Tag: <span>Frank Thomas</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 22, Warren Harding 25

WHS-Warren rivalry may be over
Coach Owens enraged at referees as Tigers fall 25-22

Independent Sports Editor

WARREN: Today is Sweetest Day for lovers.

Friday was Bit­terest Day for Tigers.

The Tigers’ high school football series with Warren Harding has lived long and prospered. It may have died Friday night at Mollenk­opf Stadium, when the Black Panth­ers were awarded a controversial touchdown with 30 seconds left that gave them a 25‑22 victory.

If it is dead, the coffin will be draped with a giant yellow flag.

Massillon head coach Lee Owens believed the Tigers were, to put it bluntly, homered.

“It’s not fair to our kids to have happen what happened here tonight,” said Owens, referring to the officiating. “As long as I’m the head coach in Massillon, we’ll nev­er schedule them again.”

Owens was enraged by the volume of penalties against his team ‑ 12 for 149 yards ‑ and the timing.

Two yellow hankies bothered him the most.

One was a 15‑yard personal foul against fullback Jason Stafford, who leaped out of a pile thinking he had scored, but was informed he had been stopped short of the goal line.

Stafford, who had rushed for 120 yards to that point in the fourth quarter, was ejected from the game with the Tigers trailing 19‑14 and facing second and goal from the 16 ‑ after the penalty ‑ with 4:55 left in the game.

After a five‑yard encroachment penalty against Warren, quarter­back Lee Hurst rolled right and threw left to tight end Jeff Harig, who caught the ball in the end zone.

Surprise, no flags. Touchdown.

Defensive tackle Bob Dunwiddie, suddenly a running back in a Tiger surprise called the “Bull Offense,” carried for the two‑point conver­sion and Massillon led 22‑19 with 4:29 left.

Several Clayton Waite comple­tions, a pass interference panelty and a personal foul infraction later, Warren had the ball a few inches short of the goal stripe on fourth down.

Warren head coach Frank Tho­mas, a former Massillon assistant, called for a quarterback sneak dur­ing a timeout. Waite drove over center into a huge Massillon, pile and bedlam ensured while the 6,000 fans waited for the official call. Af­ter a five‑second delay, the re­feree’s hands went up. Touchdown.

Interestingly, Massillon lineman T.R. Rivera had the ball when the touchdown was signaled.
“Half my body was over the goal line,” Waite said. “I’m sure it was a touchdown.
The Massillon camp disagreed.

“I talked to our players and 11 guys told me it wasn’t a touch­down,” Owens said. “Waite hit the pile and was stopped. When he real­ized he was stopped he reached ahead and while he did that the ball came loose. T.R. recovered the fumble.”

The Tigers have not been a heavi­ly penalized team this year. They were averaging 48 penalty yards against them per game heading into Friday.

Did they suddenly turn into a team of Jack Tatums‑gone-berserk? Or was there another explanation? Namely, that Warren’s reputation as a homer palace has been built on actual hose jobs?

Thomas, whose team was penal­ized eight times for 71 yards, re­jected the “homer” theory.

“I have to believe the officials are ‑ there because they like athletes and they like kids,” Thomas said. “Whether you’re talking about Warren, Steubenville or Massillon, I don’t believe high school officials purposely try to take a game away from a team. I feel strongly about that.”

Informed of Thomas’ comment, Owens said, “I disagree.

“I’ve never complained to a newspaper about the officiating,” he said. “But I have to say some­thing tonight. I’ve never seen any­thing like this as long as I’ve been coaching. If beating Massillon is so important that circumstances like this are created, I can’t accept that.

There is no question beating Mas­sillon was important to the Black Panthers.

“I didn’t care if we went 1‑9 this season as long as we beat Massil­lon,” said Waite, a 6‑foot‑3 senior who completed 19 of 36 passes for 195 yards, rushed seven times for 28 yards, and intercepted three pas­ses, two coming one play after clip­ping penalties against Massillon.

“We never beat Massillon, and that goes all the way back through my junior high days. This isn’t just at the top. It’s at the tippy top.”

Gerald Simpson, a 6‑foot‑4 senior who missed most of the season with a broken arm, was a big factor Fri­day, catching seven passes for 92 yards and running 33 yards for a touchdown.

He credited the victory, however, to Waite.

“In my opinion, Clayton is the best quarterback in the country,” Simpson said of Waite, who says he will play college football at Michi­gan or South Carolina.

The victory pushed Harding’s re­cord to 5‑2 and reduced Massillon’s lead in the all‑time series to 44‑17‑3. The Panthers, however, owns a 7‑6­-2 lead in games played at Mollenk­opf since 1960.

Owens, whose team dropped to 4-­3 with its third straight loss, was not sure if there is a contract to play Warren next year in Massillon, but he talked about the possibility of voiding it if there is.

Warren and Massillon first faced each other in 1921.

The first time the Tigers touched the ball Friday, they moved to mid­field but were stalled when Hurst was sacked for a three‑yard loss, followed by a five‑yard encroach­ment penalty and a 15‑yard clipping foul.

Three punts later Massillon had the ball at its own 45 but quickly lost it right there on a fumble. Harding overcame a 10‑yard holding penalty against a Panther linemen that set up a second and 20. Waite scram­bled 16 yards and, on third down, passed for 17 yards to Simpson. Mo­ments later, Simpson made a leap­ing catch in the end zone on a 10­ yard scoring play. The P.A.T. kick gave the Panthers a 7‑0 lead with 1:29 left in the first quarter.

