Tag: <span>Christian Morgan</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 21, Naperville Central, IL 13

Tigers gird for Mighty Mo with win

Independent Sports Editor

Seven weeks into the 1996 high school football season it has be­come apparent the team that has the best chance of ruining the Massillon Tigers dream for an undefeated season is the Massillon Tigers.

On Saturday evening, the Ti­gers put together a first half of football that included a lost fumble, an intercepted pass, a blocked punt and three penal­ties for 27 yards. The benefici­ary of Massillon’s unintended generosity were the Redhawks of Naperville Central, who held a 13‑0 advantage at the inter­mission.

Program Cover

Massillon woke up in the second half. The defense li­mited Naperville to a total of 13 plays in the Redhawks’ first four possessions. The offense marched 49 yards for one touch­down and converted two turnov­ers into scores as the Tigers preserved their undefeated re­cord with a 21‑13 victory in front of 11,852 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Jack Rose did not sound like a man who was going to let his charges savor the win very long. After the game he re­minded them Cincinnati Moel­ler invades this coming Saturday.

“We start getting ready (Sun­day),” Rose said. “Enjoy this tonight because (Moeller week) starts (Sunday).”

Then Rose nodded toward senior co‑captain Eric Light­foot, who returned to the lineup Saturday after being unable to play safety for the last three weeks because of a pulled ham­string.

“Good to have you back (No.) 7,” Rose said.

Indeed it was.

Lightfoot, who would save the game in the final minute with an interception in the end zone, ignited the crowd and got the Tigers’ juices flowing in the third period with a 59‑yard punt that pinned Naperville back on its own 14. A three‑and‑out series ensued and the Tigers ‑still trailing 13‑0 ‑ took over at midfield with 6:09 remaining in the third period.

Quarterback Ben Hymes hit fullback Nate Hodgson for 17 yards on first down. Two snaps later, Jared Stefanko went straight ahead for seven yards and a first down at the 22. Christian Morgan ‑ limited to 37 yards in 12 first half carries ‑ was bottled up on three straight runs to set up fourth and three. Bu t Hymes kept the ball on the option around left end and dove forward for the first down.

The option worked so well that Hymes ran it again two plays later, this time pitching the ball to Stefanko around right end for an eight‑yard touchdown. Josh Hose tacked on the extra point and it was a 13‑7 game with 2:17 left in the third.

On its ensuing possession, Naperville moved from its 16 to the Massillon 41 where it had first down just seconds into the fourth quarter. But running back D.J. Johnson coughed the ball up on a draw play and Ti­gers linebacker Chris Childs re­covered at the Massillon 46.

Rose went right back to Mor­gan and the lanky junior ran it on five straight plays, chewing up 25 yards to the Naperville 29. Massillon jumped into its pow­er‑I and played option football once again. Eight plays later, Hymes snuck over left guard and into the end zone from less than a yard out. Hose’s PAT made it 14‑13 Massillon with 4:47 to play.

“We felt we needed to run right at them to negate their speed,” Rose said. “They were just coming off our blocks so well and running down the line to the football.

“We ran the belly series then pulled the ball out and ran the option. Running it out of the power‑I is a better play for us.

“But we were taken aback by, their quickness on defense. And they are a lot bigger than what they had in the program. I think they deflate their weights. They were every bit as quick as Lima Senior on defense and they took better pursuit angles.”

The Tigers got an enormous break as they looked to build on their one‑point lead. Matt Stan­ley’s kickoff was fumbled at the Naperville 20 and Michael Jab­bar recovered for Massillon.

Rose went to some fresh legs by inserting Elijah Blake at tailback and the senior picked up 15 yards on two quick car­ries. Stefanko then got the call and moved the ball to the 1. Two plays later, Morgan found a seam over right guard for the touchdown. Hose split the uprights to make it 21‑13 with 2:29 remaining.

But Naperville wasn’t ready to roll over, not after busing 11 hours just to get to Massillon. The Redhawks moved from their 30 to the Massillon 26 as quarterback Christian Person hit on four of five aerials.

” However, on second‑and‑six with :32 to play, Person looked over the middle into the end zone and let fly. Lightfoot saw the play develop, leaped, tipped the football with his right hand and came down with the in­terception in the end zone for a touchback.

“I was dropping back into coverage, saw a receiver com­ing over and I thought Person was going to throw it to him,” Lightfoot said. “He threw it kind of high and I just wanted to try to knock it down. When I tip­ped it, it went up into the air and then it just fell into my hands when I fell down.

