Tag: Kyle Ohradzansky

History

2010: Massillon 17, Canton McKinley 40

McKinley keeps bell with 40-17 win over Massillon

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH – The little things can seem so insignificant when looked at individually. A missed tackle or a dropped pass or a missed assignment or a penalty, all can be looked at as mere bumps in the road for a football team.

On Saturday afternoon, those little things added up quickly for the Massillon Tigers. The sum of those little things was a 40-17 beating at the hands of the archrival McKinley Bulldogs in front of 17,794 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“I thought they executed and we didn’t,” said Tiger coach Jason Hall, whose team will take a 7-3 record into next Saturday’s Division I Region 2 quarterfinal, expected to be at Toledo Whitmer (9-1). “We missed tackles. … We shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t have (five) turnovers, which can be put on a lot of things. You can’t take field position. You can’t have personal fouls. You can’t have all the little things that just build up.”

Those little things began to really cause Massillon problems in the second quarter despite its possession of a 10-7 lead on an Anthony McCarthy 37-yard field goal.

With McKinley (8-2) eyeing a fourth-and-10 situation from the Massillon 28, the Tigers were flagged for pass interference to give the Bulldogs new life. On the next play, Massillon was hit with its second straight penalty – this one a personal foul – to put McKinley at the Tiger 6.

Those two Tiger penalties were among the nine they were flagged for in the game, for 95 yards. McKinley, meanwhile, was flagged 12 times for 143 yards. After the two penalties, Sa’Veon Holloway ran it in from there to give McKinley a 14-10 lead – post point-after try – with three minutes left in the half.

Massillon would drive down to the McKinley 8 on its next possession. However, three straight incompletions – including two drops – and a missed field goal left the Tigers with no points to show for it.

“We missed two consecutive big plays down in the end zone, two opportunities to score,” Hall said. “We miss a field goal. No matter what, you want to put some points on the board in that situation.”

McKinley’s defense harassed the Tigers in five turnovers on the afternoon, but none were bigger than Jermaine Edmondson’s two third-quarter interceptions for the Bulldogs. Both turnovers would end up as Bulldog touchdowns – one on a Kyle Ohradzansky 24-yard run; the other on a 19-yard Ohradzansky-to-Malcolm Robinson pass – to put McKinley up 27-10 with 4:17 left in the third.

“The coaches always tell me to be there at the right time,” Edmondson said. “I just jumped on the ball and got the interception.”

The turnovers spoiled what started out like a good day for the Tiger offense. After McKinley scored on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead, Massillon marched right back down the field to match the score with one of its own on a 1-yard Jake Reiman run.

Massillon came out running the Wildcat formation with Devin Smith lined up at quarterback for the first three plays, gaining 30 yards on Smith runs to move to the McKinley 34. Smith, who added 135 yards on seven catches, also had a 33-yard reception on the drive to put the Tigers at the Bulldog 4.

“We’ve been practicing that,” Hall said of the Wildcat. “We’ll mix that in every once in a while. We haven’t used that a lot, but I thought it was time to let him run around.”

The Tigers came into the game knowing they had to shuffle some things around up front due to another injury – or in this case, illness – situation. Kyle Belak, who moved from guard to center in Week Seven due to injury, was lost to a case of mononucleosis in the middle of the week.

Craig Kircher then moved from left tackle to center, while Brian Robinson moved from right guard to left tackle. Tim Dimitroff then moved into the right guard spot.

That line was faced with the challenge of dealing with a highly-regarded McKinley defensive front, led by ends Steve Miller and Se’Von Pittman. Early on, they did just that, as Massillon gained 184 yards in the first half.

The problem, though, was that as the second half went on, the Bulldogs began to get more and more pressure on sophomore quarterback Kyle Kempt. By the fourth quarter, they were able to pin their ears back and really get to the Tiger passer, as they finished with three sacks, all in the second half.

“We just kept playing hard and kept rushing the passer,” Miller said. “We just kept rushing the quarterback and having fun.”

McKinley, meanwhile, began to have some fun rushing the football. The Bulldogs finished with 357 rushing yards for the game, with a pair of 100-yard rushers in Elijah Farrakhan (136 yards on 14 carries) and Ohradzansky (101 yards on 15 carries).

