Tiger fans respond as their team takes the field in Hoosier Dome Saturday
Tigers in need of home cooking after road trip
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
INDIANAPOLIS ‑ It was a lazy Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when many visitors from Massillon plunked down a buck to ride the tour bus around the oval made famous by the Foyts, Unsers and Andrettis.
“Speed week” moved to the Hoosier Dome, where Indianapolis North‑Central burned to a 35‑20 high school football victory over the Massillon Tigers.
“We’ve played a team that has that kind of speed,” Massillon head coach Jack Rose said. “But they (the Garfield Rams) don’t use it the same way these guys (North‑Central’s Panthers) do.”
“On one of their touchdowns, our cornerback made a good play. He was in good position to tackle their guy for a loss. But the guy used his speed to turn the play into six points.”
North‑Central rode its run‑and‑shoot offense to a 5‑2 record. The Tigers must fight being down‑and‑out in the wake of a fourth straight loss. They will take a 2‑4 record into this Saturday’s home game against another Indiana team, Bloomington South. South, ranked sixth among Indiana’s big schools, improved to 7‑0 with a 47‑0 blowout over Shelbyville this past Friday.
“One concern is how much our guys can absorb,” Rose said. If history repeats itself, there is some of it to consider in terms of the four‑game losing streak. Massillon has had only five such skids in its entire history. Three were in the very early years, 1899, 1917 and 1912. It is the other two that are the most intriguing.
In 1931, a four‑game losing streak and 2‑6‑1 overall record did in fourth‑year head coach Elmer McGrew. McGrew was replaced in 1932 by Paul Brown, whose first team ended the season with a four‑game losing streak.
Naturally, Rose hopes his path in the wake of a four‑game slide more closely follows Brown’s than McGrew’s.
One Tiger player, talking to his mother after the game at the Mariott Hotel, seemed to think the players would be all right. “The coaches took it harder than the players did,” he said.
Many of the players decided to take a deep breath and enjoy the road trip, much as did the 3,000 Massillonians who traveled to Indianapolis for the game. Massillon people swarmed into Union Station, a downtown shopping area. A man twisting balloons into all kinds of shapes was encountered by a Massillon man. “Can you make one in the shape of a Tiger?”
“You mean, like the one (an Obie) on your shirt ?” A crowd gathered. After that, the vendor must have made 400 balloon tigers.
The path of Saturday’s game was the fast lane. The first contest in a double‑header witnessed by more than 11,000 set the tone. Defending Indiana state champ Ben Davis scored in the final three minutes to secure a frenzied 28‑21 win over Cincinnati Elder.
In the nightcap, the Tigers simply could not slow down North‑Central’s balanced attack.
“I knew it was going to be a shootout,” Rose said. It was, and the Tigers weren’t dead until the Panthers, leading by 8 points, drove 80 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown with 2:58 left in the game.
“We saw some things in their style of defense that made us think we could move the ball,” North‑Central coach Al Harants said. “We weren’t sure we’d be able to deal with their offense quite as well as we did.”
The Tigers generated far more offense than they had the previous week in a 14‑0 loss at Austintown‑Fitch. After racking up 184 yards in the first half, though, they were held to 110 yards in the second half ‑ North‑Central poured it on in both halves, gaining 219 yards in the first half and 196 in the second half.
North‑Central junior quarterback John Clippinger, who was a sophomore watching from the sidelines when the Tigers tore up the Panthers 41‑0 at Massillon in 1991, completed 14 of 20 passes for 185 yards. Junior Tony Nefouse, taking advantage of the spread‑out defense created by Clippinger’s apt operation of the run‑and-shoot, rushed 19 times for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns.
If the Tigers are struggling, Clippinger didn’t seem to know it. “They’re an awesome team, along the same lines as Ben Davis,” he said. “They’re much better than the two teams that beat us. When we lost those two games, it was right after we beat Ben Davis. We had big, fat heads, but we got ourselves straightened around.”
Massillon’s crowd set the tone before the kickoff with a rousing chant of “T‑1‑G … E‑R‑S” that resounded around the Teflon‑topped Dome. The team responded by driving 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown.
Running back Andre Stinson, who finished with a season‑high 110 yards, set up the TD with a 7‑yard run. Stinson wound up going in from the 1, Jason Brown converted the kick, and it was 7‑0 with 8:27 left in the first quarter.
North‑Central answered by driving 88 yards for a score on its first possession. The mostly running, 11‑play march was capped by Clippinger’s one yard plunge and Tommy Keenan’s kick. It was 7‑7 with 4:58 left in the first quarter.
A three‑and‑out Tiger possession was followed by a short punt and a 41-yard North-Central scoring drive. Clippinger hit senior split end Arthur Angotti for 20 yards on first down. The TD came on a 8-yard run by Nefouse. After Keenan’s kick, it was 14-7 with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers’ next possession ended quickly with their only punt of the game. Dan Hackenbracht made a daring, running catch on the punt and returned to the North-Central 34. Quarterback Mike Danzy scored on a spectacular 36-yard run, breaking three tackles after dropping back to pass, then outrunning the Panther defense into the left corner of the end zone. Brown’s kick made it 14-14 with 8:24 left in the half.
