MASSILLON ‑ If you want to know how far the football program in Tigertown has to go, look no more than Saturday’s 42‑20 loss to McKinley.
No, not the score. In fact, the game was closer ‑much closer ‑ than it indicates. The Tigers out-gained the Bulldogs in every significant statistical category except points.
However, look at the attitude.
Since when did a 22‑point loss to McKinley become a moral victory in Massillon?
“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said. “It has taken McKinley a long time to get to where they’re at. It’s going to take us a long time to get to where we want to go. We’re not satisfied.”
Besides Shepas, the general consensus is Massillon played its best game of the season Saturday afternoon in front of 19,848. The Tigers still lost, but they gained some legitimacy, and probably sent a chill down Bulldog fans’ spines.
Massillon has come together to form ‑ of all things ‑ a team. The Tigers showed signs of that in the eighth week against Cincinnati Moeller, It was a game, like Saturday, that the Tigers lost in the second half. McKinley outscored Massillon 23‑3 in the second half.
This week, several Massillon players shaved their heads to capture the look of their clean‑shaven head coach. It was a good‑natured gesture.
It still took eight weeks for that bond to form. It took eight weeks for the players to believe in the system Shepas is running.
“I think it could have happened earlier in a lot of other places,” Shepas said. “But because there are so many people talking to our kids and in their ears, it takes longer for that bond to form.
“I know our kids believe in the system here. With an off season that we didn’t have here last year … I wondered about that. (Former McKinley head coach) Thom McDaniels resigned early, so McKinley got an early hire.”
Shepas was not hired in Massillon until May 4. He was one of the last high school coaches hired in the state. He pressed together a coaching staff in a month. Consequently, Massillon needed the first half of the season to evaluate talent and see which players fit where.
Case in point is the quarterback position. Junior Dave Irwin spent more time leading the junior varsity team than he did the varsity team this year. Yet, it was Irwin who had the most success. Saturday, he completed 65 percent of his passes and threw for 133 yards. He may have broken a bone in his arm and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. “I thought Dave played a helluva game,” Shepas said.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s loss was a morale victory for Massillon.
This is a team that finishes with a 4‑6 record. It is the Tigers’ worst record since 1931 and first losing season since 1966 (4‑5).
“That doesn’t bother me at all … not at all,” Shepas said of the losing season and being one of just three Massillon head coaches with a record below .500 since 1931. “High school football isn’t always about winning and losing.
“We’ve had to take a lot of stands here I don’t particularly appreciate. But they were the stands that are going to make us a better team down the road.”
If there is one good thing about this season for Shepas, it is the fact he saw a lot of players perform . Massillon may have the largest crop of returning lettermen next season.
“I want to make this clear to our people,” Shepas said. “It’s going to take a lot of time to go in the direction we want to go in. A lot of time.”
McKinley 12 7 8 15 42 Massillon 7 10 3 0 20
McK – Doss 3 run (kick failed) Mass – Irwin 2 run (Marshall kick) McK – Doss 2 run (Pass failed) Mass – FG Marshall 23 McK ‑ Doss 32 run (Armatas kick) Mass – Miller 2 run (Marshall kick) Mass – FG Marshall 20 McK – Doss 73 run (Friedman pass from McDanields) McK ‑ Doss 1 run (McDaniels run) McK ‑ Chavers recovery of blocked punt (Armatas kick)
MASS McK First downs 22 11 Rushes‑yards 47‑229 29‑205 Passing 188 116 Comp‑Att‑Int 20‑31‑0 5‑12-0 Return Yards 91 6 Punts Avg. 3‑22.7 4‑36.3 Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1 Penalties-Yards 7‑61 4‑30 Total play 80 41 Time of Possession 31:21 16:39
Pups finish off Tigers wait till next year Tigers seek respect;
By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer
MASSILLON ‑ With a 4‑5 record, there was not much the Massillon Tigers could have gained by winning Saturday’s game against McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Pride and a..500 record.
More importantly, respect was on the line.
That was one thing first‑year Tiger head coach Rick Shepas wanted for his program. It looked as if Massillon was going to get it when the Tigers took a 20‑19 lead with 3:20 to play in the third quarter.
However, breakdowns and costly penalties on both sides of the football erased any hopes of a Massillon upset. McKinley won the 105th game, 42‑20.
The final margin came when the Pups blocked a punt and fell on the ball in the end zone in the game’s final seconds.
When asked if the Tigers had earned respect, McKinley head coach Kerry Hodakievic said, “They played. well in the first half, anyway. We played our kind of football in the second half and we played well then.”
But no respect.
“We’re not going to get any respect until we win this game,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said. “What their coach says doesn’t matter. I’m not going to get caught up in saying things just because my town wants to hear them.”
The Tigers played their best game to date. They had a solid game plan and exposed many of the Bulldogs’ weaknesses. In fact, Massillon probably worried the Pups and scared their fans.
Massillon outgained McKinley 417‑321. It was the first time all season the Tigers gained more than 400 yards in total offense. They held the ball for 31:21, while McKinley had it for just 16:39. They doubled McKinley in first downs (22-11) and converted two field goal attempts.
The killer for the Tigers?
Penalties … again.
Massillon was penalized seven times for 61 yards, and most of them could not have come at worse times.
For example, a difference-maker in the game came when Massillon quarterback Dave Irwin threw a strike to Joe Price. Irwin faked a reverse handoff to running back Marc Cleveland and Price left a McKinley defender wondering where he went. Price was wide open and Irwin delivered the ball for what appeared to be a 76‑yard touchdown.
Massillon was called for holding, and Irwin may not have been able to throw the pass if not for the hold.
“I think we blow it open right there if we hit on that play,” Shepas said. “That was a big play. I really think the game is blown open.”
But it wasn’t. The Tigers continued on the drive and place kicker Brett Marshall was able to muster a field goal. But the Pups still led 12‑10.
Believe it or not, the Tigers committed a bigger penalty. With the score 27-20, the Massillon defense looked at if it were going to force McKinley to punt after just three plays.
On third‑and‑8 from the McKinley 32, Bulldog quarterback Ben McDaniels overthrew his receiver. It should have been fourth down. But a Massillon player pummeled McDaniel well after the play and McKinley had a first down. The Pups went on to score and take a 35-20 lead.
“I didn’t get to see the play, but I’m sure it was the right call,” Shepas said. “The officials called a great game in a big game like this.”
Shepas was left to ponder what might have been.
“There was no pressure on us,” he said. “We had nothing to lose before today.”
The Massillon program may have gained some legitimacy for the first time all year. Maybe the Tigers made believers out of some.
The one thing they still lack is respect.
“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Shepas said.
Tigers throw scare into dogs with second-half turnaround
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
It started as if a rout was the order of the day. It ended with the Massillon Tigers giving the McKinley Bulldogs a bit of a scare before succumbing 27‑14 in the 104th meeting between the two Ohio high school football giants in front of a full house at Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium in Canton this afternoon.
The Tigers went one‑two-three punt on each of their first three possessions, while McKinley put together scoring drives of 4, 11 and 11 plays to jump to a 21‑0 lead early in the second quarter. At that point, the Bulldogs seemed very deserving of their No. 1 rating in USA Today’s national high school rankings.
But a funny thing happened to the Pups on their way to a blowout. Massillon’s outmanned Tigers, riding the grit and savvy of quarterback Tip Danzy, the hard running of fullback Dave Hodgson and a defense that wouldn’t quit when it was down, made it a game and then some.
“The kids came back and we made a few adjustments at halftime,” said Tigers coach Jack Rose. “I told them a lesser team would have thrown in the towel when it was 27‑7 at halftime and get blown out.
“There’s no quit in these young men. They carne out in the second half and played their hearts out.”
McKinley bench boss Thom McDaniels did not want to hear any talk of his team letting down after building a three touchdown lead at the intermission.
“I don’t think we let down,” he said. “I think we got a little sloppy in the second half. I think our execution diminished, but I don’t think there was any kind of a conscious letdown. We just didn’t play as well.
“The team on the other side of the field was good. Again, you have to maintain concentration and try to execute for 48 minutes. We had our lapses primarily with penalties we had some really inopportune penalties.”
The Tigers got excellent field position when Julian Miller returned the opening kickoff to the Tiger 44, but three plays and just two yards later were forced to punt. McKinley took over at its 45 after an 18 yard return by Fred Wilcox.
On third‑and‑six from the 49, Ben McDaniels found Matt Curry on a short slant pattern, and Curry did the rest, sprinting across the grain to the Tiger 26. On the next play, DeMarlo Rozier took a pitch around left end and outran the Massillon defense to the end zone. Phil Armatas’ conversion kick made it 7‑0 McKinley at 9:22 of the first period.
Once again Miller ‑ and a facemask penalty on the Pups ‑ gave the Tigers good field position at their 45. But Massillon could pick up just five yards in three snaps and were forced to punt.
Rozier got the ball on the first four snaps of McKinley’s second possession, as the Bulldogs moved from their 29 to just beyond midfield. Then McDaniels bootlegged left and hit Wilcox for 22 yards to the Tigers 26. Rozier again got the ball on four consecutive snaps, setting up second and goal at the Massillon 8. McDaniels scrambled for five yards to the 3, before Isaiah Robinson found a small hole over right guard and scored the second TD of the game.
Armatas was again true with the PAT and McKinley, led 14‑0 at 2:59 of the first quarter.
McKinley’s third touchdown drive again followed a Massillon punt and began at its 41. A third down roughing the passer penalty gave the march life at the Tigers 40. On third and four from the 34, Rozier ripped off a nine‑yard gain over left guard for a first down at the 25.
McDaniels hooked up with Curry for 11 yards to the 16 and three plays later Rozier burst through a hole over his right guard and into the end zone from seven yards out. Armatas capped off the 11play drive with the PAT at 9:33 of the second quarter to make it 21‑0 and McKinley fans were ready to party.
It looked like they’d get their chance after Massillon again couldn’t move the football and was forced to punt from its 18. But Josh Hill turned the game around by slicing through the McKinley offensive line to nail Richard Bradley for an 11‑yard loss on a sweep play. Josh Kreider forced McKinley to punt by bringing Bradley down in the open field after he snared a McDaniels third‑down pass in the flat.
“What happened defensively is we finally adapted to their speed,” explained Rose. “Initially we were taken aback a little. They have such great speed and it is difficult to simulate that in practice. Once we got in the flow a little bit, we did better.”
Massillon took over at its 27 after McKinley punted. Hodgson got the ball on four straight plays and picked up 25 yards, including 13 on a draw play that moved the ball to the McKinley 48. On third and 10, Danzy dropped back to pass, saw a seam open up in the middle, and took off for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
Then Danzy found Andy Cocklin on the right sideline for 16 yards. A late hit flag on McKinley moved the ball to the 10. After a first down play lost four yards, Danzy again dropped back and again saw the red sea of Bulldogs jerseys part. He never hesitated, sprinting 14 yards to paydirt and Massillon was on the board at 21‑7 with 2:37 left in the half.
The rejuvenated Massillon defense stopped McKinley after a couple first downs and forced the punt. But Massillon couldn’t move the football either and was forced to punt from its 24 with under :30 left in the half.
Les Thompson broke through the Tigers blocking scheme and blocked Luke Shilling’s kick. Robinson scooped up the ball at the 15 and raced to the end zone for the back breaking touchdown. A missed PAT made it 27‑7 at halftime.
“The last thing we wanted was to fall behind by three touchdowns to this team,” Rose said. “I said that earlier in the week.
“The blocked punt really hurt, but we had a couple plays there that if we would have executed them, we wouldn’t be punting. In a big game like this, you have to execute every time and we had a few plays where we didn’t get the job done.”
Massillon stuffed McKinley on the Bulldogs first possession of the second half. The Tigers then moved from their 33 to McKinley’s 30, where they faced a pivotal fourth-and‑one. But the option blew up in their face for a seven yard loss and a scoring opportunity went by the wayside.
