For one half of Friday night’s season opener against Middletown, the Massillon Tigers looks liked a team trying to get adjusted – to the sweltering heat, to a boatload of new players and to the Middies themselves.
After halftime, though, the Tigers looked like a team which had made those adjustments, and cruised to a 42-21 victory over Middletown in front of an impressive opening-night crowd at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers went from a 14-7 halftime edge to a 42-14 advantage with 2:46 remaining in the game. A big reason for that was the Massillon running game of DeVoe Torrence and K.J. Herring, who combined for 252 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries.
“I think our running game wore them down,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “I think DeVoe and K.J. started to pound on them. I think our conditioning paid off in the second half.”
Torrence led the way for the Tigers with 157 yards on 20 carries, many of those impressive runs where he churned out extra yards after the initial hit, or by dancing around the first defender he came across. It was the Ohio State recruit’s first appearance in front of the Tiger fans in a regular-season game after transferring in from Canton South in the spring.
“I was very excited,” said Torrence, who gained 122 yards in the second half. “We’ve been working hard. I knew our linemen were working hard. I was amped, though, since Day One. I had to try to prove myself.”
He did so, as he added another 49 yards on three receptions in the game.
The Tigers finished with 443 yards in the game, 228 of those after halftime.
“I think the first half, we had a lot of jitters,” Tiger center Blake Seidler said.
Middletown took advantage of the Tigers’ young defense on its first play, as Caleb Watkins hit Allen Roberts in stride down the middle of the field. Roberts took the ball to the Massillon 3, where Justin Turner finally dragged him down.
On the next play, J.J. Greenwood ran it in off left tackle for a Middies score. Zach Ferrell’s PAT made it 7-0 just 2:29 into the season.
“They had a big hit right off the bat,” Stacy said. “That was a great play on their part.”
The Tigers answered on their next possession with a crisp four-play, 57-yard scoring drive of their own. The final 37 of those yards were covered by a Willoughby-to-Kevin Massey touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Steve Schott evened it up with a PAT with 8:09 left in the first quarter
It would stay that way until Steve Yoder plowed in from a yard out with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 14-7 Tigers after the PAT. The score was set up by a bad snap on a Middletown punt try, which gave Massillon the ball at the Middie 22.
In between those two Tiger scores, the two teams took turns spinning their wheels. Massillon had a drive reach the Middletown 34, only to be halted by a fumble. Another reached the Middie 48, but also went nowhere.
The best Tiger scoring chance between the two touchdowns came on their next-to-last drive of the half, which reached the Middletown 1. However, a fumbled snap, lost yardage on a run and eventually a missed 26-yard field goal dashed Massillon’s hopes for a change to the scoreboard.
Middletown did not have much better success, only getting on the Tigers’ side of the 50 once after its initial score. That drive, which reached the Massillon 33, was snuffed out when Turner came up with an interception.
The Middies evened thing up with an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive to start the second half, with Roberts catching a 13-yard touchdown pass with 9:11 left in the third. They would get the ball right back after Massillon fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but could do nothing with the opportunity.
Massillon, however, was able to kick it into high gear the next time it touched the ball. With Torrence carrying it six times for 52 yards on the drive, the Tigers ripped off an eight-play, 66-yard scoring drive, the last four coming on a Torrence run with 4:53 left in the third to grab a 21-14 lead.
From there, the Tigers simply took off. On their next drive, K.J. Herring ripped off a 40-yard scoring run to make it 28-14 Tiger, which was the third-quarter score.
Tiger quarterback Mike Clark added a 13-yard scoring run, while Torrence capped his night with a 36-yard touchdown scamper with 2:46 left. Middletown did score with 1:04 remaining on a Watkins 26-yard run.
MIDDLETOWN – The Massillon Tigers spent Saturday night at the Holiday Inn, but first they went to the funhouse.
When the park closed they had a souvenir, a 17-7 high school football win over the Middletown Middies. That was very nice, since it put their record at 3-0, but it was almost incidental to the numerous sideshows that put nearby Kings Island to shame.
The jungle beast – Massillon’s Ed Annen held one end of the leash as Obie XX, the live Tiger mascot, playfully wrapped his paws around the knee of those whistle-toting zebras.
The chopper – The game ball arrived in a TV news helicopter that buzzed Barnitz Stadium then touched down at the 20-yard line. Massillon head coach Lee Owens screamed (although no one could hear him) to get the bird back in the air because his players could not come out on the field.
“We’d hoped to have Paul Brown (the ex-Massillon coach now living in nearby Cincinnati) in the helicopter,” Middletown head coach Jim Place said. “Unfortunately, he was tied up with the Bengals.”
The roller coaster – On fourth and nine in the second quarter, Tiger quarterback Lee Hurst hurled a bomb toward the left corner of the end zone. Receiver Troy Manion maneuvered through two defenders, ran as fast as he could, reached as far as he could, and fingertip snagged the ball for a 31-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead. On the next play from scrimmage, Middletown tailback Jeff Cothran raced 68 yards for a touchdown.