North-Central regained control with a 13-play, 71-yard drive again capped by a 1-yard drive again capped by a 1-yard Clippinger plunge. Keenan’s kick made it 21-14 with 3:14 left in the half. The Panthers got the ball back on a punt but quickly lost it when a big hit by William Shahan caused a fumble covered by Tiger junior Josh McElhaney near midfield. A 32-yard field goal attempt by Brown with seconds left in the half was deflected.
North-Central drove to the Tiger 10 at the start of the second half before a big third-down stop by Hackenbracht followed by an incompletin stalled the threat.
The Tigers then drove 90 yards. Thanks largely to a 51-yard strike from Danzy to Alonzo Simpson. Hackenbracht scored from two yards out, but Brown’s kick was blocked and North-Central kept a 21-20 lead with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers inflicted the critical blow when they drove 46 yards in 10 plays for a score. Junior Dave Mosley’s one-yard run and Kennan’s kick made it 28‑20 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
Even at that, the Tigers could tie it with a TD and two‑point conversion. Their best chance came midway through the fourth quarter when Danzy reached the Massillon 40 on a scramble. The would‑be first down was wiped out by a holding penalty. Instead, it became third down at the 10. The Tigers had to punt, setting up the clinching North‑Central touchdown, a 6‑yard run by Nefouse with 2:58 left in the game.
NORTH‑CENTRAL 35 MASSILLON 20 M N First downs rushing 9 13 First downs passing 2 10 First downs by penalty 0 1 Totals first downs 11 23 Yards gained rushing 228 250 Yards lost rushing 14 20 Net yards rushing 214 230 Net yards passing 80 185 Total yards gained 294 415 Passes attempted 11 20 Passes completed 2 14 Interceptions 1 0 Times kicked off 4 6 Kickoff average 41.8 58.0 Kickoff return yards 36 51 Punts 5 1 Punting average 29.2 23.0 Punt return yards 22 9 Fumbles 0 3 Fumbles lost 0 2 Penalties 2 3 Yards penalized 30 31 Number of plays: 48 73 Time of possession 19:33 28:27
Massillon 7 7 6 0 20 North‑Central 14 7 7 7 35
M ‑ Stinson 1 run (Brown kick) NC ‑ Clippinger 1 run (Keenan kick) NC ‑ Nefouse 8 run (Keenan kick) M ‑ Danzy 36 run (Brown kick) NC ‑ Clippinger 1 run (Keenan kick) M ‑‑ Hackenbracht 2 run (kick failed) NC ‑ Mosley 1 run (Keenan kick) NC ‑ Nefouse 6 run (Keenan kick)
There were some thorns on the other side of Jack Rose’s cartwheel that capped the Massillon Tigers’ 41‑0 victory over Indianapolis North Central Saturday night.
After the Massillon defense knocked another opponent head over heels, Rose turned acrobat to celebrate his first shutout as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.
Head coach Lee Owens, though, wasn’t waving a pinwheel over the play of the offense.
“We’re very lucky that our defense played as well as it did,” Owens said. “I’m really upset with the play of our offense.”
“We had turnovers, penalties and missed assignments that should not have been there. We’d play one good series with a lot of emotion and then the next three series would be horrible.”
North Central’s offense consisted of wide receiver Derrick Mayes (six catches, 78 yards).
“He’s not that fast.” said Massillon’s Travis McGuire, who shadowed Mayes at cornerback, while also gaining 99 yards as a running back. “But he’s big and athletic and he has good hands.”
“He’s a great kid,” added Owens. “He’s the kind of kid who could go to Notre Dame and do well.”
Notre Dame and everybody else are after Mayes, a 6‑2, 190-pound senior.
North Central has another superb athlete in junior split end/defensive back Eric Allen, whom the Tigers will see next year when they take on the Panthers in the Indianapolis Hoosierdome.
North Central’s top running back Saturday was Adam Evans, who finished the night with seven carries for eight yards. That’s 24 feet, for you track and field fans, and happens to be almost exactly what Adam cleared this past spring in winning the Indiana state long jumping championship.
The Panthers’ rushing attack went 47 yards ahead and 28 yards in reverse for a grand total of 19 yards.
“We swarmed to the ball and everybody did his job,” said Tiger defensive end Joey Lococo. “They reminded me of Moeller in a way, because they had big offensive linemen. But we used speed to get the advantage.”
Massillon’s run defense has probably been the most consistent bright spot on the team. Nose guard Carl Hye offered a reason why the Tigers have been sharp against the run all year.
“We get ready to play our best every game,” Hye said. “After we played Moeller and lost, we put the game behind us. Now we have to do the same thing. We won. We played a pretty good game. But it’s over. We have to treat the next game, and every game, like it’s for the state championship.”
Youngstown East, a 21‑0 loser to undefeated Youngstown Chaney (7‑0) Saturday, will visit Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.
Massillon’s offense was hardly a washout Saturday. Falando Ashcraft rushed for 143 yards and now has 798 through seven games. McGuire’s 99 rushing yards (he also caught four passes for 28 yards) lifted his season total to 821.
Quarterback Nick Mossides, in his second week back after missing the Fitch game with a sprained knee, threw almost twice as many passes as the previous week. He completed seven of 19 for 69 yards and no interceptions.
But it was things like a first half sequence ‑ when the Tigers scored on their first possession, then punted, fumbled, and punted on the next three possessions ‑ that disturbed Owens.
