1954: Massillon 26, Canton McKinley 6
Tigers Win Battle For State Title
Massillon Gridders Smash McKinley 26-6; Await Final AP Poll
By LUTHER EMERY
Having surprised their most loyal fans by the manner in which they lashed Canton McKinley 26-6 before an overflow crowd in Tiger stadium Saturday afternoon, the Washington high Tigers today awaited the result of the final press polls which determine the Ohio high school champion. The game had been billed as a battle for state title.
Ohio sports writers and radio commentators cast the ballots, and judging by last week’s voting (and despite organized efforts of one or more other high schools to lure votes) the Tigers are expected to be proclaimed state champs a seventh consecutive year.
The Massillon gridders ranked second, (behind Canton McKinley) in all three major news services last week, and should move into the No. 1 spot as a result of their convincing triumph over the state’s top ranked team.
* * *
THE VICTORY leaves Massillon with a 9-1 record which is the same status as that of Mansfield and Alliance high schools. The Tigers handed Mansfield its only loss, an 18-0 defeat and Alliance handed Massillon its one defeat 19-7. But Massillon also whipped the Bulldogs, the team that mauled Alliance 26-6. It was Canton’s second loss.
The Rutgers Hall of Fame trophy will be awarded the winner of the Associated Press poll, biggest of them all.
The Tigers were magnificent in their triumph over the Bulldogs.
Entering the game a seven-point underdog, the Massillon gridders tore into their Canton adversary with a determination that could not be stopped.
“They played like a team that wanted to be state champion,” Canton Coach Wade Watts, deeply disappointed, said after the game. “Homer Floyd was the difference,” he stated as he complimented the Tiger halfback for his great exhibition.
And Tiger Coach Tom Harp, with a lock of hair hanging over his forehead and a smile from ear to ear, said, “We thought we could do it all along. We knew we were playing a great football team and we prepared accordingly.”
* * *
THE MASSILLON line played almost flawlessly and the backs blocked well. The vaunted Bulldog ground attack was grounded and the Canton aerial fireworks stopped.
The 26-6 scored hardly tells the superiority of the Massillon team. You will find it better in the statistics which show the Tigers with 21 first downs to Canton’s six (two of the six came on a penalty and pass interference) and 446 net yards gained to 135.
The Tigers scored one touchdown in the second period, two in the third and one in the fourth. Canton’s only score came in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers actually lost what could have been three other touchdowns when a pass was dropped in the end zone, and the ball lost on fumbles as the locals were on the seven and three-yard lines while in possession of a first down.
It was a personal triumph for the youthful Harp who took over a tough assignment this summer without benefit of spring practice, and won nine of his 10 games.
* * *
HARP STEPPED into the big footprints left by Chuck Mather when he walked off to the University of Kansas last winter after winning the Ohio championship six consecutive years.
None dared to expect the ex-Carrollton high coach with only three years of experience behind him to win nine of 10 games and a possible state title in his first year.
He installed his own system at the start of fall practice and saw his team slowly catch on as the autumn progressed. By mid-season he pulled his first upset by downing Mansfield high, which had been favored to win by at least a touchdown. He got his squad up for that one, and he had them up again Saturday – and how.
Seldom have we seen a Massillon line play as the Tiger line did Saturday, or the blockers lower the boom on opposing tacklers with as deadly timing.
You can praise the backs for their hard running, but the guys who made it possible were, Robert Williams, Dave Canary, Ken Lorch, Bob Williams, Chuck Hill, Joe Holloway, Russ Maier and Tom Spicer.
They hit hard on offense and bolstered by Ronnie Moore, Jim Schumacher, Jim Houston, Tom Stephens, Bob Cocklin and Dick Fromholtz, plugged all leaks on defense.
As Floyd said after the game when asked how he felt: “Fine. The boys sure blocked swell for me today. I couldn’t have run without them.”
And how he ran!
He personally carried the ball 28 times, and gained 263 net yards, scored two touchdowns and intercepted two Canton passes.
His longest run, a 55-yard dash, went for naught as he fumbled when tackled on the
three-yard line, the ball rolling into the end zone, where Bulldog Horace Harris recovered for a touchback.
* * *
WHILE FLOYD put on a great show, the surprise to Canton was the hard running of Jerry Yoder. The Bulldogs had expected trouble from Floyd but Yoder made as much yardage as Floyd the first half and ground out the Tigers’ first touchdown. He carried 19 times for a net gain of 125 yards. Ronald Boekel was used sparingly. He carried only seven times and gained 38 yards. Rich Crescenze and Andy Stavroff each carried once, Rich gaining a yard and Andy losing one.
It all adds up to 426 net yards gained on the ground. Add to that 20 yards made on two completed passes, one of which went for a touchdown, and you have 446 net yards gained for the Tigers.
In containing the Bulldogs the Tigers allowed them but 86 net yards on the ground and 49 in the air.