McKinley’s next two series’ ended in a punt and a missed field goal, the latter setting the Tigers up at their own 20. After Massillon gained a first down at the 31, Hodgson raced 18 yards on a draw play and a personal foul on McKinley moved the ball into Bulldog territory at the 42. On third and seven from the 39, Danzy rolled left, then scrambled back to the right and finally found Christian Morgan over the middle for a 21‑yard gain to the 18.
Hodgson again made the Pups pay for their over‑pursuit by grinding out 12 yards on the draw to the McKinley 5. One play later, Danzy rolled left and completed a pass to Neil Buckosh in the end zone for the touchdown. Josh Hose was true with the PAT kick and it was McKinley 27, Massillon 14 with 10:37 to play.
The Massillon defense, smelling blood now, again shut down the McKinley attack on three plays to force a punt that Kreider fair caught at the Tiger 34. On third and four from the 40, Danzy and Hodgson executed the shovel pass to perfection to pick up 15 yards to the Bulldogs 45 and the locals were rolling.
Danzy dropped back to throw on second and seven. Tyrie Clifford made a twisting grab of the wounded duck at the McKinley 8 and the Bulldogs faithful were concerned.
But the Tigers failed to execute a handoff following an audible on the next snap and McKinley’s Mike Doss came up with the fumble to quell the threat and effectively secure a perfect 10‑0 regular season for the Pups.
Again the Tigers could have rolled over. There was still nearly seven minutes to play in the contest and the Bulldogs would’ve loved nothing more than to tack on another touchdown, just for celebration purposes.
But the Massillon defense stood tall and gave the offense another shot in the waning moments. Danzy was standing in the pocket still pitching at the final gun, not willing to concede anything, even in defeat.
As the Tigers trudged off the field, there was no griping from the Massillon fans. Just thank‑yous for making a game against the nation’s top ranked high school football team.
“I’ve got to give our fans a lot of credit,” Rose concluded. “They hung in there with us today the entire time. The team appreciated that and I did, too. The fans were a great help in this.”
McKinley 27, Massillon 14 Massilion McKinley First downs rushing 9 9 First downs passing 6 5 First downs by penalty 0 3 total first downs 15 17 rushing yards 146 183 passing Yards 151 134 total offense 297 317 passing attempts 31 23 completions 15 13 touchdown passes 1 0 interceptions 1 0 punts 6 6 punting average 26.3 37.5 fumbles 5 2 fumbles lost 2 0 Penalties 5 8 yards penalized 57 86
Tigers have to be resilient this week Can’t dwell defeat; Brunswick looms
By Joe Shaheen Independent Sports Editor
The McKinley Bulldogs played their best game of the 1996 regular season when it counted most in the annual Week Ten confrontation with the Massillon Tigers.
The result was a 21-0 white washing of the Tigers and a berth in the playoffs against Grove City on Saturday at Mansfield’s Arlin Stadium.
The Tigers played arguably their worst game of the ’96 regular season against the Pups.
Now it is up to Jack Rose and the Tigers to prove they can get up off the deck an prepare for the Brunswick High Blue Devils, who will provide the opposition in Massillon’s playoff opener this Saturday at the Rubber Bowl.
McKinley’s victory over Massillon, though not dominating was complete. The Bulldogs had the advantage in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams.
The Bulldogs offense put together only one sustained scoring march all afternoon, but it came at the onset of the second half and virtually sealed the Tigers doom by expanding the deficit from 13 points to 21.
The 12 play, 84 yard drive, consumed just over seven minutes off the game clock and featured an effective play action short passing game by sophomore quarterback Ben McDaniels and was capped by Jamar Martin’s four yard touchdown run.
McKinley’s third quarter scoring drive served two purposes, it left just over one quarter of play for the Tigers to close the three touchdown deficit and it was an effective counter point to Massillon’s initial second half drive, which lasted three play and failed to produce a first down.
Massillon’s offense was bottled up for 18 minutes, as much by its own mistakes as the terrible field position forced upon it all afternoon long. The Tigers generated 110 yards of total offense, barely more than half of the Bulldogs modest total 206 yards.
The Bulldogs defense negated the Tigers massive offensive line and thus their vaunted running attack most of the day. Massillon receivers dropped at least five catchable balls and the Tigers forgot about tight end Chris Martin after he caught two passes in the first series of the game.
Although McKinley missed three field goals, the Bulldogs placement specialists boomed four kickoffs for an average of just under 58 yards per kick. The deep well placed kicks limited Massillon to an average of 10 yards per return.
The Bulldogs special teams also produced a big play on the opening kickoff when Trevor Vaught tore off a 30 yard return to midfield. While McKinley did not score on that possession, it seemed to rock the Tigers back on their heels and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
What will stand out in most fans minds was the two McKinley interceptions that set the Bulldogs offense up with first and goal inside the Tigers 5 yard line twice in the first half. Those picks led to a pare of short touchdown runs by De’Andrae Jeter.
What they may forget is McKinley’s late first half drive which nearly produce another TD (it could’ve been a lot worse) and the game long effectiveness of Ben McDaniels, who completed 9 of 13 passes (69 percent) for 143 yards against an accomplished Tiger secondary which picked off a dozen aerials this season.
If there is one comforting development for the Tiger fan who crave a state champtionship and some revenge over McKinley, it is recent history.
Twice since the playoffs were instituted in 1980, Massillon and McKinley have met in the playoffs. Both times the team that prevailed during the regular season was defeated in the playoffs.
The Tigers are hoping they will get a chance to make history repeat itself.
MCKINLEY………….. 21 MASSILLON…………… 0
M Mck First downs rushing 3 3 First downs passing 5 6 First downs penalty 0 0 Total first downs 8 9 Net yards rushing 95 75 Net yards passing 68 143 Total yards gained 110 206 Passes attempted 20 13 Passes completed 6 9 Passes int 2 0 Times kicked off 1 4 Kickoff average 40 57.8 Kickoff return yards 42 30 Punts 6 4 Punting average 33.2 33.3 Punt return yards -3 3 Fumbles 0 1 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 4 2 Yards penalized 23 30 Number of plays 54 52 Time of possession 24:01 23:59
MCKINLEY 0 13 8 0 21 MASSILLON 0 0 0 0 0
SCORING SUMMARY Second Quarter Mck Jeter 1 run (Curry kick) Mck Jeter 2 run(kick failed)
Third Quarter Mck Martin 4 run (McDaniels pass to Gambler)
In a season filled with ‘nail-biters, Tiger claws wear thin vs. McKinley
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
Once again, the Tigers made Massillon proud.
Trailing the favored McKinley Bulldogs 24‑7, late in the third quarter, Massillon clawed its way back into the ballgame and, was on the verge of pulling the upset.
But the storybook finish never materialized. A Tiger turnover at the Pups five‑yard line with less than a minute to play ensured a 24‑21 McKinley victory this afternoon at Fawcett Stadium.
Tigers head coach Jack Rose struggled to find the right wordsafter the game. However, his pride in the comeback his team staged was evident.
“They’ve done that all year,” Rose said, “I’m very proud of them.”
McKinley coach Thom McDaniels tipped his hat to the Tigers amidst a sea of red-and-black.
Good football teams fight back and that’s a good football team over there,” he said.
“They certainly never quit. It was a great game, I don’t think anyone left here disappointed with the show we gave them, although I’m sure the Massillon people were disappointed with the loss.”
Both teams displayed early jitters. The Tigers were intercepted on their first possession after crossing midfield. The Bulldogs penetrated inside the 30 and promptly fumbled it back.
Ater that turnover, the Tigers went three and out and punted it back to McKinley, which took over at its 28. On first down, Bulldogs tailback Adrian Brown got the‑ball on a toss sweep around left end. He broke one tackle as he turned the corner and another at the Massillon 33, before being pulled down as he hit the goal line for a 72‑yard touchdown.
Ray Currie nailed the extra point and the Pups led 7‑0 at 6:20 of the first quarter.
Brown fumbled on McKinley’s next possession late in the first quarter to set the Tigers up with first and 10 at the Bulldogs’ 20 yard line. Two Lavell Weaver runs and a George Whitfield‑to‑Brett Wiles pass set up first and goal at the nine.
Two plays later, Whitfield hit Randy Weiford at the four. On the next play, Weaver spun into the end zone on fourth‑and‑goal from the one. Josh Hose hit the PAT to tie, it at 7‑7 with 10:47 until halftime.
It wouldn’t stay that way long. McKinley moved from its 16 to the 28 after the ensuing kickoff. On second and nine at that point, Brown again got the ball on the sweep around left end and again dashed 72 yards to paydirt. The senior tailback broke a tackle at the Massillon 35 and cut back to the middle of the field to outrace the defensive pursuit.
Currie’s kick made it 14‑7 with 8:17 until halftime.
“We had it defended,” Rose said of Brown’s two long TDs on his signature play. “We just didn’t tackle. Adrian is a strong runner, a physical player. He has the ability to break tackles. But I didn’t think he’d break two long ones on us like that.”
Massillon marched with the ensuing kickoff from its 20 to the McKinley 41. But a dropped pass and a sack of Whitfield forced the Tigers to punt it away from the 50.
Neither team was able to do much until McKinley took over with 1:33 left in the half I at its own 14. A Rick Roloff‑to‑Ken Peterson pass play, a roughing the passer penalty, and a Roloff‑to‑Brown aerial moved the ball to the Massillon 30. Roloff went to Brown again three plays later and he caught a pass tipped by Massillon defensive back Eric Lightfoot. Brown rambled to the Tiger 17.
Three plays later, Currie attempted a 33‑yard field goal that was good with six seconds on the clock, to make it 17‑7 at halftime.
“The last drive of the half was a key one for them,” Rose said. .”We had them pinned way back there. They come out of there and take it the length of the field to get a field goal and now it’s 17‑7 at halftime. That hurt.”
McKinley took the second half kickoff and – aided by a fumbled punt – penetrated to the Massillon 31 before missing a long field goal.
The Tigers shot themselves in the foot again, losing a fumble on their first play to give McKinley the ball at the 27. Two snaps later, Brown found a huge seam over right guard and ran through a tackler at the five for his third touchdown of the afternoon. Currie’s kick at the 4:42 mark of the third period made it 24‑7.
Some fans began walking to the exits at that point, but the Tiger were undaunted.
They moved from their 15 to the McKinley 17, where it appeared they were stalled on a fourth and five. But Whitfield found Brett Wiles wide open over the middle and the senior tight end carried it into the end zone to make it 24‑13 with just over a minute left in the third period. The Tigers forced McKinley to punt, but turned it back over on an interception at the Massillon 37. Once again the defense rose, stopping the Pups on three plays to force a punt that rolled out of bounds at the Tigers’ 17.
On second down, Whitfield connected with Devin Williams to the 32. Two plays later, the senior QB hooked up with Nate Wonsick to the 45. Two completions to Brian Baer moved the football to the McKinley 23.
Whitfield then picked up 11 yards on an option keeper around left end. On the next play, Whitfield rolled right and found Vinny Turner wide open at the seven and Turner trotted into the end zone with 3:28 to play.
Whitfield zeroed in on Weiford on a crossing pattern for the two‑point conversion and suddenly it was a nail‑biter at 24‑21.
The Massillon defense again stuffed McKinley on its next possession and the Bulldogs punted after three snaps. Massillon took over at the Bulldogs 42 and Whitfield’s 22‑yard gain on the bootleg around left end got the ball to the 20 with 1:40 to play.
Two plays later, Whitfield meshed with Williams at the 8, where he was hit hard first from the front by Rashan Hall and then from the rear by Shauntel Lodge, forcing a fumble. Demarlo Rozier recovered for the Bulldogs and the celebration began.
McDaniels asserted the Bulldogs were not in a prevent defense on Massillon’s final two drives.