The Tigers used an eight‑play (all runs), 63‑yard drive to take a 7‑0 lead. Ashcraft’s six‑yard run around the right side produced the touchdown and Jason Brown’s P.A.T. boot was good with 9:25 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, a Jason Woullard punt buried the Panthers at the 5. Senior quarterback Jason Jacobs dropped back to pass on the next play. Tiger linebacker Eric Wright shot through on a blitz so quickly that Jacobs never had a chance to react as he was dropped for a safety.
The ensuing free kick enabled the Tigers to drive to the 4 before settling for a 21‑yard field goal by Brown, who seemed to put more oomph behind the ball than usual all night.
It was 12‑0, Tigers, with 6:01 left in the half.
Wright’s linebacking partner, Brandon Turley, set up Massillon’s next score. With the Panthers in punt formation, Turley broke through the line and smothered booter Tom Hadley so closely that he seemed to blocked the boot with his belly button. Massillon took over on the Panthers’ 22 and scored in two runs by Ashcraft, covering 9 and 13 yards.
Brown’s kick made it 19‑0 with 3:18 left in the half. That became the halftime score.
Early in the second half, the Tigers made it to the 6‑yard line on a 20‑yard pass play from Mossides to McGuire out of a bizarre formation Owens called a 10‑man shift. Ashcraft fumbled on the next play, but North Central wasn’t off the hook. Weird play spices victory over squad from Indiana
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
One if by land, two if by sea, and I on the opposite sideline will be.
No, it wasn’t Paul Revere’s famous ride. It was Travis McGuire’s 20‑yard romp on one of the weirdest plays in Massillon football history. It spiced a 41‑0 victory Saturday night before 10,869 amused onlookers Saturday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I don’t think I ever did that before,” Massillon head coach Lee Owens said. “We just call it the 10‑man shift.”
Early in the second quarter, the Tigers broke huddle and approached the line of scrimmage on first down from the North Central 26. The whole house was shocked when half the Tiger line jogged to the west sideline, and the other half jogged to the east sideline. North Central’s defense played along and were lined up over the Massillon linemen as they assumed their three‑point stances. Center Scott Chariton and quarterback Nick Mossides (in shotgun formation) had the middle of the field all to themselves.
Charlton snapped the ball, and Mossides fired a pass to Travis McGuire, who was lined up near the east sideline.
“We thought there might be a lane for Travis down that sideline,” Owens said.
There wasn’t. North Central had jammed up the play, but the crafty McGuire saw an opening back the other way and cut across the right side of the field, nearly breaking free for a touchdown before he was caught at the 6‑yard line.
“I was looking for a little wrinkle, a little something to add some fun to practice during the week,” Owens said. “When we drew up the play a couple of our coaches looked at me like I’d flipped.”
Word leaked out of the practice field that the Tigers might be cooking up a strange, new trick play to use on North Central.
“You can’t keep a secret in this town,” Owens said. “Somebody asked me at a gas station what we were up to.”
Team doctor Robert Erickson, Owens said, was questioned about the rumored trickery during surgery this week.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to come of the play,” Owens said. “The guess was that we’d force them to take a timeout, and that would have burned a timeout they didn’t want to burn. But the play went off.”
What’s in store for this week Is foe, Youngstown East. A double fleafficker, triple‑reverse with two‑and‑a‑half twists?
“I think that will be the last you see of the 10‑man shift,” Owens said.
During the second half, Dr. Erickson was happy to note from the sideline that safety Dan Hackenbracht had entered the game. It was Hackenbracht’s first game action in nearly two months. he suffered a broken leg two days after a preseason scrimmage against Cleveland St. Ignatius.
“Hack is back! ” Erickson crowed.
Hackenbracht, who started last year as a sophomore, said he’s not sure if he’ll be able to regain all his speed by the end of the season.
“Right now, I’m getting my timing back,” he said. “But I feel good … real good.” *** Derrick Mayes, North Central’s star senior receiver, said the Tigers were in the same class as Ben Davis, last year’s Indiana state champion and the favorite to win the title in ’91.
“Massillon had all the ingredients you see in a very good team,” Mayes said. “They’re one of the best teams I’ve seen.” *** Nick Vrotsos and Ducky Schroeder, both of whom served for many years as Tiger assistant coaches, each drew a warm standing ovation when they were recognized at half-time for their contributions. *** North Central head coach George Pappas was dis-appointed in his team’s offensive line play.
“We have good size on the line, but not much quickness,” Pappas said. “Still, our people should be able to do the kind of things we’re asking them to do. We had a second and one (near midfield with Massillon leading 7‑0) and failed to make a first down’ That hurt.
“They forced us to pass, and you can’t throw the ball all stinking night. You just can’t do it.
“Of course, you can’t overtook the fact we did play a pretty good team.”
Pappas was fairly happy with his team’s ability to throw the Tigers’ offense out of rhythm.
“They had a great defensive scheme and that made it a challenge,” Owens said. “They played a lot of man to man and a lot of sets we seldom see.”
Pappas praised the Tigers’ defense and running game.
“They don’t do a whole heckuva lot of things with their defense and they don’t have to,” he said. “They’re fundamentally sound, and they buckle up the old chinstrap and come at you.
“On offense, they run some very basic plays … the buck, the cross, the belly, the boot. But when you execute them well and in the proper sequence they can be really quite devastating. ”
Jacobs was carried off the field at the end of the first half with a sprained ankle but was back in at quarterback, and again dropping back to pass in the end zone. This time, he was pressured by Woullard and tackled by Jonathon Jones for another safety. It was 14‑0 with 9:13 left in the third quarter.