The personal duel between Canton’s flashy halfback, John Goodrich, and Floyd which had been ballyhooed in some papers and by some radio commentators was a fizzle. Floyd was so far in front there was no comparison. Goodrich carried nine times for 43 net yards gained. His longest run went for 21 yards in the third quarter which followed a 40-yard bootleg play by Canton’s Ronnie Carnahan. The two plays netted 61 of the yards gained by McKinley.
The Tigers knew they had to stop Goodrich to win for he was the Bulldogs’ high point man with 119 points for the season.
* * *
McKINLEY never could get its offense rolling properly. Coach Watts said a head injury to Quarterback Jim Dreher on the very first play from scrimmage which forced him out the rest of the game hurt to some extent since he counts the cadence of the Canton team, but Watts hastened to say that he did not want to take anything away from the Massillon victory. Dreher got jolted by Floyd’s knee when he tackled him.
The Bulldogs’ only effort in the first half came on a long pass to Herman Jackson following a 15-yard penalty slapped on the Tigers for unnecessary roughness. Canton was offside on the pass play, however, and lost what would have been a first down on the 17-yard line.
The Tigers on the other hand were a threat virtually every time they got the ball in their hands but still failed to score until only 55 seconds remained of the first half. Then they shoved over the first of their four touchdowns, Jerry Yoder going across from the one. Floyd scored both of his touchdowns in the third period and Robert Williams got the final in the fourth period on a five-yard flip from Crescenze.
Herman Jackson scored the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard pass from Goodrich.
Andy Stavroff almost went to the Promised Land on the kickoff when he was clear at midfield, but lacked the speed to keep ahead of the pack and was felled on the Canton 43.
Floyd and Yoder smashed to a first down on the 31 but the attack fizzled out and the Tigers lost the ball on the 25.
* * *
McKINLEY quick-kicked on third down to the Massillon 21 and the Tigers got one first down before being stopped in midfield and forced to punt, Tom Stephens kicking to the 23.
The Bulldogs gained but one yard in three attempts and kicked out on the Massillon 38.
Yoder race 18 yards to the Canton 44 but Floyd lost the ball on a fumble, Goodrich recovering for Canton on the latter’s 38. Three plays would have ended in a net loss of a yard had not the Tigers been called for unnecessary roughness and McKinley given a first down on the Massillon 47 with a 15-yard penalty.
Then followed the long pass to Jackson for what would have been a first down on the Tiger 17 but McKinley was offside and penalized five yards. Three plays gained seven yards so Goodrich punted to Floyd on the eight who was nailed by Sheeler when he tried to cut after catching the ball.
Momentarily in the hole, the Tigers worked out as Yoder and Floyd got a first down on the 21 and Floyd ripped off 13 for another first on his 34. He gained sic more and then caught a pass from Crescenze that produced 15 yards and a first down on the McKinley 45. Floyd and Yoder carried to a first on the 30 but, after Yoder gained two yards, three Massillon passes were wasted and Canton took over on its 28.
Again the Bulldogs were forced to punt and the ball went out of bounds on the Canton 41.
This time the Tigers were not to be denied. Floyd, Yoder and Boekel, in that order made a first down on the 27. Floyd ripped through to a first on the four with a beautiful 23-yard run. Yoder crashed for three. Crescenze moved it almost to the goal and Yoder whammed over for the six points.
Morrow missed the attempted point and the clock showed 55 seconds left to play.
* * *
FOLLOWING the kickoff, Sheeler tossed 15 yards to Goodrich for the Bulldogs’ only earned first down of the first half. They tried it again but this time Holloway intercepted and ran back to the Canton 27.
With only five seconds left, Crescenze shot the ball toward Robert Williams in the end zone. It was on the tip of his fingers, but he couldn’t hand on to what would have been the back-breaking touchdown.
Williams was almost despondent in the dressing room during intermission. Coach Harp grabbed him as he headed for the locker room and told him to forget it, and every player slapped him on the back with the encouraging remark, we’ll get some more next half, while he sat weeping, head in hands.
And get some more they did.
They changed several blocking assignments the second half designed to free Floyd and Yoder, and they worked out just as hoped for.
On the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff Floyd almost got away, going 32 yards to the Canton 43. And Yoder in two attempts went to the 30, Floyd picked up two more, and when Canton spread its defense to meet the Tigers’ new blocking pattern, Floyd shot through the middle on a quick opener for 28 yards and the second T.D. of the game.
* * *
FLOYD GETS credit for the touchdown, but he was probably thinking of Maier and Hill on this play when he said, “I got some good blocking today,” for it was Maier and Hill who opened the gap in the Bulldog line that allowed Floyd to speed through for the points.
This time Morrow kicked the extra point and it was 13-0.
Floyd stopped Canton after the kickoff when he intercepted Goodrich’s long pass and came back to his 45.