“The receivers were all behind me, so I was just trying to tip the ball back toward the quarterback.”

With the win, Massillon is 7‑0. Moeller, which crushed Cincin­nati St. Xavier on Friday, is 6‑1. 1 It was hard getting ready for Naperville for the kids because they know what everyone in town is talking about,” Rose noted. “They’re talking about the Moeller game. We had to overcome that. Now comes Moeller and the kids know what that means.”

Rose also noted his team’s routine was thrown off by the Saturday date with Naperville. He did not cite that as a contri­buting factor to a lethargic first half that produced just 56 total yards.

“We just weren’t playing hard and executing,” Rose said. “On film, Naperville didn’t look as fast as it played on this turf. They also had a nice defensive’ scheme set up. They­ did something different on de­fense on every first down.”

Although Morgan was held to 83 yards rushing ‑ his first sub 100 yard game this season ‑ Rose thought his tailback ran better in the second half.

“Christian ran harder the second half,” Rose said. “He missed about three cuts the first half or we’d have had some big plays. He just wasn’t real sharp and we weren’t getting a push at the line.”

First downs rushing 9 3
First downs passing 1 5
First downs penalty 1 0
Total first downs 11 8
Net yards rushing 143 90
Net yards passing 33 102
Total yards gained 176 192
Passes attempted 12 16
Passes completed 4 8
Passes int. 1 2
Times kicked off 4 4
Kickoff average 48.8 52.0
Kickoff return yards 84 66
Punts 6 3
Punting average 32.5 30.3
Punt return yards 1 3
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 1 2
Penalties 3 2
Yards penalized 27 10
Number of plays 63 46
Time of possession 28:13 19:47
Attendance 11,852

NAPERVILLE 3 10 0 0 13
MASSILLON 0 0 7 14 21


First Quarter
NAP ‑ Nolda 25 FG

Second Quarter
NAP ‑ Nolda 32 FG
NAP ‑ Johnson 27 run

Third Quarter
Mass ‑ Stefanko 1 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
Mass ‑ Hymes 1 run (Hose kick);
Mass ‑ Morgan 1 run (Hose kick)


Morgan 26‑83, 1 TD;
Stefanko 6‑28;
Blake 2‑15;
Childs 3‑10;
Hodg­son 2‑4;
Hymes 12‑3, 2 TDs.
John­son 20‑68. 1 TD,
Chirumbolo 6‑21;
Pearson 1‑1.

Hymes 4‑12‑33‑1.
Pearson 8‑16‑102‑2.

Hodgson 2‑21,
Wil­liam 1‑6,
Baer 1‑6.

Grotbeck 3‑28,
Lintner 1‑31,
Maloney 1‑30,
Nolda 1‑7,
Chirum­bolo 1‑4,
Johnson 1‑2.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 34, Walsh Jesuit 10

Tigers put it together vs. Walsh

Independent Sports Editor,

All week long, Jack Rose said it was time for the Massillon Tigers to put it all together; that they needed solid performances in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams to beat Walsh Jesuit.

Rose got exactly that from Ohio’s No. 1 ranked Division I team as the Tigers laid a 34‑10 shiner on the Warriors, in front of 12,811 fans at Paul Brown Ti­ger Stadium, Friday.

The Massillon offense racked up 340 total yards, including 309 on the ground and a 6.4 yards per rush average.

Program Cover

The Massillon defense blank­ed Walsh in the second half, coming up with three interceptions and surrendering less than 60 yards to the Warriors after the band show.

The Massillon special teams produced a blocked punt that was turned into a Tigers’ touch­down and served as the final nail in the visitors’ coffin.

At the end, Walsh Jesuit head coach Gerry Rardin was im­pressed.

“I’ll tell you what,” Rardin exclaimed, “they are a great football team. They are ex­tremely physical, they’re big, and they have great skill players.”

Once again, Christian Mor­gan was too much to handle. Massillon’s junior tailback rushed 23 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns.

“Morgan’s a great back and he has a powerful, quick line up in front of him, too,” Rardin said.

Rose agreed.

“Christian’s a big‑timer,” Rose said. “He can play. He’s a very good back.”

Morgan was hardly a one ­man show on offense. Once again, fullback Jared Stefanko kept the defense from keying on his backfield mate, gaining 55 yards on just four carries. Eli­jah Blake came off the bench to rush for 59 yards on just three totes.

Throughout the week, Rose was confident the Tigers would prevail, despite the fact they struggled the week before at Austintown Fitch and were going against the No. 7 ranked team in Division III.