McGuire returned the ensuing free kick 44 yards to set up his own 12‑yard touchdown run. The kick was no good but Massillon’s lead had swelled to 27‑0 just 63 seconds after the safety.
The Tigers drove 56 yards for a TD, McGuire going in from the 2, and Brown’s kick made it 34‑0 with 1:06 left in the third‑quarter.
Mike Danzy came on at quarterback and directed an 84‑yard scoring drive capped by Dan Seimetz’s 16‑yard TD romp. Brown’s kick made it 41‑0 with 6:36 left in the game.
The contest ended with North Central on the march and the Panthers trying to lob the ball to Mayes in the end zone. Dana Wofford leaped high to break up the last attempt and preserve the shutout.
MASSILLON 41 NORTH CENTRAL 0 M NC First downs rushing 17 3 First downs passing 6 7 First downs by penalty 2 1 Totals first downs 25 11 Yards gained rushing 330 47 Yards lost rushing 10 28 Net yards rushing 320 19 Net yards passing 103 150 Total yards gained 423 169 Passes attempted 19 31 Passes completed 10 10 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 7 1 Kickoff average 52.9 32.0 Kickoff return yards 67 136 Punts 4 7 Punting average 43.0 27.7 Punt return yards 27 14 Fumbles 2 3 Fumbles lost 2 1 Penalties 5 4 Yards penalized 35 44 Number of plays 69 56 Time of possession 24:31 23:29 Attendance 10,869
North Central 0 0 0 0 0 Massillon 7 12 15 7 41
M ‑ Ashcraft 6 run (Brown kick) 11 M ‑ Safety, Wright tackles Jacobs in end zone M ‑ FG Brown 21 M ‑ Ashcraft 13 run (Brown kick) M ‑ Safety, Jones tackles Jacobs in end zone M ‑ McGuire 12 run (kick failed) M ‑ McGuire 2 run (Brown kick) M ‑ Seimetz 16 run (Brown kick)
Loss in Massillon prepares Team for Indiana title chase
By STEVE DOERSCUK Independent Sports Editor.
Massillon is a football town, by George.
In fact as George Papas went on and on about Tigertown long after Saturday night’s game in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, it almost seemed he did not want to leave..
Eventually, he boarded a charter bus, though. He had to. He is head coach of the Indianapolis North Central team that dropped a 21-15 decision to Massillon before a crowd of 10,002.
Many coaches in Pappas’ position would have been seeing red. A yellow storm left North Central penalized nine times for 107 yards.
Instead, Pappas blamed his own camp for the mistakes. And he talked a blue streak about the orange and black.
“I love coming here,” said Papas. “It does a helluva lot for your kids. The whole atmosphere is fantastic, the big crowd, the great stadium.
“The biggest thing, though is playing against that team. Those kids play football the way it is supposed to be played. That helps your program. It shows you the way it is supposed to be done.
This was not some greenhorn from Hayseed High talking. Papas is a former Purdue University linebacker who has made his North Central team competitive against the best in Indiana.
In fact, the thrust of his post-game speech was getting ready for a run at the Indiana state championship.
“We close our regular season next week against Terre Haute North, he said. “Then we have a playoff game against Decatur Central (North Central will be a heavy favorite). Then its on to Carmel baby. We have to play at Carmel, but I don’t care if we play ‘em in a gravel pit.”
Carmel is the defending Indiana state champion. And yes, the North Central-Carmel game is already scheduled – they do things differently in the Hoosier State, where everybody makes the playoffs.
North Central would need to win six playoff games to be state champs. The Panthers are currently 4-3, but all three losses have been in competitive games against powerful teams.
Massillon will have to earn a playoff spot. The Tigers are 5-2 heading into their final three regular season games: an anticipated easy game against winless Youngstown East, a contest against a St. Vincent-St Mary squad that lost in overtime-here last year, and the traditional war against Canton McKinley.
East and St. Vincent both lost Saturday. The Youngstown team fell 21-6 to Chaney. The Akron team bowed 15-6 to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. McKinley was idle this past weekend.
The Tigers would almost certainly make the playoffs by winning all three games.
Head coach Lee Owens said the outing against North Central was a bit rough around the edges. But he also saw it as a win over one of the top teams on the schedule.
“In terms of talent North Central is really not that much different than Cincinnati Moeller,” Owens said, “The only real difference is Moeller’s discipline.”
“If North Central can iron out some of the mistakes. I think they’re good enough to win their state championship. It would be something if we eventually could say we beat a state champion from Kentucky (Covington Catholic) and a state champion from Indiana.”
Pappas was perplexed about the discipline angle.
“Mistakes have cost us in each of our loses,” he said. “I wish I had an answer on why some of these things go wrong. Honestly, we work on the things over and over again in practice.”
Still, Pappas was pleased with the improvement made over last yaear’s game in Massillon, a 39-14 loss.
“I was very disappointed with the way we played defense here last year,” he said. “It was different this time.”
He hopes there will be a next time.
“I’d love to come back,” he said.
North Central athletic director Roland Inskeep is supposed to decide this week if he will sign a new two-year contract with the Tigers.
Owens has already said he would accept a new contract.
Adam Alexander, a senior lineman for the Panthers, offered about the same appraisal as Pappas.