Ohradzansky’s second scoring run may have been the dagger, a 36-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter to give McKinley a 34-17 lead. That came on the Bulldogs’ subsequent possession after Massillon had found new life – so it thought – on Reiman’s second 1-yard touchdown run of the game to pull within 27-17.

“It was huge,” Ohradzansky said of the scoring run. “It really killed their momentum. It really allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take this thing over and we’re going to end it right now.’ And that’s what we ended up doing.”

GAME STATS

McKinley 40

Massillon 17

at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

McKinley 7 7 13 13 40

Massillon 7 3 7 0 17

SCORING SUMMARY

McK – Montgomery 38 run (Lioi kick)

Mas – Reiman 1 run (McCarthy kick)

Mas – FG McCarthy 37

McK – Holloway 6 run (Lioi kick)

McK – Ohradzansky 24 run (Run failed)

McK – Robinson 19 pass from Ohradzansky (Lioi kick)

Mas – Reiman 1 run (McCarthy kick)

McK – Ohradzansky 36 run (Lioi kick)

McK – Holloway 1 run (Kick failed)

McK Mas

First downs 20 22

Rushes-yards 54-357 31-100

Comp-Att-Int. 5-11-0 15-36-3

Passing yards 70 189

Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2

Penalties-yards 12-143 9-95

Records 8-2 7-3

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing:

Massillon – Reiman 12-50 2 TDs; Winters 5-32; Smith 5-23; Taylor 4-14.

McKinley – Farrakhan 14-139; Ohradzansky 15-101 2 TDs; Holloway 16-80 2 TDs;

Montgomery 5-64 TD.

Passing:

Massillon – Kempt 15-35-189 2 TDs; Smith 0-1-0 INT.

McKinley – Ohradzansky 5-11-70 TD.

Receiving:

Massillon – Smith 7-135; Winters 3-(minus-7); Olack 2-38; Miller 1-10; Kreiger 1-8; Baez 1-5.

McKinley – Robinson 3-56 TD; Sweat 1-8; Foster 1-6.

History

2009: Massillon 10, Canton McKinley 7

Tigers survive nailbiter with McKinley, win regional title

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

AKRON, OH — In the span of two minutes of game action Saturday night, the Massillon Tigers took an emotional roller-coaster ride which would have rivaled anything offered at Cedar Point.

But in the end, the ride ended with the Tigers earning their first state semifinal berth in nine years – as well as a ton of revenge – by beating McKinley 10-7 in a Division I regional final in front of an announced crowd of 13,121 at the University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium.

Leading by three, the Tiger marched 74 yards in 14 plays, reaching the McKinley 6. But with just under two minutes, Massillon fumbled the ball out of the end zone, giving the Bulldogs life at their own 20.

“It was a thriller,” Tiger quarterback Robert Partridge said.  “We just wanted to get down and run the clock out. It was a mistake, but I knew our defense was going to come out and stop them. We have great players on defense.”

McKinley took advantage driving down to the Massillon 16 less than 45 seconds remaining. But faced with a third-and-4, Massillon’s Tyler Miller came up with his second interception of the game – the third for the Tiger defense on the night – at the Tiger 2 with 33 seconds remaining to send Massillon into next Saturday night’s state semifinal against 12-1 Glenville at InfoCision Stadium.

“We put ourselves in position,” McKinley coach Ron Johnson said. “We went down and made plays and got into the scoring zone. We just didn’t finish.” A big reason why McKinley wasn’t able to finish was the Massillon  defense.

After allowing McKinley to score 35 points and rack up 364 yards in the Bulldogs’ regular-season win over Massillon, the Tigers clamped down on the Bulldogs in the playoff rematch. Massillon surrendered just the one touchdown – an 8-yard pass from Kyle Ohradzansky to Angelo Powell with 8 seconds left in the half –
and 219 total offensive yards to McKinley, which bows out at 8- 5.