Zebras on parade – After Cothran’s run, the Tigers roared back. Ryan Sparkman’s strong run put the ball on the Middletown 30. But wait. Clipping! But wait again! Unsportsmanlike conduct for an editorial comment on the clipping. Fifteen more yards. Next play, holding, Tiger. Instead of a first down on the Middie 30. It’s third and 45 on the Tiger 15. You know any good plays?
The male cheerleader – Usually, only college football has them, but Middletown featured a strapping fellow dressed in purple pants, who after Cothran’s long TD run, leaped and bounded along the sideline, wildly gyrating as he exhorted the Middie faithful to stand up and cheer. The cheerleader was Place, the Middie coach.
“It’s that way every game down here,” Place said. “All of our games are wild and crazy.”
The light show – It was 83 degrees and sunny at kickoff time. By halftime, it was dark, except for streaks of lightning, and a fierce wind kicked up.
Something flashed behind the home grandstand. Two stands of lights went dark, one on each side of the field. Few among the 8,000 spectators noticed, but a transformer had caught on fire.
The great debate – Wait for the lights to come back on? Or keep playing under the four stands of lights still shining? The game stopped for 10 minutes as a debate raged. The verdict: Play on, but only on the half of the better lit field. Play resumed with 2:50 left in the half. The Tigers got the ball back and Ryan Sparkman rushed nine yards to midfield. Had he kept going, he’d have run into the dark side of the field. After the play, officials pointed the Tigers the other way, as if the quarter had changed.
“The situation was to our disadvantage,” Owens said later. “If we’re driving into the darkness, the wind is at our backs and that helps our passing game. But we have to drive into the light. Middletown is a running team, and it’s no big deal for them to have to drive into the wind, into the light.
“I didn’t want to go along with it. But I didn’t have much choice in the matter.”
Band on the run – With lightning came rain. It started shortly after band No 1, the one that plays Tiger Rag, strutted. It got wet and juicy at the end of the “Marching Middies” turn. It rained so hard that band No. 2 disdained decorum, running helter-skelter off the field.
The lock-up rooms – A regular in the Middletown press box eyed the lightning and shook his head.
“Two football players died in the country within the last couple of weeks because of lightning strikes,” he said.
“Football people are being awfully careful.” The Tigers were back on the field only seconds when Owens, having surveyed the skies, herded them back to the locker room. Halftime wound up lasting an hour. Massillon had nearly as many fans as Middletown at the start. Most Middletown rooters didn’t return for the second half, when Tiger fans outnumbered their hosts. They hadn’t driven 4 ½ hours to spend the second half at Taco Bell.
The scare – Ambulance lights flashed behind the Massillon grandstand throughout the intermission. The rumor mill went to work. Middletown radio station WPFB reported that two fans apparently had been struck by lightning. It was a false report. Paramedics actually were treating fans who had suffered heat exhaustion. Despite the fact the “fall sport” was into its third week, the temperature at kickoff was 83 degrees.
In the end, they got the lights fixed and played another half of football.
It was an uneventful second half, but all that transpired earlier made you wonder. The Barnitz fellow wose name is on the stadium. Is there a Barnitz and Bailey circus, too?
MASSILLON 17 MIDDLETOWN 7
STATISTICS MA MI First downs rushing 4 10 First downs passing 9 1 First downs by penalty 4 3 Totals first downs 17 14 Yards gained rushing 119 244 Yards lost rushing 20 16 Net yards rushing 99 228 Net yards passing 199 29 Total yards gained 298 249 Passes attempted 27 12 Passes completed 16 3 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 4 2 Kickoff average 50.0 47.5 Kickoff return yards 43 54 Punts 4 5 Punting average 38.0 28.6 Punt return yards 0 20 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 4 3 Penalties 10 10 Yards penalized 136 88 Number of plays 67 47 Time of possession 26:01 21:59 Attendance 8,000
Middletown coach feels bad about 12-7 win: Massillon coach feels boos
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
Jim Place spent his formative years in Massillon. He knows.
He knows what it is like here after the third defeat of a football season.
Painful No. 3 came Friday night by a 12‑7 score as 7,254 looked on in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The victor, Middletown High’s Middies, are coached by Place, who moved to Massillon when he was a fifth grader.
Place was telling someone on a locker room telephone. “Honest, I really never have.”
He was talking to Sonny Spielman, Massillon’s assistant athletic director, who is recovering from surgery to remove a non‑malignant tumor from his pituitary gland. Spielman was one of Place’s coaches at Central Catholic High School in the early 1960s.
The loss puzzled the Tigers, who were inexplicably flat in the first half, but still had a chance to win until near the end. It sent them into next Saturday’s McKinley game needing a victory to post their third straight 7‑3 season. Middletown, 7-1 needs to beat Lancaster next week to make the Division I playoffs.
Place told reporters more about his love for Massillon, where he once attended St. Joseph School.