“Massillon doesn’t seem to have extraordinary talent, but they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” He said. “It was exciting to be here. It was a good experience for those of us who probably, won’t go on to play at a college.”
MASSILLON 21 NORTH CENTRAL 15 M NC First downs rushing 5 9 First downs passing 7 2 First downs by penalty 3 0 Total first downs 15 11 Yards gained rushing 155 181 Yards lost rushing 29 32 Net yards rushing 126 149 Net yards passing 159 40 Total yards gained 285 189 Passes attempted 19 15 Passes completed 11 6 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 4 3 Kickoff average 44,5 32.3 Kickoff return yards 25 73 Punts 5 6 Punting average 32.2 40.6 Punt return yards 70 12 Fumbles 3 2 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 4 9 Yards penalized 36 107 Number of plays 61 46 Time of possession 25:43 22:17 Attendance 10,007
North Central 7 0 0 8 15 Massillon 7 7 0 7 21
M – McCullough 2 run (John kick) NC ‑_Evans, 62 run (Nelson kick) M – Roth 26 pass from Shertzer (John kick) M – McCullough 1 run (John kick) NC – Meyers 9 pass from Black (Mayes pass from Black)
Tigers rack up points Beating Indiana team enhances playoff chances
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
Coach George Pappas went back to Indiana with stars in his eyes.
His countenance was downright peaceful Saturday night despite his Indianapolis North Central team’s 37-14 loss to the Massillon Tigers.
Most of the 9,179 spectators had cleared the dust bowl/parking lot outside Paul Brown Tiger Stadium when Pappas swung by the Massillon locker room to thank – yes, thank – Tiger head coach Lee Owens.
“You have something great here,” said Pappas, who started at guard for the Purdue Boilermakers in 1964. “We’d love to come back. We’ll come back any time. Call me.”
Pappas told Owens of the great football that was played back when he was a schoolboy in the Chicago area.
“This was like the old days,” he said. “It took me back.”
The victory put some Tiger fans in mind of the old days, for that matter.
At 6-1, the Tigers moved closer to their first regular-season finish of 8-2 or better since 1983, when the team went 9-1.
It also put them in a spot where they can probably clinch their first playoff berth since 1982 by beating Warren Harding Friday night and Cleveland St. Joseph the following week.
Beating North Central (5-2), combined with victories for previously conquered Massillon opponents Youngstown East, Middletown and Austintown-Fitch, provided a whopping 25-5 computer playoff points, bringing the season total to 90.7.
Beating Harding on Friday would probably swell the total beyond 115. Knocking off Cleveland St. Joseph the following week would send the sum into the 140 range with the McKinley game still left to play.
The Tigers are one of 36 teams trying to earn on of four playoff spots in Division I, Region 3. Last year’s top four were Westerville North (163.0), Warren Western Reserve (145.5), Upper Arlington (134.5) and Groveport Madison (133.0). The moral of the story – 140 points should be plenty.
Cincinnati Princeton led Ohio last year with 180.5 playoff points. If the Tigers win their last three games, there is a good chance they would exceed that sum.
For the moment, McKinley will retain the No. 1 spot in Region 3 following its 21-7 win over GlenOak on Saturday. Projected standings, with approximate point totals, in Region 3 this week are McKinley 95, Massillon 90, Walsh Jesuit 73, Gahanna Lincoln 67 and Upper Arlington 64.
We’re in good shape in the playoff race,” Owens said. “A win this week would take us past McKinley and into first place, since McKinley is playing a winless team (Youngstown South).
“But while it’s a big goal of ours to make the playoffs, we still have to focus on winning each week.”
The Tigers won Saturday after trailing 14-7 at half time.
The terror of trailing was over 15 seconds into the second half, thanks to Don Blake’s 94-yard kickoff return.
Blake estimates he has come close to breaking six returns for touchdowns this season. He couldn’t have picked a better time to finally do it.
The Tigers got more than the usual pep talk at half time. Spirited would be one way to describe a speech delivered by assistant coach Gary Wells to buttress Owens’ talk.
What was running through Blake’s mind at the time?
“I was thinkin’ about bringin’ me one back,” he said.
Owens discounted the impact of the half time lectures. He said the first-half deficit hadn’t been a matter of the Tigers underestimating North Central, but the result of improper execution.
“Everyone seems to be crediting the half time talks,” Owens said. “I give more credit to the kickoff return team.”
Blake said he got a key block from Don Relford before cutting to the left sideline and blowing by 6-foot-6 kicker Kirby Bradford, who had seemed to have a good tackling angle.
Other members of the unit were Doug Harig, Lou LoCoco, Steve Brown, Duane Scott, Jim Goff, Tom Menches, Gary Miller, Scott Slicker and Falando Ashcraft.
The crowd came to life and the Tigers poured it on.
On the ensuing kickoff, North Central return man William Nelson slipped inside the 1-yard line. On the next play, sophomore linebacker Eric Wright penetrated a pile of bodies and wrestled down quarterback John Hale for a safety.
The Tigers started at their own 39 after a free kick and marched 61 yards for a touchdown. Playing like a man possessed was senior running back Ryan Sparkman, who carried four times for 40 yards and caught a pass for 25 yards on the drive. His 2-yard TD run and Gary Miller’s PAT boot made it 23-14, Tigers, with just 3:38 gone in the second half.
