Tag: <span>Kreg Rotthoff</span>


2000: Massillon 13, Marion Harding 17

Tigers are flagged In playoff opener
Marion Harding garners 17‑13 win; Refs hit Massillon with 15 penalties

Independent Sports Editor

They say you can call holding on virtually every play in a football game and it seemed the officials in Saturday’s Massillon‑Marion Harding regional quarterfinal playoff game were intent on doing just that.

In the end, the eighth offensive holding penalty of the game against the Tigers nullified a 53‑yard Justin Zwick touchdown run and Marion Harding escaped Massillon with a 17‑13 victory as a stunned throng looked on at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Fifteen minutes after the game ended, the east stands of the venerable stadium remained crowded as Tiger partisans seemed to be waiting to wake up from a bad dream.

“Penalties helped us a lot all night long,” conceded Marion Harding coach Tim Hinton. “I know the people in Massillon are going to talk about that part of the game for a long, long time. But I don’t control that part.”

Massillon was penalized a total of 15 times for 153 yards in the contest.

Tiger coach Rick Shepas declined comment on the officiating but tipped his hat to the Presidents, who will get a chance to avenge a regular season‑ending loss to Mansfield when they meet the Tygers in a regional semifinal game next Saturday.

“Marion Harding came in very excited for this football game and very well prepared,” Shepas said. “They are very well coached. They have some outstanding skill players. And they did an outstanding job.

“We had opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. We played very well at times.

We hurt ourselves at times. I give my kids a lot of credit. They played with character all year long. We’ve overcome a great deal of adversity and made some great progress ourselves.”

David Abdul drilled a 48‑yard field goal to give the Tigers a 13‑10 lead in the game with 8:53 to play in the fourth quarter. It was Massillon’s only tally in the second half of the game.

Marion Harding then put together the game‑winning drive, beginning at its own 20 after Abdul’s kickoff reached the end zone.

Quarterback Kyle Adams picked up a first down at the 37 on a 14‑yard option keeper around left end. Three plays later, Rod Keller got the ball on the belly play and generated another first down at the 47.

The Presidents kept grinding it out, reaching the Massillon 35. On second down, Adams dropped back to pass and nearly had his throw picked off.

The reprieve was key as Adams, on the very next play, executed a throwback screen to Vacarro Bracy, who carried the ball down the left sideline 34 yards to the end zone for the go‑ahead score. It was only third reception all season long for the senior tailback.

“We used that play last week against Mansfield Senior and had a big score on it,” Hinton said.”They didn’t ask for the Mansfield tape. I don’t know if they scouted that game or what. So I thought maybe it was worth a shot and they wouldn’t recognize it, and they didn’t.”

Jeremy Krausz got the extra point through the uprights and ‑ with 1:35 to play following the seven‑minute, 14‑play drive ‑ it was desperation time for the Tigers.

Starting at its own 11, after yet another holding penalty on the kickoff return, Massillon made its final run. Perry James picked up 13 on a draw play. A motion penalty nullified a 20‑yard James run before Zwick hit Montale Watkins for a 20‑yard gain to the 44.

A short pass to Jesse Robinson advanced the ball to the 47, but two incompletions later it was fourth‑and‑seven for Massillon. Zwick dropped back to pass, looked to his right then began to scramble left. The field seemed to open up in front of the junior signal caller and he turned on the jets down the sideline.

As Zwick reached the 10‑yard line and it was clear he was going to score, an official trailing the play threw a penalty flag 20 yards behind the Tiger quarterback and bedlam erupted. Even the usually stoic Shepas was incensed, charging a few steps onto the field before thinking better of it.

‘The call was holding and the ball was placed at the Marion 38‑yard line with a few ticks on the clock remaining. A final‑play desperation throw toward the end zone was intercepted, ensuring the Presidents’ triumph.

“That’s a great, great football team we had to play tonight,” Hinton said. “Give Coach Shepas and that team a lot of credit. They had a lot of adversity on those penalties. They kept fighting back and fighting back. They did a heck of a job.”

The Presidents opened the game as if they were going to blow the Tigers right out of their own stadium, following a 40‑yard kickoff return by Travis Harrah that gave the visitors superb field position at their own 45‑yard line.

Adams got Harding off on the right foot with a 21‑yard completion to Derick Ross to the Massillon 35. Rod Keller’s five‑yard run picked up another first down at the Tiger 23, and one play later Adams dropped a perfectly thrown pass into the arms of Rick Beechum in the end zone for six.

Krausz added the point‑after‑touchdown and Marion Harding was celebrating a 7‑0 lead at 9:00 of the first quarter.

Massillon went three‑and‑out on its initial possession of the evening and a 22‑yard punt return by Ross gave the Presidents good field position once again at midfield.

The Tigers got the ball back when Jared Frank recovered Ross’s fumble after Adams completed a screen pass to the elusive wideout.

Massillon embarked on a 13‑play drive ‑ featuring eight carries by senior running back Perry James ‑ but the Tigers had to settle for a 51‑yard Abdul field goal at 10:05 of the second quarter to make it a 7‑3 Marion Harding advantage.

Harding moved from its 20 to the Massillon 40 on its ensuing possession. The drive stalled when Tiger cornerback Matt Shem made a great recovery to bat away a sure touchdown pass to Ross and the Presidents were forced to punt.

Massillon, taking over at its 10‑yard line, began to click. Zwick hit Robinson along the right sideline for 13 yards.

James swept around left end for 12 yards. Zwick meshed with Devon Jordan along the left sideline for 11 yards.

And James went up the middle for 10 more yards. On four consecutive plays, the Tigers picked up four first downs, moving to the Harding 41.

Two more James runs netted 11 yards and another first down but a holding call against the Tigers set up second‑and‑14.

Zwick dropped back and found Jeremiah Drobney all alone in the middle of the Harding secondary for a 30‑yard pickup to the 3.

Another holding call moved the ball back to the 11 but Zwick got it back and more, scrambling around his right side behind a fine block by James for the touchdown.

Abdul’s kick made it 10‑7 at 2:17 of the first half and that score held at intermission.

First downs rushing 8 9
First downs passing 6 6
First downs by penalty 1 1
TOTAL first downs 15 16
Net yards rushing 189 170
Net yards passing 114 133
TOTAL yards 303 303
Passes attempted 18 18
Passes completed 8 11
Passes intercepted 1 0
Punts 3 2
Punting average 54 30
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 2/2
Penalties 15 7
Yards penalized 153 51

MASSILLON 0 10 0 3 13
MARION 7 0 3 7 17

MH ‑ Beechum 23‑yard pass from Adams (Krausz kick)
M ‑ FG Abdul 50
M ‑ Zwick 11‑yard run (Abdul kick)
MH ‑ FG Krausz 31
M ‑ FG Abdul 48
MH ‑ Bracy 34‑yard pass from Adams (Krausz kick)

Massillon rushing: James 21‑123, Zwick 3‑56, King 2‑5, Oliver 1‑5.
Marion rushing: Bracy 13‑76, Adams 7‑41, Keller 6‑21, Troutman 5‑15, Barron 2‑7.

