Tag: <span>Devin Jordan</span>

Stark County Football Hall of Fame

Three Tigers to be Inducted into the Stark County…

Three Massillon Tigers are to be included in the 2017 induction class into the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame. The Enshrinee Banquet will be held at Skyland Pines on Friday, July 14, 2017. The Tigers to be honored are Brian Gamble, Devin Jordan and Jack Rose.

Brian Gamble

Brian Gamble was a hard hitting safety and running back for the Tigers from 2004 to 2006. The 2006 Tiger co-captain was named first team all Ohio at safety in that year. He was named The Bob Commings Hardnose award winner his senior season. Defensively he he made a career total of 184 tackles, 21 for loss, 7 interceptions and had 16 pass break ups. Offensively he rushed for 2,487 career yards, 26 TDs, and caught 56 passes for 991 yards and 8 more TDs. After his Tiger career he played a couple years at Illinois where he caught a touchdown pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He then transferred to Ashland University where he was named 1st team all American safety for former Tiger coach Lee Owens.

Devin Jordan

Devin Jordan starred at wide receiver for the Tigers in 2001 and 2002 and was named 1st team All-Ohio both years. In 2001 he caught 101 passes for 1,504 yards and scored 18 TDs, which remains a Stark County Record for Yards, Receptions and TD’s in a single season. In 2002 his senior season he recorded 59 catches for 893 yards and 12 more touchdowns. After his Tiger career he received a scholarship to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Unfortunately his playing career was cut short by injury, but he became a graduate assistant coach for three years to start his coaching career. He has since returned to Stark County and has been an assistant coach (Wide Receivers) at Walsh University for the past five years.

Jack Rose

Jack Rose enjoyed a long and successful head coaching career in Stark County. Jack was the 23rd Head Coach for the Massillon Tigers, coaching from 1992 to 1997 after being the defensive coordinator the previous season. He starred at wide receiver for Central Catholic and later at Southwestern Oklahoma State. He coached the 1984 St. Thomas Aquinas to the Division IV state championship and was an assistant coach at Kent State before coming to Massillon. Rose guided Aquinas, Massillon and GlenOak each to the playoffs, compiling a record of 132-83-1, including a 9-7 mark in the postseason. Rose’s coaching record at Massillon was 48-17 with a winning percentage of .738. His signature victory came in the historic 100th game vs. Canton McKinley where the Tigers prevailed 42-41 in overtime. Jack twice lead the Tigers to 10 win seasons.

Please join us in congratulating these three Tiger greats. Go Tigers! #TIG


Paul Brown, Massillon coach
Bob Commings, Massillon coach, GlenOak coach
Jim Houston, Massillon player
Chris Spielman, Massillon player
Harry Stuhldreher, Massillon player
Tommy James, Massillon player
Chuck Mather, Massillon coach
John McVay, Massillon player, Central coach
Jim Reichenbach, Massillon player, GlenOak and Tuslaw Coach
Jim Letcavits, Massillon player, Massillon coach
John Muhlbach, Massillon player, Oakwood coach
Homer Floyd, Massillon player
Dennis Franklin, Massillon player
Lin Houston, Massillon player
Horace Gillom, Massillon player
Hase McKey, Massillon player
Steve Luke, Massillon player
Tommy Hannon, Massillon player
Joe Sparma, Massillon player
Travis McGuire, Massillon player
Justin Zwick, Massillon player
Ray Getz, Massillon player
Jerrod Vance, Massillon player
Bob Vogel, Massillon player
Shawn Crable



2002: Massillon 20, Warren Harding 21

Tigers come so close
Massillon loses in overtime on wide point‑after

Independent Sports Editor

High school sports can be a cruel, unforgiving endeavor, especially in the win‑or‑go‑home scenario of the playoffs. It is a fact of life to which the Massillon Tigers can attest today.

The Tigers fell to the Warren Harding Raiders 21‑20 in overtime at the Rubber Bowl in a Division I state semifinal game in front of an estimated 22,000 fans Saturday, and, they did so in heart‑rending fashion. The margin of victory ‑ a missed point after touchdown.

“There’s not a whole lot I can say to our kids right now,” Tiger coach Rick Shepas said amid a pack of reporters after the game. “They’ve got to learn from this kind of adversity.

“Sometimes you fall short but it doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. It doesn’t mean the kids haven’t played hard.”

No one who watched this classic confrontation between two of Ohio’s traditional high school football powers could possibly say such a thing. The painful emotions of the gut‑wrenching defeat were etched on the faces of every player wearing the orange uniform and black helmet of the Tigers.

Shepas vowed in the days before the game his charges would leave everything on the field. They did that and more, and yet fate seemed to conspire to prevent this proud team from reaching the goal for which they have worked so hard for the past 11 months.

Even Warren Harding coach Thom McDaniels seemed reluctant to accept the victory the way the contest ended. “It was a classic,” said the former McKinley mentor. “It shouldn’t have ended that way.” Certainly, McDaniels could sympathize. His son missed a point after touchdown kick in the 100th Massillon‑McKinley game that cost the Bulldogs a one point overtime defeat.

The missed extra point, which sailed wide left, was eerily reminiscent of the Tigers’ 14‑13 defeat in the playoffs to St. Ignatius in 1991 when a Massillon extra point glanced off the goal post upright and fell away.

The defeat ends the Tiger season at 11‑3 and also spells the final chapter in what has to be considered one of the greatest defensive teams Massillon has ever produced in its proud gridiron history.

“This result doesn’t speak for the way our defense played the whole game,” Shepas said. “I want our defense to be remembered for the outstanding team they are. They are outstanding.”
It seemed Massillon might be bound for the state championship game when Ricky Johnson bolted around left end for a six‑yard touchdown with 1:11 to play, capping off a well‑conceived 12‑play, 62‑yard drive that featured several fine runs by Steve Hymes out of a WingT look the Tigers hadn’t deployed the entire game. Max Shafer’s point after was true and the Tigers led 14‑7.

What happened next must have seemed like a bad dream that just repeats itself over and over as Warren’s Mario Manningham returned the ensuing kickof f to midfield, giving the Raiders hope for overtime. It was Manningham’s two kick returns for touchdowns that helped Warren defeat Massillon 31‑27 in a week nine game at Warren.

And, befitting their regular season state poll champion status, the Raiders took advantage as Mike Kokal hit Treymayne Warfield with a 17‑yard touchdown pass with :17 on the clock. Joe Spain’s point after was good and the game went into overtime at 14‑14.

“We had a chance there at the end, but we just didn’t hang on,” Shepas said.

Warren tallied first in overtime but only after recovering its own fumble at the goal line. Kokal scored on the next snap after that miscue from a yard away. Spain’s conversion kick was good and the Raiders were up 21‑14.

Johnson gained 10 yards around left end on Massillon’s first play of overtime. Two plays later, Matt Martin made a clutch throw on third and goal to A.J. Collins in the right edge of the end zone and it was 21‑20.

