Tag: <span>Jack Kenney</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 9

Tigers survive the trip to Fitch

Independent Correspondent

So, what about that Austin­town Fitch jinx?

It figured when the Massillon Tigers defeated the Falcons 10-­7 in 1994 at Falcon Stadium, the mystique was washed away.

However, as quickly as they broke the four‑game losing streak on Fitch’s home field, the Tigers nearly allowed the Falcons to rekindled the jinx. Friday night in sloppy Falcon Stadium, No. 1 ranked Massillon dodged a bullet, edging Fitch 10‑9.

The Tigers won their fifth straight game while the Falcons fell to 2‑3.

As in 1994, this game came down to one big Massillon offen­sive play and the legs of both teams’ kickers.

Two years ago, then­ Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer Jr. ran 88 yards for the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Nick Pribich hit a lengthy field goal that provided the margin of vic­tory.

In this year’s renewal of the series that began in 1985, it was tailback Christian Morgan who came up with the big play. Kick­er Josh Hose added the big kick.

With Fitch holding a 7‑3 lead and its defense denying the Ti­gers entry into the end zone, Morgan took a deep handoff from quarterback Ben Hymes and broke off right tackle, racing untouched 74 yards for a touchdown.

Morgan’s touchdown came at the 2:18 mark of the third quar­ter. Hose added what proved to be the game‑deciding extra­ point.

“It was our zone run to the split‑side,” said Massillon head coach Jack Rose. “He had come close to popping a couple in the first half. He had a hard time in the first half keeping his foot­ing. He was getting frustrated.

“We found out our tailbacks are not mudders.”

Morgan finished with 136 yards on 23 carries.

The Tigers had a three‑point lead, but they were far from victory. They lost their second fumble on their next possession, giving Fitch one last chance from its own 46‑yard line and 6:04 left in the fourth quarter.

“Both turnovers were critic­al,” Rose said. “You lose a fum­ble and you lose field position.”

Fitch, which had taken the lead on a 5‑yard run by O’Dom­mi Wellington at the 6:47 mark of third quarter, promptly drove deep into Tiger territory.

A personal foul call against Massillon aided the drive. The ball was moved to the Tiger 18­yard line.

Three plays later, the Fal­cons were eight yards away from taking their second lead of ­the game.

On first‑and‑goal, Massillon senior Bud Kraft snuffed out an option play and stuffed Fitch quarterback Russ Houser for a 2-yard loss. Massillon defensive back Dustin Limbach then broke up a pass on second down. Kraft did likewise on third down.

“The defensive line was real­ly charged up and we had great leaders out there,” said Kraft. “We were worried, but we hung tough.”

Fitch opted to try and tie the game. Placekicker Chris Cal­cagni, who was being touted as a Division I prospect, tried a 26-­yard field goal. He sent the ball wide right by a matter of in­ches, his third miss of the game.

“We were so sure we’d get the three I was willing to go into overtime, especially with our kicker,” said Fitch head coach Jack Kenney. “Chris was 100 percent on field goals and extra points coming into the game. I feel bad for him.”

Calcagni also missed a poten­tial tying field goal in the 1994 Massillon game.

The final points of the game came on an intentional safety by Massillon. Punter Eric Lightfoot ran out of the end zone with 13 seconds left to play.

“We just get drilled by the No. 6 team (Lakewood St. Edward) and then comes the No. 1 team (Massillon),” said Kenney. “Our kids came off the field upset because they know we maybe should have beaten the No. 1 team.

“Massillon has all the ingre­dients (to be worthy of its No. 1 ranking). They have great coaches, big, fast players and the Massillon program in itself is outstanding.”

In an uneventful first half, the Massillon defense bent but did not break while the offense sputtered. Massillon’s four pos­sessions wound up with three punts and a lost fumble.

Finally, the Tigers got un­tracked on their last possession of the first half. Hymes ignited an 11‑play, 69‑yard drive.

The senior quarterback kept the drive alive with two third­ down completions to split end Devin Williams. The second completion covered 11 yards and moved the ball to the Fitch 36.

On the ensuing play, Hymes hit senior Brian Baer deep over the middle for 27 yards, moving the ball to the Fitch 9‑yard line.

The drive stalled, but Hose salvaged it with a 23‑yard field goal with only 15 seconds remaining until intermission.

That drive accounted for all but 52 of Massillon’s first half yards.

Fitch moved the football in­side the Massillon 35 on its first two series. The first drive ended when the Falcons turned the ball over on downs. The first of the three missed field goals en­ded the second march.

“It’s nice to be 5‑0, but with Walsh (Jesuit) next week, we don’t get a break,” said Kraft.