Massillon passing: Zwick 8‑17‑114 INT, Williams 0‑1‑0.
Marion passing: Adams 11‑17‑133 2 TDs, Ross 0‑1‑0.

Massillon receiving: Drobney 3‑65, Watkins 1‑20, Robinson 2‑16, Jordan 1‑11, Williams 1‑2.
Marion receiving: Ross 4‑41, Bracy 1‑34, Beechum 1‑23, Pezley 2‑20, Braddy 2‑6, Woods 1‑9.

Statistics courtesy of Richard Cunningham

Is there a target on the Tigers?

The real victims in last Saturdays controversial Massillon‑Marion Harding playoff game are the players … and maybe not just the ones wearing the orange‑and‑black.

Certainly when considering the consequences of the ‘Flagfest at PB.’, the Tigers got the worst of it. The sequence of events that led up to the final 17‑14 defeat and elimination from the playoffs was shattering to the fans, let alone the players themselves.

For the 70 or so young men that comprise the Massillon football roster, it was a gut‑wrenching way to wrap up 11 months of preparations, beginning last December when the off‑season weight‑training program commenced.

Those boys had to feel as if the outcome of the game, and thus their season, was determined not by themselves or even the guys on the other sideline. They all must believe in their hearts their fate was sealed by the game officials.

Ironically, the Presidents of Marion Harding could feel victimized as well. Their hard‑fought victory over Massillon, a win which gives instant credibility to any football program, is now tainted somewhat by the questions surrounding the flood of penalty flags against the Tigers.

And a flood it was. Of Biblical proportions.

Official statistics had the number of penalties against Massillon at 15 for 153 yards, compared to seven for 51 yards against Marion Harding.

But the back‑breaker was nine holding penalties against the Tiger offense or kick return team, especially the one that brought back what would have been a game­ winning 53‑yard touchdown run by Justin Zwick in the final half­ minute of play.

Now, there’s been talk from both camps that the Tiger offensive linemen, “hold on every play.”

If that is indeed the case, why wasn’t it called more often during the Tigers’ 10‑game regular season? When a team passes the football as often as this one does, the zebras certainly had ample opportunity to whistle offensive holding infractions.

My own highly‑unofficial statistics for eight Massillon games this season had the Tigers committing 13 holding penalties in those contests. The most in one game was three against Akron Garfield, and there were no holding flags at all in the St. Ignatius game, which just happens to feature Ohio’s best tandem of defensive ends, including University of Michigan‑bound Pat Massey.

So how in the world does a team averaging two holding penalties per game suddenly and without warning ‑ the Tigers had only one holding penalty the week before against McKinley ‑ begin grabbing and clutching the opponent enough to draw NINE holding penalties?

When something like this happens, you have to consider cause and effect. Has Massillon’s reputation been sullied so much by the Jesse Scott recruiting allegations and subsequent court cases that the Tigers can’t get a fair shake on the gridiron?

Or was this simply a case of a referee calling what he truly believed to be holding penalties against the Massillon offensive line?

And one more question to ponder. If this officiating crew was especially vigilant on the holding call, where was the flag on Marion Harding’s game‑winning touchdown play when a Tiger tackler was dragged down by a blocker … in the open field no less?

I don’t believe in conspiracies but I do know if an athletic program take the Miami Hurricanes football team for instance gets branded as an outlaw program, it is a target on their back and it’s hard to shake.

Let’s hope all the recruiting … uh, stuff that has been thrown against Massillon’s wall isn’t starting to stick, making the Tigers a target for every official who buys into the bad‑boy image and decides to take matters into his own hands.

Joe Shaheen is sports editor of The Independent.

Kreg Rotthoff

2000: Massillon 13, Canton McKinley 9

Tigers overcome mistakes, McKinley in 13‑9 win
James runs over, around, through Bulldogs

Independent Sports Editor

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t especially impressive, but the Massillon Tigers came up big in the fourth quarter to post an uneven 13‑9 victory over the McKinley Bulldogs in front of a capacity crowd of 17,957 Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Program Cover

The Tigers trailed their arch‑rivals 9‑7 with 10:45 to play when they began the game‑winning march at their own 9‑yard line. With everyone in the crowd looking for the vaunted Massillon passing game to come into play, head coach Rick Shepas instead turned to 1,000‑yard rusher Perry James, and the senior responded in a big way.

Massillon’s resulting 11‑play scoring drive included no fewer than nine running plays, including a 38‑yard burst by James that moved the football from the Massillon 37 to the McKinley 25.

James put the football in the end zone on a sweep around the right side of the Massillon offensive line, which did its job so well that the Tiger running back was never touched on the play.

Massillon’s pass for the two‑point conversion failed, but the Tigers were up by four points with just 5:43 to play.

After the ensuing kickoff, a sack of McKinley quarterback Ben Palumbo by Tiger defensive end Brian Leonard doomed the drive, and the Bulldogs were forced to punt the ball away. Canton would get the pigskin back deep in its own territory with less than 30 seconds to play, only to see a Justin Princehorn interception seal their fate.

The victory gives the Tigers an 8‑2 regular season slate and improves Rick Shepas’ three‑year record at Massillon to 22‑9. Up next is a home playoff game Saturday against 8‑2 Marion Harding.

The Tigers first touchdown Saturday came on Robert Oliver’s eight‑yard run that capped off a nine‑play, 56‑yard drive at 8:29 of the second quarter. David Abdul’s kick made it 7‑0.

A McKinley 23‑yard field goal in the final minute of the first half made it 7‑3 and the Bulldogs took a 9‑7 lead on Chad Anderson’s one‑yard vault into the end zone at 10:50 of the fourth quarter.

The Pups then kicked off to Massillon and the Tigers had to begin their march at their own 9.

That only prolonged the agony for McKinley as the orange‑and‑black rang the victory bell in the 107th all-time meeting between the Ohio high school football powers.

Sideline moods
told game story

Independent Sports Writer

With 10:50 left to go in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game between the Massillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs, a sense of urgency rippled along the Massillon sidelines.

The Tigers had just fallen two points behind on a one‑yard dive into the end zone by McKinley fullback Chad Anderson.

“Let’s go, right now,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said to his offensive unit. “We have to pick it up.”

The Massillon offensive line, which had been neutralized by the smaller McKinley defensive front, received a tongue‑lashing from tackles coach Frank Page.

“You guys have to come off the ball better,” he said, while looking at each member of the interior line in the eye. “You have to move.”

The Tigers listened and responded, driving 91 yards in 11 plays for the game‑winning touchdown. Perry James’ 12‑ yard touchdown run with 5:43 to go reclaimed the lead for Massillon, which overcame three turnovers and 60 yards in penalties to finish 8‑2 in the regular season and earn its second straight playoff berth.

When James crossed the goal‑line at the northeast corner of the field, the Massillon players erupted with jubilation.

