Tag: <span>Marc Cleveland</span>

Massillon vs. McK - Throwback (Large) History

1998: Massillon 20, Canton McKinley 42

Tigers aren’t satisfied, but have no option

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ If you want to know how far the football program in Tigertown has to go, look no more than Saturday’s 42‑20 loss to McKinley.

Program Cover

No, not the score. In fact, the game was closer ‑much closer ‑ than it indicates. The Tigers out-gained the Bulldogs in every significant statistical category except points.

However, look at the attitude.

Since when did a 22‑point loss to McKinley become a moral victory in Massillon?

“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Massil­lon head coach Rick Shepas said. “It has taken McKinley a long time to get to where they’re at. It’s going to take us a long time to get to where we want to go. We’re not satisfied.”

Besides Shepas, the general consensus is Massillon played its best game of the season Saturday afternoon in front of 19,848. The Tigers still lost, but they gained some legitimacy, and probably sent a chill down Bulldog fans’ spines.

Massillon has come together to form ‑ of all things ‑ a team. The Tigers showed signs of that in the eighth week against Cincinnati Moeller, It was a game, like Saturday, that the Tigers lost in the sec­ond half. McKinley outscored Massillon 23‑3 in the second half.

This week, several Massillon players shaved their heads to capture the look of their clean‑shaven head coach. It was a good‑natured gesture.

It still took eight weeks for that bond to form. It took eight weeks for the players to believe in the system Shepas is running.

“I think it could have happened earlier in a lot of other places,” Shepas said. “But because there are so many people talking to our kids and in their ears, it takes longer for that bond to form.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1998

“I know our kids believe in the system here. With an off season that we didn’t have here last year … I wondered about that. (Former McKinley head coach) Thom McDaniels resigned early, so McKinley got an early hire.”

Shepas was not hired in Massillon until May 4. He was one of the last high school coaches hired in the state. He pressed together a coaching staff in a month. Consequently, Massillon needed the first half of the season to evaluate talent and see which players fit where.

Case in point is the quarterback position. Junior Dave Irwin spent more time leading the junior var­sity team than he did the varsity team this year. Yet, it was Irwin who had the most success. Saturday, he completed 65 percent of his passes and threw for 133 yards.
He may have broken a bone in his arm and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. “I thought Dave played a helluva game,” Shepas said.

Nevertheless, Saturday’s loss was a morale victory for Massillon.

This is a team that finishes with a 4‑6 record. It is the Tigers’ worst record since 1931 and first losing season since 1966 (4‑5).

“That doesn’t bother me at all … not at all,” Shep­as said of the losing season and being one of just three Massillon head coaches with a record below .500 since 1931. “High school football isn’t always about winning and losing.

“We’ve had to take a lot of stands here I don’t par­ticularly appreciate. But they were the stands that are going to make us a better team down the road.”

If there is one good thing about this season for Shepas, it is the fact he saw a lot of players perform . Massillon may have the largest crop of returning let­termen next season.

“I want to make this clear to our people,” Shepas said. “It’s going to take a lot of time to go in the direction we want to go in. A lot of time.”

McKinley 12 7 8 15 42
Massillon 7 10 3 0 20

McK – Doss 3 run (kick failed)
Mass – Irwin 2 run (Marshall kick)
McK – Doss 2 run (Pass failed)
Mass – FG Marshall 23
McK ‑ Doss 32 run (Armatas kick)
Mass – Miller 2 run (Marshall kick)
Mass – FG Marshall 20
McK – Doss 73 run (Friedman pass from McDanields)
McK ‑ Doss 1 run (McDaniels run)
McK ‑ Chavers recovery of blocked punt (Armatas kick)

First downs 22 11
Rushes‑yards 47‑229 29‑205
Passing 188 116
Comp‑Att‑Int 20‑31‑0 5‑12-0
Return Yards 91 6
Punts Avg. 3‑22.7 4‑36.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7‑61 4‑30
Total play 80 41
Time of Possession 31:21 16:39


Cleveland 22‑121,
Irwin 8‑36,
Lynn 6-34,
Wagner 1-1,
Miller 8-36,
Fichter 2-1.
Quincy 8‑45,
Doss 14-155,
Lucius 3-7,
McDaniels 4-(-2).

Irwin 15‑23‑133-0‑0,
Fichter 5-8-55-0-0.
McDaniels 5-12-116-0-0.

Lynn 7-66,
Radich 1-8,
Dorsey 5-50,
Price 4-49,
Allman 1-2,
Cleveland 2-13.
Friedman 1-28,
Hooks 3-65,
Lucius 1-23.

Pups finish off Tigers
wait till next year
Tigers seek respect;

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ With a 4‑5 record, there was not much the Massillon Tigers could have gained by winning Saturday’s game against McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Pride and a..500 record.

More importantly, respect was on the line.

That was one thing first‑year Tiger head coach Rick Shepas wanted for his program. It looked as if Massillon was going to get it when the Tigers took a 20‑19 lead with 3:20 to play in the third quarter.

However, breakdowns and costly penalties on both sides of the football erased any hopes of a Massillon upset. McKinley won the 105th game, 42‑20.

The final margin came when the Pups blocked a punt and fell on the ball in the end zone in the game’s final seconds.

When asked if the Tigers had earned respect, McKinley head coach Kerry Hodakievic said, “They played. well in the first half, anyway. We played our kind of football in the second half and we played well then.”

But no respect.

“We’re not going to get any respect until we win this game,” Massillon head coach Rick Shepas said. “What their coach says doesn’t matter. I’m not going to get caught up in saying things just because my town wants to hear them.”

The Tigers played their best game to date. They had a solid game plan and exposed many of the Bulldogs’ weaknesses. In fact, Massillon probably worried the Pups and scared their fans.

Massillon outgained McKinley 417‑321. It was the first time all season the Tigers gained more than 400 yards in total offense. They held the ball for 31:21, while McKinley had it for just 16:39. They doubled McKinley in first downs (22-11) and con­verted two field goal attempts.

The killer for the Tigers?

Penalties … again.

Massillon was penalized seven times for 61 yards, and most of them could not have come at worse times.

For example, a difference-­maker in the game came when Massillon quarterback Dave Irwin threw a strike to Joe Price. Irwin faked a reverse handoff to running back Marc Cleveland and Price left a McKinley defender wondering where he went. Price was wide open and Irwin delivered the ball for what appeared to be a 76‑yard touchdown.

Massillon was called for hold­ing, and Irwin may not have been able to throw the pass if not for the hold.

“I think we blow it open right there if we hit on that play,” Shepas said. “That was a big play. I really think the game is blown open.”

But it wasn’t. The Tigers con­tinued on the drive and place ­kicker Brett Marshall was able to muster a field goal. But the Pups still led 12‑10.

Believe it or not, the Tigers committed a bigger penalty. With the score 27-20, the Massillon defense looked at if it were going to force McKinley to punt after just three plays.

On third‑and‑8 from the McKinley 32, Bulldog quarterback Ben McDaniels overthrew his receiver. It should have been fourth down. But a Massillon player pummeled McDaniel well after the play and McKin­ley had a first down. The Pups went on to score and take a 35-20 lead.

“I didn’t get to see the play, but I’m sure it was the right call,” Shepas said. “The officials called a great game in a big game like this.”

Shepas was left to ponder what might have been.

“There was no pressure on us,” he said. “We had nothing to lose before today.”

The Massillon program may have gained some legitimacy for the first time all year. Maybe the Tigers made believers out of some.

The one thing they still lack is respect.

“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Shepas said.

They still have a lot left to gain.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 36, Akron St. Vincent St. Mary 7

Cat nap is over

Tigers wake up and blow out St. V-St. M

Tigers follow the Script for victory

Independent Sports Editor

Maybe, just maybe the Tigers have finally figured it out.

Program Cover

Massillon scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions and went on to post a dominating 36‑7 victory over the ­Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary’s Fighting Irish at Paul Brown ­Tiger Stadium, Friday night.

It was the Tigers first victory, in the last four weeks and marked the first time they, scored as many as three touch­downs in a game since Week 3 against Garfield.

Fighting Irish coach Jim Meyer was not‑surprised to see Massillon play such a dominant game against his team, which was 6‑2 coming in to the contest.

“I’ve got to hand it to them,” Meyer said, “They wanted this game and they came out and were very, very physi­cal.

“I watched tape on them and I knew it was going to be a physical game. I’m not surprised at all. I think they always had the mate­rial. I think they’ve been a sleeping giant for a while. Unfortunately for us they picked this week to wake up.”