“I thought our offensive line could move them off the ball,” he explained. “I felt very confi­dent we could do that.”

Walsh drew first blood, mar­ching from its 20 to the Tigers 13, before the defense stiffened. The Warriors broke on top 3‑0 when Jeff Endress hit a 30‑yard field goal with 8:18 left in the opening period.

Massillon came right back, as Morgan broke off a 44‑yard run on the Tigers first play from scrimmage. Stefanko gained nine more on the second play and Massillon was in business at the Walsh 22. Three snaps later,, Morgan found a hole between­ right guard and tackle for a two yard touchdown. Josh Hose hit the PAT and Massillon led 7‑3 with just over two minutes to play in the first.

The Tigers turned the ball over on a fumble deep in Massil­lon territory on their second possession. Walsh struck quick­ly as quarterback Chris De­nholm hit Brian Willmott on a sideline pattern at the Massil­lon 1. Jon Subity powered in from there and the extra point made it Walsh 10, Massillon 7 with just 17 seconds elapsed in the second period.

Massillon appeared ready to strike back, driving from its 33 to the Walsh 6 on seven plays, highlighted by Stefanko’s 34-­yard bolt over right guard and tackle. But the Warriors’ de­fense stiffened and a 23‑yard field goal attempt hit the right upright and bounced back.

The game turned on the War­riors’ next possession. They moved the ball from their 20 to the Massillon 40, but the Tiger defense forced a punt. Walsh’s Tom Lopienski, trying to angle ­for the right sideline, shanked the ball badly. It sliced out of bounds at the Tiger 38, a punt of just two yards.

Ben Hymes zeroed in on De­vin Williams for 15 yards on first down to cross mid field. Three plays later, Walsh was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct to move it to the War­riors’ 21. Morgan did the rest, finding a huge cavity over right guard, breaking to the sideline and sprinting into the end zone for the touchdown with only 1:08 left in the half. Hose’s kick made it 14‑10 and Walsh never recovered.

“Those two events really swung the momentum and you don’t want that to happen against a team as good as Mas­sillon,” Rardin said.

Following the second half kickoff, Massillon marched 59 yards in nine plays to build on ­the momentum swing it achieved just before halftime. Morgan carried on seven of those plays, including the final four. He scored on a two‑yard plunge off right guard with 9:07 left in the third. Hose converted to make it a 21‑10 game.

It appeared Walsh was going to retaliate. The Warriors, moved from their 21 to the 39 on four plays. But on second and five from that mark, Denholm tried to pass the ball over the middle. Tigers’ safety Josh Kreider stepped in for the interception at the 41.

The Tigers offense struggled on their next two possessions, both of which ended with punts. Walsh Jesuit did not fare any better, Punting away the ball once. The second time the War­riors weren’t as fortunate. On fourth‑and‑21 from their own six, Lopienski’s punt was blocked by Tigers linebacker Josh Hill. Dusty Limbach corralled the bouncing ball in the end zone for six points. Hose’s PAT made it 27‑10 with less than 10 minutes to play.

Massillon closed the scoring on its next Possession. Blake bolted 50 yards up the middle, finally being dragged down at the one‑yard line. The speedy senior tailback found paydirt on the next play. Hose tacked on the conversion kick at 6:49 of the fourth quarter.

Kreider credited the defen­sive line with his two picks.

“The defensive line just had a tenacious pass rush tonight and the DBs were on their receivers like flies on you‑know‑what,” Kreider said. “We just wanted to find a way to get the offense back on the field.

“We knew Walsh was going to come to play and to challenge us. So we came out to play as well as we could. Even though we’ve been having a few in­juries in the defensive back­field, we are pulling together each week and doing the best we can until we get everybody back.”

Hill, who followed a two‑sack game against Austintown Fitch, with a sack and that blocked punt, says the Tigers are sending a message.