“Way to block, baby,” sophomore linebacker Shawn Crable yelled to senior center Kreg Rotthoff, who had just trotted off the field with the rest of the offensive unit.

“This is our game, now,” added offensive tackle Jamarr Moore, who hobbled over to talk with sophomore tackle Reggie McCullough.”

The jubilation was tempered a bit, however, as McKinley prepared to receive the ensuing kickoff.

There was still plenty of time for the Bulldogs to rally.

Nobody knew that better than senior defensive lineman Mike Burchell, who paced the sidelines between the 40 and 50, reminding his defensive teammates to maintain their concentration.

“This game isn’t over yet,” he screamed. “We still have to stop them.”

Just in case Burchell’s words weren’t heeded, defensive tackles coach Gary Wells issued one simple message to the defense as McKinley began the possession on its own 13.

“Hold them to three‑and‑out,” Wells said.

The Massillon defense responded, forcing McKinley to punt from its own end zone as the clock wound down under 4:00.

The Tigers regained possession at their 33 with 3:47 showing. Sensing victory, several Massillon players on the sidelines enthusiastically supported the offense.

“Let’s go, ‘O’! Let’s go, ‘0’” they shouted. “Let’s move the ball!”

Once again, Massillon responded. Six running plays and a personal foul penalty flagged on McKinley helped the Tigers move the ball from their 33 to the McKinley 25.

While the Bulldogs stopped the Tigers on a fourth down running play, they had only 30 seconds to move 75 yards for the game‑winning touchdown.

Massillon defensive coordinator Chris DiLoretto strode confidently along the sidelines, but said nothing.

He was content to watch the defense try to make a play to cement the victory.

With fans for both teams roaring, the Massillon defense made the big play.

Anderson’s option pass was picked off by linebacker Justin Princehorn near midfield, setting off a wild celebration along the Massillon sidelines.

“Now,” smiled sophomore offensive tackle P.J. Simon. “It’s over.”

In the first half, the mood on the Massillon sideline was businesslike.

When one Massillon receiver failed to catch a long pass in the waning seconds of the first quarter, Shepas waited for the player to come off the field, then calmly said a few words to him.

“That was a catchable ball,” Shepas said. “Just relax.”

The game was scoreless for most of the first half. The Massillon sideline was relatively quiet, observing the action, waiting for the “Air Raid” offense to sustain a drive.

Massillon did, moving 55 yards on eight plays. Quarterback Justin Zwick’s 14‑yard scramble to the McKinley 8 was greeted with thunderous applause from his teammates on the sidelines.

“It’s gonna happen,” Crable said.

The “it” ‑ an anticipated Massillon touchdown ‑ came two plays later on an eight-yard run by Robert Oliver at the 8:29 mark of the second quarter, a score that broke a scoreless tie.

“Great job, offense,” Shepas said calmly.

Shepas was anything but calm, however, on‑the second of two pass interference penalties that moved the ball to the Massillon 16 during a drive that began at the McKinley 12. He pointed a finger at the side judge and gave him an earful of opinion on the call.

McKinley went on to score on a 29‑yard field goal by Matt Prendes, and seemed energized by that three pointer.

The Bulldogs refused to go away the rest of the game. As the third quarter was winding down and McKinley driving for its first and only touchdown, the Massillon sideline grew quiet.

Strength and conditioning coach Steve Studer noticed the silence. It irritated Studer, an All‑Ohio center for the Tigers in 1970. He understood what the McKinley rivalry meant.

“You guys are dead on this sideline,” he yelled to the players. “Let’s show some life. Let’s make something happen.”

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers made things happen on both sides of the football. When the clock hit three zeroes in the fourth quarter, Studer smiled as he listened to the Massillon players whoop it up, celebrating a hard‑fought victory.

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 28, Lakewood St. Edward 27

Tigers survive a shootout with St. Ed
Abdul’s clutch 36‑yard field goal gives Massillon a 28‑27 victory

Independent Sports Writer

Maintaining their poise with the outcome on the line, the Massillon Tigers executed the two‑minute offense to perfection, putting themselves in position to win a football game.

Program Cover

And junior kicker David Abdul delivered a 36‑yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining, lifting the Tigers to a 28‑27 victory over Lakewood St. Edward before 6,000 at Lakewood Stadium, Friday night.

“We told him he would get opportunities to kick a lot of field goals and he has done a great job for us,” said Massillon head coach Rick Shepas.

Abdul booted the game winning field goal after Massillon had called time out to set up the kick, followed by back‑to‑back St. Edward time‑outs to ice the kicker.

“I didn’t mind the wait,” smiled Abdul. “Those two (St. Edward time‑outs) kind of relaxed me.”

Abdul, a 5‑foot‑9, 174‑pound junior, booted the ball from the left hashmark. The kick cleared the uprights by 15 yards.

“Everything was perfect,” Abdul said. “The snap by (sophomore) James Helschel was perfect. Marquis Williams is a great holder and he got the ball down quickly.”

Williams, a 5‑ 11, 168‑pound junior, gave Helschel plenty of credit. “He isn’t our regular snapper,” Williams said. “He did a great job in a pressure situation of making a good snap.”

Massillon, which improved to 7‑2 heading into next Saturday’s rivalry against McKinley, got the ball back on its own 16‑yard line and trailing 27‑25 with 2:00 left.

Following a five‑yard penalty, the Tigers came up with a big play that set the stage for Abdul’s game‑winning field goal.

Quarterback Justin Zwick rolled right and was pressured by two St. Edward defenders. Throwing on the run, Zwick found a wideopen Montale Watkins on the right side around the Massillon 45. Watkins, a 5‑11, 180‑pound senior, raced upfield before he was hauled down at the St. Edward 37.

“The cornerback pushed me to the inside, then released,” Watkins said. “The safety never came over, so I just sat there.

“It seemed like the ball took forever to get there, but I just made sure I caught it” before I did anything else.”

The pass play covered 52 yards. There was 1:39 remaining.

Zwick hit running back Perry James over the middle for 12 yards, but St. Edward linebacker Dan Tyler sacked Zwick for a nine‑yard loss, pushing the ball back to the Massillon 34.

James, who rushed for 110 yards in the first half, then got the call on a draw play. He ripped off 15 yards to the 19. Shepas promptly called his final time‑out.

“We have confidence in our offense, no matter how much time is left,” Zwick said.

And Abdul delievered.

St. Edward trailed at halftime, but moved ahead 20‑18 at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter.

Running back Raishaun Stover, a 5‑9, 162‑pound junior, found daylight on an isolation play to the left, running 40 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Troy Smith added the two‑point conversion on a running play, putting the Eagles ahead.

On St. Edward’s next possession, Smith hit Tyler for a 45‑yard gain on a seam route, moving the ball to the Massillon 34.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, St. Edward was faced with a fourth‑and‑one from the Massillon 25. Smith optioned left for three yards, picking up the first down.

