ‑ threw a perfect strike to Jordan running a deep post pattern for a touchdown. Abdul’s kick made it Massillon 14, McKinley 12 at 11:21 of the second period.

The Bulldogs fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Markeys Scott recovered for the Tigers. Massillon drove down to the 2‑yard line, but McKinley’s Charles Minor intercepted a Tiger throw in the end zone to stave off the threat.
Alleman triggered turnover
McKinley proceeded to drive to near midfield on seven plays, but Massillon linebacker Andy Alleman forced a Gilmer fumble, and Justin Princehorn recovered for the Tigers to set up their third score of the day.

A Zwick scramble netted 6 yards on first down. The Ohio State‑bound signal caller then rolled left and hit Jordan for 18 yards to the McKinley 22.

Running out of the power‑I Massillon scored when Oliver gained 7 yards off right tackle, then burst through a big hole over left tackle for a 15‑yard touchdown run at 4:01 of the second period.

Abdul’s kick made it Massillon 22, McKinley 12.

The Bulldogs drove to the Massillon 14 with Marc Huddleston taking over at quarterback. But the drive stalled thanks to a pass deflection by Shawn Cable and a Princehorn sack of Huddleston.

A 31‑yard field goal attempt was wide right and the Tigers enjoyed an eight‑point lead at the intermission.

The cushion wouldn’t last but Massillon’s offense woke up when it needed to and the Tigers will carry a 9‑1 record into the first round of the playoffs Saturday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Justin Zwick

History

2000: Massillon 13, Canton McKinley 9

ON TO THE PLAYOFFS
Tigers overcome mistakes, McKinley in 13‑9 win
James runs over, around, through Bulldogs

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t especially impressive, but the Massillon Tigers came up big in the fourth quarter to post an uneven 13‑9 victory over the McKinley Bulldogs in front of a capacity crowd of 17,957 Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

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The Tigers trailed their arch‑rivals 9‑7 with 10:45 to play when they began the game‑winning march at their own 9‑yard line. With everyone in the crowd looking for the vaunted Massillon passing game to come into play, head coach Rick Shepas instead turned to 1,000‑yard rusher Perry James, and the senior responded in a big way.

Massillon’s resulting 11‑play scoring drive included no fewer than nine running plays, including a 38‑yard burst by James that moved the football from the Massillon 37 to the McKinley 25.

James put the football in the end zone on a sweep around the right side of the Massillon offensive line, which did its job so well that the Tiger running back was never touched on the play.

Massillon’s pass for the two‑point conversion failed, but the Tigers were up by four points with just 5:43 to play.

After the ensuing kickoff, a sack of McKinley quarterback Ben Palumbo by Tiger defensive end Brian Leonard doomed the drive, and the Bulldogs were forced to punt the ball away. Canton would get the pigskin back deep in its own territory with less than 30 seconds to play, only to see a Justin Princehorn interception seal their fate.

The victory gives the Tigers an 8‑2 regular season slate and improves Rick Shepas’ three‑year record at Massillon to 22‑9. Up next is a home playoff game Saturday against 8‑2 Marion Harding.

The Tigers first touchdown Saturday came on Robert Oliver’s eight‑yard run that capped off a nine‑play, 56‑yard drive at 8:29 of the second quarter. David Abdul’s kick made it 7‑0.

A McKinley 23‑yard field goal in the final minute of the first half made it 7‑3 and the Bulldogs took a 9‑7 lead on Chad Anderson’s one‑yard vault into the end zone at 10:50 of the fourth quarter.

The Pups then kicked off to Massillon and the Tigers had to begin their march at their own 9.

That only prolonged the agony for McKinley as the orange‑and‑black rang the victory bell in the 107th all-time meeting between the Ohio high school football powers.

Sideline moods
told game story

By MIKE KEATING
Independent Sports Writer

With 10:50 left to go in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game between the Massillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs, a sense of urgency rippled along the Massillon sidelines.

The Tigers had just fallen two points behind on a one‑yard dive into the end zone by McKinley fullback Chad Anderson.

“Let’s go, right now,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said to his offensive unit. “We have to pick it up.”

The Massillon offensive line, which had been neutralized by the smaller McKinley defensive front, received a tongue‑lashing from tackles coach Frank Page.

“You guys have to come off the ball better,” he said, while looking at each member of the interior line in the eye. “You have to move.”

