This Sunday, December 10 at 1:00 PM the Cleveland Browns will host the Green Bay Packers. The game will be broadcast on the Fox NFL Network with Chris Spielman as the color analyst for the game.
As part of the broadcast the Fox NFL Network will air a presentation covering Chris Spielman’s career including his playing time with our Massillon Tigers. Alex Olsen, Associate Director for Fox NFL Network contacted Coach Moore asking if we could provide photos, articles and any other appropriate information that applies to Chris’s days playing for our Tigers. Thanks to Assistant Athletic Director Brian Pachis, Ron Prunty and Don Engelhardt of our Massillon Tiger Football Museum group we were able to provide Mr. Olsen with a good deal of information for his presentation. Again, we have an excellent opportunity to give Chris, our town, our school system and our Tiger Program national exposure. Go Tigers!
The Chris Spielman Football ProCamp, sponsored by AultCare, is slated for Tuesday, July 18, at Massillon Washington High School. The event will run from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and is free of charge for boys and girls entering grades 1 through 8.
Throughout his one-day camp, Chris Spielman, along with area high school and college coaches, will offer tips and hands-on instruction, including lectures, fundamental football skills stations, contests and non-contact games in a high-energy, fun and positive environment. Campers will be placed in small groups by age to ensure that each child gets maximum instruction.
The comprehensive camp experience is great for athletes of all skill levels, whether they are new to the game or have been playing for years. Individual team awards will be given in each age group.
Each attendee will receive a souvenir autograph from Chris Spielman, a camp team photo with Chris Spielman and a limited-edition Chris Spielman Football ProCamp t-shirt.
Founded in 1998, ProCamps® is a best-in-class event management and sports marketing company specializing in developing, managing, and operating camps, appearances, brand activations, and related experiences for professional athletes and coaches in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, PGA, ATP, NCAA, NASCAR, WPSL, MLL and NFHL. ProCamps helps Fortune 500 brands activate and execute more than 175 events across the country to effectively deliver brand messaging to thousands of parents, kids, and coaches via retail promotions, TV/radio/print, social media, and on-site activations.
Garfield ‘T’ off against Tigers Cuyahoga Falls to replace Rams on ’88 Massillon schedule
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
Chris Spielman was the guy with the funny haircut, but “Mr. T” was a guy named Bill McGee Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium,
Spielman, the Ohio State headliner from Massillon, hit town to see his old team open its 1987 high school football season against the Akron Garfield Fighting Rams.
Spielman saw what he’d seen when he was a Massillon player ‑ a Tiger defeat ‑ as the Rams roared to a 22‑8 win before 12,079 fans.
“Mr. T” has struck again.
Garfield head coach McGee now has seen his troops topple the Tigers four times in the last five years, dating back to a 14‑10 win over Spielman and the ’83 Tigers. McGee mostly has used the antiquated “T” formation in which a fullback and two halfbacks line up in a straight row behind the quarterback.
“Tailback? What’s a tailback?” McGee deadpanned. “The ‘T’ is the only thing we know … well, we did use Charles Gladman as a tailback when we had him.”
Because of Garfield, 1986 was the only time in the last five years the Tigers survived two weeks of football without at least one defeat.
If it happens again, it won’t be because of Garfield. The Rams have been dropped from next year’s Tiger schedule and replaced in the opening game with Cuyahoga Falls.
”It was their decision, not ours,” McGee said. “The Cuyahoga Falls contract is only for one year. We’d like to resume the series in 1989.”
Just now, Tiger head coach John Maronto says his only concern is bouncing back next Saturday against Altoona, Pa., which was tied 7‑7 by its arch‑rival Johnstown Friday night.
“We will be back,” said an obviously disappointed Maronto. We have a team of real solid men. We’ll find out a lot about ourselves next week.”
Something was found out about Garfield Friday night ‑ the Rams have an awesome running attack. Despite the fact the Tigers bounced back from an early 8‑0 deficit by tying the game 8‑8 at halftime, there was no shift in momentum.
Garfield used that “T” like a two ton piece of forged steel, driving for touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half, and playing solid defense against a Massillon team whose decent passing attack did not get enough support from the running game.
“Passing is going to be part of the personality of the ’87 Tigers,” said Maronto, who watched quarterback Erik White complete 13 of 22 aerials for 155 yards. “But I’m not pleased with aspects of our running game. We weren’t tough‑minded enough. We will have a better running game next week.”
Led by 180‑pound junior John White, a starter at Akron North last year, the Rams amassed 277 rushing yards (at 6.2 yards a carry) to the Tigers 59 (at 2.4 per lug).
White, often the second man through the line on counter plays that troubled the Tigers, cut loose for 120 yards in 14 carries. Sophomore halfback Dwayne Martin added 74 yards in 14 carries. Senior fullback Dwayne Mitchell plowed 55 yards in 10 trips.
Even though third‑year starting quarterback Todd Johnson had no stats to speak of (he completed his only two passes for a modest 28 yards and ran seven times for 28 yards), he may have been the key to the whole works.
Prior to the game, referee Chet DiStefano got a friendly warning from a Massillon official “make sure you know who has the ball before you blow the whistle.” Often, it was very hard to tell. Such were the deceptive abilities of Johnson, the magician.
Johnson had his own ideas as to why Garfield was able to win by two touchdowns and lead 305‑214 in total yardage.
“They used a lot of players both ways and we had 22 different guys in 22 different positions,” he said. “We wore them down. It was obvious in the second half.
“But they’re a good team, that’s for sure. I guess that’s why I feel pretty good right now … to beat a team like that. What a program this is, with all the fans. We don’t have anything like this in Akron.”
After the Tigers passed their way into scoring position in the first quarter on a drive that ended with a wide‑right 27‑yard field goal attempt, Garfield launched the game’s first scoring drive.
The march overlapped the end of the first quarter and the early part of the second. It covered 72 yards on 11 plays, all on the ground. White, the transfer student, went the final eight yards up the in middle, getting hit at the three and diving into the end zone.
The subsequent PAT attempt was a bizarre play on which the ball was snapped over kicker Rob Balca’s head. Balca scrambled to get the ball with Tiger Jason Relford in hot pursuit. He scooped it up, heaved a pass at nobody in particular, and jumped in the air as it landed in the hands of an unsuspecting Steve McGee, the coach’s son, for a two point conversion.
Massillon bounced back, though, by scoring on its next possession. Steve Siegenthaler returned a short kickoff 23 yards to the Garfield 45, from where the Tigers drove 55 yards in nine plays. A key play was a third‑and‑10 sideline pass to senior Mark Kester, who wound up catching five passes for 84 yards in a sparkling performance.
On third and five from the 11, White retreated to pass and zinged a tight spiral to senior split end Craig York, who caught the ball in front of his No. 87 two yards deep in the end zone.
The Tigers opted to try for the tie, and they got it when White, avoiding a heavy rush by throwing as he backpedaled, threaded a pass between three defenders to Siegenthaler.
That made it 8‑8 with 4:08 left in the first half. Neither team threatened again before the band how.
The burning question at halftime was, would the Tigers be able to top a Garfield running attack that already had netted 129 rushing yards?
The Rams provided the answer by battering the ball 46 yards in six plays to start the second half. That put the ball on the Massillon 22‑yard line. The Tigers needed a big play and they got it when Bob Dunwiddie stopped the fullback for no gain on first down. But the Rams responded on the next play with a 22‑yard touchdown pass from Johnson to junior tight end Pat Anderson.
Anderson broke open on a quick slant pattern.
“Even though they only passed twice, we had to be very conscious of Johnson’s passing abilities,” Maronto said. “He’s obviously very good. ”
Rob Balca’s PAT kick made it 15‑8 with 7:35 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers got only three plays on their next possession before facing a fourth‑and‑one from their own 35. There was no hesitation as to whether to make the big gamble and go for it as the punting unit poured onto the field. The Rams then set up at their own 30 and marched for the game‑clinching score. Runs of 5, 12, 14, 5, 10, 11, 4 and 9 yards ‑ the last run by the fullback Mitchell ‑ put the ball in the end zone. Balca’s kick made it 22‑8 with 42 seconds left in the third period. The Tigers would get the ball just two more times. The first time, they lost it on a fumble at the Garfield 42‑yard line with 9:44 left in the game. Garfield then ran the clock down to 5:30 before Siegenthaler’s tackle on fourth down gave the Tigers the ball back on downs at their own 35.