On the fateful extra point, with the wind, blowing left to right, the football sailed left of the left upright to bring the game to an end.

“Our fans were great,” Shepas said just before leading his team to the locker room. “They stayed in the stadium. I’d like our fans to learn to be a little bit more positive with our kids all the time, which they’ve been. “We’ll keep going forward.”

Warren Harding drew first blood in a familiar fashion, converting a lengthy punt return into a touchdown.

Taking the opening kickoff, Massillon moved from its 20 to the Warren 37 on a short Martin to Relford pass that the play‑making junior transformed into a 52‑yard gain. The Tigers had an opportunity to get inside the Raider 20 but a dropped pass foiled the play and they were forced to punt.

Thaddeus Walker fielded Shafer’s punt at the Warren 12, found a seam and didn’t stop running until he was pulled down 54 yards later at the Massillon 36.

Three consecutive carries by Warren running back Richard Davis and a facemask penalty on the Massillon defense advanced the ball to the Tiger 11. Four plays later, Stephon Alexander appeared to be stopped on fourth‑and‑goal from the one but the line judge ruled he broke the plane of the end zone and signaled touchdown Warren. Spain added the point after and Warren Harding was up 7‑0 at 5:23 of the first quarter.

Massillon’s scoring drive began at 9:17 of the second quarter at the Tiger 20 yardline after Relford picked off a Warren pass in the end zone.

But the real story of the initial 24 minutes of play was the yellow blizzard of flags falling from the sky. In all, game officials penalized the two state semifinalists 13 times for 85 yards in the first half. Nine of the flags went against Massillon, costing the Tigers 55 yards.

Martin’s screen pass to Johnson picked up 13 yards. One play later, Martin found Johnson running alone down the right sideline for a 30‑yard completion to the Warren 36. An interference penalty against Warren pushed the ball to the Raider 21. A couple of five‑yard penalties pushed it back to the 31 but the Tigers gained it back and more on an 18‑yard screen pass from Martin to Terrance Roddy. Martin got another first down on a keeper, then hit Collins in the left corner of the end zone for the Tigers initial score of the evening. Shafer added the extra point and it was a tie game at 7‑7 with 3:40 to go in the half.

Massillon 20
Warren 21
First downs rushing 4 8
First downs passing 5 7
First downs by penalty 1 0
TOTAL first downs 10 15
Net yards rushing 66 139
Net yards passing 181 125
TOTAL yards 247 264
Passes attempted 31 29
Passes completed 12 12
Passes intercepted 1 2
Punts 9 8
Punting average 34.3 33.5
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/0
Penalties 11 5
Yards penalized 61 35

Massillon 00 07 00 07 06 20
Warren 07 00 00 07 07 21


W ‑ Alexander 1 yard run (Spain kick)
M ‑ Collins 9 yard pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 6 yard run (Shafer kick)
W ‑ Warfield 17 yard pass from Kokal (Spain kick)
W ‑ Kokal 1 yard run (Spain kick)
M ‑ Collins 11 yard pass from Martin (kick failed)

MassilIon rushing: Hymes 5‑42, R. Johnson 12‑21, Martin 3‑7, Roddy 4‑1.
Warren rushing: Davis 19‑63, Phillips 7‑34 Kokal 5‑18, Massucci 5‑15.

Massillon passing: Martin 12‑31‑181, 2TD, 1 INT.
Warren passing: Kokal 11‑22‑118, 1 TD, Phillips 1‑7‑7, 2 INT.

Massillon receiving: Relford 2‑58, R. Johnson 4‑53, Jordan 2‑26, Collins 2‑20, 2 TDs,
Roddy 1‑18, Ashcraft 1‑6.
Warren receiving: Warfield 5‑65, 1 TD, Manningham 3‑31, Stella 1‑13, Johnson 1‑9, Alexander 1‑7.

“Our fans were great.
They stayed in the stadium.
I’d like our fans to learn to
be a little bit more positive
with our kids all the time,
which they’ve been.
We’ll keep going forward.”

Rick Shepas
Massillon coach

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 14, Pickerington 0

Tigers are regional champions

Independent Sports Editor

Rick Shepas saw that look in his players eyes at halftime. Maybe it was the Eye of the Tiger.

Whatever it was, the Massillon Tigers came out and dominated the second half of play to secure a 14‑0 Division I regional championship game victory over the Pickerington Tigers in front of 12,234 fans at Arlin Field in Mansfield, Saturday.

“I saw a difference in our kids in the locker room at halftime,” Shepas said following the post game handshake. “It was a different feeling than we’ve had in the five years that I’ve been here.” That feeling translated into a victory that sends the Tigers to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.

The Massillon defense made it all possible by holding Pickerington without a first down on three third‑quarter drives. It set up the second Tiger touchdown when Shawn Crable forced and Markeys Scott recovered a Pickerington fumble at the 30‑yard line.

“We took ownership of this football game,” Shepas said. Massillon scored the only touchdown it would need on a seven‑play, 80‑yard drive on its second possession of the third quarter.

A pair of sideline passes to James Helscel got them rolling and the march was capped off when Matt Martin hit Devin Jordan on a crossing Pattern that caught the Pickerington defense flowing the opposite direction. Jordan snared the ball at the 25 and scampered the rest of the way to pay dirt. Max Shafer hit the extra point and it was a 7‑0 game at 2:54 of the third quarter.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Scott fell on a Pickerington fumble at the Pickerington 30.

After a holding penalty against the Tigers, Martin found A.J. Collins open for a 15 yard gain to the 21. Ricky Johnson picked up nine yards up the middle and one play later Martin dropped a pass into the waiting arms of Jordan in the right corner of the end zone for the two touchdown cushion.

“A couple of the big plays we ran and moved the ball well on were called by (senior wide receiver) James Helscel,” Shepas said. “He called the scat pass for the touchdown about three plays before. Then he mentioned snag and we hit Devin in the corner on the snag pass.

“Our offense came out and did what it needed to do. I’m glad for these kids. They play hard and they deserved it. We talked about what we needed to do and they challenged themselves.”

Martin completed six consecutive passes during Massillon’s third quarter surge. But he deflected the credit to the coaching staff. “The coaches made some great adjustments,” he said. “They put some new plays in for us and we just executed. The line blocked well. The receivers caught everything. Ricky ran hard and blocked good. “We just came together in the second half.”

Pickerington never did manage a first down in the third quarter and only had six first downs to go with three turnovers in the entire second half.

“We came in at halftime and said we need to get it done for each other and came out in the second half and dominated the football game,” said Massillon co‑captain Keith Wade.

The First had tug‑of‑war a for field position as both defenses flexed their muscles while both offenses tried mostly unsuccessfully ‑ to deal with the slippery field conditions.

Massillon best drive came on its opening possession. Two consecutive Martin to Jordan passes, petted 23 yards and got the Tigers the Pickerington 42 but the drive was doomed when a shotgun snap from center sailed over Martin’s head.