The Tigers turned the Bulldogs away three different times in the second half after McKinley had reached deep into Massillon territory. Massillon blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt on the first drive of the third quarter, while Miller picked off a pass in the end zone with 8:37 left, then closed out Massillon’s win just over eight minutes later.

“They did have the ball on our side of the field pretty much the whole second half,” Tiger safety Bo Grunder said. “You know, we just have to stay up and stick with what we’re doing, read our keys and make plays.”

Massillon finished with three takeaways on the night, as Grunder also had an interception midway through the third quarter.

“We’re playing good defense,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “We’re holding good teams to one touchdown or 10 points.”

Massillon may have felt a bit disappointed only having 10 points on its side of the scoreboard going into the locker room. Of course, that was still enough for the Tigers to hold a 10-7 lead.

The Tigers drove onto McKinley’s side of the 50 on their first four first-half possessions, and inside the 20 on three straight possessions. They were able to take a 7-0 lead when Jake Reiman’s 1-yard plunge capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive at the 3:51 mark of the first quarter.

Reiman matched his career high rushing with his second straight 127-yard rushing performance.

After a missed field goal on its first second-quarter possession, Massillon made it 10-0 on Jeremy Geier’s 21-yard field goal with 4:04 remaining in the half.

The Tigers had 182 total yards in the first half. They finished the game with 269 yards.

“We just executed our plays,” Partridge said of the first-half offense. “We did our keys. Offensively, we mixed it up with the run and the pass. We ran the ball really well this time.”

That was especially true on the Tigers’ fourth-quarter drive which appeared on its way to icing the win. After getting the ball at their own 20 on Miller’s first interception, the Tigers ran it 12 times for 74 – including 11 straight runs after backto-back pass plays left Massillon with a fourth-and-1 at its own 29.

That’s when Hall turned riverboat gambler. Eschewing the punt, he went for it deep in his own territory, getting it when Clayton Mattox fought forward for two yards.

“Everybody keeps asking me about that,” Hall said of the fourth down call. “But to me, it was a situation where after the first McKinley-Massillon game in Week Ten, a lot was said about them winning the game physically. That was our focus. … I think in general, I wanted our kids to win the game, so I put it in their hands because I know they can do it.”

And in the end, the Tigers did just that. Only not before going on one more emotional roller-coaster ride.

GAME STATS

Massillon 10
McKinley 7

Massillon 07 03 00 00 10
McKinley 00 07 00 00 07

SCORING SUMMARY
Mas – Reiman 1 run (Geier kick)
Mas – FG Geier 21
McK – Powell 8 pass from Ohradzansky (Forsythe kick)

Mas McK
First downs 16 12
Rushes-yards 41-178 33-150
Comp-Att-Int 12-22-0 10-24-3
Passing yards 91 69
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalty yards 1-5 0-0
Records 10-3 8-5
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing:
Massillon – Reiman 27-127 TD; Nalbach 2-24; Partridge 6-19;
Grunder 2-10.
McKinley – Wilder 18-89; Ohradzansky 7-61; Farrakhan 7-11.
Passing:
Massillon – Partridge 12-22-91.
McKinley – Ohradzansky 10-23-69 TD, 3 INTs; Team 0-1-0.
Receiving:
Massillon – Olack 7-60; Reiman 2-15; Allman 1-8; Smith 1-5.
McKinley – Powell 3-24; Wilder 3-7; Parton 2-21; Ogletree 1-16.

History

2009: Massillon 21, Canton McKinley 35

Bulldogs’ big plays take down Tigers

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

Massillon came into Saturday afternoon’s game against archrival McKinley as the team boasting the big-play ability. But it was the Bulldogs who seemed to make the biggest plays when needed in the 118th meeting between the two storied programs.

And those big plays – be it on offense, defense or special teams – proved to be the difference as McKinley snapped a four-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 35-21 victory over Massillon in front of 15,555 at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon.

McKinley had three touchdowns of 25 yards or more in the game. None of the Tigers’ three scoring plays were by more than two yards.

“They made a lot of big plays,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “You have to take your hat off to them. They really made some big plays, just too many for us to recover from.”