The Tigers listened and responded, driving 91 yards in 11 plays for the game‑winning touchdown. Perry James’ 12‑ yard touchdown run with 5:43 to go reclaimed the lead for Massillon, which overcame three turnovers and 60 yards in penalties to finish 8‑2 in the regular season and earn its second straight playoff berth.

When James crossed the goal‑line at the northeast corner of the field, the Massillon players erupted with jubilation.

“Way to block, baby,” sophomore linebacker Shawn Crable yelled to senior center Kreg Rotthoff, who had just trotted off the field with the rest of the offensive unit.

“This is our game, now,” added offensive tackle Jamarr Moore, who hobbled over to talk with sophomore tackle Reggie McCullough.”

The jubilation was tempered a bit, however, as McKinley prepared to receive the ensuing kickoff.

There was still plenty of time for the Bulldogs to rally.

Nobody knew that better than senior defensive lineman Mike Burchell, who paced the sidelines between the 40 and 50, reminding his defensive teammates to maintain their concentration.

“This game isn’t over yet,” he screamed. “We still have to stop them.”

Just in case Burchell’s words weren’t heeded, defensive tackles coach Gary Wells issued one simple message to the defense as McKinley began the possession on its own 13.

“Hold them to three‑and‑out,” Wells said.

The Massillon defense responded, forcing McKinley to punt from its own end zone as the clock wound down under 4:00.

The Tigers regained possession at their 33 with 3:47 showing. Sensing victory, several Massillon players on the sidelines enthusiastically supported the offense.

“Let’s go, ‘O’! Let’s go, ‘0’” they shouted. “Let’s move the ball!”

Once again, Massillon responded. Six running plays and a personal foul penalty flagged on McKinley helped the Tigers move the ball from their 33 to the McKinley 25.

While the Bulldogs stopped the Tigers on a fourth down running play, they had only 30 seconds to move 75 yards for the game‑winning touchdown.

Massillon defensive coordinator Chris DiLoretto strode confidently along the sidelines, but said nothing.

He was content to watch the defense try to make a play to cement the victory.

With fans for both teams roaring, the Massillon defense made the big play.

Anderson’s option pass was picked off by linebacker Justin Princehorn near midfield, setting off a wild celebration along the Massillon sidelines.

“Now,” smiled sophomore offensive tackle P.J. Simon. “It’s over.”

In the first half, the mood on the Massillon sideline was businesslike.

When one Massillon receiver failed to catch a long pass in the waning seconds of the first quarter, Shepas waited for the player to come off the field, then calmly said a few words to him.

“That was a catchable ball,” Shepas said. “Just relax.”

The game was scoreless for most of the first half. The Massillon sideline was relatively quiet, observing the action, waiting for the “Air Raid” offense to sustain a drive.

Massillon did, moving 55 yards on eight plays. Quarterback Justin Zwick’s 14‑yard scramble to the McKinley 8 was greeted with thunderous applause from his teammates on the sidelines.

“It’s gonna happen,” Crable said.

The “it” ‑ an anticipated Massillon touchdown ‑ came two plays later on an eight-yard run by Robert Oliver at the 8:29 mark of the second quarter, a score that broke a scoreless tie.

“Great job, offense,” Shepas said calmly.

Shepas was anything but calm, however, on‑the second of two pass interference penalties that moved the ball to the Massillon 16 during a drive that began at the McKinley 12. He pointed a finger at the side judge and gave him an earful of opinion on the call.

McKinley went on to score on a 29‑yard field goal by Matt Prendes, and seemed energized by that three pointer.

The Bulldogs refused to go away the rest of the game. As the third quarter was winding down and McKinley driving for its first and only touchdown, the Massillon sideline grew quiet.

Strength and conditioning coach Steve Studer noticed the silence. It irritated Studer, an All‑Ohio center for the Tigers in 1970. He understood what the McKinley rivalry meant.

“You guys are dead on this sideline,” he yelled to the players. “Let’s show some life. Let’s make something happen.”

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers made things happen on both sides of the football. When the clock hit three zeroes in the fourth quarter, Studer smiled as he listened to the Massillon players whoop it up, celebrating a hard‑fought victory.

Kreg Rotthoff

History

1999: Massillon 35, Canton McKinley 7

Massillon mauls McK in 2nd half
Tigers’ Black Swarm defense gives attack chance to awaken

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers, the ultimate second half team throughout the 1999 high school football season, did it again on Saturday by thrashing arch‑rival McKinley 35‑7 with a four‑touchdown outburst after the band show that had Bulldog fans exiting Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium with over 11 minutes left to play.