Two huge plays by Shawn Crable on Pickerington’s initial drive accounted for negative 15 yards forcing the purple Tigers to punt.

The balance of the first half went about the same way as each offense managed a big play or two, only to see their possessions snuffed out by penalties, dropped passes and solid defensive play.

Massillon and Pickerington combined for only 129 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, with only 50 of that total on the orange‑and‑black’s ledger.

Massillon could have been in deep trouble, fumbling the ball three times in the first 24 min­utes of play. Fortunately for the locals, they recovered all three bobbles.

One of the Massillon’s wilder miscues came on a muffed punt at its own 20. It appeared Pickerington recovered the ball but a huge pile‑up ensued and when the officials final­ly pulled all the bodies off the heap, it was Massillon with the pigskin.

Late in the first half, Relford returned a Pickerington punt to near midfield. On first down, Martin lofted a pass deep down the left sideline that Stephon Ashcraft caught inside the Pickerington 15. But the play was nullified when a chop block penalty was whis­tled on Massillon.

While that was disappoint­ing to the Massillon sideline, the Tigers would not be de­nied.

“No one wanted to quit here,” said Martin. “We want­ed to go the rest of the way.”

“They’re a good football team,” said Pickerington coach Jack Johnson. “No doubt about it. I wish them all the luck in the world and I hope they go all the way.”

Massillon 14
Pickerington 00
First downs rushing 3 7
First downs passing 10 3
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 13 11
Net yards rushing 46 116
Net yards passing 172 61
TOTAL yards 218 177
Passes attempted 23 17
Passes completed 12 7
Passes intercepted 2 1
Punts 5 4
Punting average 31.4 33.0
Fumbles/Lost 3/0 2/2
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 59 25

Massillon 00 00 14 00 14
Pickerington 00 00 00 00 00


M ‑ Jordan 40 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Jordan 11 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)


Massillon rushing: R. Johnson 20‑64.
Pickerington rushing: Trapasso17‑68, Ultican 11‑27.

Massillon passing: Martin 12‑23‑112, 2TDs, 2 Ints.
Pickerington passing: Ultican 7‑15‑61, 1 Int. Trapasso 0‑1‑0.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 7‑108 2 TDs, Collins 2‑41, HeIscel 2‑21, R. John­son 1‑2.
Pickerington receiving, J. Jablonka 1‑22. Harrison 2‑14.

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 23, Massillon Perry 21

It’s up and It’s good

Tigers will face Pickerington; Perry ends year at 10‑2

Independent Staff Writer

A pair of Matts gave the Tigers a winning hand.

The Massillon Tiger football team rode the arm of Matt Martin and the foot of kicker Matt Shafer to a thrilling last‑second 23‑21 victory over the Perry Panthers Saturday night. The Ohio High School Athletic Association regional semifinal contest was played before an estimated crowd of 17,000 at Fawcett Stadium.

Shafer kicked a 35‑yard field goal at the game’s final gun, capping a 57‑yard drive sparked by the passing of Martin.

Martin finished the game 21 for 29 through the air for 294 yards and added a 65‑yard punt on a quick kick for good measure.

The Tigers’ heroics were necessary after Perry came back from a 20‑7 deficit in the third quarter with two touchdown runs by Chris Kortis, the second giving Perry a 21‑20 lead with 1:17 left in the game.

The drive was set by a stunning sequence of plays just a minute earlier.

The Tiger defense sacked Perry quarterback Bob Perez on a fourth down to give the team possession with a little over two minutes to play.

The Panthers took the ball back and promptly scored, giving Massillon the final shot.

Martin completed six straight passes on the game winning drive, setting up Shafer’s winning kick.

With the win, the Tigers avenged two recent losses to Perry, including a 23‑6 loss in an opening round playoff game in 1999.

Massillon advances to play Pickerington, who crushed Gahanna Lincoln, 48‑13.

Within 30 minutes of the Victory, fans flooded downtown Massillon. Lincoln Way was closed off as revelers ‑ included Rick Shepas’ charges danced in the streets.

The game gave the Tigers bragging rights over the Federal League, giving them a 2‑0 record over the conference this season.

The Tigers defeated North Canton 31‑0 last Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Warren Harding, which handed Massillon one of its two losses this season, barely escaped Byers Field in Parma with a 18‑16 win over Lakewood St. Edward, also on a last second game‑winning field goal.

Massillon 23
Perry 21
First downs rushing 2 8
First downs passing 12 6
Firsst downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 14 15
Net yards rushing 28 141
Net yards passing 294 117
TOTAL yards 322 258
Passes attempted 29 15
Passes completed 21 7
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 5 7
Punting average 42.2 27.9
Fumbles/Lost 5/3 1/1
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 52 6

Massillon 00 13 07 03 23
Perry 00 07 00 14 21


M ‑ Johnson 3 run (Shafer kick) 9:27
M ‑ Jordan 68 pass from Martin (kick failed) 5:43
P ‑ Cerreta 31 pass from Perez (Perez kick) 1:41
M ‑ Jordan 25 pass from Martin (Shaffer kick) 11:44
P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 6:42
P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 1:17
M ‑ Shafer 35 FG 0:00


Massillon rushing: Johnson 13‑24, Woods 4‑12.
Perry rushing: Kortis 15‑68, Perez lt29, Schleiden 8‑28.

Massillon passing: Martin 21‑29‑294 TD, INT.
Perry passing: Perez 7‑15‑117 TD, INT,

Massillon receiving: Jordan 7‑170 2 TDs, Ashcraft 4‑44, Relford 4‑32.
Perry receiving: Cerreta 4‑62 TD, Woodard 2‑37.

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 27, Warren Harding 31

Massillon can’t escape Warren with a win
Fourth‑quarter lead slips away for Tigers in tough 31‑27 loss

Independent Sports Editor

In the end the Massillon Tigers undoing was a player who had caught just two passes and returned one punt all season long.

Warren Harding sophomore Mario Manningham returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the first half, and caught two touchdown passes in the second half ‑ the second one with just :49 left to play ‑ to spark the undefeated and No.1 ranked Raiders to a heart‑pounding 31‑27 victory over the Tigers in front of 11,500 at Mollenkopf Stadium Saturday.

Warren coach Thom McDaniels, who is now 12‑5 all‑time against the Tigers, admitted Manningham’s performance caught him by surprise. “Very obviously he is a very talented kid,” McDaniels said. “We’ve been bringing him along slowly. Maybe I don’t need to bring him along as slowly as I have been.”

Everything seemed to point to a Massillon win on the post‑game stat sheet. The Tigers out gained Warren 348‑202, senior running back Ricky Johnson led all rushers with 107 yards in 20 carries and quarterback Matt Martin passed for over 200 yards and three touchdowns.