On fourth and long, White whistled a pass that deflected off a Garfield safety, then hit Tiger tight end Gerald Pope in the shoulder pads and helmet before bouncing incomplete. Garfield had the ball back, and the game in hand, with only two minutes left.
“This was as satisfying as any opening win I’ve had,” said Garfield Coach McGee. “And the opponents haven’t always been this good. Massillon has a lot of things to solve ‑ and so do we ‑ but they’re going to win a lot of ball games.”
Massillon coach Maronto said be thought his team would play better than it did.
“But when you don’t play as well as you’d like, it has something to do with the opponent,” Maronto said. “That’s a real fine Garfield team and it deserves a lot of credit. They have a very diversified attack. They stuck with the game plan, and you saw what they did.”
They did what “Mr. T” has done alot in Tigertown. They ran out of that old formation and added a new notch to Bill McGee’s gun belt.
M F First downs rushing 4 18 First downs passing 9 1 First downs by penalty 0 1 Total first downs 13 20 Yards gained rushing 90 280 Yards lost rushing 31 3 Net yards rushing 59 277 Net yards passing 155 28 Total yards gained 214 305 Passes attempted 23 2 Passes completed 13 2 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 2 4 Kickoff average 51.5 45.8 Kickoff return yards 81 37 Punts 2 1 Punting average 42.5 42.0 Punt return yards 7 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 1 1 Yards penalized 15 5 Number of plays 49 47 Time of possession 22.04 25.56 Attendance 12,079
GARFIELD 0 8 14 0 22 MASSILLON 0 0 0 8 8
GAR ‑ White 8 run (McGee pass from Balca) MAS ‑ York 10 pass from White (Siegenthaler pass from White) GAR ‑ Anderson 22 pass from Johnson (Balca kick) GAR ‑ White 8 run (Balca kick)
In the 89 games the Bulldogs and the Tigers have battled on the high school football field since 1894, there have been numerous surprises and upsets.
But it was not to be Saturday, as the favored Massillon Tigers mugged the feisty but overmatched McKinley Senior Bulldogs 18-7 before 21,232 fans in a freezing mist at Fawcett Stadium.
It was the 50th victory for the Tigers in this scholastic gridiron granddaddy, increasing the edge over the Bulldogs, who have won 34 times and tied five others.
To be sure, this 1983 band of Bulldogs fought the valiant fight, played perhaps as well as they have played this disappointing season. But it was not enough this dreary afternoon.
The Massillons had too many guns. The outcome was never really in doubt.
Massillon was favored by 10 points, according to the odds fellows. The Tigers won by 11.
It could have been worse, embarrassingly much worse.
Massillon’s first scoring threat misfired when Bronc Pfisterer missed on a 34-yard attempt for a field goal.
The Tigers also missed a TD near the end of the half when McKinley’s Pierre Taylor intercepted a Brian Dewitz pass in the end zone, a bizarre play on which the officials almost mistakenly awarded the Tigers a safety (see Stewart on Sports column, Page 43).
In addition after the longest drive of the day, Massillon fumbled the ball away on the McKinley 1-yard line in the fourth period, and after that had an apparent interception taken away for roughing the Pups’ passer.
The Tigers’ rushing game was perhaps short of awesome, but certainly more than effective. Massillon’s ball carriers netted 260 yards on the ground, an average of 5.1 per carry, and it allowed the Tigers possession for 61 percent of the clock time.
The victory salvaged respectability for the Tigers, who with a 9-1 record will watch from the sidelines as the OHSAA grid playoffs begin this weekend.
It is expected to be announced today that Alliance (10-0) and Akron Garfield (9-0), the team which tamed the Tigers 14-10 in the second game of the season will play for the Region 3 championship in Division 1.
If Alliance is the No. 1 team in the computer ratings for the region, the playoff game probably will be in Fawcett, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
McKinley finished 6-4, it’s worst record since 1976, the first year of consolidation from four Canton high schools to two.
But McKinley coach Thom McDaniels said his players had nothing to be ashamed about Saturday.
“I’m proud of the way they (the Bulldogs) attempted to win the football game,” he said.
“The Ursuline and Elder games (two of the losses) left a bad taste in the mouth. Against Moeller, (the other loss) we weren’t ashamed of ourselves, either,” said the coach who completed his second season as the head man at McKinley, and his fourth at the school.
”I didn’t have any heart attacks in the first half,” Massillon Coach Mike Currence was to say afterward. “But I had about five in the second half.”
“McKinley didn’t quit, and they played a good game. McDaniels is a great coach, and he did not have the best material this season.”
“I don’t think this was a great McKinley team, when compared to some of the ones in the recent past, but they played tough.”
Tigers trip Bulldogs
The swift senior tailback, Craig Johnson, who carried only once for a loss of three yards in the Tigers first possession that ended in the aborted field goal, finished with a flourish, running for 138 yards in 20 carries, putting him at 1,008 yards for the 1983 season.
On their second possession, the Tigers zipped 52 yards in only four plays, the finale a one-yard touchdown plunge by All-Ohioan Chris Spielman, who not only gained 55 yards on 15 carries and scored both Tiger touchdowns, but also led a swarming defense from his linebacker position which stifled McKinley’s running game.
Dewitz sparked the TD drive with a 19-yard rollout romp on the first play, and then was hit late by a Bulldog. The 15-yard penalty put the Tigers on the Pups’ 18, from where Johnson got eight and Spielman nine to set up the touchdown.
Spielman’s 33-yard punt return on the last play of the first period set up the second Tigers’ score.
Even though the Bulldogs’ defense held Massillon to 13 yards over the first six plays of the second quarter, Pfisterer drilled a 36-yard field goal to put the visitors up 10-0 with 9:20 left in the half.
The Bulldogs’ junior Jeff Angione sparked his team with a 42-yard return of the ensuing kickoff, and McKinley marched to the Tigers’ 28, before a dropped pass on fourth down turned the ball over.
But three plays later, Anthony McCullough pounced on a Dewitz fumble and the Pups were back in business at the Tigers’ 47, from where they scored in eight plays.
McKinley quarterback Kevin Parrish, who completed six of 21 passes for 82 yards before being injured late in the fourth period, hit Jeff Smith in the end zone with a 15-yard scoring strike 55 seconds before the band show. Anthony Taylor’s placement pulled the Pups to within three at 10-7.
After Spielman returned the kickoff to his own 43, Dewitz flipped a screen pass to the fleet Johnson, and he turned the play into a 41-yarder, putting the ball at the Bulldogs’ 16.
Then came Pierre Taylor’s interception in the end zone with seven seconds left.
After the lengthy discussion by the officials, who finally made the right ruling of a touchback, Parrish fell on the ball to end the half.
What may well have been the final turning point came midway in the third period.
McKinley couldn’t move with the third quarter kickoff, and Massillon marched from its own 14 to the McKinley 12, thanks to a 38-yard scamper by Johnson and runs of 17 and 13 by Dewitz, who was the Tigers second leading rusher with 62 yards on 11 carries.
But Dewitz fumbled and McKinley middle guard Bob Gilmore covered the ball, only to have the Bulldogs’ offense fumble it right back on the first play.
Four plays later, Johnson ran in from four yards out to make it 16-7.
The PAT took a while.
Finally, from 13½ inches away, Spielman plunged for the two-pointer to conclude the day’s – and the season’s – scoring, with 4:29 remaining in the third period.
McKinley came back to the Tigers’ 18, thanks mostly to a 25-yard pass from Parrish to junior end Rafe Lazar, the Pups’ longest gainer of the day.
The Tigers, with 2:12 left in the third, then took final control of the game. They managed to come up with the key plays, just when the Pups thought they had them stopped, and moved the ball 81 yards in 14 plays to the McKinley 1, where, with a second-and-goal, Dewitz fumbled the snap again, and the ball wound up in the end zone where McKinley’s Jeff Smith covered it for another touchback.
A pass interference penalty and a 22-yard Parrish to Pierre Taylor aerial putt he ball on the Tigers 40, from where Parrish threw a pass that was picked off by Massillon’s Derrick Dave. But the Tigers’ were flagged for roughing Parrish, and the Pups had a first down at the Tiger 25…but without Parrish, who left the game with a knee injury. Reports indicate he was treated and released at Timken-Mercy Medical Center after the game.