First downs rushing 13 5
First downs passing 2 5
First downs penalty 4 1
Total first downs 19 11
Net yards rushing 309 102
Net yards passing 31 95
Total yards gained 340 197
Passes attempted 8 20
Passes completed 3 7
Passes int. 0 3
Times kicked off 6 3
Kickoff average 47.2 38.3
Kickoff return yards 36 105
Punts 2 5
Punting average 38.0 20.8
Punt return yards 12 6
Fumbles 2 0
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 4 9
Yards penalized 36 82
Number of plays 57 55
Time of possession 24:10 23:50
Attendance 12,816

WALSH 3 7 0 0 10
MASSILLON 7 7 7 13 34

First Quarter
WAL ‑ Endress 30 FG
MASS ‑ Morgan 2 run (Hose kick)

Second Quarter
WAL ‑ Subity 1 run (Endress kick)
MASS ‑ Morgan 21 run (Hose kick)

Third Quarter
MASS ‑ Morgan 2 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
MASS ‑ Limbach fell on blocked punt in end zone (kick fail)
MASS ‑ Blake 1 run (Hose kick)


Morgan 23‑142.3 TDs;
Blake 3‑59;
Stefanko, 4‑55;
Hodgson 5‑19;
Brad­ley 6‑13;
Danzy 3‑10;
Hymes 3‑17;
Autrey 1‑4.
Lopienski 17‑100;
Subity 8‑16, 1 TD

Hymes 3‑8‑31
Denholm 7‑20‑95‑3.

Williams 2‑31,
Morgan 1‑0.
Willmott 4‑60, Powers 2‑27,
Subity 1‑8.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 9

Tigers survive the trip to Fitch

Independent Correspondent

So, what about that Austin­town Fitch jinx?

It figured when the Massillon Tigers defeated the Falcons 10-­7 in 1994 at Falcon Stadium, the mystique was washed away.

However, as quickly as they broke the four‑game losing streak on Fitch’s home field, the Tigers nearly allowed the Falcons to rekindled the jinx. Friday night in sloppy Falcon Stadium, No. 1 ranked Massillon dodged a bullet, edging Fitch 10‑9.

The Tigers won their fifth straight game while the Falcons fell to 2‑3.

As in 1994, this game came down to one big Massillon offen­sive play and the legs of both teams’ kickers.

Two years ago, then­ Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer Jr. ran 88 yards for the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Nick Pribich hit a lengthy field goal that provided the margin of vic­tory.

In this year’s renewal of the series that began in 1985, it was tailback Christian Morgan who came up with the big play. Kick­er Josh Hose added the big kick.

With Fitch holding a 7‑3 lead and its defense denying the Ti­gers entry into the end zone, Morgan took a deep handoff from quarterback Ben Hymes and broke off right tackle, racing untouched 74 yards for a touchdown.

Morgan’s touchdown came at the 2:18 mark of the third quar­ter. Hose added what proved to be the game‑deciding extra­ point.

“It was our zone run to the split‑side,” said Massillon head coach Jack Rose. “He had come close to popping a couple in the first half. He had a hard time in the first half keeping his foot­ing. He was getting frustrated.

“We found out our tailbacks are not mudders.”

Morgan finished with 136 yards on 23 carries.

The Tigers had a three‑point lead, but they were far from victory. They lost their second fumble on their next possession, giving Fitch one last chance from its own 46‑yard line and 6:04 left in the fourth quarter.

“Both turnovers were critic­al,” Rose said. “You lose a fum­ble and you lose field position.”

Fitch, which had taken the lead on a 5‑yard run by O’Dom­mi Wellington at the 6:47 mark of third quarter, promptly drove deep into Tiger territory.

A personal foul call against Massillon aided the drive. The ball was moved to the Tiger 18­yard line.

Three plays later, the Fal­cons were eight yards away from taking their second lead of ­the game.

On first‑and‑goal, Massillon senior Bud Kraft snuffed out an option play and stuffed Fitch quarterback Russ Houser for a 2-yard loss. Massillon defensive back Dustin Limbach then broke up a pass on second down. Kraft did likewise on third down.

“The defensive line was real­ly charged up and we had great leaders out there,” said Kraft. “We were worried, but we hung tough.”

Fitch opted to try and tie the game. Placekicker Chris Cal­cagni, who was being touted as a Division I prospect, tried a 26-­yard field goal. He sent the ball wide right by a matter of in­ches, his third miss of the game.

“We were so sure we’d get the three I was willing to go into overtime, especially with our kicker,” said Fitch head coach Jack Kenney. “Chris was 100 percent on field goals and extra points coming into the game. I feel bad for him.”

Calcagni also missed a poten­tial tying field goal in the 1994 Massillon game.

The final points of the game came on an intentional safety by Massillon. Punter Eric Lightfoot ran out of the end zone with 13 seconds left to play.

“We just get drilled by the No. 6 team (Lakewood St. Edward) and then comes the No. 1 team (Massillon),” said Kenney. “Our kids came off the field upset because they know we maybe should have beaten the No. 1 team.