But Warren Harding compiled 147 yards on three kickoff returns and 78 yards on three punt returns to more than balance the scales.

“It was all about the kicking game,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “They scored two touchdowns on our defense and our offense did a great job against them scoring 27 points. “It was just about the kicking game unfortunately and that’s the way it goes.”

Massillon took a 20‑17 lead with 2:54 to go in the third quarter when Martin dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball into the hands of Devin Jordan running a post pattern for a 49‑yard touchdown.

The Tigers appeared to have Warren on the ropes when junior running back Tuffy Woods ran through a gaping hole in the middle of the Raider defensive line and went 33 yards to pay dirt at 7:29 of the fourth quarter to make it a 27‑17 ball game. Zach Smith tacked on both PATs.

“Our offensive and defensive game plans were outstanding,” Shepas said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do in a big ball game. Our kids stayed level.” After having kicked off out of bounds the previous two times to negate Warren’s return game, the final Tiger kickoff of the evening found Rob Massucci, who returned it 54 yards to the Massillon 26. “We were trying to kick the ball out of bounds but it just didn’t happen,” Shepas explained.

Warren quarterback Mike Kokal found Tremayne Warfield for 14 yards on the first snap following Massucci’s return. One play later he hit Manningham in the right corner of the end zone from 13 yards out. Joe Spain tacked on the extra point and Massillon’s lead was down to 27‑24 with 6:29 to play.

Massillon went three‑and‑out on its next possession when a third‑and‑one run was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Warren defense.

After a 33‑yard punt, Warren set up shop at its own 35 and on first down Kokal hit Manningham over the middle for 27 yards to the Massillon 38. Five plays later, on second‑and‑three from the 12‑yard line, Kokal zipped a short pass to Manningham at the three and he squirted into the end zone to all but vanquish the Tigers 2002 playoff aspirations.

“We played hard,” remarked Tiger linebacker Shawn Crable, who made plays all over the field this night. “It’s kind of hard to lose a game like that. As hard as we played to just give up the last touchdown, it’s a bit hard to swallow.”

Asked if it just wasn’t meant to be, Shepas said, “I guess not and we’re going to have to figure out why that is. Warren Harding‑ opened the scoring in the opening seconds of the second quarter when Manningham fielded a low line drive punt at the Raider 32, cut to his left, found a seam and scooted 68 yards for a touchdown. Manningham had just one obstacle after crossing midfield, but used a juke move to buckle the potential tackler’s knees. Spain tacked on the extra point and Warren led 7‑0 at 11:45 of the second quarter.

The teams traded punts with the Tigers then taking over at their own 20 yard line with 8:12 until halftime.

On second down, Martin rolled left and found James Helscel open for a 12‑yard gain to the 35. One play later, Martin dropped a perfect 35‑yard rainbow pass into the hands of Relford at the Warren Harding 30. After two Johnson runs, Martin executed a perfect play action fake and found tight end A.J. Collins wide open at the 15. The senior tight end caught the ball and rambled untouched into the end zone. Smith’s point after kick was true and it was a 7‑7 game at 4:58 of the second quarter.

Relford got the ball right back for the Tigers with a grass‑top interception of a Kokal pass at the Massillon 44. The teams then exchanged punts with Massillon beginning its final first half possession at its own 35.

On second and 10, Martin operating out of the shotgun ‑ found Relford in one‑on‑one coverage and dropped a pass just over the defensive backs hands for a 37 yard completion to the Warren Harding28. Martin would pick up a key first down on a fourth‑and-one keeper play to the 15. On first down from there, Martin ran the same play that produced the Tigers first touchdown. Once again the play action fake freed up Collins, who pulled in Martin’s short pass and sauntered into the end zone. Smith’s kick made it 14‑7 with just :31 until the break.

But Warren Harding struck back like lightening bolt as Manningham fielded the ensuing kickoff at the Raider 18 and streaked up the middle for an 82‑yard touchdown return. Spain’s PAT made it a 14‑14 game at the band show.

Warren Harding 31
Massillon 27
First downs rushing 5 2
First downs passing 7 8
First downs by penalty 0 0
TOTAL first downs 13 10
Net yards rushing 144 36
Net yards passing 204 166
TOTAL yards 348 202
Passes attempted 20 26
Passes completed 9 14
Passes intercepted 1 2
Punts 7 6
Punting average 31.6 28.0
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 0/0
Penalties 5 3
Yards penalized 29 23

Massillon 00 14 06 07 27
Warren 00 14 03 14 31


W ‑ Manningham 68 punt return (Spain kick)
M ‑ Martin 27 pass to Collins (Smith kick)
M ‑ Martin 15 pass to Collins (Smith
W ‑ Manningham 82 kick return (Spain kick)
W ‑ Spain 31 field goal
M ‑ Martin 49 pass to Jordan (kick failed)
M ‑ Woods 33 run (Smith kick)
W ‑ Phillips 13 pass to Manningham (Spain kick)
W ‑ Kokal 12 pass to Manningh am (Spain kick)


Massillon rushing: Johnson 20‑106, Woods 8‑52.
Warren Harding rushing: Davis 13-23.

Massillon passing: Martin 9‑20‑204 3 TDs 1 int.
Warren Harding passing: Kokal 9‑16‑91 1 TD 1 INT, Phillips 5‑10‑75 1 TD.

Massillon receiving: Relford 4‑100, Jordan 1‑48, Collins 2‑41, Heischel 1‑12.
Warren Harding receiving: Manningham 4‑68, Warfield 4‑29

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 54, Cleveland Lincoln West 6

Tigers put Lincoln West away with early burst
Massillon carries 7‑1 slate into Warren Harding showdown

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers two‑week, late‑season interlude against out‑manned opponents came to an end with a 54‑6 victory over the Cleveland Lincoln West Wolverines in front of 6.229 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.

The Tigers have scored 128 points in the last eight quarters of football against 0‑8 Woodrow Wilson and 0‑8 Lincoln West. Neither will be on the Massillon schedule next season.

Program Cover

In fact, there were persistent reports this week the Tigers attempted to buy out their contract with Lincoln West ‑which has lost 4 straight football games ‑ but were rebuffed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Massillon coach Rick Shepas denied there was any move to buy out the contract in favor of an open date, which would have been more beneficial for the Tigers from a computer playoff points standpoint.

Regardless of the quality of its foe, Massillon was on its game the first quarter. The Tigers had 11 snaps on offense in the initial 12 minutes of the contest and got a first down or a touchdown on nine of those plays.

“I thought we were really sharp,” Shepas said afterward. “I was really pleased with the way the players prepared this week. There was a lot of focus for a Lincoln West team. We wanted to improve and I believe we accomplished that tonight.”.

The Tigers led 34‑0 at the first stop on Shawn Crable’s 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, two Ricky Johnson touchdown runs, and two Matt Martin scoring passes ‑ one to Stephon Ashcraft that covered 18 yards and the other to Devin Jordan for 16 yards. Both touchdown passes were set up by interceptions by Tiger senior safety Dustin Jarvis.