Brian Worstell, a 5-11 junior, came on, but he could fare no better, and the Pups gave up the ball at the 19.
Troy Jenkins, McKinley’s premier runner who had gained 1,101 yards in his first nine games, picked up 72 yards in 15 carries.
Pass Receiving – Massillon: Johnson 2-57, Spielman 1-13, Crenshaw 1-8, McKinley Senior: Jenkins 3-17, Lazar 2-32, p. Taylor 1-21, Draper 1-12, Smith 1-15.
Missed field goals – Massillon: Pfisterer 34.
Massillon celebrates Golden Anniversary
By STEVEN DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
CANTON – Massillon football celebrated a Golden Anniversary of sorts Saturday afternoon at Fawcett Stadium – 50 wins over McKinley.
The Tigers (9-1) posted an 18-7 victory over the Bulldogs (6-4) in the 89th meeting between the two before a packed house. With the win Massillon upped its series lead to 50-34 with five ties.
Massillon held the statistical edge in nearly every category of importance: first downs (19 to 11), rushing (227 yards to 79) and total yards (332 to 175).
It was one of those kind of days where everything went wrong, but nothing did.
Although the Tigers scored two touchdowns and a field goal, head coach Mike Currence’s squad squandered away more golden opportunities than it wanted to.
In the first quarter alone the Tigers had a first down at the McKinley 18 and came away empty-handed when a 34-yard field goal went astray.
Massillon was knocking on the door again late in the second quarter, with a first down at the Bulldog 16. This time an interception halted the drive.
Another time, this in the third period, the Tigers had a first down at the McKinley 12. A lost fumble again stymied Massillon.
And if three blown opportunities weren’t enough, the Tigers continued their version of give-away in the final period when another fumble at the McKinley one stopped yet another golden chance.
“We made some mistakes,” Currence admitted, citing the fumble in the end zone in the fourth quarter as a prime example. “That was terrible.”
Through it all, though, the Tigers still prevailed. That’s because a stingy defense made it happen.
Forced to go to its passing game in the second half, McKinley finished with just 79 yards rushing on 23 carries. The Bulldogs’ lone TD occurred following a Massillon fumble.
In the air the Bulldogs picked up 96 yards, but quarterbacks Kevin Parrish and Brian Worstell combined to complete just eight-of-29 attempts.
Only two of McKinley’s 10 possessions began inside Massillon territory. More often than not the Bulldogs were pinned back inside their own turf, especially in the opening stanza when the hosts netted a total of nine yards.
Massillon appeared well on its way to a score on the game’s opening set of downs, marching to the McKinley 18 with a first down. Two straight runs lost five yards when quarterback Brian Dewitz ran for six yards.
On fourth down Pfisterer, who holds career and single-season field goal kicking school records, missed on a 34-yard attempt.
A roughing the punter call on McKinley during the drive kept the Tiger hopes alive.
After holding McKinley on its second possession, the Tigers were back in action with the ball at their own 48.
Dewitz scampered 19 yards on a bootleg, but McKinley was called for spearing on the play. With the ball now on the 18 stellar running back Johnson, who finished with 133 yards rushing, gained nine yards.
Then Spielman got into the act, gaining eight yards to the one and adding the final yard for the TD at the 4:14 mark. Pfisterer added the extra-point and the Tigers led 7-0.
McKinley was stopped in its tracks once again on its next series, but Spielman broke off a 33-yard punt return to give Massillon good field position at the Bulldog 32.
Johnson picked up eight yards on the first play from scrimmage and Spielman added three more for a first down. Dewitz was then sacked for a six-yard loss when the Tigers were then called for illegal motion.
A Dewitz pass fell incomplete before Johnson broke off a 13-yard scamper to the McKinley 19 to put Pfisterer within field goal range. The senior booter responded with a 36-yard field goal, giving Massillon a 10-0 lead at 9:30.
McKinley mounted its first serious threat on the next series with tailback Troy Jenkins running four yards on a fake punt for a first down. However, the drive stalled on Massillon’s 28 when a Parrish pass bounced off the hands of Leon Draper.
Three plays later and the Tigers gave the ball right back when Dewitz lost the handle on the center exchange. McKinley’s Anthony McCullough recovering at the 47.
Eight plays later and Parrish found Jeff Smith on a slant over the middle for a score with 51 seconds left in the half.
With time running out in the half Massillon reached the Bulldog 16 when Johnson ran 41 yards down the right sidelines on a screen pass. Dewitz then threw a pass over the middle which was intercepted by Pierre Taylor.
Taylor, who caught the ball in the end zone, then ran out of the end zone. Currence was quick on the field, asking for a safety.
After some deliberation by the game’s officials the Tigers were awarded a two-point safety. Now, it was McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels’ turn to “discuss” the play.
Again the game’s officials conferred. When they broke huddle they reversed their earlier decision and took the two points off Massillon’s side of the scoreboard.
“The McKinley coaches out coached me on that one,” Currence said tongue-in-cheek. “They showed me the ruling. It doesn’t seem right to intentionally take a safety.”
The two teams swapped turnovers in the third quarter, Dewitz losing a fumble to Bob Gilmore and Massillon’s Tim Sampsel recovering a Bulldog bobble one play later.
Four plays after Sampsel’s fumble recovery gave the Tigers excellent field position at the McKinley 19, Johnson ran four yards to pay dirt behind a good block by Tom Gruno at the 4:29 mark.
On the conversion, McKinley was called three straight times for encroachment. With the ball resting inside the one, Spielman carried in the two-pointer for a 18-7 Tiger lead.
McKinley then drove to a first down at the Massillon 23 following a 25-yard pass play, but three straight passes fell incomplete to stop the drive.
Massillon then chewed up over eight minutes of time on its next possession, but came away with nothing to show for it when the center snap was bobbled at the McKinley one with Smith recovering in the end zone.
The Bulldogs put together their last threat on the ensuing series, marching from their own 20 to Massillon’s 21 thanks in large part to a pair of 15-yard penalties, one for pass interference and another for roughing the quarterback.
But the drive stalled when a fourth down pass failed to gain the necessary yardage.
On last McKinley hope was thwarted by a Pat Spicer interception with less than a minute left.
Tiger ‘D’ turned Pups into kittens
By NORM WEBER Independent Sports Writer
CANTON – While the Massillon offense surprised McKinley with some new wrinkles Saturday in Fawcett Stadium, the Tiger defense was its reliable self in the 18-7 victory.
The Bulldogs did get one touchdown off the tight Tiger defense, but the score was set up by a Tiger fumble.
Other than that drive, the Tiger defense didn’t yield much. In the first quarter McKinley’s offense ran nine plays for nine yards.
Tackle Tom Gruno and nose guard John Franke incessantly applied pressure to Bulldog quarterback Kevin Parrish. The defense up front also showed strong pursuit on flushing out McKinley’s screen passes.
“I was getting a little concerned in the third quarter when they started driving,” Franke said. But then when we stopped them on our 18-yard line, I knew they weren’t going to score on us any more.”
Gruno admitted that Saturday’s game was the most exhausting of his career, but well worth it.
“With eight minutes left in the game I felt like dropping; I could hardly breathe,” said Gruno, who doubled at fullback. “Usually we’re ahead 44-0 in the fourth quarter and I’ll get a rest. This is by far my most tiring game.”
“I’d go to the sidelines when Timmy Sampsel would replace me at fullback. Every time I kept saying to the rest of the defensive players, ‘We’ve got to stop them.’ Nothing stood in our way. I knew it after we stopped them three consecutive times at getting a first down in the first quarter.”
“McKinley has some big tackles. But we were able to out-quick them. That was all we could do. We got so fired up every time I went to the sidelines on my offensive breaks. Beating McKinley is great.”
HUMBLE HERO – Tailback Craig Johnson was the first Tiger to go over the 1,000-yard mark rushing this season. His 133 yards against McKinley give him 1,003 on the season.
“How many yards to I have for the season?” a humble Johnson asked in the locker room after the game.
Johnson went over the magic number with a 13-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t know it then,” Johnson answered. “Which play was it?”
SPIELMAN’S VOW – When McKinley stopped the Tigers two years ago at Fawcett Stadium to earn a trip to the playoffs and eventually win the state championship, Chris Spielman vowed that the Tigers would never lose at Fawcett while he was playing.
