Part 1 – Spread Offense Quarterbacks in the Massillon Tiger Football Hall of Fame
The Tiger Football Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals that have made contributions to the Tiger football experience, whether it be a player, coach, band director or just an individual who has influenced the program in a positive way. Inductees are honored in the WHS Sports Hall with plaques that display the inductees’ contributions. As of 2022, a total of 105 members have been inducted.
This entry is Part 1 of a series that presents the inductees by playing position and features quarterbacks that competed during the period of the spread offense. The spread offense came into vogue in the late 1990s as teams with less skill talent or inadequate line size sought to improve their offenses by utilizing the passing game more than in previous years in an attempt score more points. For Massillon, this began in 1998 with the hiring of Head Coach Rick Shepas and the Tigers have utilized this concept ever since. The offense is characterized by aligning the quarterback in the shotgun position and utilizing one or more wide receivers on each side of the line. Characteristically, quarterbacks in this offense throw the ball around 40% of the time.
Three Massillon quarterbacks have gained Hall of Fame distinction during this period, including Kyle Kempt, Bobby Huth and Justin Zwick.
Kyle Kempt (2010-2012)
Kyle Kempt burst onto the scene during Week 3 of his sophomore year as a replacement in the game against Stow. Kempt then remained as the starter through the rest of his time at Massillon, winning 23 of his 32 starts, while playing under Head Coach Jason Hall.
As a sophomore he completed 111 of 205 (54%) passes for 1,643 yards and 14 touchdowns in helping his team to a 7-3 regular season mark and a birth in the state playoffs.
The next year Massillon again finished 7-3, with close losses to 9-2 Canton GlenOak and 9-3 Canton McKinley, only they failed to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, Kempt again put up some decent numbers, completing 84 of 168 passes (50%), with just 4 interceptions, for 1,335 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The breakout year came in 2012 with Kempt, now a co-captain and at 6’-5”, 200 lbs., leading his team to an 11-2 record and a runner-up finish in the playoff regional finals. He completed 194 of 292 passes (66%) for 2,056 yards and 32 touchdowns. His highlights were:
- A 34-14 victory over 9-2 Austintown Fitch, completing 18 of 25 passes for 308 yard and 4 touchdowns.
- A 44-23 win over 13-2 Akron St. Vincent. completing 14 of 22 passes for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Irish went on to capture the Division 3 state championship.
- A 37-29 regular season victory over 8-3 Canton McKinley, completing 16 of 32 passes for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns.
- A 28-19 playoff win over the Bulldogs, completing 11 of 17 passes for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns.
At the end of the season Kempt was named 2nd Team All-Ohio. He then accepted a scholarship offer to play for Oregon State and later transferred to Iowa State, where he finished his playing career and is now a Quality Control Assistant Coach.
At Massillon he completed 399 of 665 passes for 6,034 yards and 62 touchdowns. And he holds passing records for single game completions (29 vs. Canton GlenOak), season completion percentage (66.4%) and season average yards per game (235.1).
Bobby Huth (2004-06)
Huth was small in stature at 5’-9”, 160 lbs., but big in heart as a Massillon Tiger, leading his team for two years at the quarterback position. And at the end of his career, Bobby had his name all over the Massillon record book Top 10s. He played under Head Coach Tom Stacy.
After a modest beginning as a sophomore, Huth became the starter in 2005, completing 141 of 223 passes (63.2%) for 2,017 yards and 18 touchdowns in leading his team to the Division 1 state finals. Huth was a part of many significant victories that year, including the following:
- A 34-31 win over Elder at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.
- A first-ever win over Cleveland St. Ignatius, by the score of 29-26.
- A 21-3 playoff victory over 12-1 Canton McKinley, completing 9 of 11 passes and tossing a touchdown pass.
- A 21-17 win over 12-1 Cleveland St. Edward in the Division 1 state semifinals. In that one he passed for 230 yards and two TDs and led his team to victory after falling behind by ten points. He also completed an inconceivable 3rd and 30 for a first down during the winning drive.
- A 27-20 playoff victory over 10-2 Findlay. In that one he completed 10 of 13 passes.
- An appearance in the Division 1 state finals, where the Tigers were edged by unbeaten Cincinnati St. Xavier, 24-17.
The following season, as a team captain, Huth completed 151 of 260 passes (58%) for 1,955 yards and 21 touchdowns. His best performances came against Hamilton Chandler, Arizona, and Massillon Perry. In the Chandler game he completed 15 of 24 passes for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 35-26 win. Then, in a playoff game against Perry, he passed for 260 yards and three scores in a 41-20 win. For his effort that year he was named 2nd Team A.P. Division 1 All-Ohio quarterback.
Overall, he played in 29 games and was 20-7 as a starter. He also completed 297 of 495 passes (59%) for 4,077 yards. His completion percentage mark is 2nd all-time.
Justin Zwick (2000-01)
Justin Zwick transferred to Massillon after two years in Orrville, where he led his team to the Division 4 state championship as a freshman quarterback. He had all tools required of a big-time high school pocket quarterback, including size (6’-5”, 221 lbs.), arm strength and field vision. And he also fit nicely into Coach Rick Shepas’ spread offense.
In his junior year Zwick led the Tigers to an 8-3 record, including a spot in the playoffs. He also completed 191 of 346 passes (55%) for 2,455 yards and 23 touchdowns. His accomplishments included:
- A 40-7 victory over 12-2 Akron Buchtel, completing 18 of 32 passes for 187 yards and 5 TDs. Buchtel finished 3rd in Division 2.
- A 51-26 win over 8-2 Akron Garfield, completing 29 of 43 for 375 yards and 2 TDs.
- A 28-27 come-from-behind victory over Lakewood St. Edward, completing 16 of 29 passes for 243 yards and 1 TD.
At the end of the season he was named 1st Team All-Ohio.
As a senior co-captain he continued to be successful, with Massillon finishing 12-2 and capturing the playoff regional championship. Both of the losses that year came at the hands of eventual Division 1 state champ Cleveland St. Ignatius. During the season he completed 246 of 426 passes (58%) for 3,281 yards and 40 touchdowns. His highlights are as follows:
- A 59-0 victory over 8-2 Akron Garfield, completing 16 of 23 passes for 233 yards and 3 TDs.
- A 17-14 win over 8-3 Mansfield, completing 24 of 37 passes for 231 yards.
- A 36-19 victory over 8-3 Canton McKinley in the regular season, completing 16 of 23 passes for 245 yards and 2 TDs.
- A 35-19 win over Canton McKinley in the playoffs, completing 24 of 33 passes for 239 yards and 3 TDs
- A 27-7 playoff victory over North Canton, completing 23 of 38 passes for 252 yards and 2 TDs.
He was again named 1st Team All-Ohio. And, amid much media fanfare, he announced his acceptance of a scholarship offer to play for Ohio State. Following four years with the Buckeyes, he suited up with the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Football League.
For his career, Zwick completed 437 of 772 passes (57%) for 6,736 yards, 63 TDs. As a starter he was 20-5. He also set Massillon records for total yards in a game (407 vs. Dayton Chaminade), pass attempts in a game (60 vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius), pass completions in a game (29 vs. Akron Garfield), touchdown passes in a game (6 vs. Fremont Ross), total passing yards in a season (3,281), pass attempts in a season (426), pass completions in a season (246), touchdowns in a season (40) and average yards per game in a career (229.4).