“Massillon has all the ingre­dients (to be worthy of its No. 1 ranking). They have great coaches, big, fast players and the Massillon program in itself is outstanding.”

In an uneventful first half, the Massillon defense bent but did not break while the offense sputtered. Massillon’s four pos­sessions wound up with three punts and a lost fumble.

Finally, the Tigers got un­tracked on their last possession of the first half. Hymes ignited an 11‑play, 69‑yard drive.

The senior quarterback kept the drive alive with two third­ down completions to split end Devin Williams. The second completion covered 11 yards and moved the ball to the Fitch 36.

On the ensuing play, Hymes hit senior Brian Baer deep over the middle for 27 yards, moving the ball to the Fitch 9‑yard line.

The drive stalled, but Hose salvaged it with a 23‑yard field goal with only 15 seconds remaining until intermission.

That drive accounted for all but 52 of Massillon’s first half yards.

Fitch moved the football in­side the Massillon 35 on its first two series. The first drive ended when the Falcons turned the ball over on downs. The first of the three missed field goals en­ded the second march.

“It’s nice to be 5‑0, but with Walsh (Jesuit) next week, we don’t get a break,” said Kraft.

First downs rushing 7 8
First downs passing 3 2
First downs penalty 1 1
Total first downs 11 11
Net yards rushing 177 118
Net yards passing 58 33
Total yards gained 235 151
Passes attempted 11 11
Passes completed 5 4
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 46.0 60.0
Kickoff return yards 0 61
Punts 5 5
Punting average 29.8 37.2
Punt return yards 24 10
Fumbles 4 2
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 39 10
Number of plays 54 60
Time of possession 22:17 25:43

MASSILLON 0 3 7 0 10
FITCH 0 0 7 2 9


Second Quarter
M ‑ Hose 23 field goal

Third Quarter
F ‑ Wellington 4 run (Calcagni kick)
M ‑ Morgan 74 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
F ‑ Safety: Massillon punter downed in end zone


Morgan 23‑136, 1 TD;
Stefanko 6-4;
Hymes 10‑9.
Hunter 12-­42;
Wellington 11‑33 1 TD

Hymes 5‑11 ‑58, 0 TD, 0 ints.
Houser 4‑10‑33 0 TD. 0 ints.

Williams 2‑24;
Baer 1‑28.
London 2‑20.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 42, Mansfield Senior 28

Tigers win in spite of themselves

Independent Sports Editor

There is something about Massillon that seems to bring the best out of the Mansfield Tygers.

From Jack Rose’s perspective, it might seem there is something about Mansfield that brings the worst out of his Tigers.

Program Cover

Either way, it makes for competitive football and that’s just what 11,934 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium got for their money as the No. 1 ranked Tigers fought back from a 14‑7 deficit with 28 unanswered points to secure a 42‑28 decision, Friday night.

The win served as revenge for Mansfield’s 21‑20 upset of the then‑undefeated Tigers one year ago at Arlin Field in Mansfield. That loss helped keep Massillon from a third straight playoff berth.

Massillon opened Friday’s rematch as if it was going to run away and hide from Mansfield. The Tigers marched 71 yards on seven plays after the opening kickoff for a 7‑0 lead.

But Mansfield answered back with an eight‑play, 66‑yard scoring drive and followed that with a 50‑yard scoring strike and suddenly Massillon’s No. 6 national ranking looked a bit overstated.

Then the littlest Tiger took over. Devin Williams, a 5‑foot‑5, 130‑pound senior, took the ensuing kickoff the length of the field for a 90‑yard touchdown return that tied the game and sparked Massillon’s four touchdown rally.

Williams took the ball at the 10 and moved upfield toward the right sideline. At the 25, he broke a tackle and cut back left, leaving the Tygers grasping for air. Williams turned on the jets at the 50 and pulled away from his pursuers for the score.

”I just tried to go out there and change the tempo of the game because we looked a little flat,” Williams said. “I have to give credit to Elijah Blake. He gave me the final block to get me into the end zone. The whole team blocked well.”

Williams electrifying run back shot a spark into the Tiger defense. Mansfield had third-and‑one on its ensuing possession at its 42 yard line, when Milo McGuire, Jared Stefanko and Josh Hill nailed Tygers tailback Kenny Rife for a one‑yard loss that forced a punt.

Again Williams did his thing, fielding the punt on the Massillon 26 and juking one would‑be tackler to his knees. The diminutive one cut left across the grain and raced to the Mansfield 21 before running out of gas.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Christian Morgan found a gaping hole off right tackle and sprinted untouched into the end zone to give the lead to Massillon for good. Josh Hose drilled the extra point and it was Tigers 21, Mansfield 14 just six seconds into the second quarter.