“After we lost two years ago I said our team – and you can underline team, would not be beaten on this field again,” said Spielman. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I’d like to thank Massillon for everything.”
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN – The Tigers may not be going to the playoffs, but based on Saturday’s performance, could be the best team in the state.
“If we played Akron Garfield next week we’d beat them by four touchdowns,” said Gruno. “This is a much improved team. I’ve been sitting in bed, listening to the radio and praying that Alliance or Garfield would lose. But we can’t control that.”
Neither Alliance nor Garfield, which beat Massillon 14-10 on Sept. 9, have lost. They’ll meet in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.
Topics of discussion such as the great Garfield debate are what keep the off-season fires burning.
The Tigers strutted their stuff Friday night to the tune of a 38-0 blasting of visiting Youngstown South at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Now the Tigers (8-1) find themselves in preparation for arch-rival McKinley, which posted a 13-6 over North Canton.
Against South (5-4), Massillon’s defense was at its best. The famed “Tiger Claw” did its thing, holding the Warriors to a net total of 118 yards.
In the first half the Tiger defense was simply awesome, yielding just 42 yards. Half of South’s rushing attempts were for zero or minus yardage.
While the defense was busy holding the quick Warrior offense at bay, the Tiger offense was efficient to say the least.
Quarterback Brian Dewitz completed seven of 11 passes, including six of his last eight tries, for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back Craig Johnson, who caught two of those three TD aerials, totaled 82 yards on the ground on 15 attempts. He added 52 yards via the airways, and now has 110 points scored on the season.
After a scoreless first quarter in which South was held to one net yard on six rushes, the Tigers put it all together in the second stanza by scoring all three times they had the ball.
Massillon’s first score came on a 37-yard pass from Dewitz to Johnson . The Tiger signal-caller faced a heavy rush on the screen pass, tossing the ball over the onrushing Warrior defense.
Johnson, who bobbled the ball at first, took the pass into the end zone at the 10:05 mark. The drive found Johnson gain nine yards on the ground, and Dewitz 11.
The Tiger defense then held South to minus 10 yards before forcing a punt.
On the first play from scrimmage the Warriors were called for pass interference, but the Tigers were in turn called for illegal motion. With the ball on South’s 37, Johnson rambled for 13 yards before a Chris Spielman carry went for negative yardage.
South was called offside when Johnson broke off a five-yard gain to give the Tigers a first down at the 17. From there unheralded fullback Tom Gruno went the remainder of the distance for his first TD of the season.
As he did on the first Tiger score, Bronc Pfisterer added the point after and Massillon owned a 14-0 lead at the 5:28 mark.
Again the Tiger defense rose to the occasion in holding South to one yard in three plays. Massillon took over on its 47 following a 34-yard punt.
Johnson broke off a 16-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage before Dewitz hit Reggie Crenshaw for a 21-yard gain to the South 16. Gruno then picked up six before the Tigers were called for illegal motion.
With the ball on the 15, Dewitz found a diving Johnson in the end zone for a TD at the 1:20 mark.
Prior to South’s final drive of the first half, the Warriors had a total of minus eight yards in offense. The visitors then gained 50 yards on the last march to gain some lost confidence.
South’s offense continued to sputter in the second half, though. On its first set of downs Tigers safety Steve Walterhouse intercepted a pass. Massillon, however, was unable to capitalize on the turnover.
Spielman then intercepted another Chris Williams pass, zig and zagging his way 39 yards to the South 9 on its next sequence of plays.
From the 9 Johnson gained six yards before Spielman was hurled for a yard loss. Dewitz, on third-and-goal, then hit a wide-open Spielman on a swing pass.
Three plays and a punt later and the Tigers took over on their own 36.
A Dewitz pass to Gruno covered nine yards after Johnson was held to no gain. Spielman then picked up the first down on a tough one-yard gain.
Johnson picked up two more yards when Spielman displayed his prowess in throwing a football, hitting Paul “Big Play” Briggs for a 47-yarder to the South five. From thee Spielman carried the pigskin to pay dirt with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
Massillon’s final score, a 41-yard field goal by school record holder Pfisterer with 2:48 left, was set up by a fumble recovery by Glen Thomas, the 5-foot-6, 155-pound nose guard.
Pfisterer’s kick was his seventh three-pointer of the season and his 12th as a Tiger.
South’s deepest penetration was to the Tiger 35 at the end of the first half. Of their 12 possessions the Warriors only invaded Massillon territory that one time.
Now, bring on McKinley.
MASSILLON………………..38 SOUTH……………………… 0
Statistics M S First downs rushing 8 4 First downs passing 6 2 First downs by penalty 1 0 Totals first downs 15 6 Yards gained rushing 168 110 Yards lost rushing 14 32 Net yards rushing 154 78 Net yards passing 171 40 Total yards gained 325 118 Passes attempted 18 14 Passes completed 9 4 Passes int. by 1 2 Times kicked off 7 1 Kickoff average 53.7 60.0 Kickoff return yards 0 87 Punts 2 7 Punting average 45.0 33.7 Punt return yards 13 16 Fumbles 3 3 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 4 3 Yards penalized 20 24 Touchdowns rushing 2 0 Touchdowns passing 3 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 54 46 Time of possession 25:13 22.47 Attendance 8,518
MASSILLON – Visiting GlenOak won the battle of the statistics, but the Tigers won it where it counts the most – on the scoreboard.
GlenOak, playing perhaps its finest game ever, outplayed Massillon up one side and down the other.
Entering the contest Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, very few of the 9,587 spectators expected much of a game.
And considering GlenOak owned a so-so 3-4 record as opposed to Massillon’s 6-1, the 17-15 Tiger victory was for all intent a huge moral victory for the Golden Eagles.
GlenOak controlled the ball for nearly 15 minutes longer than Massillon, gaining 99 more yards on offense and eight more first downs.
For that matter GlenOak had more touchdowns from scrimmage, but a 93-yard kickoff return to open the game by Massillon’s Craig Johnson was the difference.
“It’s nice to win one when you’re not supposed to,” confided Massillon head coach Mike Currence. “You have to give them credit because they played a good football game.”
“This was a good game for us,” Currence continued. “It’ll make us work harder (in practice) this week.”
The game’s outcome went down to the final play, a missed 52-yard field goal by GlenOak’s versatile Fermin Olivera who kept the Tiger defense guessing with his option-orientated offense.
“It was a great football game,” said GlenOak head coach Bob Commings, a one-time Massillon coach from 1969-73. “The thing is that this is one of the finest hours in our institution and we lose it.
“We had a chance to win it two or three times,” Commings said. “We didn’t come here to look good, we came over to win. I still think Massillon is the best team in the state, but we’re the best 3-5 team in the Western Hemisphere.”
Before many of the Homecoming crowd had a chance to settle into their seats, Johnson took the opening kickoff at his own 7. The senior went to the right side of the field, reversed his direction and found himself one-on-one with Olivera.
Johnson put on a couple of his patented moves and then outraced the defender to pay dirt. Just 15 seconds had elapsed off the game clock when Bronc Pfisterer booted home the conversion kick.
After holding GlenOak to 17 yards on its first possession, the Tigers took control of the ball on their own 34. Johnson and Chris Spielman took turns carrying the ball, giving Massillon a first down at the Golden Eagle 43.
After an incomplete pass, quarterback Brian Dewitz found Reggie Crenshaw for a 19-yard gain to the 24. Three plays later and the Tigers found themselves in a fourth-and-14.
Onto the field trotted Pfisterer, who drilled a line drive over the crossbar from 45 yards out to give Massillon a 10-0 lead.
The field goal was the sixth this season for Pfisterer, eclipsing his own single-season record of five he set a year ago. Only two other players have longer field goals than Pfisterer, Tim Manion’s 48-yarder in 1981 and Keith Harmon’s 47-yarder in 1975.
At this juncture many Tiger fans were sensing a repeat showing of last year’s 42-14 Massillon win over the Golden Eagles. Those thoughts were, as it turned out, premature at best.
Both teams were stopped on their next offensive series, a coffin-corner punt by Massillon’s Tom Gruno pinning GlenOak back at its own 8-yard line.
With their backs against the wall the Golden Eagles started moving the Tiger defense around, seemingly at will as Olivera started to do his thing.