Sparkman later was injured during a run on a fake punt. It was the first fake punt the Tigers failed to convert into a first down after six successful tries during Owens’ two years in Massillon.
“It’s a slight muscle strain,” Owens said this morning. “We expect Ryan to be 100 percent for Friday’s game against Warren.”
Sparkman was replaced by sophomore Falando Ashcraft, who carried four times for 30 yards on a subsequent touchdown drive, including five yards for the score.
North Central’s lead was based on a near-interception by Massillon’s Chad Buckland that wound up as a tip to the Panthers’ Harvey Kelley, who turned it into a 68-yard TD play with 29 seconds left in the half. Early in the second half, Buckland intercepted a similar throw.
The Tigers were out-gained 233-112 in the first-half yardage.
“They came out in a gimmick defense we hadn’t seen before,” said Tiger offensive tackle Ray Kovacsiss. “We recognized what we had to do after making the adjustments, and we did it.”
“They were twisting their big guys around on defense,” added Tiger tight end Doug Harig. “We went back to our basic offense and we were successful.”
Harig said he was “confident the Tigers could come back while resting in the locker room at intermission.”
“But I felt a lot better after Blake brought back that kick,” he said.
Wright had a big game from his line-backing spot. At one point, he made a sack on one play and an interception on the next.
“It was probably the best game of the season for two of our linebackers, Eric Wright and Joe Pierce,” Owend\s said.
Tiger-Panther Grid lineups Here are the probable starting lineups for Saturday’s game between the Massillon Tigers and the Indianapolis North Central Panthers. Kickoff time is 8 p.m. in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
TIGER OFFENSE Quarterback – No .15, Lee Hurst, 6-3, 180, Sr. A-back – No. 44, Lamonte Dixon, 5-9, 185, Sr. B-back – No 34, Ryan Sparkman, 5-8, 175, Sr. Flanker – No 8, Troy Manion, 6-0, 180, Sr. Wide receiver – No. 21, Rameir Martin, 6-4, 170, Sr. Tight end – No. 83, Dough Harig, 6-2, 195, Sr.; No. 87, Steve Brown, 6-5, 195, Jr. Center – No. 57, Nick Hill, 5-10, 165, Sr. Guards – No. 65, Mike Silverthorn, 6-1, 230, Sr.; No. 60, Jim Goff, 6-0, 180, Sr.; No. 77 Brent Bach, 6-1, 225, Jr. Tackles – No. 74, Ray Kovacsiss, 6-4, 265, Sr.; No. 66, Tom Menches 6-0, 240, Sr.
TIGER DEFENSE Tackles – No. 55, Mark McGeorge, 5-8, 205, Jr.; No. 54, Scott Sirgo, 5-9, 185. Sr. Ends – No. 94, Jeff Perry, 6-1, 180, Jr.; No. 95, Mike Martin, 6-1, 185, Jr. Inside linebackers – No. 37, Craig Turkalj, 6-2, 206, Sr.; No. 45, Eric Wright, 5-9, 185. So. Outside linebackers – No. 9, Joe Pierce, 6-2, 190, Sr.; No. 22, Kevin McCue, 6-3, 167, Sr. Backs – No. 20, Keith Rabbitt, 6-4, 170, Sr.; No 5, Chad Buckland, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Eddie Williams, Sr.; No. 23, Don Blake, 6-1, 165, Jr.
**** PANTHER OFFENSE Quarterback – No. 12, John Hale, 6-1, 185, Sr. Running backs – No. 47, Kevin Wood, 5-10, 175, Sr.; No. 40, Tony Nibbs, 6-1, 185, Jr. Center – No. 51, David Cavorsi, 6-1, 220, Sr. Guards – No. 54, Ryan Bruce, 6-1, 235, Jr.; No. 61, John Reed, 5-10, 175, Sr. Tackles – No. 77, Mark Tarowsky, 6-3, 220, Jr.; No. 72, Tony Henderson, 6-2, 280, Sr. Tight end – No. 87, John Conway, 6-1, 180, Jr. Split end – No. 23, Harvey Kelly, 6-1, 165, Sr.
PANTHER DEFENSE Nose guard – No. 72, Henderson. Tackles – No. 54, Ryan; No. 74, Charles Hill, 6-0, 236, Jr. Ends – No. 1, James Reynolds, 5-8, 170, Sr.; No. 92 Bobby Keith, 6-0, 191, Jr. Linebackers – No. 58, Woodrow Palk, 6-0, 190, Jr.; No. 56, Brandon Jones, 6-1, 204, Sr. Backs – No. 4, Williams Nelson, 6-1, 155, Sr.; No. 16, Jason Venturi, 5-10, 172, Jr.; No. 10, Greg Black, 5-11, 170, Jr.; No. 8 Walter Nelson, 6-0, 158, Sr.
Here’s a look at each possession in Saturday’s game.
INC – Start with opening kickoff on own 14. Three plays and punt. MAS – Start on own 48. Three plays and punt. Troy Manion recovers North Central fumble on 19. Three more plays, 36-yard field goal attempt wide. INC – Start on own 20. Five plays to own 38 and punt. MAS – Start on own 22. March 78 yards in 14 plays capped by Lamonte Dixon’s 8-yard run on sprint counter draw-play. Big play, 22-yard Lee Hurst to Rameir Martin pass. Gary Miller’s P.A.T. kick comes at 1:37 of first quarter
Tigers 7, North Central 0 INC – Start on own 20 after kickoff. Lose a yard, then score on 81-yard bomb from Hale to Monte Bailey. Josh Nelson’s kick good at 0:19 of first quarter.