“I have asthma and I ran out of gas on the punt return,” Williams said. ”Mansfield thought they could hang in the game with us. They tried but they couldn’t.”

Tygers coach Stan Jefferson cited three plays that cost his team victory and two of those were provided by Williams.

“The kick‑off return, the punt return and we’re going to score when we threw a screen pass that was intercepted (by Bud Kraft),” Jefferson recalled. ”Take 21 points off the scoreboard and its a different story.

“Don’t take anything away from Massillon. The Tigers are a very, very good football team. We played a very, very good football team and I told Coach Rose congratulations on the state rankings, but I look back and I see those three plays.”

For Rose’s part, he thought his charges were not up to the lofty standards they set for themselves in Weeks One, Two and Three.

“That was probably our worst game of the year, Rose said. “We were flat. I was disappointed.

“We had two starters (Eric Lightfoot and Dusty Limbach) out of the secondary. It was pretty glaring that we miss them. We didn’t play well. Our offense was sporadic. It was not very good.”

Morgan had another big night for Massillon, rushing 24 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He covered the final 24 yards on three totes on MassilIon’s opening drive, bursting into the end zone from the five at 10:00 of the first quarter. Hose hit the PAT to make it 7-0.

Mansfield responded with Leonard Alexander’s 20-yard burst off right guard on a fourth‑and‑one play. Nick Shas­ky hit the extra point and it was a 7‑7 contest at 6:12 of the first.

Consecutive illegal procedure calls against the Tigers doomed their second drive of the night, setting up a 50‑yard TD pass that began with a short slant from Jeff Soliday to Craig Montgomery. When two Tiger defenders crashed into each other, Montgomery was gone and it was 14‑7 with 2:01 left in the first.

Then Williams took over to turn things around.

Kraft, subbing for Lightfoot, recovered a Mansfield fumble after the Tigers took a 21‑14 lead. But Massillon gave it right back, fumbling the ball to the Tygers at the visitors’ 12­-yard line.

The Tigers offense continued to stumble until Milo McGuire’s interception of a Soliday screen pass at the Mansfield 35. Mor­gan then ran the ball on four straight plays to move it to the 5. From there, Ben Hymes fol­lowed his offensive line on a quarterback sneak and found the end zone to make it a 28‑14 count with less than a minute left in the first half.

Mansfield took the second half kickoff and drove it to the Massillon 7. Oil second and goal, Soliday rolled left and threw to Alexander, who tipped the ball in the air. Again Kraft was at the right place at the right time and secured the in­terception to quell the drive.

“It was the pressure from the defensive line oil both plays that caused those turnovers,” Kraft said. “I wouldn’t have got the fumble if one of the linemen didn’t strip it.

After Kraft’s pick, the Tigers got out of trouble when Hymes hit Brian Baer for 21 yards on a third‑and‑nine play from the Massillon 21. Three plays later, from the Mansfield 47, Stefanko took a handoff and burst through a gaping hole up the middle. The junior fullback shook off a clean hit at the 25 and dashed into the end zone at the 5:50 mark of the third period. Hose converted the PAT and the Tigers seemed to have things in hand at 35‑14.

Mansfield countered with a 15‑play, 65‑yard scoring drive, culminated by Soliday’s touchdown run on an option keeper from five yards out. The kick made it 35‑21 Massillon at the 11:25 mark of the fourth.

Mass Mans
First downs rushing 15 11
First downs passing 5 9
First downs penalty 1 0
Total first downs 21 20
Net yards rushing 306 201
Net yards passing 77 200
Total yards gained 383 401
Passes attempted 12 20
Passes completed 6 11
Passes int. 0 2
Times kicked off 7 5
Kickoff average 44.3 46.4
Kickoff return yards 139 89
Punts 1 3
Punting average 30.0 32.3
Punt return yards 59 0
Fumbles 1 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 6 2
Yards penalized 34 11
Number of plays 56 62
Time of possession 21:50 26:10
Attendance 11,934

MANSFIELD 14 0 0 14 28
MASSILLON 14 14 7 7 42


First Quarter
MASS ‑ Morgan 5 run (Hose kick)
MANS – Alexander 20 run (Shasky kick)
MANS – Montgomery 51 pass from Jeff Soliday (Shasky kick)

Second Quarter
MASS ‑ Williams 90 kickoff return (Hose kick)
MASS ‑ Hymes 5 run (Hose kick)

Third Quarter
MASS ‑ Stefanko 47 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
MANS – Jeff Soliday 2 run (Shasky kick)
MASS – Blake 24 run (Hose kick)
MANS ‑ Montgomery 20 pass from Jeff Soliday (Shasky kick)


Morgan 24‑142, 2 TDs;
Stefanko 3‑68, 1 TD;
Childs 8‑44;
Blake 4‑27, 1 TD;
Hymes 4‑25, 1 TD.
Rife 17‑119;
Soliday 11‑43, 1 TD;
Alexander 12‑39, 1 TD;
Amadio ‑ 2‑0.