Tigers tailback Marc Cleveland broke the century mark‑in. rushing for the first time since mid‑season with 126 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries. The senior says the team is hitting its stride.

“We’re coming together as a team,” Cleveland said. “We all just came together. We got tired of getting beat. We figured out we have to do what we have to do. We just have to fire off the line and punish the defense.”

Senior tight end Marcus Simpson, who opened the scoring with a six‑yard touchdown reception, was overjoyed at the victory.

“It was just beautiful,” Simpson said. “The offense came together and we all played good. I was just happy.

“That was my first touchdown and being a senior I was just thrilled to get a chance to help the team out. We’ve got a lot of momentum and we’re starting to move.”

Momentum was provided from the get go when Tigers junior Sam Young returned the Irish’s opening kickoff 53 yards to the St. V 43-yard line.

Cleveland gained 10 yards on two running plays and Massillon quarterback Dave Irwin connected with tight end. Ellery Moore for 10 more to the Irish 24.

Then Cleveland bucked over left guard for 10 yards and Irwin scrambled for four more to set up second‑and‑6 from the 9‑yard line.

From there, Irwin tossed a short pass to Simpson, who was all alone in the right flat. He strolled into the end zone for six. Brett Marshall’s PAT was true and Massillon led 7‑0 less than three minutes into the game.

Massillon linebacker Mike Mattox battled down an Irish third down pass and the visitors were forced to punt after just three snaps on their initial possession of the night.

The Tigers began their second drive from their 40 and methodically moved to the Irish 28. From there, Irwin hit Ron Lynn in the right flat for a 10‑yard gain, then Cleveland ran for 17 more on the flanker reverse to the 1-yard line.

Cleveland did the honors from a yard out and Marshall added the PAT to make it 14‑0 Tigers at 5:05 of the first quarter.

St. Vincent‑St. Mary again went three‑and‑out and the Irish punted the ball back to Massillon at its 26. The Tigers got a couple first downs but punted the ball back to St. V’s. But on first down, Massillon’s Brandon Clark made a gorgeous over‑the‑shoulder interception of a Ross Marconi pass to give the locals the ball at the visitors 34‑yard line.

Six plays later Irwin rolled left then threw back right and found Joe Price alone in the end zone for the six‑yard touchdown pass and a 20‑0 lead at 11:25 of the second period.

After another Irish punt, Massillon moved to the St. V’s 1‑yardline, but had to settle for, a 19‑yard field go by Marshall to go up 23-0 with 4:17 left until halftime.

Although the Irish finally got on the scoreboard with a 67-yard march culminated by a 9-yard Marconi to Miquel Irvin touchdown pass, it was a practically perfect first half for the beleaguered Tigers, who led 23-7 at the intermission.

Irwin was especially sharp. The junior completed 9 of 13 aerials for 73 yards and two TDs in the first 24 minutes of play.

“Dave’s pretty calm back there,” Shepas said. “He doesn’t seem to get rattled that much. He made some plays. He was 4-for-4 at one point and they were all at the right time and he put the ball where it needed to be. He did a nice job of directing that offense. We found some things we are good at … finally.”

For the second week in a row, Shepas scripted his team’s plays. And for the second week in a. row, the attack clicked.

“We did 24 plays this time instead of 17,” Shepas revealed, “The first series we had set for six plays. We got the ball and in six plays we were in the end zone. That’s a Bill Walsh thing and Mike Holmgren does it with the Packers.

It works best when you’re struggling to find some continuity. The main thing is when you come out you have to get some gains. When you get the gains the script works well. You lose yardage on first down and the script isn’t going to work well.”

On reason the Tigers didn’t have many negative yardage plays was their ability to control the line of scrimmage. Once again the offensive front of Mike Dean and Greg Dickerhoof at tackles, Joe Meanor and Chris Rich at guards and Dustin Clawson at center moved the defense around at the point of attack.

“In the games we haven’t been successful, people have established the line of scrimmage on us.” Shepas said, “Tonight were able to control the line on both sides of the ball.”

The team exchanged punts on the first four possessions of the second half. Then the tigers defense came up with a big play. After Luke Shilling’s punt rolled out of bounds at the St. V’s 13-yard line, the Akron entry tried to execute a screen pass Massillon middle linebacker Sam Studer made a one-handed interception and fought his way to the six yard line before being gang tackled.

Three plays later, Irwin found Price on a 10-yard curl pattern in the end zone. Marshall’s kick made it 30-7 Tigers at 11:48 of the fourth quarter.

The Irish turned the football over on second down of their ensuing possession and Cleveland applied some icing on the cake, going off his right tackle untouched for a 41-yard touchdown run.

In addition to putting it all together on offense, Massillon got over the hump by putting together two good haves of football.

“We tried not to make too many (halftime) adjustments because when we made adjustments we seem to make mistakes,” Shepas noted.

The Massillon defense did its part registering four interceptions and limiting the Irish to a paltry 54 yards rushing.

One sobering note for the Tigers was an ankle injury suffered by two-way starter Ellery Moore. The junior tight end/defensive end says he’ll be fine.

“It’s McKinley week so I’m coming back,” Moore said, “I’m not done.”

“We played with heart and dedicated tonight . We’re becoming a team. We’re working together and becoming a team. Just like coach Shepas wanted us to do. Play together. Put our heads together and be one.”

And for a night at least it worked to perfection.

ST. V-ST. M 7

First downs rushing 11 4
First downs passing 7 3­
First downs by penalty 1 1
TOTAL first downs 19 8
Net yards rushing 209 54
Net yards passing 93 118
TOTAL yards 302 170
Passes attempted 18 25
Passes completed 12 7
Passes intercepted 1 4
Punts 6 7
punting average 39 35.3
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 0/0
Penalties 3 8
Yards penalized 40 61

MASSILLON 14 09 00 13 36
ST.V-ST.M 00 07 00 00 07

M ‑ Simpson 8 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick)
M ‑ Cleveland 1 run (Marshall kick)
M ‑ Price 6 pass from Irwin (PAT failed)
M ‑ Marshall 19 field goal
St. V ‑ Irvin 9 pass from Marconi (Williamson kick)
M – Price 10 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick)
M – Cleveland 40 run (Kick(failed)


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 16‑126,
Lynn 7‑33,
Miller 10‑24,
Wagner 4‑20.
St V rushing:
James 15‑59.

Massillon passing:
Irwin 12‑17‑93 3 TDs, 1 INT.
SL V passing:
Marconi 7-25-116 4 INTs, 1 TD

Massillon receiving:
Moore 4-22,
Cleveland 2‑25,
Price 2‑16,
Miller 1‑8,
Simpson 1‑8
St V receiving:
Irvin 4‑87.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 19, Cincinnati Moeller 35

Moeller topples Massillon 35-19
Tigers unable to come back in second half;

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ It was throw­back night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. A lot of old memories were brought back, but they left after the half­time show.

Program Cover

Including the way a Massillon High School football team is supposed to play the game they cherish here. At least for two quarters, the Tigers played their best half of the season.

The Massillon Tigers were kicked into gear to start the game, but Cincinnati Moeller came out in the second half and kicked them in the teeth.

The Crusaders handed Massillon its fifth loss of the season in winning 35‑19 in front of’ an inflated crowd announced at 11,518.

There were members of’ Chuck Mather’s 1948‑54 teams on the field before the game. They even formed a tunnel for the Tigers to run through.

The Tiger Swing Band took on the look of George “Red” Bird’s bands, the famed band leader while Paul Brown coached here.

That was enough to inspire Massillon for a half; unfortu­nately, there are two halves in a football game.

“We made a few adjustments, nothing major, but we started running to our trips because they walked off their (weak­side) linebacker to that side,” Moeller head coach Steve Klonne said of’ his team’s sec­ond‑half effort.

Massillon gained less than 100 total yards in the second half, while Moeller ran off 266 and outscored the Tigers 27‑12.

The Tigers took points off the board on the opening drive of’ the game. Massillon took the ball to the Moeller 15, where Brett Marshall made a 32‑yard field goal. However, the Crusaders were called for roughing the kicker and the Tigers had the first‑and‑goal at the 7. Two plays later, though, Massillon fumbled the ball on a bad hand­off and Moeller recovered.

That was not doom.

The Massillon defense forced Moeller to punt. The real Tigers came out this time.