“We wanted to let Matt Martin call the whole game offensively and he did a great job,” Shepas said. “Steve Hymes did much of the same in the second half.

“I thought we were’ sharp on both sides of the ball.” Martin completed 7 of 8 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in one quarter of play. He has connected on 16 of his last 18 aerials for 276 yards and five touchdowns.

If nothing else, the game provided a couple of injured Massillon starters an opportunity to ease back into action. Johnson did not play last week, resting a badly sprained ankle. The Tigers leading rusher started and played the entire first quarter of Friday’s rout, toting the ball three times for 13 yards.

“Ricky Johnson is 100 percent good as new,” Shepas reported. “You saw him running out there. He looked fresh and ready to go.”

Another seeing action after a lengthy layoff was senior inside linebacker Tony Graves, who had played in just one game since suffering a high ankle sprain in the season opener. Graves was in for one series of downs in the first quarter but did not return. “Tony Graves is getting back in the flow and ready to go,” Shepas said.

Two key Tigers who did not see action were starting strong safety Markeys Scott (shoulder) and No.2 running back Terrance Roddy (knee). “We look to get Markeys back Monday at practice if the doctors say OK,” Shepas said. “But it looks like Terrance will be out four to six weeks with that knee.”

Steve Hymes took over at quarterback for Massillon in the second quarter and hit Ryan Schindler with a 20‑yard touchdown pass. Max Shafer’s fifth point after kick made it 41‑0 with 3:43 to play in the half.

Lincoln West used a pass interference and two long pass completions ‑ one of which bounced off a Tiger defender and into the hands of Armando Lugo ‑ to get inside the Massillon 5‑yard line late in the first half. On fourth‑and‑goal, Michael Woulard bucked off right guard and into the end zone from about a foot out to break up the shutout.

Hymes, who rushed for 79 yards in 14 carries, scored from six yards out mid‑way through the third quarter to put the Tigers up 47‑6.

Junior running back Tuffy Woods closed the scoring with a nine‑yard touchdown run with 4:49 to play. He finished the night as the game’s leading ground gainer with 106 yards in 10 carries.

After having the team sing Happy Birthday to his daughter Maria, Shepas gave his charges the weekend off. He says the Tigers are where they need to be one week in advance of playing their most important game of the season against No.1 ranked Warren Harding.

“I think so,” he said. “These kids have done a great job from the time we started conditioning in the winter time. They practiced with great focus. “They’re a little bit on edge. They know the Ignatius game is going to factor in a little bit. They want to do their best to finish it out.”

If there was a down note for the Tigers in the game, it was their 10 penalties for 102 yards. But as Shepas noted, most came after the first team was long gone. “We played a pretty clean first half,” he said. Lincoln West head coach Walter Stokes was certainly impressed. “Massillon played a really good football game,” he said. “They are really well coached and fundamentally sound. I think they will have a nice run in the playoffs.”

For that to happen, the Tigers must first get past Warren Harding one week from tonight at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Massillon 54
Lincoln‑West 06
First downs rushing 13 3
First downs passing 10 3
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 24 9
Net yards rushing 231 11
Net yards passing 235 106
TOTAL yards 466 117
Passes attempted 20 18
Passes completed 15 5
Passes intercepted 0 3
Punts 0 4
Punting average 00.0 25.8
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 3/1
Penalties 10 6
Yards penalized 102 36

Massillon 34 07 06 07 54
Lincoln‑West 00 06 00 00 00


M ‑ Crabel 20 interception return (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 1 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Johnson 18 run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Ashcraft 18 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Jordan 16 pass from Martin (Shafer kick) M ‑ Schindler 20 pass from Hymes (Shafer kick) L‑W ‑ Woulard 1 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Hymes 6 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Woods 9 run (Smith kick)


Massillon rushing: Woods 10‑106 TD, Hymes 14‑79 TD, Pullin 3‑15, Johnson 3‑13 2 TDs, Walterhouse 2‑9, Pettis 2‑9.
Lincoln‑West rushing: Woulard 22‑39 TD.

Massillon passing: Martin 7‑8‑150 2 TDs. Hymes 8‑12‑85 TD.
Lincoln‑West passing: Abdul‑Hakim 4‑12‑61 3 INTs. Johnson 1‑6‑45.

Massillon receiving: Hauser 3‑51, Ashcraft 2‑45 TD, Jordan 2‑43 TD, Helscel 2‑39, Schindler 2‑31 TD, Woods 4‑26.
Lincoln‑West receiving: Abdul Hakim 1‑45, Lugo

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 56, Mansfield Senior 0

It’s Tigers … spelled with an “I”
Mansfield’s Tygers are beaten in every phase of the game

Independent Sports Editor

Lennox Lewis over Mike Tyson.
Richard Nixon over George McGovern.
The German army over the French army.

Program Cover

One‑sided victories all. But no more so than Massillon’s 56‑0 demolition of a Mansfield Senior team that was 4‑1 and ranked seventh in its computer region coming into Friday night’s game that was played in front of 7,538 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

It was one‑sided almost from the opening kickoff as Massillon’s defense pitched its second shutout of the season and permitted Mansfield just two first downs in the first half, which ended with the Tigers comfortably in front 35‑0.

“Massillon has a very good football team I and we have a very young football team,” said Mansfield coach Stanley Jefferson. “They were able to physically come out and hammer it to us and we couldn’t do anything to stop them on either side of the football.”

That is reflected in the statistics as Massillon compiled 446 total yards to Mansfield’s 184.

It looked like the Tiger team that decimated its first three opponents and dominated St. Ignatius for a half.

“We are a very good football team when our kids are in the right frame of mind,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “They can’t been too high or too low. They have to be right in the middle with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. And that’s really important. That’s why we have to sit on them like we do. The better these kids feel about themselves, the more they take for granted.

“It took us a little longer to get over the Ignatius loss. We were moping around and we were flat against Fitch.” The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage all night long, rushing for over 330 yards and averaging over eight yards per running play.

“We had a good week of practice all week,” said Tiger offensive tackle J.P Simon. “We went extra hard every day. We’re trying to come off the ball and dominate. We just wanted to come out tonight and show everybody what we are about.

“Give the backs a lot of credit. They were breaking a lot of tackles and hitting the holes hard.”

Although he didn’t start the game, due to missing a practice this week, senior Ricky Johnson led the Massillon ground game with 111 yards and three touchdowns in only 12 carries.

Fellow senior Terrance Roddy was superb once again with 75 yards and a touchdown in only six totes.

“We got into a good flowing mixing up formations in the running game on them,” Shepas said. “I thought Matt Martin did a good job checking at the line of scrimmage and I thought we de a good job throwing as well.

“We didn’t make some plays in the pass game. As much as we throw it, we want to be better in that area.”