The Tigers now head into the playoffs with a 7-3 record. Massillon will be hosting a first-round game next Saturday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, likely against Hoover, the same team which beat the Tigers in the first round last year in North Canton.

McKinley, meanwhile, likely earned a trip to the playoffs with its first two-game win streak of the season. The Bulldogs, who are now 6-4, are expected to head to Toledo to meet Whitmer next weekend.

The Bulldogs set the big-play tone on their third play after a missed Tiger field goal, as quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky hit Angelo Powell on a post pattern for a 66-yard touchdown pass with 5:09 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead after the point-after try.

“It really got the nerves off our shoulders,” said Ohradzansky, who was 7-of-10 for 136 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Powell. “They shut us out last year 17-0. So when we come out and score right away, it gave our guys a real sense of confidence, like ‘Hey, we can score on these guys and we can do it really, really fast.”

Ohradzansky would add a 1-yard plunge for a 14-0 Bulldog lead 1:36 into the second quarter. But the Tigers would come back with a 1-yard Jake Reiman plunge to cut it to 14-7 with 3:46 left in the half.

Reiman, who finished with 50 yards on 16 carries and three scores, came into the game after Alex Winters suffered an apparent knee injury on the first play of the Tigers’ second possession. That’s when McKinley would get big play No. 2, and maybe the biggest play of the game.

Taron Montgomery would take the subsequent kickoff at McKinley 2, run straight ahead, cut to the left and then took off. He wouldn’t be touched until he was tackled well after crossing the goal line by a Massillon player, but the score stood and the Bulldog lead was 14 again at 21-7 with 3:33 left until halftime.

“It’s a momentum swing,” said Hall, whose team trailed 21-14 at halftime. “In big games, special teams a lot of times are the factor. That was a big play for them.” Massillon offense reached McKinley’s territory on all nine
possessions of the game. But the Tigers were turned away on five trips inside the Bulldog 35, once on a missed field goal, another on an interception on their second drive, twice on downs and a final time when time expired in the game.

“We were just relentless,” McKinley defensive lineman Jamaal McClain said. “We went through practice all week talking about going hard. … We just wanted to play hard and relentless. That’s all we did. We were just focused and ready to play.”

Both of the turnovers on down came in the third quarter after McKinley moved ahead 28-21 on Ohradzansky’s second touchdown pass of the game. The first came from the Bulldog 24 on fourthand-10, the second from the McKinley 17 on a fourth-and-8.

“Sometimes in these big games, we were down and trying to get momentum back,” Hall said. “You don’t know when you’re going to get back again. We tried one early and we didn’t hit. We just decided we were in that tweener area. A couple times they made plays and a couple times that’s when we got scores.”

Massillon seemed to have a chance with just under six minutes remaining after Reiman’s third scoring run – a 2-yard run – cut it to 28-21. But McKinley answered, as Bryce Wilder ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive.

Wilder finished with 119 yards on 17 carries. “Bryce Wilder and Elijah Farrakhan, unbelievable,” McKinley
coach Ron Johnson said. “They took care of the football. They squeezed it up and they made plays.”

And plays – big ones – were the reason why the Bulldogs were the ones celebrating with the Victory Bell on Saturday afternoon.

GAME STATS

McKinley 35
Massillon 21

Massillon 00 14 00 07 21
McKinley 07 14 07 07 35

SCORING SUMMARY
McK – Powell 66 pass from Ohradzansky (Forsythe kick)
McK – Ohradzansky 1 run (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 1 run (Geier kick)
McK – Montgomery 92 kickoff return (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 1 run (Geier kick)
McK – Powell 5 pass from Ohradzansky (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 2 run (Geier kick)
McK – Wilder 25 run (Forsythe kick)
Mas McK
First downs 18 15
Rushes-yards 33-127 42-228
Comp-Att-Int 13-34-1 7-10-0
Passing yards 235 136
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalty yards 4-50 8-64
Records 7-3 6-4
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing:
Massillon – Reiman 16-50 3 TDs; Partridge 8-48; Winters 7-26;
Robey 2-3.
McKinley – Wilder 17-119 TD; Farrakhan 12-77; Ohradzansky 11-26
TD.
Passing:
Massillon – Partridge 13-34-235 TD.
McKinley – Ohradzansky 7-10-136 2 TDs.
Receiving:
Massillon – Olack 5-107; Allman 2-41; Grunder 2-40; Reiman 2-19.
McKinley – Powell 3-83 2 TDs; Parton 2-10; Wilder 1-31; Ogletree
1-12.