Three plays later, Smith optioned right and pitched the ball to Stover. The running back angled toward the end zone and scored, capping a nine‑play, 82‑yard drive. Brian Pierce added the conversion kick to give the Eagles a 27‑18 lead with 10:22 to play.

Undaunted, the Tigers kept their composure and battled back.

“This was a good win because we had to come from behind against a good football team,” Shepas said. “It also helps to have players who can make big plays.”

St. Edward scored on its first possession of the game, with Smith engineering a six‑play, 61‑yard drive.

Two big plays keyed the drive. Smith hit wide out Michael Bowman for 30 yards on a post pattern that moved the ball to the Massillon 21‑yard line. Two plays later, Smith ran a quarterback draw for 19 yards and a touchdown. The extra‑point kick was wide, but St. Edward led 6‑0 at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter.

The Eagles missed a golden opportunity to expand their lead in the first quarter after the Tigers failed to get off a punt from their own 20‑yard line.

Starting 20 yards away from paydirt, St. Edward failed to pick up a first down. A 29-­yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the right and the Tigers were still only six points down.

Capitalizing on the defensive stand, Mas­sillon made the first of several big offen­sive plays on its second possession. James motored 30 yards to midfield on a draw play. Following a St. Edward offside penal­ty, James picked up nine more yards on a stretch play to the left.

The march bogged down, so Abdul was summoned for a field‑goal try, His attempt from 52 yards out barely cleared the up­right, but the Tigers were on the scoreboard, trailing 6‑3 at the 4:05 mark of the first quarter.

After Massillon failed to pick up a first down when a running play was stopped four yards short of a first down on fourth‑and-six from the St. Edward 43, the Eagles padded their lead.

Stover took a handoff, found a gigantic running lane to his left, and outran the Massillon secondary for a 57‑yard touchdown run. The try for the two‑point conversion on a running play failed, but St. Edward opened up a 12‑3 lead with 8:45 left until halftime.

Wasting little time on each snap, the Tigers managed to take lead before in­termission, scoring on each of their next two possessions.

After the Stover touchdown, Jesse Robin­son’s 22‑yard kickoff return combined with a personal foul penalty called against St Edward gave Massillon the ball at the St. Edward 45.

Wasting little time off the clock, Zwick completed passes of 10 yards to Watkins and 14 yards to Williams, moving the ball to the St. Edward 19.

James then took over, picking up six yards on a draw play, 10 more yards on a sweep to the right, and one more yard on an­other sweep to the right. With St. Edward concentrating on James, King got the ball on a counter play, and rumbled untouched into the end zone. Abdul’s extra‑point made it 12‑10 with 6:02 left in the first half.

St. Edward mounted another drive. Sophomore quarterback Shaun Carney teamed with Tyler for a 68‑yard pass play that moved the ball to the Massillon 10. However, the Tigers stiffened defensively. A fourth down pass to Bowman in the end zone was battled away by cornerback Matt Shem and the Tigers regained possession on their seven with 3:24 remaining in the first half.

Massillon quickly moved 93 yards in nine plays, the last four through the air. Zwick and Robinson hooked up on a 42‑yard pass play that moved the ball to the St. Edward 28.

Zwick came back with a six‑yard completion to James in the right flat, then hit Robinson for 15 more yards, setting up a seven‑yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeremiah Drobney. Zwick hit a wide‑open Robinson in the middle of the end zone, giv­ing the Tigers an 18‑12 lead with 33 seconds left until halftime.

And setting up a wild second half.

First downs rushing 9 11
First downs passing 9 8
First downs by penalty 1 1
TOTAL first downs 19 20
Net yards rushing 194 256
Net yards passing 263 278
TOTAL yards 457 534
Passes attempted 30 17
Passes completed 17 11
Passes intercepted 0 1
Punts 2 2
Punting average 47.0 40.0
Fumbles/Lost 3/2 0/0
Penalties 6 9
Yards penalized 74 99

MASSILLON 3 15 0 10 28
ST. EDWARD 6 6 8 7 27

SE ‑ Smith 19 run (kick failed)
M ‑ FG Abdul 52
SE ‑ Stover 57 run (run failed)
M ‑ King 2 run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Drobney 7 pass from Zwick (Robinson pass from Zwick)
SE ‑ Stover 40 run (Smith run)
SE ‑Stover 9 run (Pierce kick)
M ‑ Watkins 20 pass from King (Abdul kick)
M ‑ FG Abdul 36

Massillon rushing: James 21‑143, Zwick 3‑61.
St. Edwards rushing: Stover 21‑167 Smith 11‑72.

Massillon passing: Zwick 16‑29 243 yards, 1 INT; King 1‑1 20 yards 1 INT
St. Edwards passing: Smith 5‑9 123 yards, 1 INT; Carney 6‑8 155 yards.

Massillon receiving: Robinson 5‑95, James 4‑22, Watkins 3‑83; Drobney 3‑51
St. Edwards receiving: Tyler 4‑148, Bowman 2‑56

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 35, Fremont Ross 0

Tigers swarm over Fremont

Independent Sports Editor

Massillon’s Black Swarm defense, much maligned in back‑to‑back defeats to St. Ignatius and Perry, forced a pair of first half turnovers and pitched their first shutout of the season in the Tigers 35‑0 thrashing of the Fremont Ross Little Giants in front of 8,159 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Homecoming Night, Friday.

Program Cover

“We had a lot of frustration built up from the past two weeks and we just took it out on Fremont Ross,” said Tiger strong safety Robert Oliver. “We finally put it all together and got the shutout.”

The Massillon defense forced three turnovers and limited Fremont to 232 total yards in its best overall performance of the 2000 season. It was a far cry from the 36‑ and 31‑points surrendered in the previous two outings.

“The last couple games we’ve allowed a lot of points on the scoreboard,” observed Tiger linebacker Justin Princehorn, who had a sack and an interception in the same first half series. “It helped to get the shutout tonight.

“We were a lot more fired up tonight. The defense was really pumped. We’re coming together and building momentum going into the playoffs.”

Tiger cornerback Tyrell McElroy, who had nine solo stops last week against Perry, followed up with another fine game, helping to stuff the potent Fremont running game.

“The defense really wanted it tonight,” McElroy said. “We were hyped. We were ready to kill people.”

While the Massillon defense was outstanding, it was the special teams that made the first big play of the game as sophomore James Helscel recovered a muffed punt at midfield after the Tiger offense went three‑and‑out on its initial possession of the game.

The Tigers made Fremont pay for its gaffe as quarterback Justin Zwick dropped back to pass on third‑and‑10, and found Jesse Robinson running free on a post pattern. Zwick was on target with half his high, arcing throw which Robinson hauled in at the 5 on his way to the end zone.

David Abdul boomed the conversion kick over the south bleachers and Massillon was up 7‑0 at the 10:00 mark of the first quarter.

After Massillon kicked off, the Tiger defense would get the ball right back. On first‑and‑10 from the 25, Fremont quarterback James Martin tried to execute an option keeper around right end but lost the handle.

Senior defensive tackle Walter Thompson outscrapped everyone for the ball and the Tigers had possession at the Little Giants’ 32.