Jason Jarvis returned the punt 17 yards to the Massillon 46. Running back Marc Cleveland was split right in a slot position, went in motion to the left, and took the handoff from junior quarterback Dave Irwin. Cleve­land gained 39 yards and the Tigers had the ball inside the Moeller 20 at the 14.

Fullback Ron Lynn took a trap play, broke a tackle at the line, and scored from 14 yards out to give Massillon a 7‑0 lead with 2:04 left in the first quarter.

As good as Irwin was in his first varsity start, he was not perfect. He was sacked on a third‑and‑18 play from the Mas­sillon 20 and Moeller’s John Oscar recovered at the 27.

But Irwin turned in perhaps the best performance of the year for a Massillon QB. He has spent the entire season as the starting junior varsity QB and running the scout team offense.

Massillon had a slim chance to take the lead before halftime. Defensive back Jamie Allman intercepted a Moeller pass inside the Tigers’ 10 and returned it to midfield. However, Massil­lon was out of timeouts and had less than a minute to score.

A sack and delay of’ game penalty ‑ after Massillon stopped the clock by spiking the ball on third down ‑ squashed any chances of’ a late first‑half touchdown.

Moeller set the tone in the second half when sophomore Marcus Blanks took most of the snaps at tailback. The Crusaders needed eight plays to go 65 yards and score after the second‑half kickoff. On four of’ those plays. Blanks gained 10 yards or more. He had runs of 14, 22, 16 and 10.

Brian Reisert scored on a keeper from a yard out and Moeller led 15‑7.

The Crusaders tacked on another TD in the third quarter. while Massillon could not respond.

“I think the first touchdown took a little wind away from them” Klonne said. “I think the second score is what put them away.

“Massillon’s offense got better from last week, and their defense has always been good. I think if you look at what (head coach Rick Shepas) is working with, and what he’s trying to do … you just need to be patient with them.”

How do you coach heart and effort when the game is on the line?

More than 40 minutes after the game. Massillon head coach Rick Shepas, whose team is 3‑5 for the first time since 1931, was not made available for com­ment.

Moeller 0 8 14 14 35
Massillon 7 0 0 12 19

MAS ‑ Lynn 14 run (Marshall kick)
MOE ‑ Hughes 3 run (Hughes run)
MOE ‑ Reisert 1 run (Murphy kick)
MOE ‑ Reisert 16 run (Seuberling kick)
MAS ‑ Irwin 8 run (pass failed)
MOE ‑ Jackson 10 pass from Reisert (Seuberling kick)
MOE ‑ Ryan 25 pass from Reisert (kick failed)
MAS ‑ Miller 77 kickoff return (pass failed)

Team statistics
Moeller 47‑281,
Massillon 27-115.

Moeller 13‑27‑1‑172,
Massillon 15‑33‑1­-125.

First downs:
Moeller 25,
Massillon 15.

Moeller 2‑1,
Massillon 3‑2.

Moeller 6‑2;
Massillon 3‑5.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 7, Walsh Jesuit 34

Walsh Jesuit gains its revenge

No. 1 ranked Warriors hand Tigers 34‑7 defeat

Independent Sports Editor

The post‑game team huddles told the story.

Walsh Jesuit coach Gerry Rardin was talking about taking it one week at a time while reminding his Warriors they are only half way home to their goal of a state championship
At the other end of the field, Massillon coach Rick Shepas was talking about focus and team and staying the course.

Final score Friday night in front of 9,266 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium: Walsh Jesuit 34, Massillon 7.

It wasn’t closer than the score­board indicated, either.

Walsh Jesuit, now 7‑0 and a good bet to retain its No. 1 rank­ing in the Division III poll, amassed 534 yards of total offense, 355 in the first half alone. Massillon managed but 100 yards of offense all night
The Warriors had the football for 31:37. The Tigers time of possession was about half of that – 16:23.

The visitors piled up 24 first downs to the hosts ‘7 first downs.

Walsh Jesuit scored on its first two possessions of the game, while Massillon’s first two series of downs netted 10 yards total.

Warriors quarterback Dan Larlham rushed for 103 yards in just 11 carries and passed for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

A year ago, Larlham was at the helm of a Warriors team that endured a 27‑14 Tiger victory. That made Friday night’s win that much better.

“We want everybody to know what we can do,” Larlham said afterward. “We want everybody around to know this is what we’re about … right here.

“Tonight we wanted to make sure we got on the board early and that we stayed after them in the second half after we got our Iead.

Rardin agreed the Warriors two quick scores set the tone and kept the Tigers from mounting
an upset bid.

“It was fortunate we jumped out quickly,” Rardin ‑said‑ “Had we not done that, I think it would’ve been a lot tighter. But we got a couple of quick ones and it seemed to help us.”

“We’ve come down here and played some really fine games. Last year we came down here and didn’t play very well, so this one feels really good. Our kids played a good game and we get out with a victory. We’ve come down here and played well before and just ended up on the short end. So it is a good feeling.”

Shepas was left searching for answers after the game, He was calm but obviously none‑too-­happy with his team’s third lopsided loss in four games.

“The bottom line is real sim­ple,” he said. “I’m going to come in here and do a good job for these kids. I’m going to start (Saturday) morning when we break down film. That’s basical­ly what I had to tell them after the game.

“I feel like I can be more effective with them in getting things across. It’s got to start with me. Everyone is disappoint­ed. Not too many people are happy. But I’ve got to take a look at what I’m doing in regard to getting some things across to this football team. I’ve got to start with myself. We have to keep teaching and keep going.”

Shepas acknowledged the los­ing is having an effect on the confidence of his charges.

They feel the pulse of a lot of things around here and there are a lot of things that distract them mentally ” Shepas said. “I feel to be effective I have to get the focus of this football team and I don’t believe I have that captive of an audience yet. I’m working on that but they hear so many things. And then if things don’t go well, they hear more things.

“This is a team game, a self­less game. It’s not a selfish I have a good idea of what I need to do here. I’m going to work hard to keep implementing that plan. I’m going to keep my focus and that’s the way it’s going to go.”

Walsh opened the game with a 35‑yard pass play that moved the football from the Warriors’ 36 to the Tigers 29. Two plays later, on third‑and‑10, Larlham hit diminutive tailback Mike Marotto with a pass along the left sideline. Marotto snared the ball at the 10 and jaunted untouched into the end zone. Jeff Andrea drilled the PAT and the Warriors led 7‑0 less than two minutes into the game.

Massillon’s first possession was doomed when quarterback Steve Eyerman was sacked by
.four Warriors on a second‑and-­10 play from the Tiger 26. Two snaps later Luke Shilling punted.

Walsh took over at midfield and moved the ball methodically toward the Massillon goal line. Fullback Dan Basch gained 24 yards in two carries, Marotto added eight and Larlham carried for six to set up first‑and‑goal from the Massillon 8. Larlham dropped back to pass, stood in the pocket as the pressure arrived and fired at the last possible moment. Tight end Bryan Biegie caught the ball at the 2 and fought his way into the end zone for the score. Andrea was true with the conversion kick and the Warriors led 14‑0 at the 6:45 mark of the first quartet.

Tigers senior Julian Miller electrified the home crowd with a stunning 80 yard kickoff return that began at the Massillon 10 and ended at the Walsh 10. Miller made two fine cuts, one at his own 35 and another near midfield that left the Warriors clutching thin air.

From the 10, the Tigers ran twice up the middle for no gain and threw an incompletion on third down. A field goal try was wide left and the momentum Miller had provided disappeared like the autumn leaves on a windy day.

Walsh put together a drive of seven plays covering 77 yards for its third score of the evening. Larlham hit wideout Aaron Moll with a 9‑yard touchdown pass but the big play of the march was a 44‑yard dash around left end by Marotto who finished with 192 yards on 22 carries.

Shilling’s 67‑yard punt set the Tigers up with good field posi­tion late in the first half. Massillon, taking over at the Warriors 44, got a 14‑yard Eyerman to Marc Cleveland completion on the first snap of the series. Then Cleveland picked up seven yards on a draw play and nine more on a sweep round right end to move the all to the visitors’ 11. On second‑and‑one, the senior tailback took the football on the draw play and juked his way to pay­dirt.

Brett Marshall converted the PAT kick and the Tigers hall time deficit was 21‑7.

Massillon got the second half kickoff and a grabbing the face­mask penalty against Walsh helped the Tigers move to the Warrior 40. But the drive stalled.

In fact, the Tigers were able to generate just 25 net yards of offense the second half as Walsh did what Glen Mills had the week before ‑ dominate at the line of scrimmage.