“No, but we were changing defenses on practically every play,” McDaniels said . “But it wasn’t necessarily a prevent. We were looking for them to throw the ball, but we weren’t in a prevent.
”I was concerned about George Whitfield having a career day and I think he did. He had a great game. I talked with him afterward and he can be proud of the way he played.”
Rose said the game got away from the Tigers in the first half.
“We wound up too much in the first half,” he said. “We had a lot of missed assignments. We didn’t, tackle well and (Brown) broke those two long ones on us. In the second half we played a lot better. We got settled down.
“Vinny went down with an ankle injury early and we kind of got knocked out of whack. We regrouped and made a couple of plays there.”
For the first nine weeks of the 1993 high school football season, the Massillon Tigers made the big plays, evidenced by a 47 points per game average, a 9‑0 record and a number four statewide ranking.
But things went the other way at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, as the McKinley Bulldogs parlayed big plays into a 21‑13 upset of the Tigers.
Making many of the big plays for McKinley was one of their smaller players, 5‑9, 140‑pound senior quarterback Josh McDaniels.
With the game at tied at 7‑7, and less than three minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs took over at their 34 yard line. On third‑and‑5, McDaniels kept the ball on an option, picking his way for 15 yards and a key first down.
On the very next snap McDaniels rolled right and hit Jaivonne Richards along the right sideline for 18 yards to the Tiger 28, and the Pups were in range.
McDaniels found Tom Hastings for seven more to the 21. But it appeared the Tigers Chris Porrini had come up with the stopper, when he smelled out a middle screen to Kinta Mitchell for a three‑yard loss.
McDaniels barely overthrew Hastings along the left side on a perfectly run fade pattern, setting up fourth-and‑6 at the Tiger 24. It also set up what may have been the play of the game.
On the next snap, McDaniels and Hastings connected on a short curl in the left flats, and Hastings pitched the ball back to Denell Harris, who scooted to the Tiger five where Lonnie Simpson made a touchdown saving stop.
With a minute to go until the half, McDaniels rolled right but couldn’t find an open receiver. So the coach’s son tucked the ball and took off, finding paydirt, and giving the Pups a 14‑7 lead at half.
McKinley opened the afternoon scoring on its first possession. Tailback Che Bryant carried the ball on the first three plays ‑ including a 27‑yard burst ‑ as the Bulldogs moved from their own 20 to Massillon’s 47. The Pups kept the football on the ground with Mitchell and Harris on the next two plays, moving it to the Tiger 27. Then Bryant found a gaping hole over left tackle. Defensive back Tim Menches made one of many fine stops at the 19.
Bryant then gained 10 more yards over right tackle on the next snap, making it first‑and-goal at the eight. Three plays later, McKinley faced a decision. It was fourth‑and‑goal at the three.
In came McDaniels, who didn’t start at quarterback. He lined up in field goal formation, but shifted to a conventional set at the last moment. He handed the ball to Harris, who went over left tackle for a TD. McDaniels’ PAT made it 7‑0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.
The drive covered 80 yards in 11 plays.
Massillon came right back on its initial possession of the contest. It looked like three downs and out, but a roughing‑the-kicker call on McKinley, giving the Tigers new life on their 46. On the next play, a late‑hit‑penalty moved the ball to the 39.
Tiger fullback Mike Paul carried twice for 14 yards to the 25, then Mike Danzy ran around right end for 10 more. On third‑and‑6 from the 11, Paul carried on a draw play, cut off a fine block by Brock Herring, and picked up a first down at the four. Three plays later, Paul scored from the one to make it 7‑7 with 11:57 left in the first half.
The Tigers came out for the third quarter, and looked like they were ready to erase a 14‑7 lead, driving from their 36 to McKinley’s 16, as Dixon and Danzy took turns making plays.
Dixon picked up 13 on a counter around left end to give the locals a first down near midfield, then ran another counter over right guard to the 33. Two plays later, he hit Merchant to the 21.
Danzy then found tight end Isaiah Jackson to set up first‑and‑goal at the six. But the Bulldog defense stiffened and Massillon turned the ball over on an interception by Richards in the end zone.
The Massillon defense stopped McKinley on the next possession. But the Tigers fumbled, giving the Bulldogs back the ball at the Tiger 35. Eight plays later, Mitchell found the end zone from three yards out to make it 21‑7, 37 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers came, back, getting a big play of its own on the next possession, as Danzy hit Jackson on the right sideline for 44‑yeard gainer to the McKinley 28. Two plays later, Danzy hit Merchant for a short pass on the left side. Merchant slipped two tackles, and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone, making it 21‑13.
Harris tipped away a conversion pass, intended for Jackson.
McKinley was forced to punt on its next possession. But the Tigers couldn’t do anything, giving it back to the hosts with 3:59 to play. McKinley ran out the clock without giving the Tigers the ball back.
The Bulldogs averaged 6.7 yards on first down plays, compared to under three yards for the Tigers.
MASSILLON 13 MCKINLEY 21 M Mc First downs rushing 8 10 First downs passing 4 2 First downs penalty 2 1 Total first downs 14 13 Net yards rushing 108 240 Net yards passing 101 44 Total yards gained 209 284 Passes attempted 15 10 Passes completed 5 6 Passes int. by 2 0 Times kicked off 3 4 Kickoff average 54 31.3 Kickoff return yards 10 28 Punts 2 3 Punting average 34 31 Punt return yards 6 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 4 7 Yards penalized 40 55 Number of plays 48 50 Time of possession 24:43 23:17
MCKINLEY 7 7 0 7‑21 MASSILLON 0 7 0 6‑13
McK. ‑ Harris 3 yard run (McDanielS kick) Mass. ‑ Paul 1 yard run (Endsley kick) McK. ‑ McDaniels 5 yard run (McDaniels kick) McK. ‑ Mitchell 3 yard run (McDaniels kick) Mass. ‑ Merchant 28 yard pass from Danzy (pass failed)
For many of the Massillon fans at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, the McKinley game is the culmination of an entire season.
For others, it’s the one game they live for while growing up in Tigertown.
Some are former players or booster club members. Some are only part‑time fans. Others are just your everyday Massillon Tiger fanatics.
They all had something in common. They were pulling for the Tigers to come out on top.
The game is the pinnacle of the season for both teams.
The Bulldogs did their best to take the Tiger faithful out of the game early, surging to a 14‑7 halftime lead.
“I said I was worried about this game,” one fan decked out in orange and black said on his way to take his seat after a visit to the concession stand.
“McKinley’s better than most people give them credit for.”
Many fans spent part of the afternoon reliving the excitement leading up to “The Game.”
“Everything else ‑ the nine games before this, the practice before the season ‑ is superficial, ” said Al Rogers Jr., who played for the Tigers in 1976.
“This is what playing Massillon Tiger football is all about. You throw all the records out. I remember when I was a junior we played McKinley and we were 5‑3‑1 coming in and they were 9‑0. We beat them and knocked them out of the playoffs.
“That’s what makes this game so special. The tradition is what sets this game apart from any other game in the country.”
Tiger Booster Club president Rollie Layfield will always remember the 1993-94 season. Win or lose, the Tigers, according to Layfield, had a great team.
“If we get into the playoffs, I think we’ll be respectable,” said Layfield who is only allowed to serve one term a president. “This has been a great season. This group of young men have come together as a team, and that’s what this game is all about.”
Rob Maylor, who played offensive line for the Tigers in 1981 and ’82, is a staunch Tiger fan. Maylor was one of the booster members forming the man‑made tunnel before the Tigers took the field.
He hasn’t lost any intensity since his playing days.
Maylor was slapping helmets am screaming encouragement to the Massillon players.
“As a player, this game is something you live for,” Maylor said. “When I see the players come out of the locker room and head for that hoop, I get goose bumps every week.
“This game is special, It’s the pinnacle of the season.
Owens hopes ‘right Massillon team’ shows up after 20‑7 loss to McKinley
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
A great season may still await them.
But there is only one way to attain it, one of the Massillon Tiger football captains said after Saturday’s 20‑7 loss to McKinley.
“The only thing that can help us get over this,” senior cornerback Chad Buckland said, “is if we go all the way.”
“All the way” means a four‑game winning streak against competition that will get nastier each week.
The Tigers are one of 16 teams in the Division I playoffs. The one that wins the next four weekends will be state champ.
Right now, though, the Tigers are a 7‑3 team needing just one win to get over a loss to their arch‑rival.
Two months ago, the Tigers were a play away from beating mighty Cincinnati Moeller. Now they are a team that must prove itself all over again.
“Can we come back?” said Tiger coach Lee Owens, repeating a question put to him. “We didn’t do a good job of it the last time we were in a similar situation (losing in Austintown a week after falling to Moeller). I hope we do better than we did the last time.
Owens senses it will be easier to rebound this time. He noted the Tigers didn’t seem crushed by the McKinley loss the way they were after getting nipped by Moeller.
But the team needs a spark, he said.
“Some of the fans have been saying, , Which Massillon team will show up today?’ And I see their point,” Owens said. “There have been times when we’ve been good enough to play with any team in Ohio. There have been other times when we could be defeated by any one of the teams entering the playoffs.
“It will depend on which Tiger team shows up. I hope it’s the right one.”
Were the Tigers lacking fire in their bellies against McKinley because they knew a playoff spot was locked up?
“I don’t think so,” Tiger defensive tackle Ron Humphrey said. “I hardly even thought about the playoffs all week. I was just thinking about McKinley.
“There’s nothing you can say or do to change what happened today. We lost. It’s over.
“We’ve got to get our sulking out of the way in one day and get back to work.”
“We have to get this one behind us as soon as we can,” agreed senior wide receiver Steve Brown.
“We can’t hang our heads,” echoed tight end Chris Roth.
“We have to forget McKinley and regroup,” said junior linebacker Eric Wright. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to play hard in the playoffs and try to win all our games.”
“We’ve got to keep our heads up and not make a big deal out of the McKinley game,” said running back Falando Ashcraft.
Every Tiger interviewed gave the Bulldogs their due.
“I knew they were capable of playing like this,” Buckland said. “I thought all along they were going to explode. Unfortunately, they did … against us.
“On the positive side for us, McKinley has to sit home. It’s a lot better knowing you’re going to get to play again.”
Owens learned Sunday that his team will face Jackson in the first round of the playoffs Saturday at Fawcett Stadium. He had little to say on the matter, in keeping with the tight ship he says will be run this week.
“It does not matter who we play this week,” the coach said Sunday night at 8 from his office.
“We’re just glad to be in the playoffs.” His only comment on Jackson: They must be a good team, having won nine games. When a team loses only once you assume they’re a fine team.”
Owens had been through a busy Sunday already. He wasn’t finished.
“It’s going to be a long one,” he said.
MASSILLON 7 McKINLEY 20 Ma Mc First downs rushing 3 10 First downs passing 4 7 First downs by penalty 1 1 Totals first downs 8 18 Yards gained rushing 68 183 Yards lost rushing 20 19 Net yards rushing 48 164 Net yards passing 113 143 Total yards gained 161 307 Passes attempted 22 22 Passes completed 8 14 Passes int. by 1 3 Times kicked off 2 4 Kickoff average 57.5 47.3 Kickoff return yards 42 16 Punts 6 2 Punting average 30.2 42.5 Punt return yards 2 13 Fumbles 3 3 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 3 7 Yards penalized 45 70 Number of plays 46 70 Time of possession 17.21 30.39 Attendance 16,741
McKINLEY 0 7 7 6 20 MASSILLON 0 0 7 0 7
McK ‑ Martin 28 pass from Henry (Curtis kick) Mas ‑ Roth 38 pass from Burick (John kick) McK ‑ Curtis 1 run (Curtis kick) McK ‑ Kaiusin 3 run (kick failed)
Most of the pre game know‑it‑alls had Saturday’s 95th McKinley‑Massillon high school football game figured out before the 21,000 fans filed into Fawcett Stadium.