Two incompletions and a three‑yard running play forced Massillon to try a 46‑yard field goal. Abdul had the kick lined up but was just short as the ball hit the crossbar and fell away.

Fremont moved from its 20 to midfield on its second possession of the night before Oliver stopped Tyrus Hamilton for a one‑yard loss and McElroy sniffed out a screen play for a three‑yard loss to force a punt.

An unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Fremont helped Massillon move to the Little Giants 22 but a 39‑yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as the first quarter ended.

Again Fremont marched, moving from its 20 to the Massillon 21 on nine plays. On first‑and‑10 at that spot, Princehorn blitzed and sacked Martin for a five‑yard loss.

On the very next play Martin tried to beat the blitz with a quick pop pass over the middle. Massillon’s Jared Frank tipped the ball, which went through the intended receiver’s hands before Princehorn picked it out of the air for a drive‑killing interception at the Tiger 16.

After an exchange of punts, Massillon took over at it’s 20 and Perry James immediately ripped off 12 yards around left end, with another 15 tacked on for a facemask penalty. The senior running back got the ball on a draw play on the next snap and found a gap that yielded another 16 yards to the Fremont 37‑yard line.

Oliver gave James a breather, gaining seven yards around left end and 16 around right end on the very next play as Massillon moved to the 14‑yard line.

“Perry was struggling a little in the first half and we stuck Robert in there and he ran it well and gave Perry a little push,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas, “We had a lot of draw and a lot of screen in the game plan tonight and it worked out for us.”

One play later, Zwick hit Jeremiah Drobney along the left sideline for 16 yards to the Fremont 1. Then James went flipping into the end zone on second‑and‑goal. Abdul’s kick was good and Massillon carried a 14‑0 lead into the halftime locker room.

The second half saw the Massillon offense get back into synch behind the spirited play of Zwick and the continued effective running of James.

After the defense set the table by forcing Fremont to punt after just three plays, the Tigers took over at their own 38.

Zwick completed passes to James (seven yards), Montale Watkins (six yards) and Robinson (16 yards) to move the ball to the Fremont 33. James then picked up 13 on a draw play and Zwick again got the ball to Robinson for nine more to the 11.

The Little Giants bowed their necks at that point but Zwick was able to sneak in from the 1‑yard line on fourth‑and‑goal. Abdul’s PAT made it 21‑0 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.

After yet another Fremont punt, set up by Brent Dean’s 7‑yard sack of Martin, Massillon regained possession at its 17‑yard line. The lousy field position was not a problem as Zwick and Robinson hooked up for 18 yards on first down. One play later, James got a seam on the draw play and scooted 60 yards to the Little Giants 1.

Robinson went in from there on an end‑around and Massillon led 28‑0 heading into the fourth quarter.

The final Tiger tally was set up by Brian Leonard and Chris Pittman, who combined to stop Fremont’s Aaron Hines on fourth‑and‑one.

Zwick beat the blitz with a quick toss to Jeremiah Drobney for 22 yards on first down. The strong‑armed junior then hit Marquis Williams in the end zone from 11‑yards out. Abdul’s kick closed the scoring at 10:03 of the fourth quarter.

“This was an important win for our team and our unity,” remarked James, who finished with 133 yards in 15 totes. “We came together as a team tonight. We’ve turned this around.”

“We’re trying to get these kids to play for each other,” Shepas said, “Trying to get them to step up and provide leadership without turning to me. It seems like as Zwick goes, we go. When he comes out and gets excited like he did in the second half, we go.”

First downs rushing 7 10
First downs passing 9 6
First downs by penalty 3 0
TOTAL first downs 19 16
Net yards rushing 162 148
Net yards passing 221 84
TOTAL yards 383 232
Passes attempted 25 22
Passes completed 14 11
Passes intercepted 0 2
Punts 2 4
Punting average 28 32.8
Fumbles/Lost 3/1 4/2
Penalties 6 6
Yards penalized 57 64

MASSILLON 7 7 14 7 35
FREMONT ROSS 0 0 0 0 0

M ‑ Robinson 48 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
M ‑James 1 run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Zwick 1 run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Robinson 1 run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Williams 11 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)

Massillon rushing: James 15‑133, Oliver 7‑27.
Fremont Ross rushing: Hamilton 19‑59.

Massillon passing: Zwick 13‑24‑178 2 TD, Williams 1‑1‑43.
Fremont passing: Martin 10‑21‑74 2 INT.

Massillon receiving: Robinson 6‑100, Drobney 2‑39, Watkins 2‑17.
Fremont Ross receiving: Root 6‑31.

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 21, Austintown Fitch 9

‘Air Raid’ slowed but Tigers find a way
Massillon records fifth straight Victory against stubborn Fitch

Independent Sports Writer

It’s not all about offense for the Massillon Tigers.

For the second straight week, the running of senior tailback Perry James and a solid performance by the “Black Swarm” defense proved to be the decisive factor as the Tigers survived their first road test ‑ and only regular‑season game on grass ‑ by defeating a very game Austintown Fitch squad 21‑9 in front of a crowd of about 7,000 at Falcon Stadium.

Program Cover

“We’re not at all surprised by this game,” said Massillon coach Rick Shepas, who is no stranger to Steel Valley football, having grown up in Youngstown. “We have a lot of respect for this team and the job (Fitch coach) Carl (Pelini) is doing with this program. I think they are a greatly‑improved team and they showed that tonight.”

The Tigers’ defense stepped up to the plate while the “Air Raid” offense struggled to get off the ground against a Fitch defense that was mixing in a nickel defense to go with its base 50 front. Massillon rolled up 317 yards – but struggled to connect on several long passes that might have opened things up a bit on the scoreboard.

“We feel great about (our defense),” Shepas said. “They’re playing very solid football. Our offense didn’t take advantage of a couple of opportunities. We didn’t consistently move the football. They were just playing a nickel, nothing that we weren’t prepared for. We worked on it all week.

“We just didn’t take care of certain possessions where we ran a play‑action pass and didn’t hit it and had to go 10 yards and came up short on second and third downs. We really didn’t take care of the football on certain situations.”

Meanwhile, James took advantage of the opportunity to show off his running skills against a team that looked to be guarding against the pass. The senior finished with 156 yards on 22 carries, including an 18‑ yard burst into the end zone with 4:01 left that iced the game.

“I’m excited about that,” Shepas said. “It forces teams to prepare for both.”

James, who rushed for 180 yards in the Tigers’ win over Mansfield Senior in Week Four, said that Mas­sillon was just looking to take what the Fitch defense was giving it.

“We knew that they were going to play that 50 defense, and that we could beat it with the run,” James said. “That really opened up the pass.”

The Tigers looked to have things going on their first drive of the evening, moving down to the Fitch 37 where they had a second‑and‑six. Two incompletions later, Massillon’s 54‑yard field goal attempt fell short.

