Tag: <span>Curt Lukens</span>


2002: Massillon 31, North Canton 0

Tigers sweep Hoover from Playoffs

Massillon shines in impressive win Massillon mauls N. Canton, 31‑0

Repository sports writer
NORTH CANTON Both Massillon and North Canton came into Saturday’s Division I regional quarterfinal game giving up 2.4 yards a rush. When the host Vikings discovered almost immediately they could not run on the Tigers, they quickly found out they sure could not pass on them.

Billy Relford alone was a one‑man, four-headed, fire‑eating monster for Massillon, intercepting ‑ four of the Tigers seven interceptions of the Tigers’ seven interceptions in a 31‑0 mauling of the Vikings.

A junior cornerback, Relford intercepted the first pass Hoover quarterback Jimmy Savage attempted ‑ while lying on his back. The 5‑foot‑8 Relford snared Savage’s next attempt, too, and this time he stayed on his feet, running the pick back 51 yards down the right sideline and then somersaulting into the end zone to put Massillon up 14‑0 with 3:01 left in the first quarter.

“Our defensive was phenomenal tonight,” said Massillon coach Rick Shepas, whose 9‑2 team advances to play Perry in a regional semifinal Saturday. “They got some turnovers in the first quarter … that was a turning point in the game.

“It was all due to Billy Relford. All Relford did was set a Massillon mark for interceptions in a season. His four picks in the first half probably are a record, but his nine for the season did set a new Massillon mark.

When Tony Graves intercepted Savage’s third attempt of the night and rumbled and stumbled 33 yards to the Hoover 2‑yard line, the game was over. Ricky Johnson, who scored the first touchdown on an 8‑yard toss‑sweep, cracked in the next play, and it was 20‑0, after Max Shafer’s missed point‑after.

Marquice Johnson made Savage’s evening a tad more miserable by sacking him for a safety in the second quarter, but it was the “fiery‑eyed” Relford, according to Shepas, who continued to slay the Vikings. He picked off Savage twice more in the half, the second at the back of the Massillon end zone to keep North Canton off the board.

The fact he ran the ball back 91 yards and nearly scored only enhanced his heroic play. His touchdown return was the big one, though.

“I just saw him do an out route, and the grass was hard to do a break on,” said Relford’ speaking of Hoover wideout Eric Kubilus. “When I saw his break was slow, I just broke on it ‑ I saw (Savage) throw the, ball. I broke on it, timed it and ran it all the way back.”

The first interception got Relford, and the Tigers, rolling. It was 3rd‑and‑7, and he went up with Kubilus and won the battle, despite landing on his back.

“Actually, (Kubilus) was behind me,” said Relford. “I played the wrong defense. But, I made up for it with the interception. It just fell in my hands.”

Massillon too strong for Hoover

That was not true of his endzone theft. Relford went up against 6‑3 Curt Lukens, turned on the ball before Lukens did, climbed the ladder faster than Lukens, got the ball, climbed down ‑ then ran full speed the other way before getting tackled. Shafer then missed a 35‑yard field goal at the first‑half gun, but it did not matter because the damage had been done.

Hoover., which wanted to control the clock with the run, netted just 51 yards the first two periods. That led to a 1‑for‑12 passing effort in the half.

“Sometimes the holes were there, but the holes aren’t there very long,” said North Canton coach Don Hertler Jr., describing the effort by Massillon defense. “We had a couple of dropped balls, threw some interceptions, and you can’t expect to win with seven turnovers.

“You can’t turn the ball over five times in a half and win.”

Oh yeah, the Tigers played a little offense too. They put together an eight‑play, 64‑yard drive that consumed 3:20 the first time they touched the ball. Johnson ran hard, scoring twice and eventually collecting 119 yards. Matt Martin was on fire, hitting 7‑of‑11 the first half for 96 yards and a touchdown. The senior lefty finished 16‑of‑23 for 202 yards and one touchdown, with one interception, and he loved watching his defense give him field position.

“That’s the best I’ve seen the defense play,” said Martin. “They were great, giving us the short field to work on all game.”