History

2008: Massillon 17, Canton McKinley 0

Tigers unrelenting in The Game

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

If a piece of meat is dangled in front of a hungry tiger, that tiger is sure to pounce on it. Likewise, the Massillon Tigers were hungry for a trip to the playoffs as they walked into Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Seeing the opportunity for just such a trip, the Tigers pounced on it, and in the process tore apart archrival McKinley as well.

With a nasty defense setting the tone, and J.T. Turner continuing his strong season-ending push, the Tigers rolled over the Bulldogs 17-0 in front of 16,935 fans at sun-splashed Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

It is Massillon’s first shutout of McKinley since a 7-0 win in 1982, and the first shutout in the series by either team since 1996. The Tigers have also won four straight against McKinley, matching the sixth-longest win streak by a team in the series.

“It’s just a ton of pressure taken off your chest,” Tiger outside linebacker Brian Arelt said.

That win, coupled with Lorain Admiral King’s win over Lorain Southview, pushed Massillon into the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Tigers – 6-4 on the season – will now prepare for a trip to North Canton next Saturday evening to meet Hoover in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

“Knowing that if we win, we’re in the playoffs, it put an extra chip on our shoulders for McKinley just to go out there and rock some heads,” Tiger junior tackle Jeff Myers said.

Myers and his offensive line mates certainly did just that, as they controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed J.T. Turner to rush for 208 yards on 28 carries. It was Turner’s only touchdown of the afternoon – a 26-yard run with 7:38 remaining – which salted the game away and sent most of the red-clad portion of the crowd toward the parking lot.

“It was special,” said Turner, who had a first-quarter touchdown run negated by penalty. “Every time I score a touchdown, they usually take it back. I saw that the first time, and then I got in there the second time, and I knew it was a rout from there.”

Of course, it wasn’t so much Turner’s running and it was his hitting which set the tone for Saturday’s game. On three of McKinley’s first four plays, Turner delivered the blow to the Bulldog ballcarrier, forcing a punting situation.

When McKinley tried to fake the punt, it was Turner there again, blowing up the play and forcing a five-yard loss. That gave Massillon the ball at the Bulldog 31, field position it turned into a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard Jeremy Geier field goal with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

“I just knew I had to lead this team to victory,” Turner said. “Everybody was on my shoulders, so I just led the team to victory. And we were able to come out with a 17-0 victory.”

The Tigers’ first scoring drive may have also set the tone for the kind of game it was offensively for Massillon, one which was mired with penalties and turnovers. An illegal procedure penalty on a second-and-1 play from the Bulldog 2 pushed the ball back five yards, and eventually led to the Tigers having to kick the field goal.

Massillon had another promising drive short-circuited by what amounted to a 22-yard illegal block penalty, one of five penalties for 70 yards in losses for the Tigers. That doesn’t account for the four turnovers as well, two of which came on fumbles immediately after the Tigers had regained possession from McKinley, once on an interception and another time on a punt.

Those self-inflicted wounds were a big reason why Massillon was only able to take a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, a lead it gained when Bo Grunder caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Robert Partridge with 6:48 left in the half.

“We were a little disappointed, because I thought we weren’t able to take advantage of all of our opportunities,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. I think walking off the field at halftime, I thought we took control of the game.”

And the Tigers can thank their defense for that fact. With the front seven providing the pressure, McKinley was unable to consistently get anything going on offense, a fact reflected by the 97 total yards it mustered in the game.

“We were just going to make a point that they can’t do anything on us,” Tiger defensive end Matt Rose said. “We just bowed up and showed them what we’re made of.”

A big reason for that was the aforementioned pressure Massillon was able to get on Bulldog quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky, who regularly found himself ducking and dodging Tiger defenders when he dropped back to pass. Ohradzansky was sacked six times on the afternoon, three of those in the fourth quarter.