Massillon’s breakthrough came on its third possession of the game, which started at its own 44 with 3:09 left in the first quarter. An incompletion on first down was quickly followed when Justin Zwick ‑ who was 12‑of‑27 for 142 yards with two touchdowns, but only 7‑of‑17 for 64 yards in the first half ‑ hit Jeremiah Drobney on a crossing pattern that moved the ball to the Fitch 37.

Two James runs netted nine yards before Terrance King broke through the line on a fullback trap play and burst up the left side for 21 yards down to the Falcons’ six‑yard line. King would get rewarded for his effort as Zwick, rolling to his right, found the big fullback for a seven‑yard touchdown just inside the pylon on second down with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.

David Abdul nailed the conversion kick to give the Tigers a 7‑0 advantage.

Starting at its own 30 after an offsides call against the Tigers, Fitch went to work running right at Massillon with fullback Ray Betts. With Betts carrying it eight times for 23 yards, the Falcons moved to the Tiger 29, but stopped short on a fourth-and‑one situation.

The Tigers went three‑and‑out and then were flagged for interfering with the attempt to catch the punt to give the Falcons a first down at the Tiger 44. A 19‑yard strike from Steve Burnich to Ross Watson moved it to the Massillon 25, and the Falcons got on the scoreboard with a 41‑yard field goal by Chris Castillo with 2:55 until half.

Fitch could do nothing with the opening kick of the second half. But Massillon found a way to move it.

After a short gain on first down and an incomplete pass, Zwick found James on a screen pass to the left, and he scampered 18 yards to the Tiger 40. One play later, James again broke free for 20 down to the Fitch 34.

James ran for four yards, then Zwick dropped back and found Jesse Robinson streaking toward the end zone on a post pattern. The junior lofted a perfect pass that Robinson came down with across the goal‑line for a 14‑3 Tiger lead with 8:20 left in the third after Abdul’s PAT.

Both offenses stagnated for the remainder of the third quarter, but Fitch came alive on its first possession of the fourth quarter ‑ with a little help from the officials.

Using three running plays, the Falcons found themselves with a second‑and‑two at the Tiger 37. Burnich fired an incomplete pass on a deep post route, but the officials flagged the Tigers for pass interference, giving Fitch the ball at the Massillon 22.

Fitch was forced to try a 39‑yard field goal after it could only pick up one yard on three plays, but the Falcons missed wide left on the attempt. However, Massillon roughed the kicker, giving Fitch a first down at the Tiger 11.

After two running plays, Brian Sudetic burst across the goal‑line from three yards out to pull Fitch to within 14‑9 with 7:34 remaining. The two‑point try failed.

James seemed to swing momentum back to the Tigers with a 39‑yard run off right tackle on Massillon’s first play after the score. Then the Tigers received a break when Fitch was flagged for pass interference to move the ball to Falcon 30.

The Tigers failed to moved the ball and settled for a 51‑yard field goal try with just over five minutes left. It sailed wide left, giving Fitch a glimmer of hope.

Three plays later, that hope faded when the Falcons coughed the ball up on a third‑and‑10 play from their 20. Senior defensive end Brian Leonard recovered and brought it back to the 18. On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage after the turnover, James broke through a gigantic hole on a draw play, going 18 yards for the final touchdown with 4:04 left.

First downs rushing 8 4
First downs passing 6 4
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 15 11
Net yards rushing 170 108
Net yards passing 147 50
TOTAL yards 317 158
Passes attempted 27 18
Passes completed 12 6
Passes Intercepted 0 0
Punts 5 5
Punting average 29.8 40
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/1
Penalties 10 3
Yards penalized 90 40

MASSILLON 7 0 7 7 21
FITCH 0 3 0 6 9

M ‑ Zwick 7 pass to King (Abdul kick)
F ‑ Castillo 41 field goal
M ‑ Zwick 30 pass to Robinson (Abdul kick)
F ‑ Sudetic 3 run (Pass failed)
M ‑ James 18 run (Abdul kick)

Massillon rushing: James 22‑156, King 2‑21.
Fitch rushing: Betts 18‑55, Sudetic 15-40.

Massillon passing: Zwick 12‑27‑142 2 TD
Fitch passing: Burnich 6‑18‑50.

Massillon receiving: Drobney 5‑57, James 4‑37, Robinson 1‑30, Williams 1‑11, King 1‑7.
Fitch receiving: Watson 4‑43.

Statistics courtesy RICHARD CUNNINGHAM

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 27, Mansfield Senior 7

Massillon, Perry on a collision course
Tiger running attack and defense spark 27-7 victory over Mansfield

Independent Sports Editor

The Mansfield Tygers had an invitation for Massillon offense and the Tigers accepted, utilizing the running game more than at any time previously this season to post a 27‑7 victory in front of 9,422 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday night.

Program Cover

Massillon rushed the football for 182 net yards and got a key interception in the early stages of the second half from senior cornerback Matt Shem that led directly to a back‑breaking touchdown, in remaining undefeated in four starts this fall.

“Mansfield wanted us to run the football,” observed Tiger coach Rick Shepas moments after the game ended. “They came out and played a nickel alignment with three down linemen and four linebackers and four deep.

“They played clock management offense just to keep the ball out of our hands. Then they tried to force us to run the football. They knew we were going to score some points but they wanted to stop the big points.

“If that’s what they’re going to give us, that’s what we’re going to take.”

Perry James was the focal point of the Massillon attack against the Tygers, who were 3‑0 and ranked No.9 in Ohio coming into the game. The 6‑foot, 211‑pound senior toted the football 26 times for 180 yards, including a long run of 37 and a touchdown in the early stages of the second half.

That score came after Shem picked off a Mansfield pass at the Tyger 42‑yard line and ran it back to the 2. Two plays later James went off right tackle for the score. A Justin Zwick to James aerial added two points and Massillon was up 21‑7 with 9:33 left in the third quarter.

It was just what the doctor ordered after an unevenly played first half that saw Massillon turn the ball over twice in the second quarter and take a tenuous 13‑7 lead into the locker room.

For Shem, it was his fourth interception in two games.

“The ball pretty much just stuck to my hands,” Shem explained in the Tiger locker room. “I didn’t see it until the last moment.”

Despite generating four takeaways for the Tiger defense in the last two games, Shem was not completely satisfied with his game.

“There were a couple of opportunities I missed today ‑ a couple of picks I should’ve had but I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “We’re playing really good right now. I’m really excited about our defense.”

Shepas was a bit more effusive about Shem’s key interception and return.

“That was awesome,” the third year Tiger mentor exclaimed. “Matt Shem had three last week for great returns, then he gets that one for a great return and we were able to get a quick score on the board just at the right time.

“Our defensive effort against Buchtel was very good but this one was great because we gave up no points on the defensive side of the ball. It was an outstanding job by defensive coordinator Chris DiLoreto.”

After sniffing out a fake punt by Mansfield, Massillon put the game away with a 10‑play, 61‑yard drive, culminated by a 5‑yard Zwick to Jeremiah Drobney touchdown toss. The Tiger quarterback, facing third‑and‑goal from the 5, rolled left and lofted a perfectly thrown lob pass to his tight end in the back of the end zone to make it 27‑7 with 2:01 left in the third period.