Massillon struck back quickly. Lamont Dixon’s 49‑yard kickoff re­turn put the ball at the Warren 41. Two plays later the Tigers were hit with another clipping penalty but that was negated two plays later still by a personal foul against Harding. On first down from the 17, Hurst took off around left end on a bootleg run and maneuvered his way through traffic for a touch­down as the first quarter expired. The point‑after kick failed and the Harding kept the lead,,7‑6.

Warren took over at its 27 after the kickoff and, on second‑and‑10, moved to the 42 on a pass interfer­ence call. Two Waite completions advanced the ball to the 33, where on third and two Simpson swept right and seemed to be caught in the backfield. He bounced off the pack, however, and sprinted left, break­ing into the clear and scoring. The kick failed, and Warren led 13‑6 with 8:56 left in the second quarter.

Massillon drove 57 yards to the Warren 15 before running out of downs on its next possession but soon got the ball back on an 11‑yard punt that rolled dead on the Hard­ing 31. A 19‑yard sideline pass to Jeff Harig put the ball at the 12, and three runs by Stafford setup fourth-­and‑two at the 4.

That’s when the Tigers sent in their “bull offense,” featuring Dun­widdie (6‑3, 225) and his fellow de­fensive lineman Trace Liggett (6‑3, 268) in the offensive backfield.

Liggett and Dunwiddie had run through the pre‑game hoop together and with more than the usual gusto, so one might have guessed they were up to something.

Their presence made an impact the first time the “bull offense” hit the field, with Liggett throwing a block that helped spring Dunwiddie for a three‑yard touchdown run.
Hurst passed to Stafford for a two‑point conversion and the Tigers led 13‑12 with 1: 39 left in the half.

The Panthers, however, struck quickly and scored an important touchdown with seven seconds left in the half. A 70‑yard drive featured a 22‑yard scramble by Waite, two completions for 25 yards, and a third‑down run of five yards for the touchdown. The conversion run attempt failed and Warren settled for a 19‑14 halftime lead.

The Tigers spent most of the second half in scoring range. Tom Mattox’s interception on the second play of the third quarter gave Massillon possession at the Warren 33, but on second and eight from the 12, another clipping penalty put the Ti­gers in a hole. Waite’s intercepted Hurst on the next play.

Waite put Warren on the move again but Massillon linebacker David Ledwell intercepted him at the Massillon 41.

This time, Warren’s defense stop­ped the Tigers, who ran out of downs at the Panthers 31. Warren eventually punted and Massillon threatened again when Hurst, fool­ing the Panthers on third‑and‑one, found Harig all alone deep. The play might have gone for more than 39 yards but Hurst had to throw with a Harding defender tugging at his leg and Harig had to come back for the ball. Stafford ran five yards to the 20, then an apparent Tiger touchdown run on the next play was called back by still another clipping penalty. Again, Waite intercepted Hurst on the next play, with 10:34 left in the game.

Again, the Tigers forced a punt, getting the ball at midfield. They drove to the 12, where it was fourth and five, and they lined up to go for it. This time, it was Massillon helped by a penalty, as Warren lined up offsides, giving the Tigers a first‑and‑goal at the 7.

The “bull offense” re‑appeared, but this time Dunwiddie lined up at fullback, Liggett was beside him at wingback, and Stafford was the tailback. Stafford followed the big bulls for six yards to the 1, and fol­lowed them again to what he thought was a touchdown, but at that point found out his carry was not ruled a score, and was subse­quently ejected for his reaction.

The ball was marched 15 yards backward, and then five yards ahead when Warren encroached on the next play. Hurst then hit Harig with the go‑ahead TD, and Dunwid­die, again lining up in the “bull,” carried for the two‑point conver­sion.

Massillon led 22‑19 with 4:29 left.

Warren had trouble with the kick­off and set up on its own 7. Waite passed the Panthers to the 20 but faced second and 10. He passed again, long down the right sideline. the ball was nearly intercepted by safety Joe Pierce but pass in­terference was ruled and Warren had another first down. Waite click­ed for big passes of 27 and 17 yards to Keith Jordan, with the latter play having a half‑the‑distance penalty tacked on when Chad Buckland, was ruled for leading a tackle with his helmet ‑ another call that upset Owens greatly.

“That play never gets called … and to call it there,” Owens said.

Eventually, it was fourth and in­ches, and Waite was ruled in for the touchdown.

The Tigers now must try to rally for a battle next Saturday at Cleve­land St. Joseph, which fell to 5‑2 Fri­day by losing to Cleveland St. Igna­tius.

First downs rushing 7 6
First downs passing 6 11
First downs by penalty 3 3
Totals first downs 16 20
Yards gained rushing 192 136
Yards lost rushing 12 15
Net yards rushing 180 121
Net yards passing 158 195
Total yards gained 338 316
Passes attempted 26 36
Passes completed 13 19
Passes int. by 2 3
Times kicked off 4 5
Kickoff average 47.0 40.4
Kickoff return yards 77 49
Punts 2 5
Punting average 22.0 25.6
Punt return yards -2 0
Fumbles 2 0
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 12 8
Yards penalized 149 71
Number of plays 60 63
Time of possession 21.51 26.09
Attendance 6,000

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1987: Massillon 56, Warren Harding 14

Tigers give Harding hard time
Most points vs. Warren since ’40 in 56‑14 rout

Independent Sports Editor

On the field, Jason Stafford lines up in front of Jerome Myricks.

In the interview room after the Massillon Tigers’ 56‑14 walloping of Warren Harding Friday night be­fore 7,745 in Paul Brown Tiger Sta­dium, Myricks took the seat in front of Stafford.