Tigers 7, North Central 7 MAS – Start on own 36 after kickoff. Three plays and punt. INC – Start on own 21. Drive to Tiger 21. Hale throws interception to Wright. MAS – Start on own 22. Lose ball on Greg Black interception. INC – Start on own 28. Score on fourth play, 68-yard Hale to Kelley pass. Nelson’s kick good at 0:29 of first half.
North Central 14, Tigers 7 MAS – Blake returns second-half kickoff 94 yards for TD. Miller kick good at 11:45 of third quarter.
Tigers 14, North Central 14 INC – Start on own 1 after kickoff. Eric Wright Hale in end zone for safety on first play.
Tigers 16, North Central 14 MAS – Start on own 39 after free kick. Drive 61 yards in nine plays, scoring on Sparkman’s 2-yard run. Miller’s Kick good at 8:22 of third quarter.
Tigers 23, North Central 14 INC – Start on Tiger 48 after kickoff. Buckland intercepts Hale’s bomb on second play. MAS – Start on own 9. Ten plays to INC 31, lose ball on downs. INC – Start on own 31. Five plays to 42, punt. MAS – Start on own 19. Fall on fake punt attempt on fourth down. INC – Start on Tiger 47. Fail to make first down on four plays. MAS – Start on INC 46. Score on 10th play. Ashcraft’s 5-yard run. Miller’s kick good at 3:26 of fourth quarter. INC – Fumble at 7 shortly after ensuing kickoff. Tigers’ Mark Murphy recovers. MAS – Drive 7 yards for touchdown. Scott Slicker goes in from 4 yards out. Miller’s kick good at 1:15 of fourth quarter.
MASSILLON 37 N. CENTRAL INDY 14
STATISTICS M INC First downs rushing 15 2 First downs passing 4 9 First downs by penalty 1 0 Totals first downs 20 11 Yards gained rushing 264 39 Yards lost rushing 15 43 Net yards rushing 249 -4 Net yards passing 80 295 Total yards gained 329 291 Passes attempted 18 24 Passes completed 6 14 Passes int. by 1 2 Times kicked off 6 3 Kickoff average 57.5 51.0 Kickoff return yards 142 92 Punts 2 3 Punting average 35.5 41.3 Punt return yards 0 2 Fumbles 0 2 Fumbles lost 0 2 Penalties 6 8 Yards penalized 50 61 Number of plays 67 47 Time of possession 25:09 22:51
Passing (Mas) Hurst 6-18-1, 80 (NC) Hale 14-24-2, 295.
Receiving (Mas) Harig 1-3, Martin 2-36, Manion 2-15, Sparkman 1-26. (NC) Bailey 3-119, Kelly 3-84, Mayes 1-19, Minor 1-6, Nelson 3-64, Nibbs 1-6, Woods 2-minus 3.
N. CENTRAL 7 7 0 0 14 MASSILLON 7 0 16 14 37
Mas – Dixon 8 run (Miller kick) NCI – Bailey 81 pass from Hale (Nelson kick) NCI – Kelly 67 pass from Hale (Nelson kick) Mas – Blake 94 kickoff return (Miller kick) Mas – Safety (Hale tackled in end zone) Mas – Sparkman 2 run (Miller kick) Mas – Ashcraft 5 run (Miller run) Mas – Slicker 4 run (Miller kick)
Tigers zip back to triumph 37-14
By MARK CRAIG Repository sports writer
MASSILLON – Not to be outdone by their opponents from Indianapolis, the Massillon Washington High School football team scored 16 points in the opening 3:38 of the third quarter Saturday night to beat North Central High School 37-14 in front of 9,179 fans at Paul Brown Tigers Stadium.
North Central got the Tigers all riled up by taking a 14-7 half time lead on John Hale touchdown passes of 81 yards to Monte Bailey and 68 yards to Harvey Kelley.
However, after one of Lee Owens’ more heated half time chats, Massillon junior Don Blake quickly erased whatever momentum the Panthers had when he took the second half kickoff and raced 95 yards for a touchdown.
“Coach said we needed a spark, and I knew it was time I take one back,” Blake said. “I’ve been close so many times this year. I just knew I’d get the TD tonight.”
The Tigers didn’t have to wait long for their next score. On the kickoff following Blake’s TD return. North Central’s deep man slipped and downed the ball inside the Panther 1.
On the first play from scrimmage. Hale tried to dive forward for some breathing room, but was smothered in the end zone by the entire interior line of the Tigers.
After receiving the punt following the safety. Massillon drove 61 yards in seven plays and scored with 8:22 left in the third. Ryan Sparkman, who led all rushers with 123 yards on 20 carries, went the final two yards, and Gary Miller tacked on the extra point.
Massillon added two more scores in the fourth quarter to complete the rout. Meanwhile, the defense, as junior defensive end Mike Martin phrased it, played like “controlled maniacs” in the second half. It limited the Panthers to 68 total yards offense in the second half, after giving up 233 in the first half.
“The way we played that entire second half seemed to be sparked by Don’s runback on the kickoff,” said Owens, whose team is 6-1. “We were so down at the half that I yelled as loud at the half as I have in a long, long time. I said things in there that can’t be printed in a family newspaper.”