The good news for the Tigers? Only five penalties and just one turnover. But it wasn’t enough to avoid their fourth loss in seven starts.

“Massillon is going through a rough time but I’ve always had a lot of respect for the community down here and I’m sure they’re going to continue to support these kids,” commented Rardin. “The one thing that looked a lit­tle bit different is the past Massillon teams have the big play guy, the one kid who is going to bust it. They don’t have that this year, the one kid who can get them over the hump.

First downs rushing 4 15
First downs passing 2 8
First downs by penalty 1 1
TOTAL first downs 7 24
Net yards rushing 66 354
Net yards passing 34 180
TOTAL yards 100 534
Passes attempted 23 17
Passes completed 4 10
Passes intercepted 1 2
Punts 9 4
Punting average 41.4 38.5
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 0/0
Penalties 5 6
Yards penalized 59 61

WALSH 14 07 00 13 34
MASSILLON 00 07 00 00 07
W ‑ Marotto 29 pass from Larlham (Andrea kick)
W ‑ Biegie 7 pass from Larlham (Andrea kick)
W ‑ Moll 9 run (Andrea kick)
M ‑ Cleveland 1 1 run (Marshall kick)
W ‑ Marotto 62 run (Andrea kick)
W ‑ Marotto 9 run (Kick failed)


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 7‑31,
Miller 6-­19,
Stanke 1‑15,
Lynn 1‑3.
Walsh rushing:
Marotto 22‑192,
Larlham 11‑103,
Basch 9‑34.

Massillon passing:
Eyerman 4‑22‑34 1 INT.
Walsh passing:
Larlham 10‑17‑180 2 1NT, 2 TDs.

Massillon receiving:
Allman 2‑6,
Buckosh 1-­14,
Cleveland 1‑14.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 0, Glen Mills, PA 19

‘You can run but you can’t hide’

Depleted Tigers can’t cope with speed of Glen Mills

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers learned the cliche “speed kills” is more than just a warning about driving too fast.

Program Cover

The Battling Bulls of Glen Mills High used lightning speed on both sides of the football to great advantage in handing the Tigers a convincing 19‑0 setback in front of 8,018 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday night.

Glen Mills put eight defenders at the line of scrimmage and recorded nine sacks of Tigers quarterback Steve Eyerman, completely overwhelming Massillon’s offensive line at the point of attack.

The Bulls flashed the same blinding speed on special teams and offense, scoring on three big plays:
A 49‑yard punt return by Myron Farley with 4:16 remain­ing in the first quarter.

An 88 yard run from scrim­mage by tailback Sessions Boyd with 2:01 left in the opening stan­za.

A 42‑yard run from scrim­mage by Maurice Costello with 5:03 left in the ball game.

“It’s the old cliche ‘speed kills,”’ acknowledged Glen Mills head coach Ken Banks. “We knew if we could get our kids out to the open field, we’ve got two pretty fast tailbacks and a pretty fast fullback. That’s all we try to do; get them through the line and then let their athletic ability take over.”

Tailback Sessions Byrd paced the GIen Mills running attack with 116 yards on just nine car­ries. Fullback Eugene Smith wasn’t far behind, racking up 114 yards in only 11 carries as the Battling Bulls rushed for 340 yards on the night.

“I was surprised how domi­nant we were,” Banks said. “They have some pretty good football players over there. I was concerned about their two big kids up front on defense (Ellery Moore and Chris Turner). We were able to do some things to play to some of their weaknesses. We had a real good week of practice. When we do that we generally execute really well.”

Tigers coach Rick Shepas was not surprised by how fast Glen Mills was, having seen that very attribute on the team’s game tapes.

The first year mentor was not down after the game, preaching patience and faith on the part of Tiger fans.

“Where we’re at right now is going to take some courage,” Shepas said. “This is a situation that we as a town aren’t used to. It’s going to take some courage and some belief in what we’re doing and some conviction to get the job done.

“I believe in these kids. These kids work hard. They played a hard fought game today. We had kids cramping up and playing to the very end. We just go from here.”

Massillon took the opening kickoff and moved from its 26 to midfield, but on a second‑and-­two play turned the ball over on an interception.

The same Fate befell the Tigers on their second posses­sion of the evening as Glen Mills relentless pass rush and pres­sure at the line of scrimmage paid immediate dividends in the first quarter.

“That’s the style of defense we play,” Banks said. “Its a very aggressive style of defense. We got a very good secondary and we have a lot of confidence in them. That enables us to do a lot of man to man coverage and that in turn gives us the opportunity to do a lot of blitzing with our linebackers and stunts up front because we have faith in our defensive backfield to play man to man.”

Massillon’s defense held the fort after both first quarter turnovers, forcing the visitors to ‑punt the ball back to the Tigers.

The second punt, however, pinned the locals back on their 11‑yard line and three plays later it was time to punt.

Glen Mills’ Farley caught Luke Shilling’s punt at the visitors’ 48-yard line, he cut to the right side­line and raced virtually untouched to the end zone. Danny Young tacked on the extra point and the Bulls led 7‑0.

Massillon went three‑and‑out on its next possession ‑ which included a sack that cost the Tigers nine yards ‑ and was forced to punt again. This time Shilling boomed a 57‑yarder and Glen Mills had to take over at its 12.

On first down, Byrd swept around his right end. He broke a tackle at the 20‑yard line, then turned on the afterburners for an 88‑yard scoring run that saw him pulling away from the pur­suing defenders even as he crossed the goal line. The extra point was partially blocked and Glen Mills’ lead was 13‑0 with two minutes remaining in the initial quarter of play.

At that point, it appeared Massillon was simply overmatched athletically. But the Tigers sucked it up and held the Pennsylvania entry scoreless the rest of the half, thanks to some standout individual plays by linebacker Mike Mattox, and defensive linemen Chris Turner and Ellery Moore.

But Massillon’s offense never got untracked. It generated just 70 yards in the first half and
averaged only 1.9 yards per rushing play. The passing game was a non‑factor because quar­terback Steve Eyerman was being harassed on virtually every snap as the Tigers patchwork offensive line could not secure the line of scrimmage with any consistency.

“We’re trying,” Shepas said when asked about the play of his O-line. “We’re going to continue to work hard. We did some posi­tive things out there, but this is where we’re at.”

First downs rushing 9 4
First downs passing 0 4
First downs by penalty 1 2
TOTAL first downs 10 10
Net yards rushing 370 98
Net yards passing 0 99
TOTAL yards 340 123
Passes attempted 5 24
Passes completed 0 13
Passes intercepted 0 2
Punts 6 10
Punting average 37.3 36
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 4/0
Penalties 3 9
Yards penalized 35 95

MASSILLON 00 00 00 00 00
GLEN MILLS 13 00 06 00 19

G ‑ Farley 49‑yard punt return (Young kick)
G ‑ Byrd 80‑yard run (PAT failed)
G ‑ Costello 40‑yard run (run failed)


Massillon rushing:
Miller 7‑23,
Cleveland 9-­34,
Eyerman 13‑33.
Glen Mills rushing:
Smith 11‑114,
Byrd 9-1­16,
Mitchell 14‑64,
Costello 7‑46.

Massillon passing:
Eyerman 13‑24‑99.
Glen Mills passing:
Mitchell 0‑4‑0,
Newlkirk 0‑1‑0.

Massillon receiving:
Allman 5‑61.
Cleveland 2‑17,
Clemens 1‑12,
Miller 1‑10,
Buckosh 1‑1,
Lynn 3‑ ‑2.
Glen Mills receiving:

Statistics courtesy of
Richard Cunningham

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 3

Tigers end first half with road win

Massillon improves to 3‑2 with 10‑7 victory at Fitch

Independent Staff Writer

Chalk this one up to the defense and to the right foot of punter Luke Shilling.

The Massillon Tigers’ football team used a stellar effort from its defensive unit and another outstanding performance from Shilling to post a 10‑3 victory Friday night over host Austintown Fitch before an esti­mated 4,800 fans.

Massillon’s defensive unit, led by its front four, limited Austintown (2‑3) to a single field goal in the second quarter and to just 154 total yards of offense to improve the Tigers to 3‑2 on the year.

On the offensive side of the ball, Massillon put together a 76­-yard touchdown drive midway through the second quarter, and closed out !he scoring with a 26­-yard field goal from junior place kicker Brett Marshall with just 61 seconds to play.

But the difference in the game was the right foot of Shilling, who consistently kept the Falcons pinned deep in their own territory with his towering punts. The 5‑foot‑9, 162‑pounder booted the ball just four times, but averaged 44.5 yards, a kick.