Program Cover

Neither took a back seat to the other in the game. They were co-­pilots on the same flying carpet.
Fullback Stafford rushed nine times for 115 yards and caught a pair of Erik White passes for 30 ~yards. Tailback Myricks motored 107 yards in 15 rushes and reeled in two passes for 41 yards.
That gave Myricks, a senior, 148 yards on the night to 145 for Staf­ford, a junior. The numbers helped the Tigers improve to 6‑1 and sink Warren to 4‑3.

“It’s about time,” Myricks said, rolling his eyes backward to Stafford. “It’s about time he ran the way I knew he could. He’s a good back. I knew it all along. Tonight, it showed. ”

Stafford agreed, saying, “Like the man said, it’s about time. I made my mind up right before the game. I told myself, tonight, I’ve got to do it.”

He did it all right. Using good blocks and great speed ‑ a Tiger coach put him at 4.5 over 40 yards; Stafford set the figure at 4.53 ‑ he exploded for runs of 28, 29 and 30 yards, the latter carry going for a touchdown that blew open a 41‑14 lead in the third quarter.

The program puts Stafford at 5 feet, 10 inches, 182 pounds. On pap­er, that’s small for a fullback … ex­cept Stafford says he weighs 168 pounds.

Stafford lost his entire sophomore season to ineligibility. Before that, he always played tailback.

Game action vs. Warren Harding 1987

In the Southern Cal tradition of paying one’s dues as an underclass­man fullback before becoming the main man at tailback as a senior, Stafford has learned to be a lead blocker for Myricks (who now has 798 yards in 117 rushes) this au­tumn.

“I don’t mind it at all … it’s just as fun,” Stafford said.

The game got to be tons of fun for the Tigers, but only after they over­came an early 7‑0 deficit and later broke away from a 21‑14 halftime lead.

Two things happened in the second half. The Tiger defense, bruised for 206 yards in the first half, gave up only 78 more yards. And the Massillon offense, which. warmed up with 191 yards in the first half, went stir crazy in the second, tacking on 270 more yards for a whopping 461 total.

“We talked at halftime only of getting back down to the basics, in­stead of trying to make a big play on every down,” Massillon head coach John Maronto said. “The defense got after them a little bit more in the second half. And you saw what the offense did.”

It did whatever it wanted.

“That’s one of the better offenses I’ve seen,” said Warren head coach Frank Thomas, a former Harding player who spent the middle 1970s as an assistant coach at Massillon. “We fumbled the ball away five times. We emphasized all week to our kids that we couldn’t play a powerhouse team like Massillon, with the offense they have, and turn the ball over.

“They have four or five people who can get their hands on the ball and score six points in eight seconds. Plus, they have that offen­sive line. That line is awesome.”

“There was absolutely no doubt in my mind we were going to come back,” Miller said emphatically.

Miller’s confidence was quickly substantiated when Steve Siegen­thaler returned a squib kick 31 yards to the Tiger 46‑yard line. White, the 6‑1/2 senior quarter­back, went‑for‑it all on first down, barely missing Gerald Pope on a bomb. But split end Craig York caught a pass on second down and made some nifty moves for an 18­yard gain. From there, Myricks and Stafford ran the ball to the 2, from where Vernon Riley ‑ the Ti­gers “big” fullback and regular nose guard ‑ rammed it in straight up the middle. Lee Hurst’s kick made it 7‑7 at the 4:34 mark of the first quarter.

Warren was driving again early in the second quarter. But the tide turned when Baugh was popped by Bob Dunwiddie at the end of a 13­yard gain to the 30 and fumbled away the ball. On the next two plays, Stafford turned on the bur­ners for gains of 28 and 29 yards. A clipping penalty sent the ball back to the 31, but White found Mark Kes­ter for a 15‑yard gain to the 16, and then drilled a pass to York at the 10. York put two of the prettiest fakes of the season on a pair of Warren defenders and turned the play into, a 16‑yard touchdown. Hurst’s kick made it 14‑7 with 5:05 left in the half.

Thirty‑four seconds later, the Ti­gers scored again.

Miller exploded out of his inside linebacker spot to put a ferocious hit on Warren tailback Mike Hall. The ball hit the ground. “I saw it coming,” said Myricks, who scooped it up on the dead run and sprinted 22 yards into the end zone. Hurst’s kick made it 21‑7, but War­ren was not finished.

After setting up on their own 35 after the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers drove 65 yards in 10 plays, With Hall covering the final 7 yards ‑Jones’ kick made it 21‑14 with 1: 25 left, and that became the halftime score. ‑

After that, it was all Massillon.

On the first possession of the second half, the Tigers drove 65 yards in seven plays. The capper was Myricks’ 11‑yard TD run on a pitch right. Myricks rushed for 48 yards on the drive. Hurst’s kick made it 28‑14 with 8:44 left in the third quarter.

Marko Miller, who had to leave the game in the first half after aggravating a foot injury, gained 18 yards on two carries after the kick‑off. But his second carry ended in a fumble recovered by Bullock at the Warren 37. A 15‑yard pass to Staf­ford and two 11‑yard runs by Myricks put the ball in the end zone. Hurst’s kick made it 35‑14 with 6:21 left in period three.

Warren’s next possession ended on the third play with an intercep­tion by Kester at the Harding 34. Stafford ran 4 yards to the 30 and on the next play rocketed over the right side for a 30‑yard touchdown run. Hurst’s kick made it 41‑14 with 3:59 left in the third frame.