They said McKinley’s ground game was too quick for Massillon’s defense. They also said Massillon’s offense was good, but not good enough to outplay McKinley’s quick defenders.
Boy, were they wrong.
Final score: Massillon 24, McKinley 7.
The victory gives Massillon an 8‑2 record, a 52‑38‑5 advantage in the McKinley‑Massillon series and a berth in the state playoffs for the first time since 1982. Massillon held its top spot in Region 3, while McKinley (7‑3) fell from the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Tigers, by virtue of their top spot in Region 3, most likely will host either Akron Garfield or Walsh Jesuit in Saturday’s opening round of the Division I playoffs. The final computer standings and the opening round pairings will be released by the Ohio High School Athletic Association tonight.
Massillon proved the know‑it‑alls wrong by doing what few thought they could. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 45 yards rushing and 179 total yards.
The McKinley running game, which has featured 13 backs this season, was field to a 2.3‑yards‑per‑carry average on 20 carries and four first downs. The Bulldogs’ leading ground‑gainer on the season, Darnell Clark, had nine yards on 10 carries.
“This is the best defense we’ve played all season, especially against the run,” said Massillon defensive coordinator Dan Boarman. ‘We didn’t do anything difference as far as design. We just played a lot harder and were able to shut down their running game.”
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Massillon led 14‑0 before McKinley’s offense was brought onto the field.
After kick returner Donnie Blake returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to the McKinley 47, the Tigers drove the rest of the way on seven plays and scored on a six‑yard run by Ryan Sparkman. Gary Miller added the first of three extra‑point kicks to give Massillon a 7‑0 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter.
McKinley’s offense had to stay on the sideline when kick returner Kirk Moore fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Massillon’s David Whitfield recovered at the McKinley 18. The turnover was the first of four for McKinley.
Six plays later, Sparkman followed tackles Torn Menches and Ray Kovacsiss over the right side of the line for a two‑yard TD to put Massillon two TDs ahead with 7:20 left in tire first quarter.
When McKinley finally got the ball, the Bulldogs seemed to abandon the run, calling four straight pass plays and six in their first seven snaps.
“I think our offense took a lot of heat off our defense by scoring those two quick touchdowns,” Boarman said. “I think maybe we changed their game plan somewhat.”
McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels insisted the Bulldogs didn’t stray from their original game plan.
“We planned to come out and throw like we did,” McDaniels said. “(The touchdowns) did not change that. The situation was not out of hand at that point, by any means.”
McKinley climbed back into the game following a 29‑yard punt to the Massillon 49. The Bulldogs, with the help of a pass interference call on third‑and‑10 that put the ball on the Massillon 32, scored with 1:30 left in the quarter.
Three plays after the interference, junior quarterback Ryan Henry (9‑of‑23, 134 yards) fooled the entire Massillon defense into thinking he was going to run after scrambling away from Mike Martin’s rush. Instead, Henry threw a 32‑yard TD pass to Ron Szerokman who was wide open in the end zone.
Massillon, however, put McKinley in a huge hole when quarterback Lee Hurst lofted a perfectly thrown 12‑yard TD pass to senior Rameir Martin with four seconds left in the half. Martin used every inch of his 6‑4 frame as he leaped between two defenders, bobbled the ball and tucked it away before falling just inbounds.
“That probably was the play of the game,” said Massillon head coach Lee Owens. “Rameir is such a talented kid. And Lee is a gutsy kid for tossing the ball in there like he did.”
Hurst became Massillon’s record‑holder in single‑season pass completions and passing yards with a first half that saw him complete 12‑of‑20 passes for 166 yards. With his final statistics reading 12‑of‑ 22 for 166 yards, Hurst finished the regular season with 111 completions in 208 attempts for 1,485 yards and 10 TDs.
Martin caught all nine of his passes in the first half for 110 yards.
With the lead in hand, Massillon turned the ball over to senior running backs Ryan Sparkman and. Lamonte Dixon. The two combined for 117 yards rushing in the second half, and set up a 27‑yard field goal by Miller late in the third quarter.
Sparkman ended with a game high 105 yards on 25 carries.
Overall, Massillon rolled up 335 total yards and 20 first downs. The Tigers’ offense also didn’t turn the ball over.
“It was a case of its playing good defense and errorless football in the first half, and then wearing out McKinley in the second half,” Owens said. “I think it’s safe to say we pretty much controlled the game the entire way.”
Which is something the know‑it‑alls never would have guessed. ***** Massillon offensive line coach Nick Vrotsos was coaching in his 33rd McKinley‑Massillon game, not his 31st as was reported Thursday.
Overlooked were the 14‑6 victory over McKinley in the 1980 playoffs and the Tigers’ first victory over McKinley in 1963 (the teams played twice that year because McKinley was suspended from play in 1962). Vrotsos is 22‑11 vs. McKinley.
Massillon 14 7 3 0 24 McKinley 7 0 0 0 7
Mass ‑ Sparkman 6 run (G Miller kick) Mass ‑ Sparkman 2 run (G. Miller kick) McK ‑ Szerokman 32 as, iron, Her,, (Woj kick) Mass ‑ Martin 12 pass from Hurst (G. Miller kick) Mass ‑ FG G. Miller 27
‘Dogs down; Tigers stalk Walsh Owens: Massillon’s back, you can’t keep us down
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
It’s a something old, something new, something borrowed kind of Monday for the Massillon Tigers.
* The old (even ancient) ‑ The Tigers beat up the McKinley Bulldogs 24‑7 Saturday at Fawcett Stadium to take a 52‑38‑5 lead in a series that started six years before the Canton school’s namesake became a U.S. president in 1900.
* The new ‑ Massillon and Walsh Jesuit have never played each other. They will collide at 7 p.m. Saturday in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in a first‑round Division I playoff game.
* The borrowed ‑ Sonny Spielman, whose son Chris was a junior the last time the Tigers made the playoffs, in 1982, declared, “The title will ride on Tiger pride.” Didn’t somebody say that somewhere along the line?
It all adds up to this: Sun’s up in Tigertown after a second straight victory over the Dastardly ‘Dogs.
What’s it all mean?
“The focus,” said 33‑year‑old Massillon head coach Lee Owens, who is 2‑0 against McKinley and 15-5 as the top Tiger, “is Massillon.
“I was proud of our school. I was proud of our city. I was proud of our players. I was proud of our coaches.
“Massillon is back. You can’t keep us down. The first year we were eligible to be back in the playoffs, we made it back.
“We aren’t satisfied with just being back in the playoffs, either. As hard as it is to get emotionally up for another game after beating McKinley, we will find a way to do that. We will find a way to establish the consistency needed to advance in the playoffs.”
Who’s going to argue with the man?
His team founds way to dominate potent Austintown‑Fitch a week after losing 41‑7 to Cincinnati Moeller (which, incidentally, will take on unbeaten Cincinnati Elder in another Saturday playoff battle). It found a way to dominate favored – just ask 90 percent of the out‑of‑town media – McKinley a week after a stunning defeat to Cleveland St. Joseph.
Saturday’s game, played on an August‑meets‑October afternoon with temperatures in the 70s, came at the end of a hair‑raising week.
Lose and the Tigers’ season would end bitterly. Win and they would make the playoffs.
The Tigers struck early and let their thousands of followers let their hair bang down.
Massillon led 14‑0 with less than five minutes gone in the game. They stormed into the fourth quarter on top by the 24‑7 final score.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with half the Massillon crowd chanting “T‑I‑G” and the other half roaring back “E‑R‑S,” red rivers of Bulldog boosters streamed toward the exits.
Massillon got it done with a complete package: offense, defense, special teams and crowd support.
The offense scored on the game’s first series and amassed 335 yards against a ballyhooed defense.
The defense was both lucky (McKinley dropped several passes) and good, making numerous crunching hits and keeping the Bulldogs from getting outside. McKinley finished with just 179 total yards.
The special teams got along kick return from Donnie Blake to start the game and a big fumble recovery by David Whitfield minutes later.
The coaching staff came up with an offensive blocking scheme that took McKinley by surprise.
The crowd was large enough and loud enough to negate McKinley’s home‑field advantage ‑ an estimated 8,000 of the crowd of 20,000 ‑ official figure remained unavailable this morning ‑ rooted for the Tigers.
The offense used an unbalanced line in which the two biggest Tigers, Tom Menches and Ray Kovacsiss, lined up side by side.
”We recognized it as coaches,” said McKinley mentor Thom McDaniels. “But coaches recognizing it and adjusting to it and players doing so can be two different things.
They hadn’t done that in anything we’d seen in scouting them.”
Owens said his staff agreed the unbalanced look would throw McKinley’s angle defense off stride.
“We’ve used it during the season in goal‑line situations, but not all over the field as we did today,” he said.
Added Tiger tackle Tom Menches, “I think we had McKinley fooled.”
Senior running back Ryan Sparkman benefited from the well executed plan. He scored two touchdowns and rushed 25 times for 105 yards.
Quarterback Lee Hurst and split end Rameir Martin also had particularly outstanding games.
Hurst completed 12 of 22 passes for 166 yards. Martin caught six passes for 110 yards, including a leaping 12-yard touchdown catch with four seconds left in the first half in which he outwrestled three McKinley defenders for position and landed on his back clutching the ball.
The hard‑hitting contest left the physical status of a few Tigers in doubt heading into the Walsh Jesuit game.
Senior lineman Tom Menches suffered a badly sprained left ankle during a third‑quarter drive in which the Tigers scored the only points of the second half on a field goal.
Senior defensive back Eddie Williams suffered a knee injury in the first half. Stacy said the injury probably won’t require immediate surgery but that Williams won’t play Saturday.
Sparkman aggravated a hamstring injury that has cost him playing time this season but he probably will play Saturday, Stacy said.
Defensive lineman Mark McGeorge, bothered by nagging injuries late in the year, had to be helped off the field during the McKinley game. His status is uncertain.
MASSILLON 24 McKINLEY 7
Me Mc HALFTIME TOTALS First downs rushing 3 2 First downs passing 7 2 First downs penalty 1 1 Total first down 11 5 Net Yards rushing 39 30 Net Yards Passing 166 52 Total net Yards 205 82 Passes attempted 21 12 Passes completed 12 3 Passes intercepted 0 0 Fumbles/lost 0‑0 1‑1 Punts 3 4 Punting average 30.7 36.3 Penalties 3 3 Yards penalized 31 22
FINAL TOTALS First downs rushing 12 4 First downs passing 7 6 First downs penalty 1 1 Total first 20 11 Net Yards rushing 169 45 Net Yards passing 166 134 Total net yards 335 179 Passes attempted 23 23 Passes completed 72 9 Passes intercepted 0 2 Fumbles/lost 1‑0 3‑2 Punts 5 6 Punting average 31.0 36.7 Penalties 3 3 Yards penalized 31 22
Ma ‑ Sparkman 6 run. Miller kick Ma ‑ Sparkman 2 run. Miller kick Mc ‑ Szerokman 32 pass from Henry. Wojcik kick Ma ‑ Martin 12 pass from Hurst. Miller kick Ma ‑ Miller 27 field goal.