Olivera first hit Troy Iero for a 13-yard gain before running for 10 more yards on a keeper. The senior quarterback next found Iero on a 22-yard pickup, the ball tipped twice en route to the wide receiver.
GlenOak running backs Greg Wagner and Jeff Gurley then took turns running the ball, moving the visitors to a first-and-10 at the Tiger 35. An encroachment penalty made it first-and-five.
Wagner then gained four yards when Gurley rambled six yards to a first down at the 19. Olivera called his own number and dashed to pay dirt with 5:03 left in the half.
Olivera then added the extra-point kick to make it a 10-7 game.
Momentum remained with GlenOak as Spielman was stopped cold on a fourth-and-one from the Eagle 47. But Commings’ squad turned the ball right back over when Olivera pitched the ball way over the head of his running back, Spielman recovering the loose ball at the GlenOak 38.
Massillon moved down to the 15, but a 32-yard Pfisterer field goal attempt was wide right.
Two plays later Spielman recovered his second fumble of the night, giving the Tigers excellent field position at the GlenOak 37.
Wasted opportunity this wasn’t as Dewitz went to the air, connecting with Paul Briggs for a 37-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Pfisterer’s kick made it 17-7 with 37 seconds left in the half.
After a fine halftime show by the Tiger Swing Band, the two opponents decided to play giveaway. First GlenOak fumbled after picking up two first downs, then Massillon fumbled four plays later.
GlenOak’s next series ended in a punt, but the Tigers continued their generous ways as Dewitz was intercepted by Wagner, giving the Golden Eagles possession at the Tiger 45.
The Golden Eagles took advantage this time, marching 55 yards in 12 plays despite facing a second-and-22 on one occasion and a fourth-and-five on another.
The TD occurred when Wagner burst up the middle from three yards out with 9:16 left in the final period. Gurley took the same route on his two-point conversion, making it fingernail biting time at 17:15.
Faced with a fourth-and-one from their own 29, Gurley picked up two yards to keep things alive. Olivera was then sacked by Scott Bylene for an eight-yard loss and the Golden Eagles were then hit with a five-yard penalty to make it a second and 23.
Undaunted by the big yardage to make up, Wagner gained seven yards and Olivera hit Iero for 13 more when Wagner pounded two yards on fourth down for a first-and-10 at the 44.
Two Olivera passes went incomplete when he was sacked for a 10-yard loss by a host of Tigers. On fourth down, though, Olivera hit Iero for 31 yards and a first down at the Massillon 35 with eight seconds left.
With no time outs left, Olivera threw the ball out of bounds to set up this last ditch field goal try.
Massillon continued its turnover tactics moments later when Johnson was stripped of the ball after a 22-yard gallop to the GlenOak 27, but the Golden Eagles turned the ball right back over when Olivera was intercepted by Derrick Dave two plays later.
Johnson finished the game with 40 yards rushing for Massillon, upping his season total to 770. In order to hit the 1,000-yard plateau the senior will have to total 230 yards more against Youngstown South and McKinley in the final two weeks.
STATISTICS M G First downs rushing 6 14 First downs passing 6 6 First downs by penalty 0 0 Total first downs 12 20 Yards gained rushing 104 231 Yards lost rushing 14 35 Net yards rushing 90 196 Net yards passing 135 128 Total yards gained 225 324 Passes attempted 20 16 Passes completed 9 10 Passes int. by 1 1 Yardage on pass int. 0 0 Times kicked off 4 3 Kickoff average 52.8 40.7 Kickoff return yards 124 74 Punts 2 2 Punting average 33.5 35.0 Punt return yards 5 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 4 3 Fumbles lost 2 3 Penalties 2 3 Yards penalized 20 35 Touchdowns rushing 0 2 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 1 0 Number of plays 46 67 Time of possession 16:35 31:25 Attendance 9,587
M – Craig Johnson 93 kickoff return (Bronc Pfisterer kick) M – Pfisterer 45 FG G – Fermin Olivera 19 run (Olivera kick) M – Paul Briggs 37 pass from Brian Dewitz (Pfisterer kick) G – Greg Wagner 3 run (Jeff Gurley run)
MASSILLON – “We don’t expect this to be an easy task. It’s another year and they’ll remember last year.”
Mike Currence told the Tiger Touchdown Club Monday that the 1983 Barberton Magics are a lot different than last year’s version which the Tigers beat soundly 43-0.
“This is a very strong Barberton team,” he said. “Our scouts said that this may be the best offensive team that we’ve seen since Garfield. They know how to move the ball and they scored against Moeller a couple of weeks ago.
“In fact, they had Moeller on the ropes,” Currence continued. “The score was only 14-7 in the fourth quarter and if Barberton hadn’t turned the ball over, it could have stayed that way or gotten even closer.”
Currence said that the staff was dismayed when the Magics dropped their opener to Akron Garfield 48-7.
“We thought Barberton was going to be down this year, but then we found out how good Garfield was.”
It will be a veteran Magic team that the Tigers face in the Rubber Bowl Saturday night. Seven offensive starters return from last season, including quarterback Ken Rector and tailback Greg Butcher. Four starters return on the offensive line including tackle Ken Adams, guard Curt Rafferty, center Dennis Meachan and right end Mike Babbin.
“A season can make a difference with an offensive line,” he said. “You can move the ball better with a seasoned line.”
Defensively, the Magics have four returnees. Adams plays defensive tackle and Mike Keim will alternate with Joel Hurst at defensive end. But the key players are the two linebackers, — junior Bill Livingston and senior Dan Jones.
“They are the biggest linebackers we’ve seen,” said Currence. “They are the strength of the defense.”
Currence added that Adams and Mike Fields (split end-defensive back) are the only two-way players on the team.
“They play two-platoon football so most of their players can rest. They should be rested for us.”
The Tigers will be playing on a new turf at the Rubber Bowl, installed this past spring after constant use beat up the old rug.
Going back to the Gonzaga game, Currence felt that the defense played superbly, but the offense made some mistakes.
“Mistakes hurt us,” he said. “That’s why we didn’t’ score more. They put pressure on us and dared us to throw the ball. Gonzaga wasn’t a bad team. Their defense gave us some problems.
“We made enough mistakes for the rest of year on offense,” he said. “We dropped a lot of passes that were right on the mark and other things. Hopefully, we’ll work those out.”
Tigers hope ‘bowl’ magic is all theirs
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON – Playing Barberton in recent years has been no bucket of joy for Tiger football teams.
Only one team has beaten a Mike Currence-coached Massillon squad more often than Barberton, and than stalwart opponent—nemesis is none other then Cincinnati Moeller.
Moeller, a perennial state powerhouse, has beaten Currence’s Tigers in all three meetings. Barberton has two wins, like Canton McKinley, over Massillon.
The fact that Barberton went 1-9 a year ago and suffered a humiliating 43-0 setback at the hands of the Tigers, should be treated with disdain.
For one thing the Magics of this year do not resemble last year’s unit in any way. Barberton, which had an idle week, brings a 3-2 record into tonight’s clash at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.
“Barberton has just played some great football up there against us,” noted Currence about the Magics’ ability to beat Massillon in the Rubber Bowl. “They seem to get really excited.”
Although the road game will be the first for Massillon this season after six home frays, Currence doesn’t expect that to be any factor against Barberton.
“We’ve played scrimmages on the road this year,” he said. “Barberton has been a thorn in our side, no doubt about that. Why, it’s not even their home field and they play us tough there.”
Currence recalls the 1981 game when Barberton pulled out a spine-tingling 26-24 win at the Rubber Bowl with anything but fondness.
“We had that game won and a kid runs back a kickoff after we had scored to beat us,” he said. “That Barberton team of 1977 (which won 9-7) was a great football team; they had more Big Ten college-caliber kids than we did.”
For the first time this season, and for the first time in some while against Barberton, the Tigers will be at full strength. All-everything Chris Spielman, though, is still nursing a bruised leg, but is expected to see his usual share of playing time.
“We are going in healthy. This is one game I wanted to go into with a completely healthy roster,” Currence said.
“Our scouts think they (Barberton) have got the best offense we’ve seen, and for our scouts to come back with that type of report is something else.
“Our defense will get a real challenge up there, I can tell you that much,” Currence said.