Then it was razzle dazzle time. After the Tigers got the ball at their own 9 on a punt and punched it to their own 43 on first down, Hurst, the backup quarterback, came in and lined up as a receiver. White threw a sideline pass to Hurst that was actually a lateral, since Hurst was behind White when he caught the ball. Hurst then looked upfield and delivered a bomb to flanker Wrentie Martin, who easily got be­hind the coverage, caught the ball, and danced into the end zone on a 57‑yard completion. Hurst’s kick made it 49‑14 with 9:45 left in the game.

Fullback David Ledwell, who rushed 4 times for 25 yards, blasted in from 2 yards out at the 5: 42 mark. Senior Chris Smith got into the books with the point‑after kick.

The 56 points were the most Mas­sillon scored against Warren since 1940, when the Tigers won 59‑0.

White wound up with eight com­pletions in 16 attempts for 136 yards. Waite completed 18 of 31 pas­ses for 173 yards.

Miller, whose foot injury kept him from manning the defensive end spot from which he has played so well this year, wound up with 60 yards in nine carries. Baugh had a big day, catching 10 passes for 135 yards.

Next up for the Tigers is Cleve­land St. Joseph, which will play in Euclid High’s Stadium tonight against Cleveland St. Ignatius.

St. Joseph is 6‑0 and ranked second in Ohio. You might say next Saturday’s affair will be a big game.

“I’m glad to get this one out of the way,” Maronto said of the Warren game.

Cautioned the quarterback, White, “We can’t get carried away by what we did tonight. There’s a big one coming up.”

First downs rushing 15 8
First downs passing 7 9
First downs by penalty 0 0
Totals first down 22 17
Yards gained rushing 270 116
Yards lost rushing 2 5
Net yards rushing 268 111
Net yards passing 193 173
Total yards gained 461 284
Passes attempted 17 31
Passes completed 9 18
Passes int. by 2 1
Times kicked off 9 3
Kickoff average 55.8 45.7
Kickoff return yards 73 157
Punts 1 1
Punting average 44.0 42.0
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 1 5
Fumbles lost 1 5
Penalties 7 7
Yards penalized 58 40
Number of plays 53 56
Time of possession 23:44 24:16

WARREN 7 7 0 0 14
MASSILLON 7 14 21 14 56

W ‑ Miller 20 run (Jones kick)
M ‑ Riley 2 run (Hurst kick)
M ‑ York 16 pass from White (Hurst kick]
M ‑ Myricks 22 tumble return (Hurst kick
W ‑ Hall 7 run (Jones kick)
M ‑ Myricks 15 run (Hurst kick)
M ‑ Stafford 30 run (Hurst kick)
M ‑ Marlin 57 pass from Hurst (Hurst kick
M ‑ Ledwell 2 run (Smith kick)
Halftime talk
Propels Tigers

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ At halftime Fri­day night, the Massillon locker room was not a place for feeble folks.

The heavily favored Tigers were defeating Warren Harding only 21‑14, and they had been out gained 206‑191 yards. So Massillon coach John Maronto gave his players’ eardrums a workout.

“He really let us have it,” said Massillon tailback Jason Stafford. “We weren’t used to be yelled at like that.”

Apparently it worked, as the Tigers came out in an utter frenzy and humbled the Panthers 35‑0 in the second half en route to a 56‑14 win.

“I told them at halftime that I wanted them to go back to basic ball,” Maronto said. “We had to set some sort of tempo for the game. ”

Massillon (6‑1) had thrown the ball 11 times in the first half, but in the second half the Tigers only put it up six times. The Tigers turned to good old Massillon football, han­ding the ball off on nearly every play to Stafford or Jerome Myricks.

In the second half, Myricks rushed for 79 of his 107 yards and scored two touchdowns. And Staf­ford had 45 of his 115 yards rushing and scored a touchdown.

While Myricks and Stafford may have run wild, the Panthers (4‑3) made it as easy for them. For the game, Harding turned the ball over seven times, leading to 35 Massillon points.

The Panthers, who were once ranked No. 9 in the state in Div­ision 1, are becoming quite skilled at turning the ball over. Last week, they also lost the ball seven times in a 16‑6 loss to Niles McKinley.

“You can’t make those kind of mistakes against a powerhouse football team,” said Harding coach Frankie Thomas. “We’d fumble the ball and it seemed like eight seconds later they’d be in the end zone. ”

You think Thomas was exag­gerating? Late in the second quar­ter with Massillon up 14‑7, Massil­lon defensive back Steve Siegen­thaler smashed Harding’s Mike Hall, and the ball squirted out. Myricks, playing defensive back, scooped it off the turf and sprinted 22 yards into the end zone before the average fan had time to swallow a kernel of popcorn.

And that was the only reason Massillon even led at the half be­cause the Panthers added a touchdown late in the second quar­ter.

Warren Harding might have made the game more interesting had it not’ lost its star running back, Marko Miller, in the late in the first quarter with a possible broken toe. Miller gained 46 yards on seven carries before he was carried off the field.

Despite intense pain, Miller returned to the game in the second half, carrying two times for 14 yards. But after he fumbled and Massillon drove for its fifth touchdown, he was given the rest of the night off.

Massillon didn’t have to go very far for its second‑half touchdowns. After Harding turnovers. three of the seven came on drives of less than 40 yards. But the Tigers did put together a nifty 92‑yard march ear­ly in the fourth quarter that gave them a 49‑14 lead.

And the usually conservative Maronto capped off the drive with reward for the fans who stayed throughout the massacre. Quar­terback Erik Martin threw a pass, behind the line of scrimmage to Lee Hurst, the backup quarterback, who flung the ball downfield. to a wide‑open Wrentie Martin to complete a.74‑yard TD bomb.

Massillon finished with 461 yards total offense to 284 for the Panthers. But the Panthers had only 78 yards. In the second half.