Here is a drive‑by‑drive account of Saturday’s Massillon-McKinley game, won 24‑7 by the Tigers. MAS ‑ Donnie Blake returns opening kickoff 37 yards to McKinley 47 Ryan Sparkman scores on 7‑yard run on seventh play, Key play: 16‑yard Lee Hurst to Troy Manion completion to 32 on first down. Gary Miller’s P.A.T. kick good at 9:39 of first quarter. Tigers 7, McKinley *** McK ‑ Kirk Moore fumbles during kickoff return. David Whitfield, recovers for Massillon. MAS ‑ Start on McKinley 18. Score in six plays on 2‑yard run by Sparkman. Key play: 7‑yard Hurst to Rameir Martin pass to 11 on first down. Miller P.A.T. kick good at 7:20 of first quarter. Tigers 14, McKinley 0 *** McK ‑ Start on own 20 after touchback. Drive to Tiger 49. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 16. Three plays. Punt. McK ‑ Start on Tiger 49. Score on third play, a 32‑yard pass from Ryan Henry to Ron Szerokman. Wojcik kick good at 1:38 of first quarter. Tigers 14, McKinley 7 *** MAS ‑ Start on own 23 after kickoff. Drive nine plays to 20 Hurst’s 38‑yard field goal attempt wide right at 9:42 of second quarter. Key play: 36‑yard Hurst to Martin sideline pass. McK ‑ Start on own 20. Four plays to 37. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 11. Six plays to own 48, including 30‑yard sideline pass to Doug Harig. Punt. Mck ‑Start on own 25 with 3:13 left in first half. Three plays. Punt., MAS ‑ Start on own 36 with 2:00 left in half. Drive 64 yards in 10 plays for TD, 12‑yard pass from Hurst to Martin in left corner of end zone. Key plays: 9‑yard run to 45 by Sparkman on first down; 8‑yard reception by Martin followed by late hit penalty to 12. Miller’s P.A.T. kick good at 0:04 of first half. First half expires on ensuing kickoff return. Tigers 21, McKinley 7 *** McK ‑ Start on own 6 after bobble of kickoff return. Three plays. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on McKinley 40. Six plays to 12. Hurst’s 38‑yard field goal attempt wide right at 6:36 of third quarter. McK ‑ Start on own 20, Three plays. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 47. Seven plays to 8‑yard line. 27‑yard field goal by Miller good at 1:27 of third quarter. Tigers 24, McKinley 7
McK ‑ Start on own 45 after kickoff return. Seven plays to Tiger 3. Keith Rabbitt rips ball away from Bulldog pass receiver Dorey Irven MAS ‑ Start on own 3. Seven plays to 43. Punt. McK‑ Start on own 25 with 5:53 left in game. Drive inside Massillon territory but lose ball on interception by Chad Buckland that virtually ends game.
MASSILLON ‑ It looked like plain old mud wrestling, but Massillon defensive tackle Bob Dunwiddie said it had a name.
“It’s called our sci‑fi stomp,” he said after the Tigers’ dramatic 10‑7 overtime high school football victory over McKinley Saturday before 17,000 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
After McKinley’s Akram Alzught missed a 38‑yard field goal on the last play of the game, Massillon’s players sprinted to the 50-yard line and began rolling around in the mud. They got up for a little dancing, and then it was back down in the muck for more celebrating.
But even the guy who has to wash the jerseys had to be smiling. The victory snapped a four‑game losing streak for the Tigers against McKinley, and some say it could even make the difference Tuesday when Massillon voters decide whether they want a new high school.
“I won a state championship (at Galion in 1985), but this is bigger, “ said Massillon coach Lee Owens. “This community has been down, and we needed it. This is just an unbelievable win.”
The deciding points came on a 23‑yard field goal by junior Lee Hurst on Massillon’s first series of overtime. It was Hurst’s first field goal of the season.
As if the way he won it wasn’t spectacular enough, Hurst almost won the game in more dramatic fashion. With 2:07 left in regulation, his 47‑yard field goal attempt was wide right by about two feet.
“That was frustrating because I thought I had it, and it just went, wide,” said Hurst, who pounded the turf in agony after the kick. “But I was able to get it out of mind quickly.
McKinley (6‑4) won the overtime toss, and e!ected to let the Tigers (7‑3) have the first possession. Beginning at the McKinley 20, Massillon got one first down, but the drive stalled at the 7, and Hurst booted the go‑ahead field goal.
In the first half, a driving rain and severe winds hampered the kicking game. But, fortunately for Hurst, there was no rain and little wind when the game was on the line.
On the second play of McKinley’s overtime possession, Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Henry threw the ball into the end zone to a wide‑open Alfred Hill, but the ball slipped through Hill’s hands.
“When I saw him wide open, my heart missed one full beat,” Owens said. “When I saw we were still alive, I said to myself, ‘Thank God, we finally got a break this season.”
Two plays later, Alzught squibbed his field‑goal attempt to the left, and pandemonium erupted.
While it was one of the most dramatic endings in the 94‑year old rivalry (Massillon leads the series 51‑38‑5), much of the game matched every cliche uttered by the two coaches all week. It was hard‑hitting and intense. Nobody literally left their heart on the field, but some players came very close.
Both touchdowns were scored in the second quarter. With 7:40 left in the half, McKinley halfback Derrick Gordon, who gained 77 yards on 22 carries, scored on a one‑yard run, and Alzught added the extra point.
With 2:09 left before intermission, Jamie Slutz hit Doug Harig with a seven‑yard TD toss, and Hurst kicked the extra point. Slutz is the Tigers’ backup quarterback, but he was in the game thanks to the latest surprise from Owens.
While the chains were being moved for a first down, Owens sneaked Slutz into the game as a running back. Before McKinley had a chance to react, quarterback Hurst had handed the ball off to Slutz, who flipped the ball to a wide‑open Harig.
“Coach put that in a couple of weeks ago, but we didn’t want to use it until then,” Slutz said. “We were saving it for McKinley.”
“I recognized it right away, and I was yelling to the players,” said McKinley coach Thom McDaniels. “But it’s hard when you’re 30 yards away and 17,000 people are screaming.
The story in the second half was defense. When McKinley got down to the Massillon 9 late in the third quarter linebacker David Lewell smashed Lamuel Flowers for a one‑yard loss on fourth‑and‑1.
Led by the running of Jason Stafford, who gained 123 yards on 21 carries, Massillon twice advanced inside the McKinley 40‑yard line. But twice McKinley’s defense forced fumbles.
By the fourth quarter, the Tigers’ defense was frustrating McKinley to such a degree that McDaniels felt he needed to take a huge gamble.
With 5:53 left and the Bulldogs facing fourth‑and‑2 at the 50, McKinley tried a fake punt. The ball was snapped to up‑back Darnell Clark, but he was stopped a half‑yard short of the first down.
McDaniels said he thought it was a “win or lose” gamble, but it was neither after Hurst’s 47‑yarder just missed on Massillon’s ensuing possession.
Tiger back: Defense ‘ ‘main factor’
Key plays in overtime hidden factors in victory vs. McKinley
MASSILLON 10 McKINLEY 7 MAS MCK Total first downs 13 11 Rushing attempts 42 43 Net yards rushing 197 138 Net yards passing 38 119 Total yards gained 235 257 Passes attempted 13 19 Passes completed 4 8 Passes Int. by 0 1 Punts 5 4 Punting average 33.0 32.8 Fumbles 3 2 Fumbles lost 1 2 Penalties 1 3 Yards penalized 10 19 Attendance 17,750
Rushing (Mas) Stafford 21‑123, Dixon 6-48, Hurst 10‑9, Dunwiddle 4‑18 (McK) Gordon 22‑77, Flowers 11‑42, Henry 2‑15, White 4‑7.
Receiving (Mas) Stafford 2‑24, D. Harig 1‑7, Spencer 1‑7. (McK) Flowers 3‑27, Hunter 3-52, Hedrick 1-15, White 1-13.
McKINLEY 0 7 0 0 0 7 MASSILLON 0 7 0 0 3 10
McK ‑ Gordon 1 run (Alzught kick) Mas ‑ D. Harig 7 pass from Slutz (Hurst Kick) Mas – FG Hurst 23
Key plays in overtime hidden factors in victory vs. McKinley
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
If they had a draft of Stark County’s high school football players Jason Stafford might be the first pick in the whole thing.
Stafford did his usual thing Saturday, rushing for 123 yards in the Massillon Tigers’ 10‑7 overtime victory over the McKinley Bulldogs.
Yet, Stafford’s view of the glorious day was that, if there was a draft of high school players and he was picking, he’d say, “I’ll start with defense … and I’ll take those Massillon guys.”
“The defense played great Stafford said in a mud‑caked locker room after the Tigers sealed a 7‑3 season and froze McKinley’s final ’88 mark at 6‑4.
“The defense,” Stafford said, “was the main factor in the game.”
Sure, it was Lee Hurst’s clutch 23‑yard overtime field goal that put the Tigers ahead 10‑7. And it was a missed 38‑yard field goal by McKinley’s Akram Alzught that ended the game.
But it was the defense that kept McKinley from winning the game in regulation.
And it was the defense that made it so Alzught’s final field goal attempt was 38 yards ‑ a mile by high school standards, especially on the muddy field the Paul Brown Tiger Stadium gridiron became as a result of Friday/Saturday cloudbursts.
“We came together when we had to come together,” said nose guard Steve Harlan, who played despite a torn shoulder. “They broke through a couple of times, but we sucked it up.”
Late in the third quarter, with McKinley driving toward what could have been a killing touchdown, the Bulldogs elected to go for a first down on fourth‑and‑one from the Tiger 10. Bulldog fullback Lamuel Flowers had been playing with fire all day, and the give went to him. Tiger linebacker David Ledwell also went to him, smashing Flowers into a standup position, The Tiger line drove him backward and Massillon got the ball on downs.
“They tried to run off tackle and we stuffed it,” said Tiger end Steve Snodgrass, who was in on the play.
Now the game was in overtime. Both teams got a chance to line up at the 20 and try to score.
The Tigers, losing the coin toss and having to go first, rammed inside the 10 before settling for Hurst’s field goal.
Hurst’s heart leaped when the snap was slightly off line, but Todd Porter managed to make a clean spot.
“I have to do it,” is what Hurst ,said he was thinking. He did, with his first field goal of the season.
Now McKinley had a chance to counter, getting the ball on first down at the 20.
Chad Buckland and Jason Relford slammed tailback Derrick Gordon for a yard loss. Then came the play that made 17,750 hearts jump. McKinley quarterback Ryan Henry rolled right and looked to the end zone. At the last minute he unleashed a bullet toward tight end Alfred Hill, wide open in the end zone. Hill didn’t get in front of the ball and it zipped by his fingers.
Most fans were locked in on the wide‑open Hill. Many missed the fact Henry was pummeled by Tiger tackle Trace Liggett as he threw. Without Liggett’s rush, Henry would have been able to case the ball to Hill. Instead, he had to fire a rocket shot that was ever so slightly off line. With the ball as slippery as it was, ever so slightly can be ever so much.
The Tigers survived. On the next play, senior defensive back Mike Pritchard made a superb play in knifing in front of Gordon and knocking away what could have been a critical completion at the 7.
Now McKinley had to try a long field goal. The attempt did not come close, being kicked on a low line far short of the uprights. The Massillon part of the crowd ‑ which was the vast majority ‑ erupted while the ball was in the air.
McKinley’s four‑game winning streak against Massillon was over. The Tigers had won.
The game was played on a roller coaster, both in terms of the action and the weather.
Rain that started during the previous night and gained momentum as the game approached left the field soaked. The contest started in a drizzle, but, in the second quarter, that turned to one of the heaviest downpours the series has seen.
First‑year head coach Lee Owens has brought a lot of good things to Tigertown. One, of them nobody knew about was PAM.
Tiger equipment manager Keith Herring said PAM ‑ a slick vegetable spray ‑ was used liberally on the bottoms of the Tigers’ spikes.
“It really helped keep the mud off our shoes,” said running back Lamont Dixon.
The Tigers mounted an outstanding ground attack late in the first half and through most of the second half.
The rain subsided by the third quarter and the sun actually broke through the clouds early in the fourth.
It was McKinley breaking through first on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs won the battle of field position early and, on their third possession, had to drive only 37 yards following a punt for a touchdown.
Henry’s fourth‑and‑three bootleg run worked to perfection and gave McKinley first and goal at the 8. On fourth down at the 1, McKinley called time out, then sent Gordon, who finished with 77 yards in 22 carries, over the left side for a touchdown. Alzught’s kick made it 7‑0 with 7:40 left in the first half.
