1963: Massillon 24, Canton McKinley 20
Tigers Beat Fired-up Bulldogs 24-20
Point Conversions Represent Bengals’ Margin Of Victory
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
The yellow lights on the scoreboard at the south end of Tiger stadium seemed to take an eternity to toll off the last 4:20 of the game. And when they had blinked out 0:00 against the black October night sky, a huge sigh of relief and a mighty cheer came up from Tiger fans.
The Washington high school eleven, playing gritty football, had held on to edge arch-rival Canton McKinley 24-20 in the 67th renewal of the oldest high school grid rivalry in the nation.
Friday night’s game marked the first time any Massillon-McKinley game had been played under the arcs. It was also the first game in the new All-American High School Football league.
The two teams will meet again on the afternoon of Nov. 9 at Fawcett stadium in Canton. And you can be sure they’ll pack the place for that one.
An unofficial 16,252 sat in Friday night.
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THAT THE BULLDOGS gave Massillon all they could handle and then some is for sure. But the Orange and Black also dished out its share of hard-hitting football.
The game seemed to become a personal vendetta between Massillon’s Bill (Rabbit) Blunt,
165-pound senior halfback, and McKinley’s Willie Hall, 225-pound junior fullback, to see which one could inflict the heaviest damage on the opposition.
Blunt scored two touchdowns and two conversions. His use of the limp leg and swivel hip gave him a good change of pace, enabling him to do some outstanding running.
Said his Coach Leo Strang, “He was terrific. His stop and go running was great.”
Said Tony Ware, “Blunt is a great athlete.”
Hall didn’t score any touchdowns but he did pick up a conversion and lots of valuable yardage, including some key first downs as did Massillon’s fullback, junior Jim Lawrence.
Ware said of his big back, “He did a tremendous job.”
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STRANG REVEALED, “Hall caught us by surprise. He had never run sweeps before. We adjusted just in time at the end of the game.”
Hall had tremendous interference on those sweeps which made them very effective as he bulled his way through.
Strang said of the game, “It was a good one, like all Massillon-McKinley games should be. Besides Blunt’s and Lawrence’s running I thought Swartz (quarterback Ron) did some good throwing. “We gave them two touchdowns and missed two we should have had. You just can’t give them touchdowns and not expect trouble.”
About the McKinley team he said, “They were sure fired up. They were in the game all the way.”
Ware said, “Massillon is a well-coached team and played good ball. They took advantage of an injury weakness at left side (the speedy Bill Snell was sidelined) and it hurt us.”
Strang reminded that “linebacker Ken Swisher, defensive end and Captain Mike Jones and tackle Tom Miller were either out of action or used sparingly.
Of his own team Ware said, “I couldn’t ask for anymore from the boys. They gave their all. We’ll beat the Tigers in November. We would have beaten them this time if we had scored on that first pass and hadn’t fumbled on the one.”
But the Bulldogs got two tremendous breaks in the second half which they converted into touchdowns, offsetting the bad breaks. Had it not been, therefore, for the tenacious Massillon defense rising up to stop two of McKinley’s conversion attempts, the game might have ended tied 24-24.
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THE FIRST BREAK came right after the second half kickoff. Massillon was forced to punt following its first series. Steve Kanner dropped back to his 45-yard-line. Frank Scassa’s snap was bad, the kick was blocked and 210-pound right tackle Dick Miller picked up the pigskin on the 41 and raced in for the score with 10:04 left.
Hall converted through the center to make the score 16-14.
The next break came midway through the last quarter. Massillon forced McKinley to punt and as the ball rolled to the Massillon 26, it hit safetyman Tom Gatsios and an alert Bulldog recovered.
Three plays later on third and one from the 17 quarterback Arnie Fontes threw to right end Nick Roman down the middle at the goal line to make it 24-20 with 4:27 remaining. Hall missed the conversion.
The Tigers played good control football from there on out to win the game. The last play of the game, however, saw Fontes sweep right end for 21 yards and just miss getting away for a winning tally. McKinley had gotten the ball with only 26 seconds left.
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McKINLEY BECAME the first team to score at Tiger stadium this year and the first to get a touchdown before the Tigers by going 57 yards after taking Massillon’s initial punt. Fontes scored on a keeper from the two-hard line on second down with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter.
He missed the conversion on the same play.
Hall and halfbacks John McElroy and Bobby Johnson did a lot of running on the drive. Hall had one run of 19 yards around left end from his 43 to the Massillon 38. The missed pass which Ware spoke of came during this series. Fontes misfired to left end Dwayne Lipkins on second down from the Tiger 30.