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Massillon snapped McKinley’s five‑game winning streak in this storied series and at the same time put the final touches on a 10‑0 regular season, the Tigers’ first since 1982. The Orange‑and‑Black will be back in action this coming Saturday with a first‑round Division I playoff game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, probably against Perry.

The Tigers first possession of the second half set the tone for the final 24 minutes. Massillon marched 74 yards in 14 plays to break a 7‑7 halftime tie. Quarterback Dave Irwin, who was woozy at‑the-end of the first half after absorbing a big hit from the McKinley defense, got the drive going by hitting tightend Charles Hendricks for 11 yards over the middle for a first down at the Massillon 40.

After converting a fourth‑and‑inches with a sneak up the middle, Irwin looked to Ellery Moore but the pass fell incomplete. However, a personal foul penalty against McKinley for taunting on the play gave the Tigers a first down at the Pups’ 26.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1999

Three plays later, on second‑and‑eight from the 12, Irwin looked off the McKinley defense then dropped a pass into the arms of fullback Jon Stanke, who carried it into the right corner of the end zone for six. Brett Marshall’s PAT made it 14‑7 Massillon at 5:21 of the third.

“We just put that play in,” Irwin revealed. “We put Ellery in to decoy them. I told Stanke they were going to jump Ellery, so keep looking for the ball and don’t turn away. “I delayed, looking off to Ellery. I had to put a touch pass over the top. Jon made a great catch and a great run to the end zone.”

While that score wobbled McKinley, the next series of events KO’d the Bulldogs. Massillon kicked off and the Pups’ kick returner coughed the ball up after a 20‑yard run back. Tigers senior Dusty Wilbur came up with the loose ball and momentum was swinging Massillon’s way.

Irwin picked up five yards on a first‑down bootleg keeper around right end. Then Jessie Scott swept left end for 14 more to the McKinley 11.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1999

After a first down run gained just a yard, Irwin dropped back and looked to his right. The senior tri‑captain stood in the pocket for what seemed like an eternity, looking to his right. Finally, Irwin turned left and found tight end Jeremiah Drobney wide open for a 10‑yard scoring pass. Marshall’s PAT made it 21‑7 Tigers with 4:13 left in the third.

McKinley moved the football on its next possession but turned it over on a second‑and‑ten fumble at its own 45. Tiger linebacker Dan Studer hammered the Bulldogs quarterback, who lost the football. Moore, who also had penetrated the pocket, was right there for the recovery.

The Tigers then moved in for the kill. On third‑and‑23 from the McKinley 39, Irwin tossed the football laterally to Anthony Battle, who had lined up as a tailback. Battle rolled right, wound up and hit a wide open Rocky Dorsey along the right sideline at the 5. The senior wideout strolled into the end zone and the rout was on with 11:53 to play. Marshall’s extra point made it 28‑7 Massillon.

The Tigers added a final touchdown on a 36‑yard Irwin‑to‑Jessie Robinson bomb with 4:15 to play. It was Irwin’s 20th touchdown pass of the season, a new Massillon Tiger record.

“It feels real good,” Irwin said afterward. “We battled back. Our defense came out and played tough all day long. That’s why they call them the Black Swarm. You could see it. They just swarmed to the football all daylong.”

Irwin nearly didn’t get a chance to enjoy the Tigers’ 10th straight victory. “I got hit real hard there in the second quarter and I forgot every play we ran in the first half,” he revealed. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it back. But I just had to suck it up and come back a little bit.”

Moore confirmed the Tigers victory over their long‑time rivals was a long time in coming, five years to be exact. “When we play this well we can’t be beat,” Moore proclaimed. “McKinley didn’t touch the end zone on nothing. The defense shut them out. The offense put it together in the second half and we’re going to the playoffs.

“We knew we were going to come out and play hard and if they folded the tent like they did we were going to capitalize on it like we have all year.”

Senior linebacker Dan’ Studer, who was in on seven tackles to lead the Tigers, is another who has endured McKinley’s recent domination of this series. He wasn’t worried at halftime, despite the offense’s turnover woes.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind after the first half,” Studer said. “If the offense is down the defense steps up. If the defense is down, the offense steps up. That’s just typical of the unity on this team.”