John Miller



Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1983: Massillon 24, Warren Harding 0

Back on track Tigers rebound with big victory

Tigers blank W. Harding

Independent Sportswriter

MASSILLON – Everything is restored to normal in Tigertown.

The Tigers bounced back from last week’s upset loss to Akron Garfield by clubbing Warren Harding 24-0 Friday night, at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

With the collective running of Chris Spielman and Craig Johnson, and a stingy defense that forced 11 Harding punts and allowed but five Panther first downs, Massillon posted the convincing victory.

Program Cover

Putting it bluntly, Massillon’s vaunted defense was set on not letting the Panther offense go anywhere. Harding finished the game with 53 total net yards, 35 in the air and 18 on the ground.

“We had to play a good defensive game to win and as it turned out we did,” said Massillon head coach Mike Currence.

“Their defense was very quick and we were not able to sustain any blocking,” said Harding head coach Frank Thomas. “We got some blocking in the early part of the game, but we could not keep it going.”

The Tigers got their first score on their second possession of the game. After a 28-yard Harding punt Massillon took over on the Harding 39-yard line nad marched to thegoal in 10 plays using up 4:42 of the clock.

The Tigers calmly moved inside the Panther 20 on the running of Johnson and Spielman. Once inside the 20, however, the Tigers ran into some problems.

A clipping penalty negated a pass from quarterback Bronc Pfisterer to Bruce Spicer on the four-yard line, sending the ball all the way back to the 29-yard line.

The Tigers got some of it back two plays later, when Tom Gruno was interfered with on the 15-yard line. Spielman took it to the five on two carries and then Johnson took a pitch at the five and angled right on a sweep for the score.

Pfisterer added the conversion and the Tigers led 7-0.

The Johnson—Spielman running show continued after the Panthers punted to the Tigers on their next possession.

The Tigers drove 80 yards on nine plays – all running plays – to mount the 14-0 lead they were to take into the locker room at halftime.

In the ‘all rushing’ drive Johnson carried five times for 28 yards and Spielman three times for 43 yards. On a fourth-and-two from the three-yard line, Spielman took the ball—as well as a wall of tacklers – into the end zone for the score.

After shutting out the Panther offense the first half, the Tiger defense really earned its stars the second half.

Harding did not manage a first down until the fourth quarter and was forced to punt eight times the entire second half. The Panthers did not penetrate midfield the second half.

What permitted the Panthers to get the ball so many times the second half was their defense, which posted shut-outs in their first two games and forced five Tiger turnovers, four in the second half.

“They (Harding) have a good defense and an exceptionally good secondary,” said Currence. “Bronc played a good game at quarterback. He threw a couple interceptions, but they were on tips.”

“Those are the kinds of things that will happen, though. Having thrown those interceptions will teach him to back off a bit. You gain your experience by making mistakes, and Bronc is coming along fine,” he continued.

“Already playing the whole game against Garfield has helped him. We had our quarterback one more week than they had theirs and that proved to be the difference. When we put our backup (Mike Scott) in late in the game we had an illegal procedure on the first play, to give an idea of the adjustment needed for backup quarterback.”

Harding’s No. 1 quarterback, Maurice Reid got injured against Youngstown East last week, missed the Massillon game and is to miss the next four games. Reuben Osbourne, a junior, replaced Reid at quarterback.

“Reuben was playing injured, too,” said Thomas. “He’s been troubled with bad ribs since the first game. There was no miscalculation in timing between Reuben and the rest of the first unit. Their defense was just so darn quick.”

Turning in solo sacks for the Tigers in the second half were nose guard John Franke and defensive end John Brown.

Pfisterer added a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Spielman ran a punt back 53 yards with 30 seconds left in the game to conclude the scoring.

Tiger offense
back in high gear

Independent Sportswriter

MASSILLON – Take away the five turnovers against Warren Harding, and it appears as if the Tigers have established an offensive game, one that future opponents are sure to fret over.

It was former Ohio State Buckeye coach Woody Hayes who made the words, “three things can happen when you put the ball in the air and two of them aren’t good,” famous.

Although the Tigers scored 24 points on the previously unscored on Warren Harding defense, they could very well have had more points than that.

Three times in Friday’s game the Tigers were driving in Panther territory and had passes intercepted to stop the drives, not to mention one other drive that was stopped at the three because of a fumble.

But it was the running game that overshadowed the turnovers. Tailbacks Chris Spielman and Craig Johnson, along with the help of their blockers, put on one fine show of running.

Spielman carried 13 times for 77 yards and Johnson 20 times for 116 yards.

The Tigers’ second scoring drive showed how potent the Johnson-Spielman combo really is. So potent that they didn’t need a single pass to score in the 80-yard drive which took a tad over four minutes.

Not only did Spielman and Johnson display some nifty running in the drive, but the play selection by the coaching staff was also excellent.

In nine plays, neither Johnson or Spielman carried the ball as much as twice in a row in the diverse attack.

“It was clicking,” said Tiger head coach Mike Currence. “All the plays we called seemed to click. We were trying to go outside whenever it looked as it they were pinching up and going inside whenever we thought they were going to overload on one side.

“It all clicked for us on that drive. But it can go both ways. There were times when they overloaded on one side and we went that way and didn’t get much.”

In the drive Spielman had one run of 25 yards, which should have been only a 10-yard gain, but Spielman carried a tackler or four and maintained his balance to get the extra yardage.

Spielman scored the touchdown on the drive from three yards out. On a fourth-and-two from the three, Spielman went into a wall of tacklers and it appeared as if he didn’t have the first down, but somehow he squirmed out of the stack for the touchdown.