First downs rushing 7 8
First downs passing 3 2
First downs penalty 1 1
Total first downs 11 11
Net yards rushing 177 118
Net yards passing 58 33
Total yards gained 235 151
Passes attempted 11 11
Passes completed 5 4
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 46.0 60.0
Kickoff return yards 0 61
Punts 5 5
Punting average 29.8 37.2
Punt return yards 24 10
Fumbles 4 2
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 39 10
Number of plays 54 60
Time of possession 22:17 25:43

MASSILLON 0 3 7 0 10
FITCH 0 0 7 2 9


Second Quarter
M ‑ Hose 23 field goal

Third Quarter
F ‑ Wellington 4 run (Calcagni kick)
M ‑ Morgan 74 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
F ‑ Safety: Massillon punter downed in end zone


Morgan 23‑136, 1 TD;
Stefanko 6-4;
Hymes 10‑9.
Hunter 12-­42;
Wellington 11‑33 1 TD

Hymes 5‑11 ‑58, 0 TD, 0 ints.
Houser 4‑10‑33 0 TD. 0 ints.

Williams 2‑24;
Baer 1‑28.
London 2‑20.

Paul Salvino

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1995: Massillon 21, Austintown Fitch 14

Tigers overcome injuries, Fitch

Independent Sports Editor

Call it a character builder.

The Massillon Tigers, severely handicapped by the loss to injury of their leading rusher and leading receiver, dug deep and came out with a 21-14 victory over an inspired Austintown Fitch crew in front of 10,922 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday.

Massillon (4‑1 ) had to do it without Vinny Turner, who suffered a pulled hamstring in the final seconds of the first half that prevented him from going 78-yards for a touchdown, and Vaughn Mohler, who may be done for the season with a torn lateral cruciate ligament.

Program Cover

Clinging to a 14‑7 lead, Massillon began the second half by marching 67 yards in 15 plays. The sustained drive ate 7:17 off the game clock and was capped by George Whitfield’s one‑yard quarterback sneak into the end zone. Josh Hose added the conversion kick and the Tigers had the game under control at 21‑7.

Whitfield ran the football six times on the drive for 32 yards and hit Dustin Limbach for seven yards and a first down.

Raphel Bradley (6‑2, 215­-pounds) started the second half in Turner’s place and came up big for the Tigers. The junior tailback rushed six time for 22 yards on the march and icked up a pair of first downs.

”That was a critical drive there,” Rose agreed. “We had to go with Raphel and he did a good job for us. He carried it well for us and blocked well.

”That drive took eight mi­nutes off the clock. You do that and you’re going to be hard to beat.”

Fitch head coach Jack Kenney admitted he was feeling good about his teams chances after learning Turner was through for the night.

“We said we’re going to come out and we’re going to stuff them right now and we didn’t and they go in and score,” Ken­ney said. “That was a defining moment in this ball game.

“When Turner Went down I was prepared for them to go into more of a passing game. But they just come up with somebody else. They have a lot of great athletes around here.”

Fitch came right back after Massillon went up by 14 and moved the ball from its 25 to the Tiger 23, where the Falcons had first‑and‑10. But Jared Stefanko stuffed quarterback Jeff Lawrence on an option keeper for a two‑yard loss, and two plays la­ter Henry McElroy batted down a pass in the end zone to quell the visitors’ threat.

The gang from Austintown wasn’t through, though. After a pass interference call on Massillon, Lawrence hit David Yargo between the numbers at the Tiger 30. The ball bounced off Yargo’s pads and was grabbed in midair by Fitch’s Chayne Mitchell who sprinted into the end zone for an “immaculate reception” touchdown that covered 53 yards.

Chris Calcagni tacked on the PAT and it was a 21‑14 game with just under six minutes to play.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Tiger’s went three‑and‑out and punted. Fitch took over at its 37 with 3:24 to play. The Falcons managed a pair of first downs and penetrated to the Massillon 40. On first down at that point, Eric Lightfoot sacked Lawr­ence for a six‑yard loss. Two plays later, with Paul Salvino pressuring Lawrence, Stefanko intercepted the Fitch quarter­back at the 30‑yard line to secure the victory.

“Jared had a great drop and read the quarterback real well,” Rose said. “That was a great play at a very important time.”

Whitfield had a fine all ­around game for the Tigers, rushing for 59 yards in 15 totes. He hit on 7‑of‑15 passes for another 59 yards and 1 touchdown. But it was the senior’s execution of the option that left Rose smiling.

“That’s going to help us down the road.” Rose said. George was hitting option alley and took it right in there. He doesn’t need to pitch it a lot be­cause they’re going to try to take away the pitch man and make him run it. He is a big, strong back and he call take it up in there. He is a strong runner and he just needs to assert himself out there.”