One thing the Tigers will have to adjust to is the artificial surface inside the Rubber Bowl. Due to the synthetic fiber, Massillon will wear either tennis shoes or turf shoes. The Rubber Bowl has a ‘shoe bank’, but Currence said members of the team have their own gear.
Magics’ enthusiasm keys grid fortune
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
BARBERTON – Jack Foltz likened Barberton to the community of Massillon – places where people like their high school football nearly as much as they do weekly pay checks.
“You have to realize that Barberton is very similar to Massillon,” Foltz, in his first year of directing the Magics, said. “The kids are winners, and they want to win. They love to play football.
“If something happens in the community pertaining to football you can bet it’ll get back to me,” Foltz said. “I may be the last to hear about it, but I’ll hear about it.”
Folts, who is a disciplined class instructor, hopes he can take what he preaches in the class room onto the football field Saturday night when his Magics (3-2) meet Massillon (5-1) in the Rubber Bowl.
“Our kids appreciate what we’re (the coaching staff) is trying to do,” Foltz said, noting the Magics have rebounded well from last year’s 1-9 record. “We didn’t get as much leadership last season as we expected. Hopefully, we’re turning things around.”
Both of Barberton’s losses have come at the hands of highly rated teams – Garfield (48-12) and Cincinnati Moeller (28-7).
“Our kids just seem to get up for the big games,” Foltz said. “I’m looking forward to the same type of attitude for this one.”
Foltz said his Magic unit has been diversified on offense, mixing the run with the pass.
“We do try to mix it up,” Foltz noted. “We do have a good dose of passing and we have a good dose of running. We’ll do what we have to.”
Main cog in Barberton’s offensive attack has been quarterback Kenny Rector, who Foltz said is extremely intuitive. Rector, the Magic grid boss pointed out, ranks 15th in his senior class in terms of grades.
Barberton and Massillon have played each other 37 times, with the Magics on the short end of a 29-7-1 record. The first time the two teams met was in 1904 when the Tigers won 15-0.
Last year Barberton suffered a 43-0 setback, but since Mike Currence has directed the Tiger grid fortunes Massillon owns a 4-2 record over the Magics.
Only one team – Moeller – has managed to beat a Currence-led team more times. Both of Massillon’s losses to the Magics have occurred at the Rubber Bowl, by a 9-7 score in 1977 and 26-24 in 1981.
The Magics have beaten Cuyahoga Falls (13-3), Akron East (35-12), and Lancaster (24-13).
Tigers holding statistical edge over opponents
By The Independent Staff
MASSILLON – Heading into Saturday night’s Rubber Bowl game against Barberton, the Tigers hold wide margins of difference in team statistics over their opponents.
Massillon has totaled 95 first downs for an average of nearly 16 per game, while the opposition has just 46 total.
In total yardage the Tigers hold a huge 1,926 to 829 advantage. Rushing wise Massillon has 1,219 yards as opposed to 481, while passing favors the local unit 707 to 348.
The number of plays from scrimmage also favors Massillon 337 to 292. Average gain per down finds the Tigers at 5.7 and their foes at a paltry 2.8.
Individually, Craig Johnson is an offensive leader in three categories. The senior has gained 661 yards rushing on 89 carries for an average 7.4 per tote, while scoring 72 points and returning four kick-offs for 74 yards.
Senior Chris Spielman is the top punt returner with an average of 14.9 with 13 come-backs for 194 yards.
In the receiving department, both Bruce Spicer and Johnson have nine receptions. Spicer’s yardage gained stands at 130.
Quarterback Brian Dewitz is completing 48 percent of his passes, connecting on 24 of 50 tries for 442 yards and four touchdowns.
Punter Tom Gruno is averaging 39.1 yards per boot.
On defense, Robert Neff has two fumble recoveries to lead that category while Steve Walterhouse and Spielman share the top spot in interceptions with three.
Spielman leads the defense in tackles with 41 and assists with 23, but Neff is right behind with respective totals of 38 and 18. Gruno is next at 34 and six.
Johnson’s TD ramble of highlight quality
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
AKRON – If Massillon Tiger football had a highlights film at season’s end, Craig Johnson made a strong bid for squatter’s rights to the opening scene.
The 5-foot-10 inch, 185-pound senior displayed more moves than a belly dancer on a 47-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brian Dewitz.
Johnson’s razzle-dazzle TD scamper came on the first play of the fourth period of Saturday’s 38-7 win over the Barberton Magics at the Rubber Bowl.
“That was the best reversed-field run I’ve seen in a long while,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said of the spectacular dash. “I had already grabbed someone by the shirt on the sidelines to send him in with our next play.”
“I thought Johnson was going to be tackled,” he added. “I asked Craig if he was down and he said ‘No, coach.’”
The TD pass-run occurred one play after Cornell Jackson picked off the fourth Barberton pass of the game. On the first play following the theft, Dewitz hit Johnson on the right sideline near the Magic bench.
Johnson was hit, grabbed by another would-be tackler and spun around. Massillon’s leading ground gainer took it from there, running parallel to the end zone to the left sidelines and eventually to pay dirt.
“I was wide open, caught the ball and a guy grabbed me by the shirt and spun me around in the right direction,” Johnson said. “I just saw things opening up from thee.”
Johnson, who also gained 69 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, is a newcomer to Tiger football. He transferred from Canton Timken, and ran track as a junior.
“It was kinda hard at first,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t open myself up the way I wanted to. I already knew quite a few of the guys on the team from track last season.
Currence said Johnson has had no trouble adapting to his teammates this season, though he said the senior has made great strides in learning the system.
“The thing about Craig is that he gets along well with everybody. He has such a pleasant personality,” Currence said. “Nearly all the kids on the team have been under the system for eight years, and they know it almost was well as the coaches.
“Yeah, it’s been tough on Craig from that standpoint the Tiger grid boss said. “He was going both ways, but we decided to have him concentrate on offense. He’s a great kid.”
His given name is Bob Neff Jr. and his two interceptions and a fumble recovery Friday in Massillon Washington’s 23-0 victory over Gonzaga College Prep of Washington, D.C., in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, represent one of the finest single-game defensive efforts from any player who has ever worn the orange and black.
Neff was the cornerstone of a Massillon defense that allowed Gonzaga just 97 yards total offense (61 passing; 36 rushing), no first downs rushing and only four first downs overall. Gonzaga’s defense wasn’t bad, either – the Eagles held Massillon to 249 yards of offense (135 passing; 114 rushing), nearly half of the 488 yards the Tigers piled up in last week’s 44-0 drubbing of Newark. Massillon is now 5-1; Gonzaga 3-2.
“Junior dropped another possible interception and would have had a shot at a fourth,” Massillon defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Jim Letcavits pointed out, “but I fired him (on a blitz) and Gonzaga threw right where he would have been.
“Bob played a super game. We worked on him to get back and cover the curl pattern and he did it well.”
Neff, who had “seven or eight tackles” by his own count, called his performance “the thrill of a lifetime.”
“On the fumble I was pursuing to the ball, saw somebody hit it and jumped on it,” the modest senior said. “The first interception the right end came across on a drag (pattern) and I jumped in front of him for the ball. On the second interception, two guys ran patterns up the middle. The ball was thrown short, I dove and got under the ball to catch it.”
It must also be pointed out that Gonzaga was purposely running many of its plays away from All-Ohio linebacker Chris Spielman, but because of Neff the tactic didn’t work.
Neff’s heroics set up the Tigers’ first nine points. Following a scoreless first quarter, Neff’s fumble recovery gave Massillon the ball at the Gonzaga 16. The Tigers “drove” in reverse to the 17 on a wrong-way run and two incomplete passes and Massillon settled for Bronc Pfisterer’s 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 10:38 left in the first half.
The first of Neff’s interceptions on Gonzaga’s next possession put the ball on the Eagles’ 46. In eight plays Massillon manufacture a touchdown as tailback Craig Johnson, who wound up with 101 yards in 16 carries, and Chris Spielman carried three times each.
Johnson made it 9-0 with 7:31 left in the half in a unique, 24-yard way: He hit the well-stacked line, spun off several tacklers and was several yards ahead of any pursuers at the Gonzaga six. But he fumbled the ball there, scooped it up at the one and rolled into the end zone before the extra-point kick failed.
Gonzaga had a chance to score a few minutes later as Karl Gannon recovered a Spielman fumble and rumbled to the Massillon 21. But an illegal procedure penalty and three incomplete passes later, kicker Matt O’Connell’s 42-yard field goal came up short and the Tigers took their 9-0 lead into halftime.