While Spielmans’ forte was brute strength and shear desire, Johnson’s was the deceptive moves and quick stops. On one run in the third quarter, Johnson literally ‘danced’ for a 23-yard gain.

He almost scored in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard run, with blockers in front, behind and next to him. Center Dave Morelli, running behind Johnson, stepped on the back of his shoe top on one of those ‘excuse me’ moves, Johnson tripped down at the 13-yard line

Spielman had the dubious distinction of throwing an interception from the same yard line he had intercepted the ball from.

In the waning seconds of the first half Spielman intercepted a pass at the Harding 41-yard line. Two plays later, with the line of scrimmage the 41-yard line, Spielman threw an interception to Harding on a halfback option pass.

Tiger No. 1 quarterback Brian Dewitz, who has been injured since the first game, will probably see action next week against Akron Central Hower.

“We might have been able to play him against Harding,” said Currence. “But we want to give him as much rest as possible. He will probably play some next week.”


Warren Harding coach Frank Thomas was a tad disturbed by Spielman’s 53-yard punt return toward the end of the game, but at the same time was astonished by the execution of the run.

“If they want to get their No. 1 tailback hurt by having him run back punts with seconds left and a 17-point lead that’s their choice,” Thomas said. “But then if you get blocking like he got on that run you don’t need to worry about getting him injured.


The Tiger Booster Club experimented with a new idea for Friday’s game.

Referee Gordon Schutt wore a microphone on his belt, so that the fans could get an audio aid to go with the non-verbal signals on penalties.

As it turned out, the ‘mike’ came in handy. The scoreboard clock was not working and Schutt was able to inform the crowd of the official time via the mike.

“I think it’s a good idea. It wasn’t much trouble for me,” said Schutt. “I just made that one mistake when I said the player’s number on a holding call. I wasn’t supposed to do that.

The booster club plans to use the mike for future games.


First downs rushing 10 1
First downs passing 3 2
First downs by penalty 2 2
Totals first downs 15 5
Yards gained rushing 213 61
Yards lost rushing 19 43
Net yards rushing 194 18
Net yards passing 58 35
Total yards gained 252 53
Passes attempted 15 15
Passes completed 5 2
Passes int. by 1 3
Yardage on pass int. 00 00
Times kicked off 5 1
Kickoff average 52.0 42.0
Kickoff return yards 9 70
Punts 4 11
Punting average 42.3 27.5
Punt return yards 59 00
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 5 1
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 6 5
Yards penalized 68 30
Touchdowns rushing 2 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 53 47
Time of possession 24.04 23.56
Attendance 9,014

MASSILLON 7 7 0 14 – 24
HARDING 00 00 00 00 – 00

Chris Spielman
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1982: Massillon 36, Warren Harding 6

Tigers whip Warren Harding 36‑6
Offense awesome as Tigers trample hapless Harding

Independent Sports Editor

WARREN ‑ The door to the Warren Harding coaches’ office had been closed for a long time. Reporters stood outside wondering if they should dare enter.

“I wouldn’t walk in unless it’s very important, ” said a middle‑aged lady wearing a Panther jacket.

Most of the media walked away, cause they knew that Harding head coach Frank Thomas, a former Massillon defensive coordinator, had called Friday’s game “a big one for our team, our season, our program and myself.”

Program Cover

So, nothing could be important enough to bother Thomas after his team had been humiliated 36‑6 by the Massillon Tigers. The score was misleading; the Tigers led 33‑0 at halftime, and seemingly could have won 100‑0 if they desired; instead, Massillon coach Mike Currence was content to use the second half as a long workout for the reserves.

The Tigers would have registered their first shutout of the year if Harding’s all purpose senior Greg Bumbu hadn’t picked up a meaningless fumble in the fourth quarter and raced 60 yards for the final score of the game.

Needless to say, Currence was impressed by the offensive explosion which set the Panthers into early comatose shock.

“I’ve shed many a tear in this lockerroom; this was certainly a welcome victory.

But did he expect the overwhelming proportions of the landslide?

“You always hope for a game like this, but it was one of those nights when everything clicked, even the halfback option,” he stated. “But I was especially pleased by the way we capitalized on our opportunities. That’s the sign of a champion, and hopefully a sign that we’ve come of age. But as good as we were tonight, we have to start all over again next week against Central Hower.”

The first half was a sight to behold. It was the biggest mismatch since Chuck Wepner stepped into the ring against Mohammed Ali.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 72 yards in eight plays. The first two plays saw Tiger tailback Chris Spielman run off gains of 14 and 35 yards, immediately panicking a defense whose previous two game defensive totals had been halved in Massillon’s first two plays from scrimmage!

The drive ended at the 8:32 mark when junior quarterback Brian DeWitz hit senior receiver Jim Geiser with an 8‑yard scoring pass, with Bronc Phisterer’s conversion kick good.

In was three plays and punt for Harding, and the Tigers revved up again. Started successfully on the ground, the Tigers caught the Panthers napping as DeWitz hit receiver Gary Conley with a 44‑yard bomb to the Panther one. Sampsel then smashed over for the score, with the ensuing kick no good.

Harding started to mount a drive when senior co‑captain Greg Bumbu caught a 41‑yard pass from quarterback Tom Butler for good position at the Tiger 37, but then Tyrone Nelson fumbled and the Tigers’ Speilman recovered.

The Tigers had to actually punt the ball once before getting it back and scoring again with 9:20 remaining in the half. With a drive starting on their own 37, it ended shortly later with a 25‑yard pass from DeWitz to Conley. The conversion failed, but the Tigers led 19‑0.