The early touchdown only served to infuriate the Tigers and after Tom Gatsios had turned in an 18-yard runback of the kickoff to the Massillon 35, Ron Swartz cocked his right arm and hit Blunt down the right side. “The Rabbit” grabbed the pigskin on the McKinley 40 and eluded five would-be tacklers on his romp to pay dirt at 2:39. He got some fine blocking along the way.
Blunt blasted off right tackle for the conversion which put the Tigers ahead 8-6.
Massillon struck again early in the second period. McKinley punted after one series. The kick was grounded on the Bengals’ 39 with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
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BLUNT TOOK off over right tackle on the first play of the second quarter behind good blocking. He used that outstanding running ability of his to good advantage again, going all the way to the McKinley three. But the Tigers were guilty of clipping and were set back to the McKinley 35.
The Bengals marched the ball in from there with Lawrence going over the top of a big pile from the one with 6:22 left. Blunt went off right tackle for the two extra points.
McKinley took the kickoff and marched 70 yards only to have Johnson fumble on the one. Blunt made the all-important recovery for Massillon.
McElroy had an 18-yard runback of the kick. Hall had a 36-yard romp on a sweep from the Massillon 46 to the 10.
The Tigers then initiated a drive of their own, going to the Bulldog seven before missing on three straight before missing on three straight passes into the end zone. The margin of difference was inches.
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DURING this 92-yard invasion, Blunt took a pass on the right side and almost went for a touchdown but collided with long side end Will Perry who was trying to block for him. The play covered 25 yards – from the Massillon 13 to the 38.
There was also another fine run by Blunt off left guard – again with good blocking – on the next play. “The Rabbit” moved all the way to the McKinley 11, 51 yards.
Massillon’s other score came at the 5:45 mark of the third quarter. Blunt ran a kickoff back 26 yards to the Bengal 38. Then with Blunt, Swartz – who seldom runs the ball – and Lawrence carrying, the Orange and Black moved the ball to the Bulldog 28 for a first down.
Blunt set sail again on the next play, going to his right, cutting back and racing for touchdown land. Again a combination of good running and fine blocking told the tale. Swartz converted.
Game statistics showed that Massillon got a total of 382 yards net to McKinley’s 217. The Tigers piled up 271 rushing. McKinley 200. The Bengals got 111 passing, the Bulldogs 17.
The fact that McKinley lost only four more yards rushing than did Massillon, 16-12, points up the terrific, almost even battle of the lines.
Massillon’s record now stands at 5-1 with a four-game winning streak riding. The Bulldogs stand at 3-3.
McKINLEY – 20
Ends – N. Roman, Turner, Lipkins and Card.
Tackles – Miller and Shumick.
Guards – Vafides, Barney and Ball.
Center – J. Roman.
Quarterback – Fontes.
Halfbacks – Johnson, McElroy, Carter and Smith.
Fullbacks – W. Hall and Kalogeras.
MASSILLON – 24
Ends – Pierce, Perry, Hose, Jones and Goodnough.
Tackles – Morgan, Lash, Rarle, Binge, Paul and Passalacqua.
Guards – Castile, Larsuel, Rivera, Muhlback, Roderick, Swisher and T. Whitfield.
Centers – Scassa, Frank and Rambaud.
Quarterbacks – Swartz, Gatsios and Kanner.
Halfbacks – Blunt, Getz, Eckard, Schenkenberger, and Marks.
Fullbacks – Lawrence.
McKinley 6 0 8 6 20
Massillon 8 8 8 0 24
McKinley – Fontes (two-yard run); Miller (41-yard run on blocked kick); N. Roman (17-yard pass from Fontes.
Massillon – Blunt 2 (65-yard pass from Swartz and 26-yard run); Lawrence (one-yard run).
Points after touchdown:
McKinley – Hall (run).
Massillon – Blunt 2 (runs). Swartz (run).
Referee – Bobby Brown (Parma).
Umpire – Harvey Hodgson, Jr. (Massillon).
Head Linesman – Bill Makepeace (Cincinnati).
Field Judge – Joe Romano (Mansfield).
First downs, rushing 12 9
First downs, passing 4 1
First downs, penalties 0 1
Total first downs 16 11
Yards gained rushing 263 216
Yards lost rushing 12 16
Net yards gained rushing 271 200
Yards gained passing 111 17
Total yards gained 382 217
Passes attempted 8 3
Passes completed 4 1
Passes intercepted by 0 0
Times kicked off 4 4
Kickoff average (yards) 45.0 36.2
Kickoff returns (yards) 62 82
Times punted 1 4
Punt average (yards) 42.0 34.2
Punt returns (yards) 15 0
Had punts blocked 1 0
Fumbles 1 1
Lost fumbled ball 1 1
Penalties 2 1
Yards penalized. 20 15