After a drumming halftime show featuring the Tiger Swing Band’s percussionists, Gonzaga cough4ed up the ball on the opening kickoff and Massillon traveled 35 yards in six plays with Johnson going the final four yards. Pfisterer’s kick made it 16-0, Tigers.
Neff’s second interception of a Gary McIntosh pass set up a 40-yard Pfisterer field goal attempt which fell short but when the Tigers got the ball back on a Gonzaga punt with 24 seconds left in the third period, they made things happen.
Starting on its own 27, Massillon used a 14-yard run by Johnson and a 4-yard burst by Spielman to set up a 26-yard pass to the Gonzaga 29 by Brian Dewitz down the left sideline to senior Dave Weber.
The Tigers then sent Johnson off tackle for our yards, Johnson around right end for four more and Spielman off tackle for four more yards and a first down at the Gonzaga 17. Having lulled the Gonzaga defense with four-yard gains, Dewitz found Weber again open on the left sideline at about the 8. The receiver, who hadn’t caught a pass prior to Friday’s game, then turned inside and scored. Pfisterer’s kick was the final point with 9:25 left and from there on, the two teams gave their substitutes experience for the most part.
Dewitz, pressured early by the Gonzaga defense and benched late in the first half by the Tiger coaching staff, had a bit of an off night, hitting seven of 20 passes for 105 yards with Weber catching three passes for 55 yards.
Gonzaga starter McIntosh had it even worse. The sophomore was four of 19 for 31 yards with three interceptions, Spielman picking off the third.
“Our young quarterback got a christening tonight,” Gonzaga coach Mark Gowin said. “He’s going to be a great quarterback but he isn’t picking up reads on defense yet. And Massillon’s defensive line played such an outstanding game.
“I was proud of our defensive play. I told them if they play that kind of defense the rest of the year, we will vie for the championship in our area. I feel we played good enough defensively to win the football game, but Massillon is a great, great football team and they were definitely 23 points better overall than us tonight.”
Very little about the game concerned Massillon coach Mike Currence, although he said, “we were upset by people in our offensive backfield.” But he was not overly upset by procedure penalties which, at another time, might tend to stall a drive.
“You get some penalties when you play aggressive football,” Currence noted. “It’s the mental mistakes – like when we go for a long count offensively and we jump offside – that bothers me.”
Massillon tests Barberton, 23-14 winners over Lancaster Friday, at 8 p.m., a week from tnight in the Akron Rubber Bowl. Gonzaga, meanwhile, plays on its Buchanan Field home Saturday against Good Counsel. That’s a 1:30 p.m. start, in case you have a Lear jet and are interested in catching both games.
Good Counsel? Isn’t that the school in Washington, D.C., that derived its name from the Watergate hearings?
STATISTICS M G First downs rushing 8 0 First downs passing 7 4 First downs by penalty 0 0 Total first downs 15 4
Yards gained rushing 145 79 Yards lost rushing 31 43 Net yards rushing 114 36 Net yards passing 135 61 Total yards gained 249 97
Passes attempted 28 21 Passes completed 9 6 Passes int. by 3 1 Yardage on pass int. 20 0
Kickoffs 5 1 Kickoff average 46.8 56.0 Kickoff return yards 1 90 Punts 4 5 Punting average 43.8 39.8
Punt return yards 41 4 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 3 7 Fumbles lost 1 3 Penalties 4 4
MASSILLON – Gonzaga Prep of Washington D.C., has quite a bit to think about on the trip to Tigertown for Friday’s game.
Following Massillon Washington’s 44-0 drubbing of Newark before 8,445 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Gonzaga must concern itself with:
— A Tiger offensive line that has jelled into an awesome high school unit. They go by the names, left to right along the line, of Jason Collins, Don Elvasky, Dave Morelli, Scott Hendershot and Darrell Strickling.
— A Massillon defensive squad so stingy the second and third stringers have learned lessons well and tightened their teamwork to stop foes who think they might have it easier. Some of their names can be found later in this story. But like the offensive line, the defense is a team concept, not a group of individuals.
— Craig Johnson, Chris Spielman and Brian DeWitz, who, despite rain, sloppy fields and knee braces, perform consistently each time they hit the field.
Johnson scored four touchdowns on runs, in order, of 2, 37, 78 and 13 yards and gained 166 yards in14 carries – and he didn’t really get started until the second quarter and left the game to a deserved standing ovation with 2:28 left in the third quarter.
Spielman scored the Tigers’ first touchdown on a playbook-perfect-plus 21-yard pass in the left flat from DeWitz. Playbook-perfect-plus because Spielman ran his pattern deeper against the coverage, got behind the linebackers to catch the pass and from there, it was clear sailing into the end zone as he bowled over Newark defensive backs as if they weighed 140 and 150 pounds, which a couple of them did.
DeWitz was six of 14 for 134 yards, but should have had glossier statistics. He received excellent front-line support, but could have sued his receivers for non-support. Several passes found receivers’ hands, but were dropped.
But the standouts of the night in which the Tigers earned their fourth victory against one loss were the offensive line which helped the Tigers pile up 488 yards of total offense (284 running and 204 passing) and the defense, which posted the shutout.
“Newark were playing on our big players, Spielman and Johnson, and taking their middle linebacker out of the middle and putting him where they thought we’d run a play, a guessing game,” Tigers’ Coach Mike Currence said.
“The first few times Brian saw this, he didn’t know what he saw. But we thought the misdirection and counter plays would work well and they did and that’s a credit to the offensive line.”
After Spielman scored the initial touchdown, the teams exchanged punts with Massillon getting the better of the deal, pinning Newark in at its own 8-yard-line. A penalty moved the Wildcats back to the four and three Dave Jones rushes later, Newark punted with Spielman fair-catching the ball at the Newark 39.
From there, the Tigers moved backwards on a pair of penalties and a sack until they faced a third-down-and-27 situation at the Newark 44. Several Newark defenders chased the backpedaling Dewitz back into Massillon territory before the senior quarterback lofted the ball over their heads to the waiting Spielman near the left sideline.
Behind a cordon of blockers, Spielman rolled 31 yards to the Newark 13 and four Johnson bursts later, the Tigers led 14-0 as Johnson dove in from two yards out.
Newark then stalled at its own 15 and Kirk Ivan took a fair catch on the ensuing punt at the Newark 49. Then, Johnson went off tackle for two yards; Spielman went off right tackle and cut back for seven yards and then dove off tackle again for three yards. This repetition set up what was one of the prettiest plays of the game.
Dewitz faked a handoff going right and then gave it on the counter to Johnson, who slid off tackle and then headed for the left sideline, dragging tacklers the last five yards into the end zone.
But let Darrell Strickling, spokesman for the offensive line, tell it.
“On the counter play, the defensive tackle on the left side sets up the end and the right tackle comes across and pulls for the running back,” Strickling said.
“A play like that keeps the defense honest. But the offensive line got on our blocks and stuck with them until we got the job done tonight. We’ve been coming up to the stadium on weekends and working, especially on our pass protection. We’re working together.
Newark picked up its initial first down of the first half with 4:50 left on a pass from Trey Balding to Jones swinging out of the backfield. But the Newark drive stalled at the Massillon 25 as Tom Gruno, Tim Sampsel and Spielman simultaneously hit or put pressure on Balding’s fourth-down pass attempt to end the threat.
The teams each had short-lived drives – Massillon’s ending on an interception, Newark’s with a punt. Currence and his coaching staff instructed the Tigers to decline a Newark illegal procedure penalty on the kick and take the ball at their own 22 with 1:02 left rather than make the Wildcats kick again to possibly gain better field position.
“There wasn’t much time left anyway and we needed a big play to get down into better field position,” Currence said in explaining his decision. “Besides, the rain made it difficult to run back any punt. So we ran our first trap play of the game. With the trap play, you have as good a chance of breaking a big play as on any play.”
Behind the skilled work of the offensive line, Johnson shot through the initial mass of bodies and headed to the right sideline free and clear. He then turned on the jets and wrapped up a 78-yard touchdown run, giving the Tigers a 27-0 halftime lead and thoroughly demoralizing Newark.
“We could see Newark getting a little tired on us,” Strickling said. “We were playing heads-up ball.”