Again the Panthers were stopped without a first down. This time the Tigers marched 40 yards in five plays, with Spielman taking scoring honors with a 17‑yard run. The kick was good and the margin had jumped to 26‑0 with 5:50 remaining in the half.

The snake‑bitten Panthers connected on another bomb to the Tiger 40, but then the quarterback promptly fumbled twice on the same play with the Tigers recovering on the Harding 45.

The Tigers then reached into the magician’s bag of tricks and connected on a halfback option play from Spielman to Geiser which almost hit paydirt. Tiger fullback Tom Gruno shortly thereafter plunged, over, the kick was good and the Tigers led 36‑0.
Tigers now 3‑0 and a power
Warren promptly fumbled the ensuing kickoff back to the Tigers, but the visitors graciously allowed the clock to expire without further bombardment.

The game was over at halftime for all intents and purposes. Second half scoring consisted of a 25‑yard field goal by Pfisterer and Harding’s fumble return off a quarterback sack.

The halftime stats were incredible. At that point, the Tigers led in total yardage 279‑65, despite only holding the ball for two more minutes. In the final totals, the Tigers outgained the Punters 406‑96, gaining 231 yards rushing and 175 through the air. Harding’s success came through the air; the Panthers ‑ were negative‑10 rushing on the night.

Spielman led Tiger rushers with none carries yards, while Jim Bushe carried 11 times for 78 yards. DeWitz wasn’t needed much but he was an effective four‑of-seven for 88 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, the talented junior has yet to have anything but a fine game. Conley led the team in receptions with four four yards; Conley and John Pierce hauled down three passes each.

All in all it was a great night for the Tigers who rose to 3 and did nothing to jeopardize their computer or UPI rankings. Harding fell to 2‑1 with the loss and must attempt to pick up the pieces.

Was there anything at all about the game which wasn’t fine from the Tigers’ standout?

“We, we looked flat in pre‑game drills,” chuckled Currence who hopes he’s on the road to something special here in 1982.

First downs rushing 14 1
First downs passing 5 5
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 19 7
Yards gained rushing 252 37
Yards lost rushing 21 47
Net yards rushing 231 -10
Net yards passing 175 106
Total yards gained 406 96
Passes attempted 13 16
Passes completed 7 9
Passes int. by 0 0
Yardage on pass int.
Times kicked off 7 2
Kickoff average 53.7 29.5
Kickoff return yards 19 109
Punts 3 6
Punting average 34.5 30.6
Punt return yards 16 0
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 2 4
Fumbles lost 1 3
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 45 17
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 2 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 1
Number of plays 55 42
Time of possession 25:36 22:24

Massillon 13 20 0 3 36
W. Harding 0 0 0 6 6

M ‑ Geiser 6‑yard pass from DeWits. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Sampsel 1‑yard run. (Kick failed.)
M ‑ Conley 25‑yard pass from DeWits. (Run failed.)
M ‑ Spielman 17‑yard run. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Gruno 1‑yard run. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Phisterer 25‑yard field goal.
W ‑ Bumbu 60‑yard ran with a fumble recovery. (Pass failed.)

Jeff Boerner
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1980: Massillon 56, Niles McKinley 8

Tigers wallop injury-Plagued Dragons 56-8
Currence concerned about overconfidence

Independent Sports Writer

“We’ve got to come back to earth and get ready for a tough week with Padua,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said Saturday night.

He was standing in the vistors’ lockerroom at Niles McKinley High School. Massillon had just slayed the Red Dragon with remarkable ease, scoring eight touchdowns and amassing almost 500 yards of total offense. But Currence wanted to be sure the non‑contest was put into perspective.

“I don’t want us to get overconfident. Niles had about eight sophomores starting. That’s an awful lot of young kids to start against us.”

Program Cover

The Red Dragons have been watching talented teammates fall to injuries faster than twigs in a tornado before the season started.. Almost half of the first team that did play went up against the Tigers as walking wounded. And the one player Currence was worried about before the game ‑ place kicker and linebacker John Giangardella, didn’t play.

He suffered a broken arm last week. The team’s leading tackler a guard on offense and an excellent field goal kicker, Giangardella was dressed and ready to kick Saturday, even with his arm in a cast.

“The loss of Giangardella was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Frank,” Currence said, referring to Nile’s coach Frank Thomas.

“They just don’t have the depth,” Currence added.

“I’m not saying we didn’t play well, I thought we did,” he added. “But I don’t want us to feel like we have peaked. We’d score like that on our sophomores, too.”

The Tigers had possession of the ball twice in the first quarter and didn’t score. The first time they drove downfield but a 36‑yard field goal attempt by sophomore Jim Bushe was off target. The second time they couldn’t pick up a first down and had to punt.

That was the only time the Tigers punted and after the next Niles punt, “the roof fell in,” as Thomas put it.

Massillon wide receiver Mike Reese caught Fred Cleary’s punt at the Tiger 39, got behind a wall of blockers on the left side of the field and streaked to the Niles’ 15. Cleary made the touchdown‑saving tackle, but it did little good. On the first play halfback Dave Huth took a pitch on a short‑side sweep, built up a full head of steam by the time be turned the comer and rambled in for the score. Quarterback Dave Eberhart kicked the extra point and the buzz saw was turned on for good with 18 seconds left in the quarter.

After the next Niles punt ‑ there were 10 of them – the Tigers started at their own 45. Mike Jones picked up two yards on first down, then Eberhart fired a 15‑yard pass to Reese and an 18‑yarder to Mike Feller. That put the ball at the 19 and Don Fulton charged through the middle of the line on the next play. He was challenged at the two but flattened the defender and dove in for ‑the score. Eberhart added the PAT and it was 14‑0 with 9:29 to go in the half.