Hymes 6‑12‑77.
Jeff Soliday 11‑20‑200‑2, 2 TDs.

Baer 2‑27;
Morgan 2‑13;
Martin 1‑21;
Stefanko 1‑16.
Montgomery 4‑127, 2 TDs;
Jake Soliday 3‑26;
Luttrell 2‑20;
Cutliff 1‑15;
Alexander 1‑12.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 28, Lima Senior 14

Heroes galore as Tigers roar

Lightfoot, Morgan key Massillon to 2‑0 start

Independent Sports Editor

Message delivered.

Massillon served notice to Ohio’s Division I football powers the Tigers are to be dealt with by handing powerful Lima with a convincing 28‑14 setback in monsoon conditions at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday. Only 7,363 witnessed what may well be a springboard victory toward a very special season for the orange‑and‑black

At the same time, Tigers junior Christian Morgan served notice to the Massillon coaching staff that he deserves to be the starting tailback, by rambling 77 yards for a touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage.

The 6‑4, 215‑pound junior who missed the opener with a bruised Achille’s heel, took a handoff from quarterback Ben Hymes and looked for a hole off the left side. Tackle Paul Salvino took his man inside and Morgan bounced to the sideline, where he broke a couple of tackles and was off to the races.

“I was nervous,” Morgan admitted. “I was just looking for someplace to go. Paul (Salvino) told me to go around on his outside hip. So I went around and broke a couple of tackles. Then I slipped but I kept my footing and I thought I was on television or something seeing all of that from space.”

Morgan confirmed he felt some pressure to produce after senior Elijah Blake rushed for over 100 yards last week as his replacement in the opener against Mansfield Madison.

“They were saying they were going to put Elijah in if I didn’t get the job done,” Morgan revealed. “When you know you’re not doing your job and they’re going to pull you any minute, you do what you got to do.”

Jack Rose recalled Morgan running the very same play in the opening scrimmage against Pittsburgh Penn Hills with less dramatic results. “He would’ve done the same thing over there if we’d have blocked it right,” Rose said. “He’s the type of back who’ll make people miss. If you just grab him, he’ll run right through an arm tackle.

“On that play, he’ll take it inside or outside depending on what he sees and how it’s blocked.”

Lima Senior didn’t travel over four hours to Massillon just to roll over after one touchdown. The Spartans came back to knot the score at 7‑7 with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.

After the ensuing kickoff, Lima quarterback Jimmy Morris ran the option from the Spartans’ 36‑yard line. He scampered around his right end and delivered a late pitch to running back William Bratton near midfield. Bratton, who rushed for over 170 yards last week against Toledo St. Francis, rumbled down the sideline to the Massillon 27.

Three plays later on third-and‑seven, Morris hit Craig George on a down‑and‑out pattern for a first down at the Tiger 15. Bratton, a 205‑pound senior, carried on three of the next four snaps, diving into the end zone from a yard out at the 4:30 mark of the second period. Jim Barker’s kick made it a 7‑7 contest.

Then Massillon displayed some championship mettle. After the ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds, the Tigers moved from their 35‑yard line to midfield on a personal foul call against Lima. On second‑and-12, Morgan again found some space around his left side, advancing the ball to the Lima 40.

The drive appeared to be stalled when Hymes delivered a clutch strike to Brian Baer on fourth‑and‑eight to give Massillon a first down at the 15. Morgan and Jared Stefanko carried on consecutive plays to move the ball to the 3. Two snaps later, Morgan waltzed into the end zone. Josh Hose’s PAT made it 14‑7 with less than a minute until intermission.

“That drive showed a lot of heart and the quality of team they are over there, ” said Rush. “Jack has a very good team over there.”

“That was a great drive by our offense,” Rose said. “We had a couple critical plays in there and we were able to convert when we had to.”