A deflected pass and interception gave McKinley the ball back moments later, but the Pups lost a promising series when Tiger linebacker Tom Mattox pounced on a Flowers fumble at the Massillon 35. From there, Stafford and junior running back Lamont Dixon followed the Tiger line down the field.
Stafford gained 8 yards and Dixon stormed for 10. An 8‑yard bootleg run by Hurst put the ball on the McKinley 37, then Hurst connected with Stafford on a wide‑open screen pass for 30 yards to the 7.
Owens then sent in one of the secret plays the Tigers were saving for the McKinley game. Jamie Slutz, a senior who has performed well all year in the role of backup quarterback/trick play artist, sprinted into the game and lined up at “A‑back,” which usually is Dixon’s position.
“We’ve practiced that for three weeks,” Slutz said. “We were saving it for this game.”
McKinley’s defense didn’t have a chance to react to Bulldog coaches screaming from the sidelines. Slutz took a handoff from Hurst, backed up a step, and spotted junior Doug Harig breaking free in the end zone. Slutz gently lofted a perfect pass over the only McKinley defender in the neighborhood and Harig made an over‑the‑shoulder catch. Hurst’s kick made it 7‑7 with 2:07 left in the half.
Momentum had shifted.
“It was a 949 special,” Harig said. “The ball looked like a pea when it was coming to me. But I figured I’d better catch it, or just keeping running to the locker room.”
McKinley controlled much of the first half, but the Tigers dominated the second half after McKinley’s big third‑quarter drive was stopped at the 10.
A 19‑yard scramble by Hurst got Massillon out of the hole, and a 31-yard sideline scamper by Stafford put the Tigers in scoring position at the McKinley 34. Dixon made a nice run to the 22 but fumbled and the Bulldogs took over.
The Massillon defense forced a three‑and‑out series and the Tigers drove again, this time to the McKinley 38 before Hurst and Stafford missed a handoff and the Bulldogs recovered at the 41 midway through the fourth quarter.
McKinley gambled on fourth down on its resulting possession, when a run on a faked punt was stopped near midfield.
Hurst wound up trying a 47‑yard field goal with 2:07 left.
When it was over, Jeff Harig, Doug’s brother, wore a huge grin that shone through a face hidden by mud.
“They had a lot of people going both ways, and maybe we were a little fresher at the end,” said Jeff, who was on the field as a blocker, as was Doug, in the double tight end set the Tigers used to run the ball into position for Hurst in overtime.
“We won. That’s all that matters.
McKinley streak goes ‘poof’
Tiger tight end Harig says he was helped by a cream puff
By MIKE KEATING Independent Correspondent
Doug Harig enjoyed a post‑game hotdog moments after the Massillon Tigers devoured some ‘Dogs on the football field Saturday.
The tight end offered some food for thought on the significance of the Tigers’ 10‑7 overtime victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley.
“We finally got our pride back,” said, Harig. “This win offsets our three losses.”
Sure, the setbacks to Austintown Fitch, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Warren Harding hurt. The last second defeats at Fitch and at Warren were especially heartbreaking. But a fifth consecutive loss to McKinley undoubtedly would have exceeded all those combined.
Backyard bragging rights were at stake Saturday afternoon and there hasn’t been anything for Tiger fans to hoot and holler about in this rivalry since the days of Chris Spielman, Brian Dewitz, Tom Gruno, Craig Johnson and Company.
Lee Owens understood. The first year Massillon head coach was extremely emotional after his team’s seventh and unquestionably most important victory of the season.
“This town has been hungry the last four years and this win was for the entire Massillon community,” he said.
No added incentive was needed for Massillon. But Harig said he had a personal one after a surprise package was delivered to his home earlier in the week.
“There was a cream puff in it with a note,” he explained. The note read: Dear Jeff, you’re the only cream puff bigger than this. Feed it to your brother too.
“We didn’t eat it. We don’t know who sent it, but whoever did, thank you. It fired us up.”
Jeff Harig, the senior tight end, was held without a pass reception Saturday. But he concluded the year with 26 catches for 259 yards, and three touchdowns – hardly cream puff kind of numbers.
His younger brother snagged a Jamie Slutz toss as easily as catching a cream puff in the second quarter. The seven‑yard touchdown catch whetted the Tigers’ appetite that set up the dramatic win.
Jeff finished his high school career at Massillon on a winning note. Doug, a 6‑1, 173‑pound junior, can’t wait for 1989.
“This win will carry over to next year and we need some momentum because we play Moeller and Middletown early,” he said .
Starting free safety Joe Pierce had a touchdown‑saving tackle in the fourth quarter. The 6‑0, 161pound junior echoed Harig’s sentiments.
“This is a big win for the juniors and will make it easier to work harder (in preparation) for next season,” said Pierce.
Of course, the victory also meant a lot to the seniors. It was their last McKinley game. Defensive tackle Trace Liggett couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“I don’t think I’ll ever play in as big a game, unless it’s the Super Bowl,” said Liggett, who is regarded as a major college prospect. “It was a great win and a great way to end the season.”
Last May 13, Owens was hired as the new football coach. Liggett attended the press conference where Owens was introduced. He was impressed with the youthful coach then and even more so after playing for him.
“He is an inspiration to us. He is a good teacher and made practice fun. The players wanted to work hard for him,” said Liggett.
“This win is a big springboard to next year,” said Owens. “I feel that we would have had to start all over (with the program) if we had lost.”
As it worked out, cream puffs ‑and victory ‑ never tasted better.
Hurst’s winning field goal puts finishing touch on Tigers’ year
By CHRIS TOMASSON Repository sports writer
MASSILLON ‑ When your quarterback’s passing percentage is better than your kicker’s extra point percentage, it usually means you’ve either got a great quarterback or a lousy kicker.
That is, except in Massillon. Tigers’ coach Lee Owens says he has a great quarterback and a great kicker.
Lee Hurst handles both jobs for the Tigers. He’s done an excellent job at quarterback all season. As far as his kicking performance is concerned, until Saturday, the less said about it the better.
But in Massillon’s 10‑7 overtime victory over McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Hurst showed that Owens knows what he’s talking about.
Hurst, who had made only 11‑of-21 previous extra points and had not made a field goal all season. made his only extra‑point attempt and he kicked a 23‑yard field goal in overtime that gave the Tigers the win.
“I never lost confidence in Lee,” Owens said. “He’s been taking a lot of heat all season, but he did the job.”
Hurst’s most impressive kick was actually one that he missed. With 2:09 left in the game, Massillon faced fourth‑and‑13 from the McKinley 30. A field goal from there would have to travel 47 yards, one yard shorter than the Massillon record.
“I asked Lee if he could make a field goal from the distance, and he said, ‘I can make it,” Owens said. “He almost did.”
Hurst’s kick had plenty of distance, but it was wide right by about two feet.
After the game, while being hugged by most of the population of Massillon, Hurst dedicated the victory to the Tigers’ seniors.
“I’m only a junior, so next year will be my year, ” Hurst said. “But this year belongs to our seniors.”
The seniors are the players who have suffered the most at the hands of McKinley. The Bulldogs had defeated the Tigers four straight times, the most consecutive victories for a McKinley team since the early 1900s.
“This game meant everything to our season,” said senior running back Jason Stafford, who rushed for 123 yards on 21 carries. “I didn’t care if we started out the’ season 0‑9 as long as we beat McKinley.”
“This is just a great feeling,” said senior defensive tackle Trace Liggett, who spearheaded a Massillon defense that held the Bulldogs to 117 yards and no points in the second half and overtime. “I can’t even describe how I feel right now, To beat McKinley is what it’s all about.”
Interestingly, in 1983, the last time Massillon beat McKinley, Tigers’ defensive tackle Bob Dunwiddie was pulling for the Bulldogs.
“Sure, I was cheering for McKinley,” Dunwiddie said. “I lived in Canton and attended Souers Junior High through the seventh grade, Then in the eighth grade I moved to Massillon and became Tiger.”
Owens said beating the Bulldogs meant everything to the Tigers’ season.
“If we had lost it would have been just like starting over,” Owens said. “But winning means that we’ve achieved the type of season we wanted. It’s rubber stamped the season. And it’s also a building block for next year.”
The Tigers finished the year 7‑3, one game better than last season. Massillon lost its three games by a combined margin of nine points.
On paper, call it even Tigers have better offense, Dogs have the ‘D
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
You want to play the Massillon McKinley football game on paper?
Since we have to wait until 2 p.m. Saturday to see it on the field, why not ?
On paper, Massillon has a slight edge on offense. McKinley has a clear edge on defense.
Between the lines, Massillon’s edge on offense might be greater and McKinley’s advantage on defense might be slighter since the Tigers have played a tougher schedule.
Massillon’s offense has amassed 2,570 yards in 418 plays for an average of 6.15 yards a play. McKinley’s offense has netted 2,309 yards in 414 plays for a 5.6 average.
The teams have comparable rushing numbers: Massillon’s 1,630 Yards at 5.7 a carry versus McKinley’s 1,766 at 5.6 a pop.
Massillon has a whopping advantage in the passing game. The Tigers have completed 61 of 127 passes for 940 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, while the Bulldogs have connected on 38 of 95 for 543 yards, two touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Massillon quarterback Erik White has completed 60 of 122 passes for 883 yards, seven TDs and six interceptions. McKinley quarterback Pat Lyon, who has started all but two games, has completed 26 of 71 for 384 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Six Tiger receivers ‑ Myricks (10 for 228), Wrentie Martin (12 for 223), Mark Kester (11 for 153), Jason Stafford (9 for 127), Craig York (9 for 87) and Gerald Pope (5 for 64) ‑ have caught at least five passes.
Keith Smith (7 for 177) and Mike Hedrick (7 for 96) are the only Bulldogs with more than five receptions.
So that’s the offense.
What about the defense?
McKinley’s has been better.
The Tiger defense has allowed 2,121 yards against its nine opponents. McKinley foes have gained only 1,399 yards.
Massillon’s running defense has surrendered 1,409 yards at 4.3 a carry. McKinley’s rushing defense has yielded 862 yards at under 3.5 a tote.
Opponents have passed for 712 yards against Massillon and 537 yards against McKinley.
Elsewhere on the statistical charts, there are some uncanny similarities between the teams.
Both squads have fumbled 27 times. The Tigers have lost 14 of the bobbles. The Bulldogs have lost 11.
Both teams have intercepted 12 passes. McKinley’s Mark Hedrick has picked off four errant throws. Massillon’s Mark Kester has made three interceptions.
The Tigers’ top ground gainer is Jerome Myricks with 989 yards in 155 carries at 6.4 a carry. The Bulldogs’ top rusher is Jeff Richardson with 145 carries for 970 yards at 6.7 a pop.
Massillon’s No. 2 ground gainer Jason Stafford with 357 yards at 6.6 a carry, has out rushed McKinley’s No. 2 man, Derrick Gordon with 259, yards at 6.8 per attempt.
But Massillon has no one else over 100 yards, while McKinley has DeVon Torrence with 156 yards in 17 carries, Kevin Campbell with 132 yards in 26 carries, and Lamuel Flowers with 116 yards in 28 carries.
Other Massillon rushers have included Shawn Ashcraft (8 for 57), David Ledwell (12 for 56), John Miller (11 for 55) and Vernon Riley (14 for 47).
Myricks leads the Tigers in scoring with 108 points. Richardson is McKinley’s top dog with 68 points. Richardson is behind the pace of his junior season in rushing yards. He needs 200 yards on the nose Saturday to match his 1986 total of 1,170 rushing yards for 10 games.
Those are the numbers. That’s how it looks on paper.
Add it all up and this looks like a dead‑even match up.
Pups edge Tigers Key play in first half ‘was about an inch short of the goal line…
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
It still means everything to the McKinley Bulldogs to play the Massillon Tigers.
There’s some solace in that for the Massillon team that got beat 18‑15 by McKinley Saturday.