By comparison, the Austintown punter, Brian Sudetic, kicked the ball seven times, but averaged just 28.1 yards a kick. As a result, the Falcons lost a large chunk of yardage every time they exchanged punts with the Tigers.

“Their punter controlled the field position all night long,” said Austintown coach Brian Fedyski,. “He’s a super punter. They have a real weapon when he kicks like that.”

Also controlling the action on the field was the Tigers’ defen­sive front wall, which recorded six sacks and hurried Fitch quarterback John Belak on a number of other occasions. Belak threw the ball an amazing 26 times, but completed just 9 of those passes for only 96 yards and one interception.

It was a sloppy game, but our defense did a great job,” said Tigers’ coach Rick Shepas. “Chris Turner made some big stops, and Jason Hahn and Ellery Moore also played solid games.”

Hahn, Moore and Turner each recorded a quarterback sack, while defensive end Neil Buckosh received credit for two QB sacks. All tolled, the Tigers, sacked the Falcons’ quarterback
six times for minus 45 yards.
Despite scoring just 10 points, Massillon quarterback Steve Eyerman made an impressive debut as the Tigers’ starter. Eyerman, who was filling in for the injured Tom Fichter, showed
his athleticism by scrambling out of a number of tight situa­tions throughout the night. The junior QB wound up completing 8‑of‑18 passes for 127 yards. He also threw an interception.

“This was a tough night for offensive football, but I think Eyerman may have come into his own a little bit tonight,” said Shepas. “He made some nice plays when we needed him to make them. He seemed to get more comfortable out there as the game went on. We’ve been waiting for one of the quarter­backs to step it up.”

By contrast, senior tailback Marc Cleveland had his rough­est night of the season. Cleveland entered the game with 468 yards on the ground and a 6.4 yards per carry aver­age. But the Fitch defense limit­ed him to just 55 yards on 23 Carries for a 2.4 per carry aver­age. Cleveland did manage to score the lone touchdown in the game, with a one‑yard run over left guard midway through the second period.

“Marc was running a little stiff in the second half. His mus­cles tightened up on him during the half,” said Shepas. “But what really hurts is we don’t have much of a running game from our fullback spot, so the other teams can zero in on Marc.”

“We wanted to stop Cleveland. He was the guy we wanted to stop,” said the Falcons’ Fedyski. “We figured Massillon would run the ball more with the starting quarterback out. But Eyerman did a nice job for them. He hurt us with his scrambles when we had the pressure on him.”

Fedyski said the absence of the freshman phenom running back Maurice Clarett also hurt the Falcons’ chances. Clarett had rushed for 469 vards on 61 carries and scored six touch­downs in Austintown’s first four games. But he injured an ankle during the second half of last week’s loss to Madison, and was on crutches during the game with Massillon.

” Not having Clarett hurt us,” said Fedyski. “Although he’ s just a freshman, he leads the Steel Valley Conference in all ­purpose yards with nearly 180 yards a game. It takes a lot of our offense when you lose a player of his stature.”

With Clarett on the sideline the bulk of Austintown’s ground game fell on the shoulders of senior fullback Tom Italiano. He rushed for 85 yards in 14 car­ries, most right up the middle into the heart of the Massillon defense.

After the two teams exchanged interceptions in the first quarter, Massillon finally put a sustained drive together midway through the second period. The Tigers moved the ball 76 yards in 12 plays, capped by the one‑yard run by Cleveland. During the drive, Eyerman completed four key passes, totaling 58 yards. Marshall added the PAT kick to make the score 7‑0.

Fitch responded by taking the Tigers’ kickoff from their own 22 down to the Massillon 21
before their 14 play drive stalled. Junior place kicker Jacob Stewart then booted a 38 ­yard field goal with just five seconds left in the half to make the score 7‑3.

Neither team could sustain a drive throughout the third quar­ter and well into the fourth peri­od. Finally, after several exchanges of punts, the Tigers got close enough to score making a 26 yard, field goal with 1:01 to play capped a 10-play Massillon drive, which began on the Fitch 34‑vard‑line.
The Falcons were unable to mount another scoring threat as Massillon walked off the field with its third win of the season. The Tigers will begin the second half of the 1998 campaign next Friday night when they host Pennsylvania football power Glen Mills High.

First down rushing 4 6
First downs passing 7 5
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 11 12
Net yards rushing 72 58
Net yards passing 127 96
TOTAL yards 199 154
Passes attempted 18 26
Passes completed 8 9
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 4 7
Punting average 44.5 28.1
Fumbles/Lost 4/1 1/1
Penalties 6 8
Yards penalized 69 65

MASSILLON 7 0 0 3 10
FITCH 0 3 0 0 3

M ‑ Marc Cleveland 1 run (Brett Marshall kick)
F ‑ Stewart 38 field goal
M ‑ Marshall 26 field goal


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 23‑55,
Miller 8‑17,
Lynn 1‑2.
Fitch rushing:
Italiano 14‑85.

Massillon passing:
Eyerman 8‑18 127 1 INT.
Fitch passing:
Belak 9‑26‑96 1 INT

Massillon receiving:
Allman 2‑36,
Dorsey 2­-33,
Cleveland 2‑19,
Clemens 1‑31,
Jarvis 1-8.
Fitch receiving:
Sucletic 2‑24,
Burd 2‑23,
Densevich 2‑22,
Giordano 1‑11,
Wakiters 1‑10,
Italiano 1‑6.

Statistics courtesy of Richard Cunningham

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 0, Mansfield Senior 21

Tigers run into a buzzsaw at Mansfield
Massillon never gets offense untracked against the Tygers

Independent‑Staff Writer

A quick and athletic Mansfield Senior football team dominated visiting Massillon for four quarters Friday night en route to 21-0 whitewashing of the Tigers.

Some 8,317 fans watched at Mansfield’s Arlin Field as the host Tygers scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters to remain unbeaten after the first four games of the season.

Senior quarterback Jeremy Butts scored on a 2-yard scamper in the first quarter and tossed scoring strikes of 9 yards and 18 yards to senior tight end Jermaine Bradley in both the second and third periods to hand Massillon its second loss in four outings.

“Mansfield did an outstanding job offensively. They mixed up their plays well,” said Massillon coach Rick Shepas after the game. “Their quarterback ran their option well and made good decisions when he had to. Their offense keep us off-balance.

“But once again, we shot ourselves in the foot at the most inopportune times.” Added the Tigers’ first-year coach. “We weren’t effective through the air and Mansfield has a lot of team speed on their defense. But we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had. We have to create points to get some life on this team.”

The statistics show how dominant Mansfield was in the 45th renewal of the battle of the Tigers. The host ran 75 plays compared to Massillon’s 47, and accumulated 359 total yard to the visitors’ 191.

The closest Massillon got to scoring came late in the first quarter when the Tigers reached the Mansfield 11. But a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass forced Massillon to attempt a field goal from 32 yards away. Brett Marshall’s kick sailed “wide right, leaving the Tigers empty-handed despite a 10-play drive.

Massillon’s only other legitimate scoring threat came late in the fourth quarter when the Tigers drove from their own 20 to the Mansfield 18. But senior tailback Marc Cleveland was stopped short on a fourth-down run, effectively ending Massillon’s attempt to avert the shutout.

Despite the loss, Cleveland turned in another solid game. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound senior gained 122 yards on 19 carries for a 6.4 average. His longest run was 26 yards.

However, Cleveland’s teammates failed to produce similar numbers. Senior quarterback Tom Fichter completed just 1-of-7 passes for 24 yards before leaving the game with a knee injury near the end of the second quarter.

Fichter’s replacement junior Steve Eyerman, fared a little better, completing 4-of-6 passes, but for only 18 yards. The Tigers also lost two fumbles and were penalized 10 times for a total of 109 yards.

“This was a big win for us,” said Mansfield coach Stanley Jefferson. “In fact, it was just one year ago that we went 2-8 and lost to Massillon 42-0. Not many people realized it at the time, but we started six sophomores and had 10 first-year juniors on last year’s team. That experience is paying off for us now.

“Although we beat them tonight, we respect Massillon and their tradition,” Jefferson added. “I respect very much their rich tradition and their 700 wins. To beat a Massillon team you just don’t fluke one out. Their program is just too good to fluke out a win.

“We had to play a great game to beat them, and our kids rose to the occasion. Our kids have worked exceptionally hard to get where they are at right now.”