There was no fourth‑quarter‑lapse, as there had been against St. Ignatius and at Warren Harding. When Dustin Jarvis intercepted the Vikings’ seventh aerial in the final two minutes, it, ended a great season for the Federal League champs.

“We had a great run,” said Hertler. “I’m proud of the way a majority of our players played the game and how they handled themselves.

Devin Jordan caught six passes for 95 yards and an 11‑yard touchdown for Massillon, and Stephon Ashcraft grabbed five for 73 yards. Relford caught one, for 9 yards. He also worked an offensive pass interference call against Hoover, so dominating was his play even the referees felt he deserved the call.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Relford. “I wanted the record, that was one of my goals. But the main thing was the defense played great all game.”

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2001: Massillon 27, North Canton Hoover 7

Tigers display mettle In topping Hoover
Massillon moves into state semifinals with 27‑7 win

Independent Sports Editor

They might want to change the Massillon Tigers theme song from “Eye of the Tiger” to “We Shall Overcome.”

With three starters missing due to injury and illness, and two others battling to stay on the field despite being hospitalized within the past week, the Tigers dug deep and dealt the North Canton Hoover Vikings a 27‑7 setback to win the Division I Region 2 regional championship in front of a near capacity crowd at Fawcett Stadium, Saturday night.

Rick Shepas knew all week he would be without starting running back Ricky Johnson and starting defensive lineman Marquis Johnson. But on Friday night, as he and his wife were watching her nephew play in a Division IV regional final at Central Catholic High, Shepas got a telephone call from offensive coordinator Dan Murphy and the news wasn’t good.

Starting right guard Tony Thornsberry, possibly the Tigers’ most consistent offensive lineman this season, was hospitalized. He would have his appendix removed at 1 a.m. Saturday.

“I thought God was testing me a little bit,” Shepas said. “I said, ‘I’m going to have a little faith and trust in him and go to sleep and whatever is meant to be is meant to be.’”

Then as the team began to gather later Saturday morning, starting right offensive tackle J.P. Simon turned up sick. He had spent most of the early‑morning throwing up and was taken to the hospital where he was given a couple of liters of fluid intravenously.

“I told J.P., ‘Buddy you’ve got to tough it out,”‘ Shepas said. “We didn’t want to have that whole right side of the line gone. He toughed it out.”

Simon was wobbly but he played. Tim Dewald filled in for Thornsberry and did an outstanding job, according to Shepas.

Meanwhile, cornerback Jamaal Ballard, who didn’t play last week after having surgery on his thumb, returned to the lineup. The junior, his hand in a cast to protect the thumb, came up with not one but two interceptions as the Massillon defense rose to the occasion for the third consecutive week in post‑season play.

“I had to come out tonight and make a statement playing with my team,” Ballard said. “I gave up a touchdown but I picked off two and took one to the house.”

Game Action vs. North Canton Hoover

That interception return for a touchdown was called back because of a clipping penalty on the runback. But Massillon would score just the same as David Hill went around the left side of the line for an 18‑yard touchdown run that put the Tigers up 24‑7 with 6:30 to play in the football game.

“All I saw was an opening from Robert (Oliver) blocking and I just took it to it,” Hill said. “Coach told me at halftime to run like I normally run, which is hard. The team had belief in me and I didn’t want to let them down. So I did what I had to do.”

Hill finished with 61 yards in 11 carries and may become an even bigger part of the offense next week as Oliver, who had 67 yards in 12 carries, suffered a knee injury that did not look good at game’s end.

“We’ve been overcoming adversity for a long time,” Shepas said. “It just seems to be a norm now.”

The Tiger defense held North Canton to 95 yards of offense in the second half as Massillon took control of a 14‑7 game after intermission.

The Vikings rushing total for the entire contest was minus‑1 yard.

“We stuffed the run,” said linebacker Justin Princehorn. “They got us on a couple of pass plays deep in the first half. We put in some adjustments and came out the second half and held them to no points.”

“Coming off the first McKinley game, we don’t want nobody to run on us,” said linebacker Shawn Crable. “So when teams are running on us we get a little mad. We played kind of soft in the first half. The second half we came out with a little more fire and things went our way.”