It was true that McKinley fans were rubbing it in that their Bulldogs had beaten the Tigers four straight times for the first time since before radio was invented.
It was true that many Massillon fans were wondering when their beloved men of orange will ever defeat the crimson‑clad team from Canton again.
It was also true that the McKinley coach, Thom McDaniels, had cried with his team after what had been a brutal slugfest was over.
You don’t look like McDaniels looked ‑ like a man whose emotions had spent a week in a ringer washer unless the game means everything.
That is what Saturday’s game meant to him. As such, it meant that Massillon still has McKinley’s complete respect, if not its number.
‘We experienced a lot of things this year,” said McDaniels, talking about the tumultuous things that accompany a less‑than‑perfect season in either the Canton or Massillon football communities.
McDaniels has been McKinley’s head coach since 1982, the year after Terry Forbes steered the Bulldogs to the only big‑school state championship a Stark County team has ever won since the advent of the playoff era.
Such was the tumult of 1987 that his status at McKinley for 1988 is clouded.
McDaniels’ team finished ’87 with a 7‑3 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since his ’84 team went 7‑3.
Saturday’s setback gave Massillon a 1987 record of 6‑4, A pattern that has haunted John Maronto in his three years as Massillon’s head coach ‑ playing tough, but failing just short against the elite teams ‑ held true again.
Both Maronto and McDaniels are saying their futures at their respective schools are up in the air.
The Tigers stunned McKinley on the ground. After the Bulldogs stalled in three plays following the opening kickoff, Massillon set up at midfield. From time to time under Maronto, the Tigers’ first play has been a bomb. McKinley knows that and may have been sucked in when Tiger quarterback Erik White dropped back for an apparent pass. However, the was a sprint draw, with Myricks taking a handoff and going through a gaping hole up the middle.
“We wanted to get Jerome one‑on‑one with a defensive back on that play,” Maronto said. “It was very well blocked by our players.”
Myricks is a hard man to catch in the open field. This time, nobody caught him. He shifted smoothly to the left sideline and out ran McKinley’s defense into the end zone for a 50‑yard touchdown run.
“We ran that play successfully the whole game,” Maronto said. “Most of our blocking schemes were effective, especially behind John Woodlock and John Schilling. There were a lot of exciting plays and Jerome came very close to breaking the long one on several others.”
But while the Tigers were coming close to the big play, McKinley was making it. The Bulldogs used a running attack that netted 283 yards to score the game’s next three touchdowns.
A 93‑yard drive capped by Bulldog quarterback Pat Lyon’s 8‑yard pass to a wide‑open tight end, 6‑1 senior Dan Roshong, cut Massillon’s lead to 7‑6 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. The extra‑point kick was wide left.
McKinley got great field position on its next possession following a 19‑yard loss on which Tiger fullback Jason Stafford was caught on a reverse. A short punt enabled the Bulldogs to set up on the Tiger 38, and they scored three plays later when tailback Jeff Richardson took a pitch left and motored 24 yards for a touchdown.
McKinley pulled out to an 18‑7 lead by driving 63 yards for a TD on its first possession of the second half. Richardson went over the right side to score from four yards out.
The Tigers turned it into a thriller when White got hot late in the third quarter, launching a mostly passing, 72‑yard drive capped by Myricks’ 6‑yard blast up the middle with 8:36 left in the game.
Since McKinley had failed on all three of its extra point tries, the Tigers had a chance to pull within a field goal of a tie by making a two‑point conversion. Jerome got the job done by running over Schilling and Woodlock on the right side, and it was 18‑15.
The Tigers, however, got the ball only once more, setting up on their own 18 after a punt and moving to the 30 on a diving 12‑yard reception by senior split end Craig York. Bulldog linebacker Scott Herrington sacked White for an 11‑yard loss to set up a punt, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock.
Save for a few inches, perhaps less, the game might have been drastically different.
The Tigers came up just short of the end zone when fullback John Miller, a secret weapon who had played the season primarily at inside linebacker, was stopped on fourth and goal from the 3 with 1:38 left in the first half.
Miller was so close to the goal line that White, the quarterback, signaled a touchdown.
“I was about an inch, maybe two, short of the goal line,” Miller said.
“The films show it couldn’t have been more than a couple inches,” Maronto said. “The play was blocked successfully at the point of attack. (Defensive tackle) Robert Copenny came from nowhere to get just enough of John’s legs to slow him down.”
The drive had begun at the McKinley 31 on the kickoff following McKinley’s go‑ahead touchdown. In fact, is was one of the more dramatic marches of the season.
McKINLEY 18 MASSILLON 15
MAS McK First downs rushing 7 12 First downs passing 7 5 First downs by penalty 0 1 Totals first downs 14 18 Yards gained rushing 190 306 Yards lost rushing 52 23 Net yards rushing 138 283 Net yards passing 90 67 Total yards gained 228 350 Passes attempted 14 8 Passes completed 9 5 Passes int. by 0 0 Times kicked off 3 4 Kickoff average 49.0 41.8 Kickoff return yards 63 46 Punts 5 3 Punting average 26.4 32.3 Punt return yards 0 13 Fumbles 0 2 Fumbles lost 0 0 Penalties 3 5 Yards penalized 26 25 Number of plays 60 51 Time of possession 22:54 25:06 Attendance 17,500
MASSILLON 7 0 0 8 15 McKINLEY 6 6 6 0 18
Grid war lives up to reputation Tigers fall short against Bulldogs
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
The good fight has been fought. And now the war between the cities is over.
“I did a lot of thinking about the game today,” Massillon Tiger co-captain John Miller said Sunday night, more than 24 hours after his football team fell 18‑15 to the McKinley Bulldogs. “Now I’ll just try to forget about it. It’s time to move on.”
The Tigers scored on their first play from scrimmage Saturday when Jerome Myricks cut loose for a 50‑yard touchdown run. McKinley, however, used a ground assault that netted 283 yards to score a touchdown in each of the first three periods on their way to the win.
“It’s a very tough loss for our football team and our program,” Tiger head coach John Maronto said. “A lot of energy was expended to come up a couple of inches short. But the thing you have to understand is that our young men gave everything they had … and a little bit more. It was one of the best high school football games I’ve ever been involved in … certainly one of the hardest hitting.”
Maronto, who has been under fire since last year’s 23‑6 loss to McKinley, has a 20‑10 record in his three years at the Massillon helm. He has been haunted by a series of close defeats against powerful teams. The coach’s three‑year contract expires at the end of this school year, and there has been speculation he will not be offered a new pact.
As to his future in Massillon, Maronto said, “That remains to be seen.” He said his thoughts are focused on other areas right now. “I’m more concerned with looking out for the best interests of the graduating seniors,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone has things in the right perspective in terms of next season. I’m most concerned with dealing with the team.
“This is the most successful 6‑4 team you could ever be involved with,” Maronto added. “People have to agree that these players played the toughest Massillon schedule possible ever. They weren’t more than an inch here or an inch there from being 9‑1. I’m pretty proud of the way this team played, the class they showed and the adversity it fought to overcome.”
Miller, a surprise starter at fullback Saturday, and fellow co-captain Erik Moledor wound down Sunday by going to the movie “Hellraiser” at Lincoln Theater.
“It was kind of dumb,” Miller admitted. Saturday’s game had been kind of sensational. But in the Tigers’ eyes, it had a “dumb ending,” what with McKinley on top.
“There was some serious hitting going on,” said Miller, who played inside linebacker in addition to fullback. “I mean serious. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’m a little sore today, but nothing major.”
The Tigers finished their 1987 grid campaign with a 6‑4 record. It was only the sixth time since Paul Brown left town in 1940 that the team has endured as many as four losses in a season.
It also was the fourth straight setback to McKinley, marking the second longest losing streak in the history of the series, which Massillon still leads 50‑38‑5. The Canton team won the first 11 games in the series, which began in 1894.
“We didn’t have as good a season as we thought we would,” Miller said. “We expected to go pretty far. I’m still glad I played on this team. I liked everybody on the squad. It was a great bunch.”
Moledor, a senior defensive back, was keeping a stiff upper lip Sunday but remained in obvious disappointment.
“I thought we gave it everything we had,” said Moledor. “McKinley was pretty tough. Give ’em credit.” “We really worked hard together this year. I think that’s the best thing we did … worked hard. Saturday was tough. But I don’t think there are any regrets.”
Tigers come up ‘half empty’ Massillon rules early but’ Bulldogs shift gears late
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ They could have opened a Burger King in McKinley territory at halftime. The Massillon Tigers were having it their way.
But the second half was one big McDLT ‑McKinley’s defense led to touchdowns.
In the end, the McKinley players were saying, “Hot Dog!” and hoping for extra mustard in the playoffs. The Tigers were left holding an empty bun.
A 6‑0 Tiger lead at halftime dissolved into a 23‑6 McKinley win Saturday before 18,091 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
In the history of the series that started in 1894, there may never have been two halves so distinctly different.
So what happened?
“It wasn’t a matter of making a lot of changes,” McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels said. “Basically, we just played better football.”
Maybe there were a few changes.
“In the first half, they were basically trying to power us out of there,” said Massillon senior Lance Hostetler, who played linebacker for the first time since junior high because Jerrod Vance was out with a knee injury.
“In the second half, they were giving our linebackers fake keys, trying to mess us up.”
A McKinley offense that was stuffed by the Tigers for zilch in the first half had to be photographed with a zoom lens in the second.
In that first half, the Bulldogs gained 28 yards. On the first offensive series of the second half, McKinley gained 40 yards in its first six plays.
That drive ended when C.J. Harris recovered a fumble for the Tigers. But the mood had changed.
It might have changed back had the Tigers moved after recovering the fumble. Mike Harris rushed for three yards, then Mike Norris bulled ahead for seven. But Jerome Myricks was stopped for losses on consecutive plays, and it was third and 15 from the Massillon 41.
Then came a pivotal play now hidden deep in the game films. Quarterback John Miller dropped back to pass. Under heavy pressure, he dumped a short pass toward the fullback Norris. First glance suggested ‑ and films confirmed ‑ that Norris was knocked away from the ball by an overeager defender who was guilty of pass ‘interference.
The pass fell incomplete (Norris would have had to run a long way for a first down, incidentally). No flag was thrown.
Instead of 15 yards and a Massillon first down on the McKinley 44, the Bulldogs got the ball back on a punt.
“That was a key point in the game,” Massillon head coach John Maronto said.
Nobody will ever know how things would have gone had the interference call been made. What is known is that McKinley played its best football of the season in the time that was left.
Ken Hawkins’ punt sailed to the McKinley 22. Junior tailback Jeff Richardson gained 11 yards on first down. On second down, he took a handoff, made a slight cut to a big hole on the left side of the line, shook loose from a diving Bart Letcavits 10 yards downfield and sprinted away from the pack for a 67‑yard touchdown run.
“We emphasized all week that we needed to stop Richardson from making the big play,” John Maronto said.
Talking about it is one thing. Doing it has been another, and not just for the Tigers. Richardson’s 141 yards in 19 carries Saturday gave him 960 yards on the season.
Richardson, a 5‑10, 183‑pounder, only needs a sliver of daylight. His presence left the Tigers in a jam, since their chemistry was thrown off by late‑season knee injuries to linebacker Jerrod Vance and defensive back Steve Siegenthaler.
Maronto emphatically didn’t want anybody knocking his team’s defensive effort.
“Lance Hostetler stepped in and looked like he’d been playing linebacker all his life,” Maronto said. “And it wasn’t like we were playing chopped liver. We were playing the best team in Ohio.”
Richardson’s long run and Mark Smith’s PAT kick still left the Tigers with just a 7‑6 deficit with 3:04 left in the third quarter.
But moments later, Tiger back Mike Harris ‑ another tough‑luck senior whose season was marred by a knee injury ‑ was stripped of the ball. McKinley’s Dave Kiesling recovered the fumble at the 14. Four plays later, Richardson scored easily from a yard out.