Shepas also tipped his hat to the defense.

“Our defense did a great job from the outset and that’s what told the story today,” the coach said as he held one of his daughters on his shoulders. “Hats off to our defense, to coach (Mike) Babics and the defensive staff and all the defensive players who stepped up to make this happen.

“Our kids were mad at themselves at halftime about the turnovers and that we didn’t score points. So we came out in the third quarter and controlled the line of scrimmage, threw some high percentage passes and got it into the end zone. We wanted to get up on them by two touchdowns and we were able to that. That changed the game.”

Seth Stefanko, who battled back from a serious knee sprain in Week Four to start on the Tiger offensive line, sat in the locker room afterward and just soaked in the emotional scene.

“It’s been a matter of a lot of hard work and dedication from the whole team that helped get me back,” Stefanko said. “I knew I couldn’t miss this game. I knew I had to come back. This is great. This is fun.”

Stefanko pointed to the Tigers two‑platoon system as the reason for their ultimate success .

The first half our main thing was to wear them down, which we did,” he said. “The second half they were done. They were wore down and our big players made the plays we needed to go out on top.

The first half was a comedy of errors, though no one on the Tiger sideline was laughing. Massillon turned the ball over to McKinley five times, four on interceptions.

McKinley couldn’t take advantage of all of the Tiger generosity. The Bulldogs had just 76 total yards in the first half and were 0 for 6 on third down conversions.

The Tigers moved from their own 31 to the McKinley 27 on six plays on their initial possession of the game. But Bulldogs cornerback Andre Hooks stepped in front of the Massillon wideout Rocky Dorsey, who was running a deep post pattern, for a pickoff at the two‑yard line.

Four plays later, Steve Eyerman got the ball back for the Tigers and then some, intercepting Pups QB Ben Palumbo after Massillon cornerback Sam Young careened into intended receiver Marcus Quincy along the sideline.

Palumbo’s pass deflected into the air, Eyerman snagged it and ran down the sideline 30 yards to pay dirt. Brett Marshall’s kick was good and the Tigers led 7‑0 with 5:06 to play in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs next possession ended at the Massillon 29 after a fake punt failed to gain a first down.

On first‑and‑10 at that Point, the Tigers attempted a shovel pass. McKinley’s Preston Chevers smelled the play out, grabbed the pass and rumbled 25 yards to the end zone to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard at 10:13 of the second quarter. Matt Prendes added the PAT and it was a 7‑7 ballgame.

Massillon 35, McKinley 7

Massillon 7 0 14 14 35
McKinley 0 7 0 0 7

First Quarter
Mass ‑ Eyerman 29 interception return (Marshall kick), 5:06
Second Quarter
McK ‑ Chavers 25 interception return (Prendes kick), 10:13
Third Quarter
Mass ‑ Stanke 12 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick), 5:21
Mass ‑ Drobney 10 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick), 4:13
Fourth Quarter
Mass – Dorsey 39 pass from Baffle (Marshall kick), 11:53
Mass – J. Robinson 35 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick), 4:15

Attendance ‑ 23,987

Mass McK
First downs 20 12
Rushes‑yards 36‑180 40‑184
Passing 169 33
Comp-Att-Int 13‑23‑4 4‑15‑2
Return Yards 62 75
Punts‑Avg. 1‑30 4‑41
Fumbles‑Lost 4‑2 3‑2
Penalties‑Yards 7‑47 2‑30
Time of Possession 23:44 24:16

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING
Massillon: Scott 13‑93, James 11‑51, J.Robinson 1‑17, Irwin 6‑14, Stanke 3‑6, Marshall 2‑(minus 1).
McKinley: Daniels 6‑58, Quincy 12‑51, D.Robinson 6‑39, A. Abdul‑Zahir 4‑19 Gilmer 5‑14, H. Abdul‑Zahir 1‑10, Anderson 1‑2, Maragas 1‑1, Palumbo 5‑(minus 10).

PASSING
Massillon: Irwin 12‑21‑3‑130, Battle 1‑1‑0‑39, Marshall 0‑1‑1-0
McKinley: Palumbo 2‑9‑1‑20, Daniels 2‑6‑1‑13.

RECEIVING
Massillon: Dorsey 5‑81, Price 4‑20, Hendricks 1‑11 Stanke 1‑12, Drobney 1‑10, J. Robinson 1‑35.
McKinley: Geiselman 3‑21, Quincy 1‑12.