Mansfield’s first score came midway through the first quarter. The Tygers drove 52-yards in six plays, capped by a 2-yard scamper around right end by Butts.

Mansfield’s second TD followed a fumbled snap midway through the second quarter. This time, the Tygers drove 40 yards in eight plays. The touchdown came on a 12-yard toss from Butts to Bradley, but only after the Tygers’ QB ducked an on rushing Massillon defender to get rid of the ball.

Mansfield’s final TD came midway through the third period. The Tygers took the second-half kickoff and drove 75 yards in 13 plays. The touchdown came on another toss from Butts to Bradley. Place kicker Nick Shasky added his third PAT kick to make the score 21-0.

Butts finished with 11 completions in 24 attempts for 155 yards and no interceptions. The Tygers’ leading ball carrier was senior tailback Littleton Lloyd, who gained 162 yards on 25 carries. His longest run was 27 yards.

“I felt we did a good job adjusting at the half. But the kids just didn’t execute well,” said Shepas. “We had a good game plan, but Mansfield has a good solid football team.

“I told the kids that a loss like this is supposed to hurt,” Shepas added. “The only thing that can make the hurt go away is our next game seven days from now.”

Fichter sidelined

Independent Correspondent

The Massillon Tigers might have lost more than just a football game Friday night against Mansfield Senior at Arlin Field. They also might have lost their starting quarterback for a while.

Senior signal caller Tom Fichter suffered an injury to his right knee in the 21-0 loss to the Tygers when he was sacked by Mansfield linebacker Jeremy Haynes at the Massillon 26-yard line with 2:37 remaining in the first half.

The severity of the injury was not immediately known but Fichter is scheduled to undergo an MRI on the knee this weekend.

Tigers coach Rick Shepas said Fichter’s status for next week’s game at Austintown Fitch is questionable at this moment contingent on the results of the tests on the knee.

Fichter was rolling to his left on a third-and-10 play in order to avoid the oncoming rush when Haynes grabbed him by his jersey and threw him to the turf. Fichter’s cleats caught in the turf as he went down awkwardly, twisting his knee. He was writhing on the ground in obvious pain when the Massillon trainers got to him, but after a short while managed to get up and walk off under his own power.

Junior Steve Eyerman, who had been locked into a heated battle with Fichter for the starting job throughout two-a-days, replaced Fichter for the remainder of the game. He completed four-of-six passes for 18-yards while also being sacked once for a 10-yard loss.

Meanwhile, starting senior defensive tackle Alex Borbely will have to sit out next week’s game against Austintown Fitch due to a state mandated suspension after he was ejected from the Mansfield game with 45 seconds remaining for taunting the referees.

Man Mas
First downs rushing 13 7
First downs passing 1 2
First downs by penalty 4 0
TOTAL first downs 24 9
Net yards rushing 204 149
Net yards passing 155 42
TOTAL yards 351 191
Passes attempted 24 14
Passes Completed 11 5
Passes intercepted 0 0
Punts 2 3
Punting average 27.5 42.7
Fumbles/Lost 3/1 2/2
Penalties 9 10
Yards penalized 67 109

MANSFIELD 7 7 7 0 21

Man Butts 2 run (Shasky kick)
Man Bradley 9 pass from Butts (Shasky kick)
Man Bradley 18 pass from Butts (Shasky kick)

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 21, Akron Garfield 10

Tigers’ attack hits high gear

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers put the air back into the football Friday night, scoring three first half touchdowns ‑ two through the air ‑ in handing the Akron Garfield Rams their third straight defeat 21‑10 in front of 10,180 fans on a warm, late­ summer evening at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Program Cover

One week after passing the football just nine times in a. drubbing of Lima Senior, the Tigers (2‑1) put it up 14 times in the first half alone, completing eight of those aerials, including scoring tosses of 34 and 25 yards to Neil Buckosh and Marc Cleveland.

Senior quarterback Tom Fichter connected on 8‑of‑14 first half throws for 120 yards, putting the winless Rams back on their heels and in a hole from which they never recovered.

Jon Stanke set the Massillon offense up with exceptional field position by returning the opening kickoff all the way for a touchdown. Unfortunately for Stanke and the Tigers, a holding call negated the score and put the ball at the Garfield 37.

After two incompletions and facing a fourth‑and‑7, Fichter dropped back to pass, got excellent protection, and laid a perfectly thrown pass over the right shoulder of Buckosh. The senior tight end pulled the foot in at the 10‑yard line and dashed to the end zone to put Massillon up 6‑0.

Brett Marshall’s conversion kick made it 7‑0 at 10:58 of the first quarter.

“We do a lot of distraction drills in practice,” Buckosh said afterward. “On that play their guy ran right across my line of sight and those practice drills paid off. I stayed on the ball.”

“Tommy made a great throw for me. I give all the credit to Tommy Fichter.”

Fichter made a pre‑snap read on the play and recognized his tight end might be open.

“I knew the route Buckosh was going to run and I saw who was going to cover him,” Fichter said. “I know Neil has good hands and I knew I had to put the ball where it had to be. I got lucky and put it right there and Neil made a great catch and good run and we got six points out of it.

The Tigers defense nearly got an interception from corner­back Brandon Clark on Garfield’s initial drive and forced the Rams into a three-­and‑out series. Rocky Dorsey’s punt return set Massillon up with a first down near midfield ‘

Fichter found Buckosh open over the middle on the very first snap for 20 yards to the Garfield 32. After Ronnie Lynn picked up 12 yards to the Rams’ 15, two Marc Cleveland sweeps did the rest. The second, a pitch sweep around left end from seven yards out, made it 13‑0 with 7:13 to play in the first quarter.

Marshall tacked on the PAT and it was a 14‑0 Tiger cushion.

“We came out and we did exactly what we wanted to do,” said head coach Rick Shepas. “We know that Garfield is a well coached football team. We know they are very talented and they play hard and if they know they’re in the football game then we’re going to have prob­lems with them.

“Getting nicked twice in their first two games made it a dif­ferent atmosphere for them. Fortunately we were able to come out and get the good kick return and get it in the end
zone, get a good defensive stop, get it in the end zone again and now they might question them­selves a little bit.”

Garfield got on the score­board on an eight‑play, 43‑yard drive capped by Greg Kulick’s 28‑yard field goal that made it a 14‑3 game with 5:04 left in the first half. The Rams had first-­and‑10 from the Tigers 12, but consecutive outstanding defen­sive plays by Ellery Moore, Clark and Jamie Allman pre­vented any further incursion into Tiger territory.

Massillon took the ensuing kickoff and put together a well­ executed drive. The first big play on the march was an 11­-yard Fichter‑to‑Jason Clemens sideline pass on third‑and‑eight that moved the ball into Garfield territory as well as netting a first down.

Then on fourth‑and‑five from the Rams’ 43, Fichter found Cleveland open for 18 yards along the right hash mark for another do‑or‑die first down.

Three snaps later, on third­-and‑10, Fichter dropped back and floated the football into Cleveland’s waiting hands in the end zone from 25 yards out. Marshall again converted and the Tigers were up 21‑3 with just :35 until the band show.

“We started to get things going,” Fichter said in the lock­er room. “We started to feel good about ourselves again.”

Shepas built on that theme. “I think the kids feel better about themselves,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.’

“I was pleased with Tom’s performance in the first half. We’re still not seeing all the field and you can see that in a number of instances. But we did a better job for the quarter­backs this week in practice, giv­ing them a better look at what they were going to see cover­age‑wise to make them more comfortable. Every week we’re going to start over again. We’re going to go out and teach for four days before we play a football game. We’re going to see if we get better and we’re going to start to understand more things as the games go by.”

The Massillon defense was as much the story as the re‑emer­gence of Shepas’ West Coast Offense. The Tigers held Garfield to 145 yards of total offense for the entire game. The Rams did not complete a pass in eight attempts and scrambling quarterback Eli Ward only gained 45 yards in 11 totes.

“If offense can go out and get some scores and put some points on the board, the defense doesn’t have to worry about where they are on the field,” pointed out Shepas. “They can fly around and make plays. Hey, we have our marquee players on defense. We want to play good defense. We’re taking steps to improve in that area, too. We did eliminate some mis­takes and we’re one week bet­ter, but that’s all we are.”

“What’s taking more time than anything is getting to know who our people are and how to use our people. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve done a 360 degree turn since the summer and we’re starting to find out more and more who to play in these football games. It’s going to take the entire season to get a feel for who we got.”