Even at that, the Tigers weren’t in bad shape. Smith missed the PAT kick, and McKinley’s lead was 13‑6 with one quarter and 44 seconds left to play.
But the Tigers needed to get back some of the offensive punch they had shown in pounding out a 134‑28 lead in first‑half yardage.
Smith’s kickoff left the Tigers with good field position at their own 41, but they stalled in three plays and had to punt.
McKinley took over on its own 28 and put the game away with an 11‑play 72‑yard scoring drive. The touchdown came on third and nine from the 12. Smith, the quarterback, rolled right off a good play‑action fake and found tight end Dan Grimsley wide open in the end zone.
Smith’s kick made it 20‑6 with 4:48 left.
Sophomore nose guard Lamuel Flowers set up a 35‑yard field goal by Smith with a subsequent interception.
All the suspense and much of the crowd was gone at that point.
The first half had been so different.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and started at their own 34. On second and seven, junior quarterback John Miller hooked up with senior split end Shannon Dryden on an 11‑yard completion. That seemed to ignite the offense, which then went on to complete an 11‑play, 66‑yard march that wound up on the McKinley 11 when Miller hit the tight end Hawkins on a nine‑yard completion.
That made it fourth and almost three. Maronto elected to send freshman Lee Hurst on for a 28‑yard field goal try. Hurst connected and it was 3‑0 with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the drive, Maronto called timeout after Miller scrambled to recover a mishandled snap, then took a blow to the head. Miller was clearly shaken up, and staggered as Maronto yelled to officials that a penalty should have been called.
But Miller kept playing, and moments later threw a pass which Letcavits turned into a 10‑yard reception.
The Massillon crowd got very loud after Norris boomed the ensuing kickoff to the back stripe of the end zone for a touchback. An incomplete pass, a run for no gain by Richardson, a nine‑yard completion and a punt gave Massillon the ball back on its own 32.
The next three series ended in punts, two of which were snapped over the punters’ heads. But both booters recovered and got off kicks that saved disaster for their teams.
McKinley punter Pat Lyons had to chase 10 yards after the ball snapped over his head. But he managed to kick it away to the Massillon 23 midway through the second quarter.
From there, the Tigers drove 77 yards in 10 plays, with Harris setting the tone on a nine‑yard gain. A 17‑yard pass from Miller to Myricks and a 12‑yard run by Miller put the ball on the 17 on first down. But Norris was stopped for no gain, and two passes fell incomplete. The call went again to Hurst. The freshman sent a picturesque boot into a slight breeze that sailed far over the uprights for a 33‑yard field goal.
It gave the Tigers a 6‑0 lead with 2:32 left in the half.
But the second half was another story.
It ended with McKinley’s record at 9‑1, good for first place in Region 2 of Division I. The Tigers came in at 7‑3.
The loss saddened the Tigers. But Hostetler, a three‑year starter and captain, advised his teammates to leave on an upbeat note.
“It’s been a great time for me at Massillon,” he said. “No other team plays under these great conditions. I have the greatest coaches in the world. They really helped prepare me for college. And the greatest teammates in the world.”
MCKINLEY 23 MASSILLON 7
M McK First downs rushing 6 8 First downs passing 4 3 First downs by penalty 1 0 Totals first downs 11 11 Yards gained rushing 112 205 Yards lost rushing 20 14 Net yards rushing 92 191 Net yards passing 59 57 Total yards gained 151 248 Passes attempted 18 10 Passes completed 8 6 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 3 5 Kickoff average 56.3 48.4 Kickoff return yards 87 27 Punts 4 4 Punting average 33.0 42.3 Punt return yards 7 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 0 3 Yards penalized 0 25 Touchdowns rushing 0 2 Touchdowns passing 0 1 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 52 46 Time of possession 26:37 21:23 Attendance 18,091
MCKINLEY 0 0 13 10 23 MASSILLON 3 3 0 0 6
MAS ‑ Lee Hurst 28 FG MAS ‑ Hurst 33 FG McK ‑ Jeff Richardson 67 run (Mark Smith kick) McK ‑Richardson 1 run (kick failed) McK ‑ Dan Grimsley 4 pass from Smith (Smith kick) McK ‑ Smith 35 FG ***** Individual statistics RUSHING Massillon: Norris, 12‑39; Miller 9‑27; Harris 8‑26; Myriscks, 3‑0. McKinley: Richardson, 19‑141; Kendall 5‑12; Copenny, 1‑6; Gordon, 2‑ 15; Flowers 2‑15.
MASSILLON ‑ You could have won $20 million in the Lotto and not been able to buy a better autumn afternoon for Saturday’s Massillon‑McKinley football game.
The lovely leaves and the Indian summer breeze would have made Scrooge himself a cheery gent. The housewife sick to death of her old man’s sports would have gazed with childish wonder at the sight of the orange sea of spectators rolling against a red sea of the same.
One‑hundred yards of lime‑striped sod and 200 helmeted teen‑agers were washed with a delightful noise that made it all a merry mix, indeed, when Mark Smith of McKinley kicked off to Jerome Myricks of Massillon at a couple of minutes past 2.
Maybe there have been other opening scenes at other Massillon-McKinley games that were as wonderful. If so, they were merely as perfect.
The ending of the 92nd Massillon‑Canton battle was far from a perfect story for the hamlet of Massillon. The final score was McKinley 23, Tigers 6.
But the moral of the story, though stinging with the hurt of defeat to the arch‑rival, was that Massillon people still so desperately want a great team to cheer for.
They had their moments Saturday.
The Tigers charged out of their corner at the opening bell and won the early rounds in a one‑sided mugging.
In one half, junior quarterback John Miller threw twice as many passes as he had thrown in a typical game the previous nine weeks.
In that same half, the lumberjacks on the Massillon line muscled out places for fullback Mike Norris to punch out the yards.
The Massillon defense, despite missing a linebacker who is a candidate for Stark County player of the year, coldcocked the offense of their backyard rivals.
Freshman kicker Lee Hurst delivered like a grizzled veteran.
As the bands marched, Massillon stats man Tom Persell played a tune on his computer, and what came out was 134 yards for the home team, and just 28 yards ‑ and no first downs ‑ for the Canton club.
But the score was only 6‑0, Massillon, and you didn’t need a computer to know the game would be won in the second half.
McKinley won it in a hurry.
Flash: A 67‑yard sprint over the left side by Bulldog tailback Jeff Richardson.
Flash: A Massillon fumble seconds later, in the badlands, and a 14‑yard McKinley mini‑march for a second touchdown.
The second McKinley score, a one‑yard run by Richardson with 44 seconds left in the third quarter, was followed by Mark Smith’s missed PAT kick.
That kept the score at 13‑6. But the Tigers never threatened again. McKinley scored 10 points in the final five minutes, and Canton had a third straight win over Massillon for the first time since 1934, Paul Brown’s third year as the Tigers’ head coach.
The game, witnessed by 18,091 in the stadium named after Brown, closed McKinley’s deficit in the series to 50‑37‑5.
It also closed the Tigers’ season with a second consecutive 7‑3 record.
McKinley is 9‑1 and headed for a Division I playoff game. The Bulldogs will face 9‑1 Groveport Madison at 8 p.m. Saturday in Fawcett Stadium.
Among the many constants in the Massillon‑McKinley game seems to be the fact a Grimsley is always playing for McKinley. This year’s Grimsley, junior tight end Dan, says beating the Tigers reinforces the Bulldogs’ confidence.
“We went a little bit dead in our only loss (against Youngstown South),” said Grimsley, whose brother John plays for the Houston Oilers. “It was the middle of the season and we’d just won some big games. But we’re back up now. There’s no doubt in my mind we can win it all.”
Thirty‑three seniors on the Massillon team were in a different mood. Their time as Tiger players had run out.
“You can’t say too much,” Norris said as he walked away in street clothes. “We knew we could have beat ’em. We were playing our game for a while. But it got away.”
“There’s not much to say,” echoed senior co‑captain Bart Letcavits, who spent part of the season sick in the hospital but returned for Saturday’s game. “They’ve been a comeback team all year. They outplayed us in the second half. They deserved to win.”
“We played as hard as we could,” said senior co‑captain Lance Hostetler. “Nobody let up. Ever.”
John Maronto, the Tigers’ second‑year head coach, said Hostetler was right about the effort.
“I’m proud of our football team,” Maronto said. “We were almost able to come up with the victory. But it was not to be.”
Thom McDaniels is in his fifth year as the “tough‑act‑to‑follow” successor of Terry Forbes, the head coach of McKinley’s only playoff championship winner, the 1981 team. McDaniels praised his troops for having the guts to win another game with a comeback. The he praised the Tigers.
“They’re as good and as tough and as well coached ‑ and you can put that all in capital letters ‑ as any team we’ve played,” McDaniels said.
And you can put this in bold face:
No matter who wins, this is still America’s grandest high school football game.
Will Maronto come back?
We move now, to Lesson No. 2 in the Professor Commings School of Rumorintology.
Please sit erect in your chairs. Volunteers to dust the erasers will be taken later.
Lesson No. 1, on which the papers are being graded, was presented last week.
We learned then that the volume of a rumor often is not in direct proportion to the truth contained therein.
It was noted that a particular rumor ‑ “Bob Commings has forfeited his claim to the title The Bald Eagle, and resigned as GlenOak High’s football coach” was all over town and half way to Hawaii.
It was further noted that Commings emphatically stated he has not resigned.
Commings, as it happens, is believed to be the father of “rumorintology,” apparently having coined the word last month.
The subject of Lesson No., 2 is another football coach, John Maronto.
The fates of Commings and Maronto are indirectly intertwined, insofar as the former was a head football coach in Massillon, and the latter is.
Today’s theme actually is a question. How many people must wish a rumor to come true before it becomes a fact?
We have no answers. We can only offer present facts.
Fact is, Coach Maronto is not the most popular man in Massillon today.
His team went 7‑3, and we needn’t get into a long discussion of what that means in Tigertown. The team lost to the arch‑rival the other day. You know them. And, his offense was judged too conservative for the tastes of many of the paying customers.
It didn’t help that a loss to Commings’ GlenOak team was among the three losses, either.
People are talking. You know how it is.
They’re talking a lot about THE rumor.
“Did’ja hear? Maronto’s going to Michigan to be with Bo!”
Yes, that’s the big one. It’s all over town, and halfway to Hong Kong.
Refer, now, to lesson No. 1.
The volume of a rumor may not be in direct proportion to any truth therein.
“I’ve just never thought there were any two ways about it,” Maronto said this morning. “We’re already getting ready for next season. We’ll be in the weight room today. We have a team meeting schedule. We’re preparing for next season and beginning to take care of the seniors’ needs.”
Maronto has heard the rumors. He says he shrugs them off.
”I’ve never put any thought processes into rumors,” he said. “My energy is going into preparing for next season.”
Maronto, who has completed two years in the stormy wake of Mike Currence’s ouster, sounds optimistic.
“I really believe we’ll be back,” he said. “I believe we learned some great lessons. The younger players coming in may not be able to exceed the ability of this year’s seniors, but I believe they’ll have smoother roads ahead.
“It’ll be important to make the pieces fit in to form a chemistry. It’ll be real interesting to watch. I know everybody coming in is 100 percent completely aware of what our system is all about, what needs to be done to be a Massillon Tiger. There’ll be a lot of continuity.”
Sounds like John Maronto plans to fulfill the third year of his contract.
If he does, let’s give him some room.
Another buyout is the last thing the town needs now.
If he wants to stay, let him work in peace. Disagree all you want I think the coach needs to loosen up his offense, too.
But be aware he works as hard as anybody in Ohio to make his team win. Be aware he’s good with kids.
If it’s time for him to go after the contract runs out, so be it. And think about next week’s Lesson No. 3. Beating a rumor turns it ugly.