Just minutes after Massillon scored on a Steve Hymes to Brad Hauser three‑yard touchdown pass to close the scoring with 1:12 to play, the Tigers were doing what Shepas calls Green Bay conditioning drills in the middle of the field.

“Those are just a little reminder for people who aren’t giving effort or for penalties that might hurt us,” explained Tiger co‑captain Keith Wade. “We’re trying to eliminate that stuff and become a better football team.”

It’s hard to imagine a better team than Massillon showed in the first half against Mansfield. The Tigers scored on their second possession following a 24‑yard Mansfield punt.

On first down from the Mansfield 48, Roddy took a handoff from Martin and found an opening over right guard and tackle. Roddy broke it to the right sideline at the 45 and was off to the races, finally being dragged down at the 6.

Two plays later, Roddy went over right guard again for the touchdown from four yards out. Max Shafer’s kick made it 7‑0 Massillon at 5:25 of the first quarter.

Mansfield’s second possession was a three‑and‑‑out series that ended with a shanked punt that traveled just 14 yards.

“Our special teams have been sporadic all year,” lamented Jefferson. “You can’t do that against Massillon. They take advantage of that.”

A holding penalty on the Tigers negated an eight‑yard Roddy touchdown run following the punt, but Massillon scored two plays later when Martin completed a short pass to Roddy in the left flat, and the senior running back outran the pursuit to the end zone for the touchdown. Shafer’s point‑after conversion made it 14‑0 Massillon at 3:08 of the first.

Johnson was inserted in the game after Mansfield’s third punt in as many possessions gave Massillon the ball at midfield. On second‑and‑10, the 6 foot, 193‑pound senior skirted around right end for 36 yards to the Mansfield 15‑yard line.

Martin hooked up with George Pribich for 10 yards to the 1 and Johnson did the honors from there, bucking into the end zone at 11:15 of the second quarter. Shafer’s kick was true and the Tigers led 21‑0.

Once again Mansfield went three‑and‑out but an excellent punt forced Massillon to start at its own 23. A six‑play drive that included an 18‑yard inside run by Tuffy Woods was capped by a 32‑yard touchdown run by Johnson at 7:30 of the second quarter. Shafer’s point‑after made it 28‑0 Massillon.

Massillon’s final tally of the first half was set up when Michael White recovered a muffed punt at the Mansfield 25. Five plays later Johnson bowled over a Mansfield tackler at the one‑yard line and strode into the end zone for his second touchdown of the half. Shafer tacked on the conversion kick at 2:04 of the first half and it was a 35‑0 contest.

After a scoreless third quarter, Hymes found pay dirt on a 10‑yard bootleg run around left end at 10:28 of the fourth quarter.

Devin Jordan got into the act, hauling in a high‑arcing Hymes pass in the end zone just 12 seconds later after Massillon covered its own kickoff.

Massillon 56
Mansfield Senior 0
Mas Man
First downs rushing 15 7
First downs passing 3 2
First downs by penalty 2 0
TOTAL first downs 20 9
Net yards rushing 334 183
Net yards passing 112 1
TOTAL yards 446 184
Passes attempted 23 8
Passes completed 13 3
Passes intercepted 0 0
Punts 5 9
Punting average 33.6 32.7
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 3/2
Penalties 7 7
Yards penalized 68 60
Massillon 14 21 00 21 56
Mansfield 00 00 00 00 00


MAS ‑ Roddy 4 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Roddy 17 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 1 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 25 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 3 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Hymes 10 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Jordan 26 pass from Hymes (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Hauser 3 pass from Hymes (Smith kick)


Massillon rushing: Johnson 12‑111 3 TDs, Roddy 6‑75 TD, Hymes 10‑68 TD,Woods 6‑61.
Mansfield rushing: Phillips 32‑149.

Massillon passing: Martin 11‑21‑83 TD, Hymes 2‑2‑29 2 TDs.
Mansfield passing: Molyet 3‑8‑1.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 2‑31 TD, Ashcraft 3‑23., Roddy 1‑17 TD, Woods 2‑13.
Mansfield reveiving: Greer 1‑3

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 21, Cleveland St. Ignatius 29

St. Ignatius too much for Tigers

Independent Sports Editor

It was a Friday the 13th horror story of Hollywood proportions for a vast majority of the 15,051 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium who witnessed the Massillon Tigers 29‑21 defeat at the hands of Cleveland St. Ignatius Friday night.

Program Cover

The Tigers looked like a well‑oiled machine in taking a 14‑3 halftime lead and out‑gaining the defending state champions 236‑74 in total yards in the first half.

Massillon extended its advantage to 21‑3 on Billy Relford’s 81‑yard interception return for a touchdown with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

With St. Ignatius star running back Carter Welo sitting on the bench with a left shoulder injury, it appeared the Tigers were well on their way to their first‑ever victory over the Wildcats.

Despite an 18‑point deficit, Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle stayed cool and so did his charges. “We needed to get a score,” Kyle said. “It’s 21‑3. Plenty of time. If we get one in here, there’s plenty of time.”

A facemask call on Massillon gave St. Ignatius the ball near midfield on its ensuing possession. Two plays later, Tony Gonzalez shook himself loose in the Tiger secondary and junior quarterback Brian Hoyer found him for a 37‑yard pass and run for six points. The conversion kick was good and Massillon’s lead had been sliced to 21‑9 with a few seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“Tony gets that one and he has that great speed and he takes off and gets it and that’s just what we needed right there because the kids got excited,” Kyle said. “They got excited. “When things are going wrong, you just say something is going to hit and you put it in the hands of the guys who can get it done for you.” That would be Gonzalez, who has verbally committed to play his football at Ohio State next season.

After Massillon went three‑and‑out on its next possession, St. Ignatius took over at its 31. Two Hoyer completions moved the ball to the Massillon 35. Then it was back to Gonzalez, who got behind the Tigers coverage and caught Hoyer’s high‑arcing 35‑yard aerial in the end zone at 9:59 of the fourth quarter. The kick made it Massillon 17, St. Ignatius 16, and the Wildcats could smell blood.

W hat happened next was truly a nightmare for the Tigers. Beginning on their 20‑yard line, Massillon was flagged consecutively for too many players on the field, an illegal formation and a false start to set up first‑and‑25 from the 5‑yard line. One play later, Gonzalez stepped in front of a Massillon pass in the flats and zipped 15 yards to pay dirt. The conversion pass play failed but St. Ignatius was now on top 22‑21.

Massillon looked to be rallying back following the kickoff. The Tigers moved the ball to near midfield on four consecutive running plays. On the fifth, they coughed up the football and the Wildcats recovered on the Massillon 43.

A 25‑yard Hoyer pass to an uncovered Gonzalez set up Joe Palcko’s two‑yard scoring burst. The point after kick made it St. Ignatius 29, Massillon 21 with 4:41 to go.