“The offense is coming around,” said Buckosh, who fin­ished with three catches for 59 yards. “We had a great first half on offense The second half we didn’t score any points so we’ve got to get better. We’re in great shape, better shape than our opponents. We just need to focus on not putting the defense in jeopardy.”

Garfield got its only touch­down of the game late in the third period on a 43‑yard drive set up by Massillon’s second interception of the evening. It took the Rams 11 plays, but they finally punched it in from a foot out after three tries from inside the 5‑yard line.

“For us it’s been a lack of con­sistency,” explained Garfield coach Bill McGee after the game. “Our defense has been tough in the first half the first two weeks. Tonight we gave them a couple of easy ones in the first half and we had break­down in the kicking game which gave them good field position.”
“This was an improvement for us in some areas. After the first seven or eight minutes of the game we outscored them, but we put ourselves into too big a hole.’

First downs rushing 5 8
First downs passing 6 0
First downs by penalty 0 2
TOTAL first downs 11 10
Net yards rushing 91 145
Net yards passing 136 0
TOTAL yards 227 145
Passes attempted 18 8
Passes completed 10 0
Passes intercepted 2 0
Punts 3 5
Punting average 47 29.4
Fumbles/Lost 3/0 2/0
Penalties 7 4
Yards penalized 57 20

MASSILLON 14 7 0 0 21
GARFIELD 0 3 7 0 10

M – Buckosh 34 pass from Fichter (Marshall kick)
M ‑ Cleveland 7 run (Marshall kick)
G ‑ Kulick 28 field goal
M ‑ Cleveland 25 pass from Fichter (Marshall kick)
G – Ross 1 run (Kulick kick)


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 18‑79,
Lynn 1‑16,
Miller 6‑5.
Garfield rushing:
Jones 14‑53,
Ross 14‑46,
Ward 11‑45.

Massillon passing:
Fichter 8‑16‑2 120, 2 TDs,
Eyerman 2‑2‑0 16.
Garfield passing:
Ward 0‑8‑0 0

Massillon receiving:
Buckosh 3‑59,
Cleveland 3‑46,
Clemens 2‑22,
Dorsey 1‑7,
Miller 1‑2.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 28, Lima Senior 18

Shepas’ first Tigers win
is ugly

Independent Sports Editor

The first victory of the Rick Shepas era at Massillon is not one the Tigers 33‑year old head coach is going to look back on with any degree of satisfaction.

Program Cover

But Massillon’s mistake ­marred 28‑18 victory over Lima Senior in front of 10,981 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium is a start and now Shepas and his staff of assistants must go about the task of building on the win while eliminating the errors that kept the Spartans in the game well into the fourth quarter.

“I’m not that happy after this one,” Shepas said afterward. “It really wasn’t a well played game. Hey, the game lasted three full hours. In high school you know what kind of ugly foot­ball that is, so… .”

How ugly was it?

Well, there were 11 Tiger penalties for 116 yards.

There were five Massillon fumbles, four of which were recovered by the visitors.

And the West Coast offense was put in mothballs for a week against Lima’s blitzing defense as the Tigers concentrated on pounding the ball with the run­ning game.

In fact, after putting the ball in the air 27 times last week, Massillon threw just nine passes all night long.

“If we have to play a game like this and be patient with the offense, then that’s what we have to do,” explained Shepas. “One good thing on the offensive side is we got a blitz on every down and our guys did get better against it. The adjustments did pay off some. But it did limit the way we call offensive plays. That’s not really the way I want to go with the offense but as we get some time under our belts we’ll get some confidence and get going.”

One of the recurring problems Friday was on center-quarterback exchanges and on handoffs to the running backs.

“Fundamentally we want to continue to work on the exchange and work on the hand­off,” Shepas vowed. “Our quar­terbacks have to look the hall in and our backs are getting a little bit high. We’ve got a young team and because of their inexperi­ence when we get a lot of blitz, it’s a reflex action to rush the handoff and fumbles are what you get as a result.”

The Tigers defense made the play of the game just as it appeared Lima Senior was ready to make a serious run at the lead.

Massillon was up by four at 22-18 when it was forced to punt late in the third quarter. Lima Senior took over at its 25 and two plays later faced a third‑and‑two from the 33. Sophomore quarter­back Nick Morris took a three ­step drop, looked to his right and, fired a quick out‑pattern.

Tigers senior safety Corey Ball stepped in front of the receiver, made the interception and raced untouched 34 yards for a touchdown. The conversion kick failed but Massillon was up by two scores and was able to relax a little against an equally mistake‑prone Lima attack.

“Coach was telling me to watch the three‑step drop and I’d have a pick,” Ball recalled, “And sure enough they came with the three‑step drop and I did what Coach (Mark) Black told me. I stepped up for the interception and scored a touch­down.

“I saw when the quarterback had his hands up that he was coming my way. I knew it was a pick and I saw I had an open field and no one could catch me.”

Ball says the veteran Tigers defense realizes it has to hold up the offense until it gains some vital game experience.

“I knew I had to step it up because our offense is so young,” Ball said. “The defense has to step it up until they get it together.”

“Our offense will thrive off what our defense does. If we do something good, they’re going to do something good. We just have to keep doing good things and keep it going.”

One offensive player doing good things for the second week in a row was starting tailback
Marc Cleveland, who rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns in 17 first half carries. A knee injury kept Cleveland on the sidelines the entire second half.

“It was a big first half because our offensive line came off the ball really well,” Cleveland said. “They blocked for me and I delivered for them.”

“I’ll be back next week and this offense will get better and better each week. We’ve got to just keep coming off the ball and good things will happen.”

Good things happened for the Tigers the first time Cleveland touched the football. Trailing 6‑0 after a long kickoff return set up Lima’s first touchdown, Massillon took over on its own 40‑yard line.

On first down, the 5‑foot‑9, 186‑pound senior took a handoff and went over his left guard and tackle. Cleveland broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, found a seam in the Spartan defense and raced 60 yards, diving the final five to the left pylon for the touchdown.

Brett Marshall’s kick made it 7‑6 Tigers with just 10:13 gone in the first quarter.

Lima Senior, taking, advantage of a Massillon fumble inside the Tigers’ 40, marched 36 yards in

six plays to take a 12‑7 lead on Greg Johnson’s five‑yard TD run at 5:33 of the first quarter.

After Julian Miller’s brilliant 70‑yard kickoff return, Massillon took over at the Lima Senior 12. Three plays later Cleveland again went over left guard, this time from the three, for his second touchdown of the night. Marshall’s kick was true and the Tigers were up 14‑12 with just over four minutes to play in the opening period.

“Marc Cleveland is one of those guys who wants the ball in his hands,” praised Shepas. “In pressure situation he wants the ball. He’s going to make big plays. His mind is geared for that and that’s why that happens. He made a lot of big plays in the first half.”

Massillon’s lead stood through the second quarter, but the Tigers sputtered after getting the opening kickoff of the sec­ond half. In fact, they committed three penalties in their first series of the third quarter before punting the ball away on fourth‑and‑23.

“Lima Senior did not move on its first possession of the second half, either. The Spartans poor punt set Massillon up with first and-ten and its own 46 and it was Julian Miller’s turn for some heroics.

The 5‑9, 173‑pound senior took a handoff and found a seam over his right guard, hit into the Lima secondary, then cut back at the Spartans’ 40 and headed to the left sideline. Forty‑eight yards later the visitors finally pulled Miller down at their 5‑yard line. On the next snap, Miller skirted his right end, broke a tackle at the goal line and scored to give Massillon a 22‑12 cushion with 8:26 left in the third.

The defense took over from there with Jason Bradley and Brandon Clark combining to stuff Lima Senior for a yard loss on a critical fourth‑and‑three play at the Massillon 7‑yard line.

However, two plays later the Tigers fumbled the hall back to the Spartans, who promptly scored on a Nick Morris to ­Terry Cannon 12‑yard aerial that made it 22‑18 with 2:55 left in the third.

Massillon could not move on its next possession, setting up Ball’s big interception that seemed to sap the spirit from the Lima Senior sideline.

“We put our best players on defense at the beginning of the season knowing we were going to have a young offense and inexperience up front,” Shepas said.

“There’s a lot of things we could find positive tonight. But what’s going to keep us working hard is to be critical of what’s going on. That’s where we’ll always be. We’re going to keep working and keep getting better. We have a whole season to get better.”