Kenney, too, was impressed with Whitfield’s contributions.

“He gives Massillon a very, very balanced, nice attack,” Kenney said. ”That makes it difficult because we couldn’t gang up on anything.

“Their coaches were right in tune. Whatever we’d give, they’d take. They’re well prepared, as you’d expect from a class outfit like this. It was their balanced attack that kept us off guard.”

Massillon opened the scoring by moving the ball 42 yards in nine plays after Fitch went three-and –out on its first possession.

Turner, who finished with 123 yards on 10 carries, had the big play with a 14‑yard burst off right guard that took the ball to the 11. Two plays later, Whitfield rolled left and found tight end Chris Martin for a nine yard TD at the 6:00 mark of the first period.

Fitch counterpunched with a textbook, 14-play, 77-yard drive, that ate up nearly seven minutes. Chris Hunter scored standing up from a yard away with just over a minute gone in the second period. Calcagni’s kick made it a 7-7 contest.

After an exchange of punts, Massillon moved from its 39 to the Fitch 22 where it faced second‑and‑seven. Whitfield dropped back to pass and I threw what appeared to be a sure interception to Lawrence. But the pass went through the Falcon DB’s hands and was caught by Devin Williams at the three yard line.

On the next snap, Turner went in over right guard and tackle. Hose’s conversion boot made it 14-7 with 3:00 to go in the half.

“I think that was the real heartbreaker,” lamented Ken­ney. “If we go in at 7-7, we’d certainly have had a lot more confidence for the second half.”

Actually, Fitch dodged another bullet a couple of mi­nutes later when Turner pulled up lame on what looked to be a sure TD jaunt.

”Oh, yeah, he’s gone for a touchdown,” Rose said. ”We have it walled off and Vinny’s going down the sidelines for an 80‑yard run.

“But Raphel is going to do a good job for us. He is a strong back with great speed. he will break a tackle, get into the secondary and he will be gone.”

But Rose wasn’t all smiles afterward. In addition to the injuries to Turner and Mohler, he was upset with his team’s inability to keep the yellow flags in the officials’ pockets.

“We had six penalties tonight for 73 yards and they played error free ball evidently,” Rose said. “ We’re got to learn to not make those mistakes. We were in a mode where we could’ve got another touchdown drive going.

First downs rushing 10 8
First downs passing 5 4
First downs penalty 0 3
Total first downs 15 15
Net yards rushing 245 109
Net yards passing 59 108
Total yards gained 304 217
Passes attempted 15 14
Passes completed 7 5
Passes int. 1 1
Times kicked off 4 3
Kickoff average 52.0 52.7
Kickoff return yards 68 76
Punts 3 2
Punting average 37.7 25.5
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 0 1
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 6 0
Yards penalized 73 0
Number of plays 53 51
Time of possession 26:01 21:59
Attendance 10,922

FITCH 0 7 0 7 14
MASSILLON 7 7 7 0 21


First Quarter
M ‑ Martin 9 pass from Whitfield (Hose kick)

Second Quarter
F ‑ Hunter 1 run (Calcagni kick)
M ‑ Turner 3 run (Hose kick)

Third Quarter
M ‑ Whitfield 1 run (Hose kick)

Fourth Quarter
F ‑ Mitcliell 53 pass from Lawrence (Calcagni kick)


Turner 10‑123, 1 TD;
Whitfield 15‑59, 1 TD;
Bradley 7‑32
Wonsick 6‑31
Hunter 14‑54, 1 TD;
London 6‑27;
Lawrence 12‑19;
Mullennex 3‑6;
Toth 1‑3.

Whitfield 7‑15‑1, 59 yards 1 TD.
Lawrence, 5‑14‑1, 108 yards 1 TD.

Williams 2‑29;
Wiles 2‑9;
Martin 1‑9, 1 TD;
Limbach 1‑7;
Mohler 1‑5.
London 2‑40;
Chine 2‑15;
Mitchell 1‑53, 1 TD

George Whitfield

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 7

Pribich boots the Fitch ‘jinx’
Spencer’s long TD is key to win

Independent Sportswriter

It’s amazing what one play and a little momentum can do for a football team.

The play?

Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer’s 86‑yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Thus, the momentum.

The result?

A Nick Pribich 40‑yard field goal with 2:58 remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 10‑7 win over Austintown Fitch at Falcon Stadium on Friday.

“This is a great win. This puts us over the hump,” a tearful Spencer said as he made his way toward the locker room. “We beat a great team. It is ex­actly what we needed.”