While Zwick and Drobney collaborated on the TD, it was James who made the drive, carrying the ball or catching a pass on eight of the ten plays in the game‑clinching march.

“I give all the credit to my line and the wide receivers,” James said. “They did a good job blocking.

“I had a good week of practice and that’s part of the reason I got the ball so much tonight.”

The Tigers took a six‑point lead into the halftime locker room but it very easily could’ve been a 14‑13 Mansfield advantage.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Tigers faced a second‑and‑18 play from their own 11 following an offensive pass interference penalty.

Looking for the screen pass to beat the Mansfield blitz, the Tigers threw into coverage.

The ball bounced into and out of the hands of Tyger linebacker Maurice Bradley, who had nothing but green between himself and the end zone. Had Bradley caught the ball cleanly, he would’ve been gone for a touchdown.

Instead, the Tigers retained possession and punted the ball away one play later, preserving their six‑point cushion at the break.

The teams exchanged punts on their initial possessions of the game but Massillon got all the better of the field position, taking over at the Mansfield 43 after the Tygers were unable to move.

Zwick found James with a swing pass for seven yards. Then, with Mansfield in a blitz, James got the handoff and slashed for 13 more to the Tyger 22.

After a holding penalty pushed Massillon back to the 37, Zwick looked long. With the rush in his face, the junior lofted a high arching ball into the end zone where Jesse Robinson patiently waited for the sphere to come back to earth. It did and Robinson cradled the ball in his arms for the touchdown.

David Abdul drilled the point after kick and Massillon was up 7‑0 at 5:34 of the first quarter.

The Tiger defense forced Mansfield into its second straight three‑and‑out possession and the Tyger punt went out of bounds at their own 45.

Zwick found Robinson in the right flat for six yards on first down. Then James picked his way for five more and a first down. Two Mansfield encroachment penalties resulted in another first down at the 23.

Drobney caught his first pass of the game on a curl pattern that picked up 13 yards to the Mansfield 10. James got it down to the 3 on a draw play, and two plays later Zwick rolled right and hit fullback Terrance King for the touchdown.

The PAT failed and it was 13‑0 Massillon at 1:39 of the first quarter.

After an exchange of punts, Mansfield took over at its 10 and marched to the Massillon 35 on six running plays. The Tiger defense stiffened and the Tygers punted but the hosts failed to field the ball cleanly, losing ground to the Massillon 9.

After a Tiger first down, a holding call pushed the ball back to the 10‑yard line. Two plays later, Mansfield’s Tarek Berry picked off an overthrown pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Holister Histed hit the point after kick and it was a 13‑7 game with 2:49 in the half.

That would be as close as Mansfield would get, thanks to an interception the Tygers didn’t get and one that Massillon did get.

First downs rushing 7 5
First downs passing 8 0
First downs by penalty 1 1
TOTAL first downs 16 6
Net yards rushing 182 155
Net yards passing 132 0
TOTAL yards 314 155
Passes attempted 27 12
Passes completed 17 2
Passes intercepted 2 1
Punts 5 7
Punting average 29.2 29.6
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 1/0
Penalties 7 8
Yards penalized 65 40

MASSILLON 13 0 14 0 27
MANSFIELD 0 7 0 0 7

Mas ‑ Zwick 36 pass to Robinson (Abdul kick)
Mas ‑ Zwick 4 pass to King (Kick failed)
Man ‑Berry 27‑yard interception return (Histed kick)
Mas ‑ James 1 run (Zwick pass to King)
Mas ‑ Zwick 5 pass to Drobney (Kick failed)

Massillon rushing: James 26‑180, King 1‑3, Hill 1‑1.
Mansfield rushing: Taylor 11‑63, Bradley 13-53, Stanford 3‑39.

Massillon passing: Zwick 17‑27‑132 3 TDs, 2 INTs.
Mansfield passing: Andress 2‑12‑0 1 INT.

Massillon receiving: James 5‑25, Robinson 3‑48, Jordan 3‑16, Drobney 2‑18, Watkins 1‑8, Corsale 1‑8, Williams 1‑5, King 1‑4.
Mansfield receiving: Basilone 1‑7.


Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 67, Lima Senior 35

Tigers light up the scoreboard again
Massillon nets 690 yards of offense and hands Lima Sr. 67-35 whipping

Independent Sports Editor

With temperatures more conducive for baseball than football, Massillon Tiger coach Rick Shepas figured the physical conditioning of his charges would get a test against the visiting Lima Senior Spartans, Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Program Cover

While the oppressive heat and humidity cooperated, the Spartans offered very little resistance as the Tigers jumped out to a 22‑0 lead after the first quarter and coasted home to a 67‑35 victory in front of 8,363 perspiration‑soaked fans.

Massillon’s high‑powered attack amassed 415 net yards in the first half alone, including 338 yards through the air as the game was decided before the bands took the field.

Junior quarterback Justin Zwick was just as torrid as the weather, completing 14 of 22 aerials in the first half, including three touchdown tosses.

The Tigers took the game’s opening kickoff and used their finely‑tuned aerial attack to go through the Lima Senior defense with virtually no resistance.

Zwick found tight end Jeremiah Drobney over the middle for 13 yards on the first play from scrimmage. One play later, a screen pass to Terrance King picked up 23 yards to the Lima 38. Then Robert Oliver found a seam in the middle of the Lima defense for 24 yards to the Spartan 14.

Zwick went back to Drobney, finding the senior open at the 2‑yard line. Drobney caught the football, then battled his way through two Spartan defenders and into the end zone for the touchdown. David Abdul tacked on the extra point and it was 7‑0 Massillon at 10:12 of the first quarter.

Tiger defensive end Brian Leonard forced Lima to cough up the football on its initial possession of the game with Justin Princehorn falling on the pigskin for the Massillon at the Spartan 28.

“We came out sharper in the first quarter which is something we wanted to do,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “Good offense, good defense in the first quarter. Start fast.”

It didn’t take the orange-and‑black long to turn the Lima turnover into points. Zwick passed 37 yards to Montale Watkins, who came back nicely for the football, to give the Tigers first‑and‑goal at the Lima 2. However, the drive stalled and Abdul hit the chip shot field goal at at 7:30 of the first quarter to make it a 10‑0 game.

The Spartans marched from their 16 to the Tiger 30 before Leonard, Matt Shem and Jason Abbott made outstanding defensive plays to quell the march.

It only took Massillon two plays to score again. Perry James picked up eight yards around right end on first down. Then Zwick ‑ with pressure in his face ‑ found Jessie Robinsin at the Lima 27. The 5‑foot‑6 senior captain leaped high, then turned his body in midair to catch the football. When he came down the Lima defensive back was out of position and Robinson jetted into the end zone for the 63‑yard touchdown as the Tigers led 16‑0 with 5:31 still to go in the first quarter.