A 54‑yard quick kick by Justin Zwick helped set up Massillon’s first scoring drive as North Canton was pinned deep in its own territory and was forced to punt when Dan Speicher stuffed a DeAngelo Thomas running play at the Vikings 8‑yard line.

After North Canton punted, two Zwick‑to‑Devin Jordan sideline passes generated 31 yards to give the Tigers a first down at the North Canton 23. Oliver picked up eight yards over left tackle and Zwick found Hill for four yards and another first down at the 11.

From there Zwick tossed a short pass to Oliver in the left flat. The senior snagged the ball at the 9 and went in untouched. David Abdul’s kick made it 7‑0 Massillon at 9:16 of the second quarter.

North Canton showed its mettle on its next possession. Brad Reifsnyder lobbed a perfect pass to Jared Gulling for 22 yards to the Vikings 43‑yard line. On the very next play, Reifsnyder ‑ off play action ‑ went long to Curt Lukens for 57 yards and a touchdown. Reifsnyder tacked on the point‑after and it was a 7‑7 game at 7:45 of the second quarter.

Massillon turned the ball over on an interception on its ensuing possession but the Tiger defense rose up and forced the Vikings to punt, thanks in part to Craig McConnell’s fine open field tackle on Thomas on a second down running play.

Massillon took over at its 14 and embarked on a 14‑play drive that included three Zwick runs that yielded three first downs and 33 yards.

On third‑and‑nine from the North Canton 18, Zwick floated left with the shotgun snap then threw back to Jordan on the right hash mark in the end zone for the score. Abdul’s boot made it Massillon 14‑7 at halftime.

Abdul was true with a 22‑yard field goal that capped a 12‑play, 68‑yard drive to open the second half and the Tigers’ 17‑7 lead held into the fourth quarter.

The Vikings penetrated down to the Massillon 13 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter but a fourth-and‑two pass to Lukens was ruled incomplete and North Canton’s last, best chance was gone.

“Not coming up with that score, we needed that to make it a 17‑14 game,” said North Canton coach Don Hertler Jr. “We would have been right where we wanted to be.

“We knew they were talented, big and strong. Offensively they can beat you a lot of ways. I was just proud of the way our team fought.”

A few minutes after that big fourth down play, Ballard’s second interception would set up Hill’s touchdown run.

Abdul closed the scoring with a 33‑yard field goal with 3:43 to play, setting up a rematch with St. Ignatius, a 40‑33 winner over Warren Harding in the Region I title game in Akron.

“We’re just warming up fellows, just warming up,” Princehorn shouted in the post‑game Tiger huddle. “It is meant to be.”

First downs rushing 9 3
First downs passing 12 11
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 21 15
Net Yards rushing 165 (-1)
Net yards passing 252 248
TOTAL yards 417 247
Passes attempted 38 35
Passes completed 23 15
Passes intercepted 2 3
Punts 4 5
Punting average 41.3 43.4
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/0
Penalties 11 5
Yards penalized 101 25

MASSILLON 0 14 3 10 27
N. CANTON 0 7 0 0 7

M ‑ Oliver 9‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
NG ‑ Luken 57‑yard pass from Reifsnyder (Reifsnyder kick)
M ‑ Jordan 18‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Abdul 22‑yard field goal
M ‑ D. Hill 18‑yard run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Abdul, 33‑yard field goal

Massillon rushing: Oliver 12‑65, D. Hill 11‑57, Zwick 5‑41.
N Canton rushing: Thomas 10‑23.

Massillon Passing: Zwick 23‑38‑252 2 TDs, 2 INTs.
N. Canton passing: Reifsnyder 13‑30‑208 TD, 3 INTs; Savage 2‑5‑40

Massillon receiving: Jordan 8‑105, Oliver 4‑31, Ashcraft 3‑46, Jovingo 3‑38, Williams 3‑29.
N. Canton receiving: Lukens 6‑104, Gulling 6‑97, Saylor 1‑30, Kline 2‑17.

– Statistics courtesy of RICHARD CUNNINGHAM

Justin Zwick