The Tigers would move the football to the Ignatius 30 in the game’s waning moments but four straight incompletions ended any hope for a late comeback

Afterward, Massillon head coach Rick Shepas was composed. “I think we could have played harder in the second half but this is part of the learning process,” he said. “When the momentum went, it went pretty quick.”

And how do you stem the tide against a team as accomplished at coming back as St. Ignatius?

“You just have to make some plays,” Shepas said. “We were in position to make some plays and we didn’t. “It’s another situation where we’ve played them four times. We had them beat three out of the four probably and we just let them have it. They’re a good team and that’s why they win. They have a great coaching staff. But it’s all a part of the process and it’s a matter of how we handle it from here.”

Massillon was held to 68 total yards in the second half and Shepas praised Kyle and his staff for their halftime adjustments. “They made some good adjustments but nothing we couldn’t handle,” he said. “It’s all a part of the process. It is a long season. It’s 15 games and our guys have to learn how to play four quarters with this team.”

Defending state champs continue Tigers, mastery of Massillon 29‑21 verdict

For the first two quarters, it appeared Massillon had finally gotten over the hump against its chief tormentor.

The defense set up both of the Tigers first half touchdowns by intercepting Hoyer on a pair of deep throws.

The first pickoff came on a third‑and‑11 call from the Wildcat 41‑yard line. Hoyer was looking to Gonzalez on a deep post pattern but senior free safety Craig McConnell swooped in front and intercepted the football on a dead run at the Massillon 30, returning it to the St. Ignatius 48.

On first down from there, left guard Vince Volpe and left tackle Bradley Grizzard opened up a gaping hole and Johnson tore through the cavity for 34 yards to the 14.

One play later, Johnson who rushed for 209 yards in 23 carries ‑ galloped around the left end of the Massillon line and went untouched into the end zone as senior wideout Stephon Ashcraft wiped out a St. Ignatius defensive back with a superb block. Max Shafer tacked on the extra point and Massillon led 7‑0 at 9:20 of the second quarter.

Hoyer again tested the Tiger secondary on the Wildcats ensuing possession, throwing down the left hash mark as Marquees Watkins applied the rush. Relford made a leaping interception at mid‑field and Massillon was in business once again. Three running plays ‑ two by Terrance Roddy and one by Tuffy Woods ‑ gave the Tigers a first down at the St. Ignatius 41.

Then it was time for Johnson to shine once again. The 5‑foot, 193‑pound senior took a handoff from quarterback Matt Martin and burst through a hole opened up by senior center Reggie McCullough. He was 10 yards past the line of scrimmage when he encountered Ignatius defensive back Darnell Martemus, shaking right then exploding past the stunned Wildcat and into the end zone. Shafer’s conversion kick was true and Massillon led 14‑0 at 6:46 of the second quarter.

St. Ignatius avoided the first half shutout with a 387 yard field goal at 4:15 of the second quarter.

“We have some soul searching to do because at times we didn’t play our best football,” Shepas said.

“That’s a great football team … Massillon,” Kyle remarked. “This was a great battle. People got their money’s worth.”

That is if you’re a fan of horror stories.

St. Ignatius 29
Massillon 21
First downs rushing 12 6
First downs passing 2 10
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 14 19
Net yards rushing 250 103
Net yards passing 54 203
TOTAL yards 304 406
Passes attempted 21 25
Passes completed 5 12
Passes intercepted 2 4
Punts 5 5
Punting average 40.6 31.4
Fumbles/Lost 3/2 2/0
Penalties 10 1
Yards penalized 88 5

Massillon 00 14 07 00 21
Ignatius 00 03 06 20 29


M ‑ Johnson 15 run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 41 run (Shafer kick)
I ‑ Kedzior 38 FG
M ‑ Relford 81 interception return (Shafer kick)
I ‑ Gonzalez 37 pass from Hoyer (Run failed)
I ‑ Gonzalez 35 pass from Hoyer (Kedzior kick)
I ‑ Gonzalez 15 interception return (Massey pass from Hoyer)
I ‑ Palcko 2 run (Kedzior kick) MEN


Massillon rushing: Johnson 23‑203 2 TDs, Roddy 9‑42, Woods 7‑14.
St. Ignatius rushing: Welo 16‑78, Palcko 12‑43 TD.

Massillon passing: Martin 5‑21‑54 2 INTs.
St. Ignatius passing: Hoyer 12‑25‑203 2 TDs, 4 INTs.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 3‑40, Heiscel 1‑9, Hill 1‑5.
St. Ignatius receiving: Gonzalez 4‑102 2 TDs, Kralik 5‑59, Massey 2‑31.

Shawn Crable

2001: Massillon 20, Cleveland St. Ignatius 49

Ten years later, History repeats as St. Ignatius
Iggy trips Tigers again; Tops Massillon for berth in state title game

Indenendent Sports Editor

Massillon was in this very same spot ten years ago, playing St. Ignatius in the Division I state semi-final game.

The Tigers dropped that 1991 contest by a single point, 14‑13.

On Friday night, the outcome was the same. Only the point totals were different.

The St. Ignatius Wildcats ‑ a team that lost four of five games during one stretch this season ‑ once again had too many bullets in the gun for Massillon and handed the Tigers a 49‑20 defeat in a Division I state semifinal game in front of an announced crowd of 29,871 at the Akron Rubber Bowl.

Two big plays went against the Tigers and the snowball effect was a 29‑point defeat in a game that was in doubt until the final six minutes of play.

Key play No. 1 came with a minute left in the first half and Massillon trailing 21‑14. St. Ignatius’ All‑Ohio linebacker John Kerr forced a Tiger fumble and teammate Ryan Franzinger fell on the football in the end zone to give the Wildcats a two‑touchdown cushion at halftime.

Key play No. 2 came after the Tigers had cut the lead to 28‑20 deep in the third quarter and needed a defensive stop to really put some pressure on the Wildcats. St. Ignatius faced a third‑and‑nine deep in Tiger territory but converted a first down on a pass interference penalty against Massillon.

Three pays later Franzinger bucked over left tackle and into the end zone from three yards out to re-establish a two‑touchdown St. Ignatius lead.

Massillon would get no closer the rest of the way.

“The fumble right before the half, it did hurt us because it was just like the first meeting.” lamented Tiger coach Rick Shepard referring the St. Ignatius’ 40‑26 victory in Week Four of the regular season. “Something stupid before the half that gives them a cheap touchdown.

“That series after we scored to cut it to one touchdown, that was key for them as well.”

But Shapes stressed it isn’t so much about the plays St. Ignatius makes in a big game, as the mindset of some of the Tigers.

“We have a lot of great kids but they just struggle with confidence sometimes,” Shapes said. “We work harder on that than we do the X’s and O’s because that’s what it comes down to.

“St. Ignatius isn’t a complicated team. They’re fundamental. They go out and execute and they play with great confidence. We’re working toward that. We’re four years into this program. When you get to this point, you’d like to take it further I just have to remind myself that it’s only four years.”