Johnson still had the fire burning inside him as the teams lined up for the second-half kickoff. He took the return up the middle, then dashed to the left for a 95-yard return into the end zone. But no score. There was the small matter of a penalty flag for a clip which, after the yardage was marked off, put the ball back on the Massillon 44.
No problem; the Tigers went back to the methodical way of moving the ball 56 yards to a touchdown, scoring in five plays with the fifth play Johnson’s final TD on a 13-yard run, breaking past the befuddled Newark defenders on the same counter play he scored upon in the second quarter. Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?
“Johnson played a great game,” Currence said in the understatement of the 1983 season.
After Bronc Phisterer’s fourth of five successful extra point kicks, the 34-0 lead held up until 7:36 remained in the game when Pfisterer added a 29-yard field goal. Junior Irwin Hastings took a 12-yard pass from junior quarterback Mike Scott before Pfisterer notched the final point with 45 seconds left.
The defense, particularly the front four of John Brown, Gruno, John Franke and Tim Sampsel, was sterling. And when Neward mounted its last attack with less than seven minutes left, the Tiger defensive subs got into the act, too.
Newark moved the ball following Pfisterer’s field goal from its 35 to the Massillon 24 and had a second-and-five at that point. But Balding made an unwise pitch back to tailback Jay Redman and Redman was swarmed under by a gang of Tigers for a five-yard loss back to the 29.
Then Baldking went back to pass and was smacked by Massillon senior Jim Hendricks just as he released the ball, which floated into the arms of Tiger senior defensive back Kevin Shepherd. It was a fine piece of teamwork and fitting that a pair of seniors who see limited playing time were the ones to hook up in stopping Newark.
“The defensive coaches are always after a shutout,” Currence said. “It’s a moral victory for them. Team defense is really what makes a team great. They’re all individuals and they’re concentrating on playing their own position, not thinking about playing another position and that’s the team concept.”
Bill Biggers, coach of the Newark squad which fell to 1-3-1 had another concept of his team. “We were poor,” he said. “Jones runs the ball hard, but our offensive line stunk. Jones is a very good back, but we can’t seem to open anything up for him.
Perhaps Biggers and his staff should ask Currence, offensive coordinator Nick Vrotsos and offensive tackle coach Chuck Utterback to conduct a clinic.
Or he could just ask Collins, Elvasky, Morelli, Hendershot, and Strickling – the Tigers who get down and get themselves dirty.
‘Johnson played a great game’
Those were the words used by Massillon coach Mike Currence to describe the game Craig Johnson played in Friday nights’ 44-0 victory over Newark in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Johnson scored touchdowns on runs of 2, 37, 78 and 13 yards and gained 166 yards in 14 carries.
STATISTICS M N First downs rushing 10 2 First downs passing 8 3 First downs by penalty 1 0 Totals first downs 19 5 Yards gained rushing 307 57 Yards lost rushing 23 24 Net yards rushing 284 33 Net yards passing 204 84 Total yards gained 488 117 Passes attempted 21 18 Passes completed 10 8 Passes int. by 2 1 Yardage on pass int. 6 0 Times kicked off 8 1 Kickoff average 46.8 55.0 Kickoff return yards 39 151 Punts 2 8 Punting average 39.0 34.4 Punt return yards 26 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 1 0 Fumbles lost 0 0 Penalties 4 4 Yards penalized 34 39 Touchdowns rushing 4 0 Touchdowns passing 2 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 60 42 Time of possession 26.02 21.58 Attendance 8,445
M – Chris Spielman 21 pass from Brian Dewitz (Bronc Pfisterer kick) M – Craig Johnson 2 run (Pfisterer kick) M—Johnson 37 run (Pfisterer kick) M – Johnson 78 run (kick failed) M – Johnson 13 run (Pfisterer kick) M – Pfisterer 29 field goal M—Irwin Hastings 12 pass from Mike Scott (Pfisterer kick)
Dewitz returns in conquest Ball control key to Tigers’ rout
By NORM WEBER Independent Sportswriter
MASSILLON – When an offense holds the ball for 11:17 of 12 first-quarter minutes its bound to tuck away an early victory.
That’s exactly what the Massillon Tigers did Friday night in their 48-6 shellacking of Akron Central Hower, at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Eagles ran but three offensive plays – two of them giveaways on fumbles – the entire first quarter. By the time Central-Hower’s offense was on the field for as many as two consecutive plays the Tigers had a 20-0 lead.
In the bruising first quarter, Craig Johnson carried nine times for 83 yards and Chris Spielman nine times for 48 yards.
“We were hot,” said Massillon head coach Mike Currence. “Brian (quarterback Brian Dewitz) carried us back. He really inspired us. Having him back intensified the entire team.”
Dewitz was back at starting quarterback, after a two week layoff with a knee injury. Wearing a knee brace, the senior signal caller engineered three first-quarter touchdown drives with seasoned precision.
Starting at their own 26-yard line after the opening kickoff, the Tigers drove 76 yards in 11 plays, Spielman going around right tackle from one yard out for the score.
On the Eagles’ first play after the ensuing kickoff Tiger senior Robert Neff recovered an Eagle fumble at the visitors’ 38-yard line.
Four plays later Johnson scooted in from 15 yards out on a draw play. Johnson got excellent blocking from the right side of the line, Dave Morelli, Kirk Harper, and Darrell Strickling.
“That was an excellent draw play,” said Central-Hower head coach Bill Skeggs. “We should have stopped it. We knew they were going to do it. Everyone knew they were going to do it. I was disappointed we couldn’t stop it.”
When Central-Hower got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff it was déjà vu. The Eagles fumbled on the first play and Tim Sampsel recovered at the Eagle 27-yard line.
Dewitz proceded by firing a 27-yard scoring strike to split-end Paul Briggs on the first play. Bronc Pfisterer, as he did on the previous score, kicked the extra point giving the Tigers a 20-0 lead.
“Getting all those opportunities that early helped our defense a lot,” said Dewitz. “You can’t turn the ball over two times in the first quarter and expect to win – against anybody. That gave our defense enough rest to play a good ball game.”
The onslaught continued in the second and third quarters. Johnson scored on a five-yard run with 4:57 remaining in the half to give the Tigers a 27-0 halftime lead.
With the first unit still on the field the second half, Dewitz fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to Spielman. Three minutes later Johnson ran his third touchdown in from 17 yards out.
“We didn’t leave the first team in to run up the score,” Currence explained. “We haven’t been playing too well in the third quarter all season. We wanted, for the first time, to carry over the good play we had in the first half into the second half.
“We don’t want to make a fuss about it, but we wanted to be sure Brian was back. We wouldn’t have been sure until we’ve seen a good third quarter from our offense. We did that to discipline our offense to play good third-quarter football, he continued.
“You can’t give the opponent a good ball game just because your second team is in there. Brian in there gave us the spirit we needed. Our offense hasn’t played flawless ball like this before.”
Skeggs concurred Currence on that point.
“They needed to get things together,” he said. “I would have done the same thing if my quarterback was out two weeks. I know they didn’t want us to score, but we were able to do that.”
The Eagles got their sole score when Tiger Jeff Smith intercepted a pass, but fumbled it back on the runback, the Eagles taking possession at the hosts’ two-yard line after the double turnover.
Steve Martin scored on a two-yard run with 38 seconds left in the game.
With seven seconds left sophomore Cornell Jackson dashed 60 yards for the final Tiger score of the evening.
Johnson gained 129 of the Tigers’ 304 rushing yards.
MASSILLON………………..48 CENTRAL-HOWER……….. 6
STATISTICS M C First downs rushing 14 4 First downs passing 7 3 First downs by penalty 0 2 Total first downs 21 9 Yards gained rushing 316 91 Yards lost rushing 12 4 Net yards rushing 304 91 Net yards passing 156 67 Total yards gained 460 158 Passes attempted 22 13 Passes completed 12 5 Passes int. by 3 0 Yardage on pass int. 20 0 Times kicked off 8 2 Kickoff average 45.0 36.5 Kickoff return yards 19 100 Punts 2 3 Punting average 24.0 36.7 Punt return yards 22 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 2 2 Fumbles lost 1 2 Penalties 6 8 Yards penalized 86 78 Touchdowns rushing 5 1 Touchdowns passing 2 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 63 43 Time of possession 27.10 20.50 Attendance 8,675