SCORING SUMMARY

McK = McKinley territory
Ma = Massillon territory

MASSILLON: McKinley quarterback Ben Palumbo throws from inside his own 10 to Marcus Quincy down the right sideline. Massillon linebacker Steve Eyerman intercepts the pass and runs it back 29 yards for a TOUCHDOWN with 5:96 left in the first quarter. Brett Marshall PAT good. Massillon 7, McKinley 0.

MCKINLEY: Massillon quarterback Steve Irwin, set up in the shotgun, fields a low snap and attempts a shovel pass. McKinley puts heavy pressure on Irwin, and Preston Chavers intercepts the pass and runs 25 yards for a TOUCHDOWN with 10:13 left in the second quarter. Matt Prendes PAT good. Massillon 7, McKinley 7.

HALFTIME

MASSILLON: Massillon’s Jesse Robinson returns second‑half kickoff 16 yards to his own 26. 1‑10, Ma26, Perry James runs for 4 yards. 2‑6, Ma30, James stuffed for no gain. 3‑6, Ma30, Irwin pass to Charles Hendricks for 11 yards over middle. 1‑10, Ma41, Jessie Scott takes lateral around right end for 8 yards. 2‑2, Ma49, Irwin pass to Joe Price for no gain on left side. 3‑2, Ma49, Scott runs for 1 yard on option play to the right. 4‑1, 50, Irwin runs 1 yard up the middle. 1‑10, McK49, James runs 4 yards. 2‑6, McK45, Scott runs 4 yards. (KEY.PLAY) 3‑2, McK41, Irwin throws incomplete to Ellery Moore; McKinley penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. 1‑10, McK26, Scott runs 6 yards. 2‑4, McK20, James runs 6 yards. 1‑10, McK14, James runs 2 yards. 2‑8, McK12, Irwin pass to Jon Stanke in right flat for 12 yards and a TOUCHDOWN with 5:21 left in the third quarter. Marshall PAT good. Drive: 14 plays, 74 yards. Massillon 14, McKinley 7.

MASSILLON: Massillon’s Dusty Wilbur recovers fumbled McKinley kickoff at the McKinley 30. 1‑10, McK30, Irwin scrambles right for 5 yards. (KEY PLAY) 2‑5, McK25, Scott runs 14 yards to the left. 1‑10, McK11 1, James runs 1 yard up the middle after colliding with Irwin. 2‑9, McK10, Irwin pass to Jeremiah Drobney in the left side of end zone for 10 yards and a TOUCHDOWN with 4:13 left in the third quarter. Marshall PAT good. Drive: 4 plays, 30 yards. Massillon 21, McKinley 7.

MASSILLON: Massillon’s Ellery Moore recovers a fumbled McKinley handoff at the McKinley 39. 1 10, McK39, Massillon penalized for illegal procedure. 1‑15, McK44, Irwin pass incomplete. 2‑15, McK44, Scott runs 1 yard. (KEY PLAY) 3‑14, McK43, Robinson runs 17 yards around left end on a reverse. 1‑10, McK26, Scott runs 4 yards. 2‑6, McK22, Massillon penalized for holding. 2‑23, McK39, Irwin pass incomplete. 3‑23, McK39, Irwin laterals to Anthony Battle, who throws a halfback pass to Rocky Dorsey down the middle of the field for 39 yards and a TOUCHDOWN with 11:53 left in the fourth quarter. Marshall PAT good. Drive: 7 plays, 44 yards. Massillon 28, McKinley 7.

MASSILLON: Massillon’s Tyrell McElroy makes an interception in the end zone of a pass by Marcus Daniels. A clipping penalty against Massillon on the runback results in the ball being placed at the Massillon 7. 1‑10, Ma7, Scott runs 13 yards; McKinley penalized for face mask. 1‑10, Ma35, Irwin sacked for 6 yard loss. (KEY PLAY) 2‑16, Ma29, Scott runs 37 yards through the left side. 1 ‑10, McK34, Massillon penalized for illegal procedure. 1‑15 McK39, James runs 4 yards. 2‑11 McK35, Irwin pass down the middle to Robinson for 35 yards and TOUCHDOWN with 4:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Marshall PAT good. Drive: 5 plays, 93 yards. Massillon 35, McKinley 7.

FINAL SCORE

Massillon 35, McKinley 7
– Chris Beaven


Dan Studer