Yoder startled the folks by immediately racing to a first down on the Canton 27 and Floyd in two carries had another first down on the seven. A lateral toss to Yoder was wide and Jerry couldn’t hand on to it, Canton ending the threat by covering a fumble on its 13.
Three McKinley plays only gained four yards so Goodrich booted to Floyd who was downed on his 43 with no return. Yoder on the first play went 21 yards to the Canton 31 and Boekel headed through center for 18 more and a first on the 13. A pass over the line was grounded but Floyd circled his right end for the third touchdown and Morrow kicked the 20th point.
That made the Bulldog snarl a bit.
Frasker Jackson returned Morrow’s kickoff well to his 31 and Carnahan on a bootleg fooled the Massillon team as he headed around his left end and went 40 yards before Fromholtz somehow or other shifted through a wave of Canton blockers and got him.
Now it was Goodrich’s turn to show what he could do and he went 21 yards for his best run of the day to the eight. But that was it.
Goodrich took it two more times, made three and wound up back where he had started. Carnahan tried to sweep his end and was thrown for another loss of 10 yards. A grounded pass finished the threat and the Tigers took over on their 18.
Boekel got a yard and Floyd three as the third period ended.
* * *
WHEN FLOYD failed to gain, Stephens dropped back to punt and got a high pass from center. He picked up the ball dropped it to his foot and gave a feeble kick after being all but down. The ball didn’t cross the line of scrimmage, just going to the 17. That gave McKinley another chance.
A pass to Sheeler was good for three and Jackson wiggled loose to reach the end zone where he caught a 14-yard toss from Goodrich for the Bulldogs’ only points. Canary broke through to block the attempted point.
Floyd got to his 42 with the following kickoff and on the next play went all the way to the three where he was overhauled by Bob Williams of McKinley. He fumbled when tackled, the ball rolling into the end zone where Horace Harris hopped on it for a touchback.
McKinley was given the ball on its 20, couldn’t get anywhere in two downs and for some unknown reason quick-kicked into the wind on third down.
The ball only went forward five yards, the Tigers taking it on their own 25.
Floyd in two carries got to the 13, and then to the five where Crescenze pitched over the line to Williams for the final touchdown of the game. Johnny James couldn’t get the ball down for Morrow so he tried to run for the extra point but didn’t make it.
Canton came back after the kickoff to move the ball to the Massillon 39 where Cocklin intercepted a pass and was knocked out doing it to end the threat with the ball on the 28. Two plays later the game ended.
The line-up and summary:
ENDS – Lorch, R. Williams, Houston, Canary, Francisco.
TACKLES – B. Williams, Hill, Blocher, Moore, Schumacher.
GUARDS – Maier, Holloway, Fisher.
CENTERS – Spicer, Morrow.
QUARTERBACKS – Crescenze, James.
HALFBACKS – Floyd, Yoder, Stavroff, Stephens, Fromholtz.
FULLBACK – Boekel.
ENDS – Sheeler, H. Jackson, Jack, Williams, Lancaster.
TACKLES – Kompara, Graham, Martins, Blackmon, Fohel.
GUARDS – Patrick, Bell, Clawson, Speroff.
CENTERS – Perdue, Fach.
QUARTERBACKS – J. Dreher, F. Jackson.
HALFBACKS – Goodrich, Carnahan, Garman, Grimsley, H. Harris.
FULLBACK – N. Harris.
Score by periods:
Massillon 0 6 14 6 26
McKinley 0 0 0 6 6
Massillon – Floyd 2; Yoder; R. Williams.
McKinley – H. Jackson.
Points after touchdown: Massillon – Morrow 2 (placekicks).
Referee – Dan Tehan, Hamilton.
Umpire – Jim Lymper, Mansfield.
Head Linesman – C.W. Rupp, Cuyahoga Falls.
Field Judge – Ted Jones, Chagrin Falls.
Individual And Game Statistics
First downs 21 6
Passes attempted 8 13
Passes completed 2 4
Had passes intercepted 0 4
Yards gained passing 20 49
Yards gained rushing 437 105
Total yards gained 457 154
Yards lost 11 19
Net yards gained 446 135
Times punted 2 6
Average punt (yards) 11 31
Yards punts returned by 4 0
Times kicked off 4 3
Average kickoff (yards) 41 51
Yards kickoffs returned by 97 22
Times fumbled 3 1
Lost ball on fumble 3 0
Times penalized 2 2
Yards penalized 20 10
Carried Gained Lost Total
Floyd 28 266 3 263
Yoder 19 132 7 125
Boekel 7 38 0 38
Crescenze 1 1 0 1
Stavroff 1 0 1 -1
—- —- —- —-
Totals 56 437 11 426
Goodrich 9 46 3 43
Carnahan 5 47 11 36
N. Harris 5 10 5 5
Sheeler 1 0 0 0
Garman 1 2 0 2
—- — —- —-
Totals 21 105 19 86