Owens should have screamed at the beginning of the game.
After Massillon scored the first TD of the game on an eight-yard run by Lamonte Dixon (62 yards on 15 carries), North Central (5-2) quickly answered with Hale’s bomb to Bailey.
The Tiger defense was caught napping, which allowed Bailey to slip by the defenders, catch the ball at the Panther 40 and run untouched the rest of the way. With less than a minute left in the half, the Panthers struck again on Hale’s bomb to Kelley. Three plays after Massillon quarterback Lee Hurst threw an interception, Hale launched a pass to Kelley that was tipped by Massillon defensive back Chad Buckland.
While Buckland was bobbling the ball at mid field, Kelley raced in, grabbed the ball and ran the rest of the way untouched for a TD with 29 seconds left in the half.
That, however, is where Massillon’s defense stopped getting hammered.
“We really didn’t do anything differently technique-wise in the second half,” said Massillon defensive coordinator Dan Boarman. “We just went after them a little bit more.”
Massillon’s defense held the Panthers to minus-4 yards rushing. Hale finished with six completions in 12 attempts for 295 yards.
Offensively, Massillon gained 329 yards total offense. The Tigers rushed the ball 48 times in 249 yards. Hurst completed 6-of-18 passes for 80 yards. Rameir Martin caught two passes for 36 yards.
North Central 7 7 0 0 14 Massillon 7 0 16 14 37
M – Dixon 8 run (Miller kick) N – Bailey 81 pass from Hale (Josh Nelson kick) N – Kelley 68 pass from Hale (Josh Nelson kick) M – Blake 95 kickoff return (Miller kick) M – Safety, Hale tackled in end zone. M – Sparkman 2 run (Miller kick) M – Ashcraft 3 run (Miller kick) M – Slicker 4 run (Miller kick)
Massillon runs over North Central, 37-14
By MARK SCHNEIDER STAR STAFF WRITER The Indianapolis Star
Massillon, Ohio – They take their football seriously in Ohio, particularly in Massillon, a town of about 35,000, located 50 miles south of Cleveland.
A crowd of 9,179 spectators showed up Saturday night at 20,000-seat Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, named after Massillon’s former coach and most-famous alumnus, the Cincinnati Bengals owner.
The football-crazy people of Ohio were curious to see the 5-1 and eighth-ranked North Central Panthers from Indianapolis.
And Coach George Pappas’ boys showed the Buckeye folks some fancy football, Hoosier-style.
That is, before the Tigers kicked the door in for a 37-14 victory.
Massillon, a Division I (big school) team, blitzed North Central with a 16-point third quarter and added 14 more in the fourth period to improve its record to 6-1.
Massillon kicked in the door on the Panthers at the outset of the second half.
Don Blake ignited the Tigers’ 16-point third-quarter scoring blitz with a 94-yard return for a touchdown of the opening kickoff.
Then, on Massillon’s subsequent kickoff, North Central’s Greg Black fielded the ball inside the 1 – and slipped down to his knee on the artificial surface before he could go anywhere.
On North Central’s first play from scrimmage inside the 1, quarterback John Hale failed to get out of the end zone for a Massillon safety.
Suddenly, North Central was staring at a 16-14 deficit and Massillon fans were literally rocking and rolling I nthe stands to the tune of the pop rock song, “Shout.”
“That momentum shift was just tremendous,” acknowledged Pappas. “A momentum shift like that was just insurmountable.”
“It’s been an enjoyable trip over here, but to come out on the short end of a 37-14 score is not really too enjoyable.”
“Massillon is a great team and program. I mean, during the momentum shift the crowd reaction from down on the field was just tremendous…phenomenal.”
But that wasn’t the end of the misery for North Central. At 8:22 of the third period, Ryan Sparkman capped a 61-yard Massillon drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 23-14.
In the fourth quarter the Tigers struck twice more – Falando Ashcraft’s 3-yard run at 5:12 and Scott Slicker’s 4-yard trot at 3:26.
Massillon’s initial score came on Lamonte Dixon’s 8-yard touchdown run at 1:37 of the first quarter.
But North Central was not without its shining moments. As a matter of fact, the Panthers, now 5-2, led at half time 14-7.
Senior quarterback John Hale helped provide the fireworks for the Panthers, hitting Monte Bailey with an 81-yard scoring dart at :19 of the first quarter, and then Harvey Kelley with a 69-yarder with just :29 left before half time.
Hale finished the game on 14-of-24 passing for 295 yards.
Bailey topped North Central receivers with three catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Kelley and Tony Henderson had brilliant efforts for the Panthers.
All in all, it was a real eye-opener for the North Central program.
“All things considered, I think the kids played well,” praised Pappas. “I mean, we left Indianapolis at 5 a.m., got here at noon and practiced.”
“We were beaten by an excellent football team. But the kids will benefit from it all. And I think we came out a better football team because of it.”
North Central 7 7 0 0 14 Massillon 7 0 16 14 37
M – Dixon 8 run (Miller kick) NC – Bailey 81 pass from Hale (J. Nelson kick) NC – Kelley 67 pass from Hale (J. Nelson kick) M – Blake 94 kickoff return (Miller kick) M – Massillon safety (Hale tackled in end zone) M – Sparkman 2 run (Miller kick) M – Ashcraft 3 run (Miller kick) M – Slicker 4 run (Miller kick)