First downs rushing 8 5
First downs passing 0 5
First downs by penalty 1 4
TOTAL first downs 9 14
Net yards rushing 250 108
Net yards passing 6 79
TOTAL yards 256 187
Passes attempted 2 6
Passes completed 2 9
Passes intercepted 0 3
Punts 7 7
Punting average 43.9 26.3
Fumbles/Lost 5/4 3/1
Penalties 11 8
Yards penalized 116 60

MASSILLON 14 0 8 6 28
LIMA SR. 12 0 6 0 18

L ‑ Simpson 6 run (Pass failed)
M ‑ Cleveland 60 run (Marshall kick)
L ‑ Johnson 5 (Pass failed)
M ‑ Cleveland 3 run (Marshall kick)
M ‑ Miller 5 run (Miller run)
L ‑ Morris 12 pass to Cannon (Pass failed)
M ‑ Ball 34 pass interception return (Kick failed)


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 17‑155,
Miller 12‑97,
Radich 2‑19,
Lynn 2‑7.
Lima rushing:
T. Cannon 20‑53,
Johnson 15‑48.

Massillon passing:
Fichter 2 9 6 yards, 0 Ints, 0 TDs.
Lima passing:
Morris 9‑24‑79 3 Ints, 1 TD

Massillon receiving:
Dorsey 1‑8.
Lima receiving:
Collins 4‑43.

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 9, Clovis West, CA 21

Picked off!

Interceptions turn tide against the Tigers

Tigers fall in Shepas debut

Independent Sports Editor

The first game of the Rick Shepas era at Massillon began on a positive note but a pair of third quarter interceptions were fatal to the homestanding Tigers who fell to Clovis West of California 21‑9 in front of 13,147 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday.

Program Cover

The Tigers, unveiling Shepas’ multiple pro offense, jumped out to a 7‑0 lead late in the first quarter and held that advantage at halftime. But the Tigers threw an interception inside the Clovis West 10‑yard line which turned the tide late in the third quarter and the visitors never let Massillon regain momentum.

“We hung tight at the begin­ning of the game,” observed Clovis West coach Randy Blankenship. “Massillon plays good defense.”

“But we wear people down. We just keep pounding and find the right combinations and we wore them down. We didn’t make any adjustments at half’ time. We just talked about getting our pads down and hitting ­somebody. They started to get tired if we got any more than four offensive plays in a row.”

“That interception after a good defensive stand was huge,” said Shepas. “Our offense and defense need to feed off each other. When the defense does a good job, the offense needs to kick it into gear. That’s what this program needs to work on. It is hinging on those important things taking place.”

It appeared Clovis might jump out early, stopping Massillon inside its 5‑yard line on the Tigers initial drive. After a nice punt return gave the Eagles pos­session at the Tiger 26, the visi­tors marched to the 6, but were stopped on downs by a swarm­ing Massillon defense.

Massillon stopped Clovis West’s second possession when Alex Borbely fell on a fumble at the Tiger 23.

The Tigers launched their first sustained drive of the game, moving 77 yards in 11 plays. Tom Fichter hit Neil Buckosh for 11 yards and then found Rocky Dorsey along the right sideline for 11 more to move the ball to the Massillon 45. Three plays later Marc Cleveland burst off right tackle for 14 and the Tigers were in business at the Eagles’ 28.

After an incompletion, Fichter hooked up with Dorsey along the left sideline at the Clovis West 10. The junior wide out made a leaping catch, then turned to find nothing but green between him and the end zone as the Tigers drew first blood.

Brett Marshall tacked on the extra point and Massillon led 7‑0 at the :12 mark of the first quarter.

Massillon mounted another sustained drive late in the first half, moving from its 20 to the Clovis West 20 as Fichter went 4 of 5 through the air. The senior hit Marcus Simpson for 17 yards to the Massillon 38 on the second snap of the drive, then connect­ed with Jason Clemens on a third‑and‑10 play for 19 yards to the Clovis West 43.

After two more completions to Dorsey moved the ball to the Clovis 20, a 15‑yard offensive pass interference call stalled the drive.

Clovis took the second half kickoff and moved the ball from its 28 to Massillon’s 26 on eight consecutive running plays, but the Tiger defense stiffened an the Eagles turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth‑and‑two.

“The defense played a good, solid game,” said Shepas. “That’s a good Wing‑T team we faced. A good executing team we faced. With a little more offensive productivity they get less chances to touch the foot­ball and that makes it easier on our defense.”

Massillon and Clovis exchanged punts following the Tigers defensive stand, setting up the game’s turning point. Following a 10‑yard punt return by Dorsey, the Tigers took over at their 49 and Cleveland imme­diately made a big play, spinning off a hit in the backfield to pick up 21 tough yards around his right end.

“Our offense and defense need to feed off each other. when the defense does a good job the offense needs to kick it into gear” ‑ Rick Shepas,

The senior running back, added 14 more yards, carrying the ball on each of the next three snaps. Then on second‑and‑eight from the Clovis 16, Massillon tried a quick pass to the left sideline. Clovis West’s Perron Wiley stepped in front of the throw and returned the ball 54 yards to the Massillon 36.

On the very next play, Sean Soares hit into the middle of the line and burst free for a 36‑yard touchdown run. The conversion kick tied the game at 7‑7 with 3:57 left in the third quarter.

“That interception was huge,” Blankenship said. “That was really big. The kid who made the play wasn’t able to play last year and I was really happy for him.

“Massillon threw some outs on us. I’m not worried about teams throwing outs because if you make a mistake you’re going to get it picked off. It’s a matter of time and being patient. We were just inches away (from intercep­tions) a couple of times.”

The Tigers appeared to be ready to strike back when Cleveland ran 17 yards on Massillon’s first snap after the ensuing kickoff. But three plays later, Clovis West’s Brandon Gonzales stepped in front of an out pattern to the right sideline, made the interception and sprinted untouched 38 yards to pay dirt.

The point‑after made it 14‑7 in favor of Clovis West with 1:53 to play in the third.

An illegal participation penal­ty and a sack doomed Massillon’s next drive and the Eagles took over at their own 37 following a punt. Two illegal pro­cedure penalties moved the visi­tors back to their 27, but on first‑and‑20, Soares hit into the middle of the Massillon line and came free. The 6‑foot‑1, 199 ­pound.senior turned on the jets and outran the Tigers defense for a 63‑yard touchdown that seemed to seal the outcome with 9:32 to play.

Massillon moved to the Clovis 33 on its next possession, but consecutive penalties ended the threat.

The Tigers last gasp came when Clovis snapped the ball out of its end zone on a punt for a Tiger safety with 4:06 left. But on Massillon’s first play after the Eagles’ free kick, the Tigers took an 11‑yard sack to turn out the lights.

“We had a couple holding penalties and the procedure penalties are frustrating,” said Shepas. “Those came from our wide receivers, not our interior lineman. It changes the play call when you go from second‑and­-six to second‑and‑11. The play call you send in has to change.”

“But we have to continue to believe in what we’re building here. We’re a football program that’s only four months old. I think we improved again. The thing is we’re still in an infancy state on offense and we may have to simplify more and more.”

Cleveland certainly did his part in the opener. The 5‑9, 186-­pound senior toted the football 19 times for 97 yards, impress­ing Shepas along the way.

“Marc Cleveland pours his heart and soul into the football game,” Shepas said.

First downs rushing 11 8
First downs passing 0 8
First downs by penalty 0 0
TOTAL first downs 11 16
Net yards rushing 237 88
Net yards passing 0 158
TOTAL yards 237 246
Passes attempted 7 27
Passes completed 0 13
Passes intercepted 0 2
Punts 5 9
Punting average 26.2 40.3
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 1/0
Penalties 3 10
Yards penalized 15 80

CLOVIS 0 0 14 7 21
MASSILLON 7 0 0 2 9

M ‑ Dorsey 28 pass from Fichter (Marshall kick)
C ‑ Scares 36 run (Potteroff kick)
C ‑ Gonzales 43‑yard interception return (Potteroff kick)
C ‑ Scares 72 run (Potteroff kick)
M ‑ Safety, Clovis snap rolls out of end zone


Massillon rushing:
Cleveland 19‑97,
Miller 7‑33,
Radich 5‑9,
Burrigarner 2‑8.
Clovis rushing:
Scares 14‑162,
Chayly 2-26.

Massillon passing:
Fichter 8‑18‑2 107,
Eyerman 5‑9‑0 51.

Clovis passing:
Elbert 0‑7‑0 0.
Massillon receiving:
Dorsey 7‑104,
Clemens 1‑19,
Simpson 1‑17,
Buckosh 1‑11.

Marc Cleveland