After the next Niles punt, the Tigers started on their own 29 and used one play to score. Mike Jones threw a halfback pass to Jeff Elliott. The pass cleared the defensive backs’ raised arms, settled into Elloitt’s hands about the Niles’ 40 and he ran all the way in. Eberhart kicked again and made it 21‑0 with 6:42 left in the quarter.

The next Tiger drive penetrated deep into Dragon territory but was pushed back by a clipping penalty and after Niles held, Eberhart missed a 35‑yard field goal attempt. Niles took over at the 20, but two plays later defensive back Mike Spicer intercepted a Floyd, Davis pass. He stole the ball around the 35 and ran it to the 15, but a clipping penalty put Massillon back on the 30.

Eberhart immediately passed to Jones to put the ball on the six, Huth gained a yard, then Eberhart hit Jones again for the score with 18 seconds to play. Eberhart added the PAT for a 28-0 halftime lead.

Junior Rick Spielman started at quarterback in the second half, and guided the Tigers downfield until one of his passes was intercepted near the goal line by Mike Hudzik. After a sack by defensive end Paul Spinden, a short run and an incomplete pass, Niles had to punt again.

The Tigers started on their 46 after the punt and Jones took off on first down for a 17‑yard gain. Huth picked up nine yards on the next play and the lights went out – literally. The power to the press box and scoreboard died. The Tigers scored again while the clock was out, after a roughing‑the‑passer penalty turned a third‑down incompletion into a first‑and‑goal at the 10. Speilman threw to Feller, who pulled the ball down with one hand; Greg Radtka kicked to conversion for a 35-4 lead.

Massillon’s second string defense came in on the next series and Niles inserted a different quarterback, junior Ed Kurowski. That combination helped the Dragons, and the clock started working in time for the fans to see Niles get its initial first down of the game with 3:46 to play in the third. Kurowski completed five-of‑six passes to move the Dragons to the Tiger three, and fullback Mark Knepper scored from there. Knepper also scored the two‑point conversion to make it 35-8.

The hometown fans went wild and thought the Dragons would make it a little closer when Niles successfully pulled off an onside kick following the score.

But the Massillon first team defense returned to action for the next series and put an end to that notion. On third‑and‑ten defensive back Dwayne Boss cut in front, of an intended receiver, picked off a pass and rambled 54 yards for a touchdown. Eberhart went in for the conversion, made it and the score was 42‑8.

After another Niles punt, the Tigers started from their 49. On third down, Spielman passed to junior Dan Ricker for a 26‑yard gain. Junior Larry Newman bolted to the four on the next play, then scored with 9:08 left. Radtka’s kick made it 49‑8.

Niles got a first down on the next series courtesy of a penalty, then had to punt to the Massillon 27. Junior Michael Moore ran through the middle and gained 28 yards. Three more running plays put the ball at Niles’ 16, and Moore took the ball in from there, breaking a tackle at the line and lunging across the goal line after being hit near the two. Radkta kicked the PAT to end the scoring with 3:56 left.

“It was nice to get our young kids in the game for experience,” Currence, said afterwards. “Because we might need them in the future.”

As for Niles’ young kids, Dragon coach Frank ‑Thomas said, “It’s tough to take sophomores and throw them in against a team ranked so high in the polls.

“We knew they were a great team coming in and knew we’d have our hands full,” Thomas said. “We had ’em for a while, but they’ve got the ability to make the big play. After that punt return, the roof fell in.”

Thomas, who was a Tiger assistant coach before taking the Niles job last season. said the 1980 Tigers are every bit as good as previous teams.

“One thing they have this year that makes them, a little better is the kicking game. It is excellent in every aspect, including the return teams,” he said.

Thomas’ banged‑up squad is now 3-4‑1, and must play at Warren Harding next week. Massillon, now 7‑0‑1 with a 30‑game regular season unbeaten streak, will take on Parma Padua Friday. Padua, stuggling at 4‑4, is the last team to beat the Tigers. That loss came in the playoffs is last year.


First downs rushing 13 2
First downs passing 7 2
First downs by penalty 2 1
Total first downs 22 5
Yards gained rushing 283 77
Yards lost rushing 5 21
Net yards gained rushing 278 56
Net yards gained passing 193 40
Total yards gained 471 96
Passes attempted 15 17
Passes completed 9 5
Passes intercepted by 2 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 57 17
Times kicked off 9 2
Kickoff average 49.3 29.0
Kickoff return yardage 45 111
Punts 1 10
Punting average 41.0 35.2
Punt return yardage 78 8
Punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 7 4
Yards penalized 85 45
Touchdowns rushing 5 1
Touchdowns passing 2 0
Touchdown 1 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Total number of plays 54 51
Total time of possession 21:27 26:33
Attendance 8,500

NILES 0 0 8 0 – 8
MASSILLON 7 21 14 14 – 56

MASS ‑ Dave Huth 15‑yard run (Dave Eberhart kick)
MASS ‑ Don Fulton 19‑yard run (Eberhart kick)
MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott 71‑yard pass from Mike Jones (Eberhart kick)
MASS ‑ Jams 5‑yard pass from W Eberhart (Eberhart kick)
MASS ‑ Mike Feller 10‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (Greg Radtka kick)
NILES ‑ Mark Knepper 3‑yard run (Knepper run)
MASS ‑ Duane Boss 55-yard interception return (Eberhart kick)
MASS ‑ Larry Newman 4‑yard run (Radtka kick)
MASS ‑ Michael Moore 16‑yard run (Radtka kick)

Dave Eberhardt