As always seems to be the case in a big game, St. Ignatius jumped out to an early lead. The Wildcats faced a third‑and‑three situation at their own 22 after taking the opening kickoff. Quarterback Nate Szep dropped back to throw and zeroed in on junior wideout Tony Gonzalez at midfield.

Gonzales screened the defender away from the ball, made the catch and was off to the races for a 78‑yard touchdown. Phil Gibbs drilled the extra point and Iggy led 7‑0 at the 10:26 mark of the first quarter.

Massillon marched from its 22 to the Ignatius 39 but was forced to punt. The Wildcats failed to move the ball after three snaps and punted back to the Tigers.

Craig McConnell’s 7‑yard return set Massillon up with a first down at midfield. David Hill picked up a couple of first downs on runs of three and six yards. Ricky Johnson went up the middle for seven yards and a first down at the St. Ignatius 8 as the Tigers ran the football effectively.

On second‑and‑goal from the 7, Zwick pump faked and zipped a pass to Stephon Ashcraft in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. David Abdul’s kick was true and Massillon had tied the game 7‑7 at 2:32 of the first quarter.

St. Ignatius reclaimed the lead with a 10‑play, 80‑yard drive. The big play in the march was the final one. On third‑and‑10 from the Massillon 40, Szep found senior wideout Matt Miller open at the 30. Miller eluded the cornerback and went down the sideline, diving into the end zone for the touchdown after being hit at the 2.

Gibbs added the conversion kick and St. Ignatius was back on top at 14‑7 with 11:48 to play in the first half.

“We really felt good about the way our defense was playing the last three weeks,” Shepas said. “But they find out a way to jump out at 7‑0. I thought we answered well. We were hanging in there. They come out and score another touchdown on a crossing route. Just some things busted on us early.

“It’s kind of like trying to plug the dike sometimes. I just wish some of these kids would go out and feel the confidence I have in them.”

After two punts, a missed field goal attempt and another punt, Massillon took over at its 32‑yard line midway through the second quarter.

A Zwick to Devin Jordan sideline pass was good for a first down at the Massillon 43. Two plays later, Jordan ran a hitch and go and Zwick dropped the ball in his hands for a 29‑vard gain to the St. Ignatius 20.

Ryan Boyd picked up five yards on an inside handoff and Johnson added seven more on the same play to set up the Tigers with a first-and‑goal at the 9.

Again Zwick handed the ball to Boyd and the senior running back slashed up the middle. He was hit at the two by the Wildcats’ Kevin Stanek but dragged him into the end zone for the touchdown. Abdul’s kick was true and the Tigers had again tied the game at 14‑14 at 4:38 of the second quarter.

But St. Ignatius reasserted control of the game, taking the ensuing kickoff and driving 76 yards in nine plays. Chuck Flanagan’s 16‑yard burst up the middle on the first play set the tone. Then Franzinger came up with a big first down, picking up three yards on a fourth‑and‑1 from the Massillon 43.

On the very next play, Szep hit Gonzalez down the right sideline for 28 yards to the 12. Two snaps later Szep sneaked into the end zone from a yard out. Gibbs’ conversion kick split the uprights and the Wildcats were right back on top 21‑14 at 1:07 of the first half.

Disaster struck the Tigers on the second play after the ensuing kickoff. On second‑and‑10 from the Massillon 23, Zwick was pressured by Kerr, who batted the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. A wild scramble ensued and when the players unpiled, Franzinger had the football for a St. Ignatius touchdown with 44 seconds until the band show.

Gibbs again converted the point‑after and St. Ignatius carried a 28‑14 lead into the lockerroom.

“That was big,” agreed St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle. “You need the defense to get turnovers certainly, but that was an added bonus.

“That was one of those plays that seem to take forever.”

Massillon had to punt on its first possession of the second half but the Tigers got the ball back when Keith Wade drilled Szep and caused a fumble that Andy Alleman recovered at the Massillon 32.

A Zwick‑to‑Jordan pass earned a first down at the 42. Five plays later another Zwick‑to‑Jordan aerial netted another first down at the St. Ignatius 26. A pass interference penalty gave Massillon a first down at the Wildcats 13.

Then Hill took an inside handoff, bounced off Kerr at the 10 and jaunted into the end zone. The extra point failed but Massillon trailed by just one score at 28‑20 with 4:43 to play in the third.

St. Ignatius proved its mettle by taking the ensuing kickoff and driving 63 yards in 12 plays ‑ with the aid of a third‑down pass interference call ‑ to reclaim the momentum Massillon had sought from the game’s opening moments. The Wildcat touchdown came with 11:55 to play and made it St. Ignatius 35‑20.

Massillon moved to midfield on its next possession but the drive stalled and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs. That, essentially, was the ballgame.

“We play a good schedule but we played the big boys twice,” Shapes said of the eight‑time state champions. “We weren’t able to get these two and we’re just going to have to work on it. It is something we have to overcome as a program and as a community as well.”

Szep was sensational once again for St. Ignatius, completing 13 of 25 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. The senior signal caller also ran for a score and did not throw an interception all night long.

“He’s a good player,” Shepas said. “I didn’t think he’d play as well the second time around. I thought we’d get to him more than we did but we didn’t.

“We didn’t get a bad push on the front. We didn’t have the coverage behind it we worked on.

“Winners make things happen. It might look like they’re getting breaks, they’re just doing what they do. They’re making plays. That’s the way it should be really.”

First downs rushing 11 8
First downs passing 9 9
First downs by penalty 4 2
TOTAL first downs 24 19
Net yards rushing 173 171
Net yards passing 186 272
TOTAL yards 359 343
Passes attempted 42 25
Passes completed 20 13
Passes intercepted 1 0
Punts 3 3
Punting average 31.3 30.3
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 1/1
Penalties 3 6
Yards penalized 40 78

MASSILLON 7 7 6 0 20
IGNATIUS 7 21 0 21 49

I ‑ Gonzalez 78 pass from Szep (Gibbs kick)
M ‑ Ashcraft 7 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
I ‑ Miller 39 pass from Szep (Gibbs kick)
M ‑ Hill 8 run (Abdul kick)
I ‑ Szep 1 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑, Franzinger recovered fumble in and zone (Gibbs kick)
M ‑Hill 13 run (run failed)
I ‑ Franzinger 2 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑ Welo 20 run (Gibbs kick)
I ‑Welo 29 run (Gibbs kick)

Massillon rushing: Johnson 14-71, Hill 9‑42.
Ignatius rushing: Welo 15‑101, Franzinger 10‑35.

Massillon passing: Zwick 20‑42‑186 1 TD, 1 INT.
Ignatius passing: Szep 13‑25‑273 2 TDs.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 11‑110, Ashcroft 4‑27 TD, Jovingo 2‑21.
Ignatius receiving: Gonzalez 5‑152 TD, Miller 4‑75 TD.

Justin Zwick

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