Lima appeared to be on its way to tieing the game up a second time at the outset of the second half. The Spartans drove from their 20 to the Massillon 16 on six consecutive running plays. But the Tiger defense rose up and stopped the visitors for one yard total on their next three snaps. Nose guard Rico Person caught Morris behind the line for a yard loss on fourth‑and‑three to stall the march.

Then the Tigers’ special teams came up with a big play after Lima forced Massillon into a three‑and‑out series. Punter Eric Lightfoot boomed the ball 66 yards, over 50 of it in the air, to pin the Spartans back on their own 16.

“I’m not big on big plays turning a game around,” said Rush, “but that punt when we had them backed up was a big play I thought. It gave them a lot of momentum and took it away from us. We had held them and that hurt I think.”

But Lightfoot wasn’t impacting the game. On third‑and‑eight from his 22, Morris dropped back and threw the football over the middle Josh Kreider tipped the ball and Lightfoot intercepted. Some 37 yards later, the senior free safety was carrying the ball into the end zone and Massillon led 21‑7, with under five minutes left in the third period.

“I was just dropping back in coverage,” Lightfoot explained. “I saw the receiver crossing and I came over. Josh tipped it and it came right to me and I went all the way.”

“It’s nice to see us intercept a ball,” chuckled Rose. “Then to get the first pick and run it back (for a touchdown) in a game like this … that’s a huge, huge play.”

Again Lima fought back, driving from its 23 with the ensuing kickoff to the Massillon 5, where the Spartans’ had first-and‑goal. Four plays and three Lima timeouts later, the Tigers took over on downs and the outcome was no longer in doubt, though most of the fourth quarter had yet to be played.

Just to make sure there were no doubters remaining, the hosts marched 78 yards on 10 plays to close out their scoring for the evening. Morgan carried five times for 28 yards on the drive, including the final six over left tackle for a touchdown at the 6:55 mark of the fourth quarter. Blake picked Morgan up when the latter came off the field limping, carrying the ball on four consecutive plays and gaining 23 yards.

“They’re the best team we’ve played so far,” Rush said. “They didn’t make the mistakes. We panicked a few times.

“The Tigers are going to be very good. We scrimmaged Moeller and they’re better than Moeller. There’s no doubt about that. We thought they were going to throw the ball a little more, but they were able to run it pretty effectively on us all night long.” Morgan finished with 156 yards on 22 carries. He amassed 128 of those before the band show.

Statistically, the game was closer than the scoreboard showed. Lima out gained the Tigers 278‑264 and had one turnover to Massillon’s two giveaways. The Spartans dominated time of possession 28:55 to 19:05.

But it was the Tigers ability to make the big plays ‑ Morgan’s long TD run, Lightfoot’s booming punt and subsequent interception return for a touchdown ‑ that spelled the difference.

“I’ve coached a long time and I can’t remember a week of practice that went better than this,” Rose said. “Our sophomores all the way up to our seniors, they were into this week of practice. I knew we were going to have a great game and that’s a great credit.

First downs rushing 10 7
First downs passing 2 6
First downs penalty 2 0
Total first downs 14 13
Net yards rushing 215 207
Net yards passing 49 71
Total yards gained 264 278
Passes attempted 8 11
Passes completed 3 6
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked off 5 3
Kickoff average 49.2 31.0
Kickoff return yards 0 0
Punts 2 4
Punting average 50.5 37.8
Punt return yards 13 0
Fumbles 4 2
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 1 3
Yards penalized 14 35
Number of plays 48 60
Time of possession 19:05 28.55
Attendance 7,363

LIMA SENIOR 0 7 0 7 14
MASSILLON 7 7 7 7 28


First Quarter
MASS ‑ Morgan 77 run (Hose kick)

Second Quarter
LIMA ‑ Bratton 1 run (Barker kick)
MASS ‑ Morgan 2 run (Hose kick)

Third Quarter
MASS ‑ Lightfoot 37 pass interception return (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
MASS ‑ Morgan 6 run (Hose kick)
LIMA ‑ Bratton 4 run (Barker kick)


Morgan 22‑156,3TDs;
Stefanko 4‑41;
Blake 4‑29;
Bradley 1‑4.
Bratton 30‑173, 2 TDs;
Morris 12‑14;
Christoff 2‑12;
Cannon 3‑5.

Hymes 3‑8-49.
Morris 5-10‑63, 1 int.;
Collins 1‑1‑8.

Baer 2‑45;
Williams 1‑4.
Watkins 2‑33;
Christoff 2‑21;
George 2-17.

Paul Salvino