The win ends the Tigers’ los­ing streak at Falcon Stadium ‑ Massillon had been dealt four losses in four tries ‑ but it didn’t come without some an­xious moments in the game’s final three minutes.

Pribich’s go‑ahead kick appeared to take the wind out of Fitch’s sails. The Falcons were down … but they weren’t out.

Starting from its own 11 after a mishandled kickoff, Fitch struck quickly.

On the first play from scrimmage, Falcon quarterback, Rich Marinelli found Jeff Hawkins down the middle for 53 yards, and a face mask, against Massillon put the ball on the Tiger 21.

The threat died two plays la­ter when Marinelli fumbled a snap and Massillon’s Brad Lambrou recovered, giving the Tigers the ball and ‑ it appeared ‑ the win.

Not so.

As the Tigers worked to run out the clock, Spencer swept left end and lost the handle, with Fitch recovering at the Massil­lon 11.

Fullback Mike Stanec bulled six yards to the five; Marinelli dove ahead to the 4; and, with no timeouts left, threw out of bounds on third down to stop the clock.

That left Falcon kicker Chris Calcagni facing a 21‑yard field goal to send the game into over­time.

Calcagni, who gave Fitch a 10‑7 win over Lakewood St. Ed­ward a week ago, couldn’t re­peat his heroics.

His kick sailed wide right, giving Massillon the win, an end to the Falcon Stadium jinx and a 4‑1 mark on the year.

“We called the keeper and we told Willie to just fall down instead of taking the hit,” Tiger coach Jack Rose said of the late miscue. “We were going to run one more play, then take a safe­ty. We figured there would be six or seven seconds left and we would win the darn thing 10‑9.

“Our defense made the big plays when it had to. It seemed like neither team wanted to win this one.”

“It was the greatest feeling ever. I just went numb,” Pribich said of his game‑winning boot. “When we got the ball back, coach told me to start loosening up and said that a field goal was going to win the game.”

Massillon’s clinching drive started on its own 43‑yard line after a Fitch punt.

On first down, Spencer hand­ed off to tailback Leon Ashcraft on a routine off‑tackle play. Ashcraft was stopped for no gain, but managed to pitch the ball back to Spencer, who gained 18 yards to the Fitch 39.

From there, Massillon moved to a first down at the 26, but the drive stalled three plays later at the 23.

On came Pribich, drilling his 40‑yarder to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

“Nick had been hitting con­sistent 30‑yarders in pregame, so we knew that if we could get it down around the 30 we had a shot,” Rose said. “We were trying to keep the ball on the left hash because he kicks better from there. That’s why we were running to the sideline.”

“Nobody stopped us, we stop­ped ourselves,” Fitch Head Coach Jack Kenney said. “We kept finding ways to win, but we kept stopping ourselves.”

In the days leading up to the contest, Rose stressed the strength of the Fitch defense. First‑half action proved him right, as the Tigers could man­age only 76 yards of total offense.

In that same span, the Falcons rolled up 224 yards and dominated on both sides of the ball, but managed only a 7‑0 halftime lead.

That score came on a 43‑yard touchdown strike from Marinelli to Mark Cruz.

Fitch continued to dominate in the third quarter, but failed to hit paydirt.

The fourth quarter was a different story, as the Tigers be­gan to roar. On the strength of play in the final period, Massil­lon wound up out gaining Fitch 176 yards to 157 yards over the final 24 minutes.

For the game, Spencer led the Tigers with 122 yards on the ground in 22 carries, while Ashcraft finished with 90 yards in 18 carries.

First downs rushing 7 15
First downs passing 2 3
First downs penalty 0 1
Total first downs 9 19
Net yards rushing 218 260
Net yards passing 32 119
Total yards gained 250 379
Passes attempted 12 17
Passes completed 4 4
Passes int. 0 0
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 53.7 57.0
Kickoff return yards 27 39
Punts 6 5
Punting average 31.7 31.2
Punt return yards 8 22
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 4 10
Yards penalized 39 96
Number of plays 49 66
Time of possession 20:40 27:20

FITCH 0 7 0 0 7
MASSILLON 0 0 0 10 10


Second Quarter
F ‑ Cruz 43 pass from Marinelli (Calcagni kick)

Fourth Quarter
M ‑ Spencer 86 run (Pribich kick)
M ‑ Pribich 40 FG


Spencer 15‑121, 1 TD;
Ashcraft 18‑90.
Stanec 24‑147,
Evans 11‑51.

Spencer 4‑12‑32.
Marinelli 4‑17‑119, 1 TD.

Mohler 1‑20.
Yargo 2‑23.

Leon Ashcraft