By the end of the day, the beating he was taking was starting to show on the sophomore quarterback, who took longer and longer to get up off the ground with each hit.

“Personally, at the end of the game, I felt bad for him a little bit,” Arelt said with a smile.

But not bad enough that Arelt and his teammates weren’t celebrating another win over McKinley – as well as a return to the playoffs.

GAME STATS

Massillon 17,

McKinley 0
at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

McKinley 00 00 00 00 00
Massillon 03 07 00 07 17

SCORING SUMMARY
Mas – Geier 33 FG
Mas – Grunder 26 pass from Partridge (Geier kick)
Mas – Turner 26 run (Geier kick)

Mas McK
First downs 10 16
Rushes-yards 45-50 48-287
Att.-Comp.-Int. 7-10-1 3-5-1
Passing yards 47 48
Fumbles-lost 3-3 4-3
Penalty yards 8-50 5-70

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Massillon

Turner 28-208 TD;

Roberson 9-44;

Partridge 7-23;

Reiman 3-10;

Clark 1-2

McKinley:

M. Williams 31-97;

Wilder 4-10.

Passing

Massillon:

Partridge 3-5-48 TD, INT.

McKinley:

Ohradzansky 7-10-47 INT.

Receiving

Massillon:

Grunder 1-26 TD;

Mattox 1-16;

Clark 1-6.

McKinley:

Morrow 2-17;

Shepherd 1-9;

Wilder 1-9;

Powell 1-8;

Farrakhan 1-7;

M. Williams 1-(-3).

Records:

Massillon 6-4;

McKinley 6-4.

Tiger defense makes a big impact, early and often

By DAVID HARPSTER
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

It didn’t take long for the Massillon Tiger defense to announce its presence in Saturday’s 117th renewal of the Massillon-McKinley rivalry at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Actually it only took the first few plays of McKinley’s opening series, when Massillon senior cornerback J.T. Turner came up and laid consecutive loud hits on McKinley tailback Monterae Williams. The tone had been set and the Tigers followed Turner’s lead by swarming to the ball and attacking relentlessly in what was an eventual 17-0 victory over their archrivals.

“Justin set the tone early with a couple big hits,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “It looks like (Williams) might have some room to run and then, bam, Justin comes in with a big hit. Stuff like that really sparks a defensive group and I was a defensive guy, so I’m jumping around on the sidelines after that.”

Added safety Cooper Ivan, who summed up McKinley’s first series pretty succinctly: “We tried to come out and smack them in the mouth on the first play of the game and that’s what we did. It helped set the tone for the game.”

By no means was keeping McKinley off the scoreboard an easy task for the Massillon defense, as the Tigers had to contend with sudden changes in momentum after their four turnovers. Each time, though, Massillon was able to find a way to repel the Bulldogs by making a big play when it was necessary.

“That’s always one of our goals: No touchdowns in sudden change situations,” defensive coordinator Steve Kovacs said. “That’s something that you work on and you try to prepare for them as best you can. McKinley’s a good football team and they had some guys who we were worried about getting loose. They just weren’t able to get loose today.”

Turner kept up the heat early by following up his big hits with a rush that led to McKinley’s punter being tackled for a loss, helping to set up an early field goal. Turner then stripped the ball from McKinley’s Alaun Morrow following a short reception, a turnover that led to Massillon’s first touchdown of the game and a 10-0 lead.

But Turner was far from the only Tiger doing damage on defense.

Ivan flew around the field with his usual reckless abandon, in the process notching a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. If Ivan wasn’t getting to the quarterback on safety blitzes up the middle, then Jamison Heath-Gates or Matt Rose or Brian Arelt or another Tiger was making life miserable for McKinley sophomore quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky.

“The best pass defense is pressure, so every game we go into, regardless of who the quarterback is, we’re going to find ways to pressure him,” Kovacs said. “Our guys did a good job and we’ve got some good quickness up front.”