Lima went three‑and‑out on its ensuing possession and the Tigers went for the kill.

On a third‑and‑12 play from the Tiger 21, Zwick who finished 19 for 32 for a Washington High single game record of 402 passing yards ‑ completed a short pass to Marquis Williams at the 30. The 5‑11, 168‑pound junior, broke several tackles and was off to the races, finally going down at the Lima 10.

A penalty against the Tigers, one of 14 yellow flags on Massillon, pushed the ball back to the 29. Two snaps later, Zwick underthrew a pass down the right sideline. But Robinson, his eyes on the ball all the way, came back and made the catch, then danced into the end zone. The PAT put Massillon up 23‑0 at 2:31 of the first quarter.

Lima finally got the bugs out, marching 80 yards in 11 plays for its initial score of the game. Junior running back Jeremy Wright, who had a big game himself rushing for 206 yards and three TDs, found a huge hole in the middle of the line and went 14 yards for the score. Travis Wright’s kick made it a 23‑7 game at 9:53 of the second quarter.

“Our defense had a good, solid game plan,” said Shepas. “They did a nice job running the trap on us. They ran a trap cutback off the option play and we had a little trouble dealing with it. Even after we made some adjustments they got us on it early in the second half.”

Massillon – counter punched with a knockout blow.

Robinson fielded the Lima kickoff at the Tiger 10 and picked his way down the left sideline 90 yards to paydirt. Abdul’s kick made it 30‑7 Massillon at 9:42 of the second.

After being shutout last week, Robinson put up three touchdowns against the Spartans.

“I knew tonight was going to be something special,” gushed the diminutive senior captain. “Last week Montale Watkins had a big game so (Lima’s) best DB was on his tail and their weaker DB was on me the whole game. There was no way he could stay with me.

As for the long kickoff return, Robinson credited superior conditioning.

“The ball was short and I guess they were tired running down there,” he explained. “It opened like the Red Sea. I just sprinted as fast as I could to get in for six.”

Abbott produced a huige play on defense on Lima’s next series, hitting quarterback Nick Morris on a blindside blitz, forcing him to fumble. Robert Oliver picked up the loose ball for Massillon and rumbled 20 yards into the end zone for yet another Tiger score. Abdul’s kick made it 37‑7 at 8:39 of the second.

Lima then drove 78 yards in six plays to keep it respectable. Jeremy Wright covered the final seven yards for the points. Travis Wright tacked on the PAT to make it a 37‑14 game at 6:45 of the second.

King ripped off 27 yards on a draw play on the Tigers next possession to key yet another scoring drive. A Zwick to Williams aerial accounted for 33 more, and Abdul put up the points on a 22‑yard field goal.

The junior kicker extraordinaire closed the first half scoring with a 27‑yarder and it was Massillon 43, Lima 14 at the break.

Lima opened the second half with an 80 yard scoring drive, capped off by a 22‑yard Morris to Jeremy Wright touchdown toss. The kick cut the Tiger lead to 43‑21.

Massillon came right back and put up a score of its on. With Lima in an all out blitz, James took the handoff from Zwick and darted up the middle for a 63‑yard touchdown jaunt. The senior running back only toted the ball five times, but picked up 120 yards.

Following a Lima turnover, King got a hole and shot 18 yards to the end zone to make it 57‑21 Tigers at 7:52 of the third.

Abdul’s 29‑yard field goal with 2:38 in the third period got Massillon to the 60‑point plateau at 60‑21.

Trent Seay hauled in a two‑yard pass from Morris at 6:54 of the fourth and the PAT made it 60‑28 Massillon.

The Tigers final score came on a 17 yard run by sophomore Terrance Roddy.

“The game got a little sloppy for a while,” observed Shepas. “We had more penalties than we had last week and we want to work on those things. But it’s good to stay healthy coming out of this.”

“Massillon has a fine team,” said Lima Senior coach Leonard Rush. “We knew they were going to throw it all over the field. You guess when you blitz and we guessed wrong a whole bunch tonight. They’re a good team and we’re not a very good team right now.”

First downs rushing 13 10
First downs passing 11 6
First downs by penalty 3 3
TOTAL first downs 27 19
Net yards rushing 279 278
Net yards passing 411 216
TOTAL yards 690 494
Passes attempted 34 26
Passes completed 21 11
Passes intercepted 0 0
Punts 1 3
Punting average 25 34
Fumbles/Lost 2/0 6/4
Penalties 14 7
Yards penalized 181 70

MASSILLON 23 20 17 7 67
LIMA 0 14 7 14 35

Kreg Rotthoff

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2000: Massillon 40, Akron Buchtel 7

Massillon’s team effort leads to rout of Buchtel

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ Massillon and Buchtel both stressed the need for a balanced offense entering the high school football season.

Balanced the Tigers were, on offense, defense and the kicking game.

Program Cover

With new quarterback Justin Zwick throwing for five scores, kicker David Abdul booting two long field goals and the defense throttling Buchtel back Tim Murphy, Massillon posted a surprising 40‑7 victory Friday in the 2000 opener at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Zwick’s first game in orange and black was about as good as it gets. The Tigers’ offense scored three times on two Zwick‑to Jeremiah Drobney passes and 46‑yard Abdul field goal the first half to build a 17‑7 lead it never relinquished.

Zwick then fired another scoring pass to Drobney and two to Montale Watkins in the third quarter to tie the school record of five in a game. The feat tied 66‑year‑old mark set by Mike Byelene against Niles in 1934.

In the third period, Massillon outgained the Griffs 127 to minus‑17 yards.

“I could get open, They were blitzing a lot,” said Drobney, who caught seven passes for 62 yards and the three scores. “We were just trying to stop their blitzing from working,

“I thought he threw the ball pretty well tonight,” Drobney said of Zwick, 18‑for‑32 passing

“That’s not usually the case,’ Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said of the receiving of Drobney and Watkins. “Usually it will be more spread. It will change as the season goes.”

Watkins snared six for 107 yards to complement Drobney’s effort.

Massillon also ran the ball effectively. Perry James contributed 81 yards on eight carries. But it was the passing that moved the chains for the Tigers.

The aerial attack also ran the Buchtel defense ragged.

“You just can’t make mistakes against Massillon and win games,” said Buchtel coach Claude Brown. ‘We needed to put pressure on (Zwick), but they picked it up.

“My hat off to them. They just beat us.”

The Massillon defense was on fire, too. While new Buchtel quarterback Charlton Keith struggled (3-for-10), 30 yards) in his debut, Murphy was doing more with his one leg (seven punts) than two (15 rushes, 71 yards).

Murphy scored the Griffins’ touchdown on a run of 52 yards for Buchtel’s lone highlight. The Griffins never got closer than seven points early in the second period, when Abdul nailed his 46-yarder for a 10-7 lead. He added a school record 50-yarder in the third quarter.

“We knew we were going to have a chance in the kicking game.” Shepas said. “Anytime you can get points from any place on the field, it’s nice.”

Kreg Rotthoff