Once one Massillon player got his name in the sack column, it appeared to be an open race to see who would be the next Tiger to take down Ohradzansky. The McKinley quarterback become the Tigers’ own personal chew toy in the second half, as he was sacked six times for 46 yards in losses while also absorbing countless other hits from rampaging Massillon defenders.

“The entire defensive line, it was just like we weren’t going to let him get the ball off,” Rose said. “We all just wanted to punish him when he dropped back to pass. We just wanted to show him what Massillon Tiger football was like.

“We had him dazed and wondering where it was coming from there at the end. They were pretty confused about where the rush was coming from and all our blitzes were working.”
Hall chalked up McKinley’s general confusion on offense to Massillon’s ability to hide its defensive schemes for the most part.

“The defensive game plan that Steve and the staff put together, they did a great job disguising a lot of things,” Hall said. “I don’t think their quarterback could figure out what we were doing. We’d disguise some of our blitzes and we got some free hits today. Anytime you can do that, then the quarterback is thinking about where it’s coming from.”

The pressure not only resulted in four McKinley turnovers and the first Massillon shutout of McKinley since 1982, but also put the Bulldogs in numerous long-yardage situations on second and third down. McKinley was 1-of-12 in third-down situations.

“Not many offenses, at any level, are going to be good when it’s third-and-10 or third-and-15 all game long,” Hall said. “I thought our defense did a great job all game making them fight out of a hole from a down and distance standpoint.”

Tigers KO Pups, now look to playoffs

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

MASSILLON, OH —

Like a boxer, the Massillon Tigers have been knocked to the mat more than their share of times over the last 10 weeks.

They have taken body blows, and haymakers; uppercuts and jabs. They have stood on legs of jelly and have looked out of eyes swollen and bruised.

Yet, they managed to get back up on their feet. Their most faithful fans never counted them out. And on Saturday afternoon, the referee lifted the Tigers’ hand in victory.

Despite all of the punches the Tigers have taken, all the stumbles to the mat, they have emerged on top. It may not be the mountaintop, but they can at least see it from where they stand now.

For the Tigers find themselves with a chance to play for the championship, a chance to put together five more weeks of inspired football. Seven days ago, that chance was on life support; on Saturday, after delivering a 17-0 knockout punch to archrival McKinley, that chance is beating strong as ever.

A team that couldn’t seem to shake .500 for most of the season has done just that, and finds itself in the playoffs.

“We just bounce back every week, win or lose,” senior safety Cooper Ivan said. “It’s Massillon-McKinley and it’s always going to be a good game. I love playing football with these guys.”
The memories of questionable officials’ calls and disheartening losses are just that now – memories. They now serve as a foundation from which the Tigers can build to be a stronger football team as they prepare to take that next step, which is the playoffs.

“You have to handle adversity when you play football,” junior linebacker Spencer Leno said as his teammates celebrated with family and fans after the game Saturday. “It’s all about how you handle it and how you bounce back.”

The Tigers handled it by not falling apart, not pointing fingers or fracturing the locker room. They pulled even closer together.

The team that found itself in a literal fight at a camp at end of the summer showed the figurative fight of a champion at the end of the season.

“We have that team now,” senior outside linebacker Brian Arelt said. “We’ve been missing that the past couple of years. We just have that close bond where we’re one big happy family most of the time.”

Even within Saturday’s game, the Tigers didn’t let the events on the field tear them apart. When the defense found itself on a number of occasions having to go right back out onto the field after one of the four Massillon turnovers, there was no complaining or criticizing.

Instead, the defense just took its intensity up another level, ratcheting it up another octane, as each minute ticked off the clock. By the end of the game, that defense had beaten McKinley into a state of confusion.

Yet, there was no confusion on the Tiger sideline. Only celebrating and congratulating among teammates, among a band of brothers who were reaping the rewards of months of work, months of blood and sweat and tears.

“Our team is close together,” said J.T. Turner, who rushed for 208 yards on Saturday, while adding a fumble recovery and at least seven big hits on defense. “We’ve been with each other since December, so we’ve just been rolling together. We proved it today.”

And like the triumphant boxer, the Tigers stood at the end of the day with their arms raised to the sky, pointing the way to the top. Now, they get to take the next step in the journey to get there.