“If I pick up a newspaper in Middletown and see Massillon lost, I feel bad,” he said. “There’s some Massillon in me. I felt bad tonight for Coach (John) Maronto. I shook his hand after the game and wished him well.”
The crowd was less sympathetic. The booing got loud late in the fourth quarter.
The Massillon dressing room was very quiet.
A reporter from Middletown asked Maronto if he thought a Massillon fumble of the game‑opening kickoff was a turning point. The fumble led to a touchdown.
“I really don’t think the fumble was a factor,” Maronto said. “Middletown played well and made no turnovers. (Tommy) Harkrader is a heck of a back. Their other back, (Duane) Gregory, is part of the quickness that hurt us. Frankly, they deserved to will.
“Middletown can play with the best team in any state at any time. Give them credit.”
Dion Roberts, a 140‑pound Middletown senior, gets much of the credit.
It was Roberts who recovered Steve Siegenthaler’s fumble of the opening kickoff at the 27‑yard line, setting up a 3‑yard touchdown run by the hard‑running Harkrader, a 6‑1 senior who will be playing somewhere in the Big Ten (as his father and two brothers did) next year.
It was Roberts who intercepted Erik White’s pass in the end zone with 9:07 left in the contest, snuffing out a furious threat that seemed destined to reverse a 9‑7 Middletown lead.
“This was our biggest win of the season, by far,” said Jason Feczko, Middletown’s record‑setting place kicker, whose two second‑half field goals overturned a 7‑6 Tiger lead at halftime.
This was a game in which the agony and the ecstasy happened in the wrong order for the Tigers.
The most exciting play of the season had left Massillon fans in gleeful spirits early in the second quarter. The Tigers’ first two possessions resulted in 11 modest gains on running plays. An incomplete pass left Massillon with a third‑and‑long from the Tiger 40.
White dropped back to pass and was about to be crushed by two Middletown rushers when he flicked a little shovel pass to fullback Jason Stafford. Stafford used his sub-4.6 40‑yard dash speed to rocket through a huge gap in the middle. He cut left and easily out ran two Middletown defenders into the end zone for a 60‑yard touchdown that left the fans roaring.
Since Middletown’s point‑after kick died in a fumble, Lee Hurst had a chance to give the Tigers the lead. Hurst’s kick was perfect and the Tigers led 7‑6 with 10:30 left in the first half.
At halftime, the diminutive Gregory got the word. “They told me I was going to be running the ball more,” the 151‑pound junior said.
Gregory squirted through the middle and around the outside all night. With his excellent speed and low center of gravity (he stands 56), the Tigers had a devil of a time bringing him down. He finished with 124 yards in 13 carries. Harkrader added 89 yards in 13 rushes. Quarterback Jason Tisdale, a bruising 191‑pounder who was also swift and deceptive, rushed S5 yards in 15 carries.
They were the men who enabled the Middies to drive 57 yards after taking the second‑half kickoff. The drive stalled at the 11, but Feczko’s 27‑yard field goal gave Middletown a 9‑7 lead.
The 15‑play drive just about wiped out the third quarter. The field goal came with 4:31 left.
The Tigers proceeded to wipe out another big chunk of time ‑ and, almost, the lead ‑ after starting on their own 20 following the ensuing kickoff.
Senior tailback Jerome Myricks, who finished with 118 yards in 19 carries, finally got cooking after a so‑so first half. Runs of 9, 8, 10, 7, 14 and 10 yards by Myricks were the keys that gave the Tigers a first down on the Middletown 14-yard line. The drive stalled on fourth down at the 8, and Hurst trotted on to the field to try a 25‑yard field goal that would give Massillon a 10‑9 lead. But Middletown gave the Tigers what shaped up as a huge gift when the right end jumped off sides. The miscue gave Massillon a first down at the 4, and the offense returned to the field.
On first down, Myricks was stopped for no gain by the middle of the line, On second down, Siegenthaler, getting his second rushing attempt of the season, was stopped for a 1-yard gain to the 3. On third down, White rolled right but couldn’t get away from two hard‑charging Middies. Just before he was hit, White avoided the sack by unloading the ball into the right side of the end zone, Unfortunately, Roberts was waiting and came away with an easy interception.
Middletown’s offense took over, unleashing Gregory, Harkrader and Tisdale on an all‑rushing drive that swallowed big chunks of time and yardage before halting on fourth down at the 21.
Feczko, who has made 13 of his career field goal attempts and has range to 45 yards, drilled a 38yarder to give the Middies their 12‑7 edge with 3:21 left.
Still, there was time … but at the end of an 8‑yard gain, Myricks fumbled and Carlos Brooks recovered for Middletown with 2:27 left. On fourth‑and‑one with a minute left, Gregory blasted around left end for 14 yards to end all Tiger hopes.
Afterward, Harkrader was a happy man. “I’ve heard a lot about Massillon but I’d never seen them play,” he said. “This means a lot. Our offense just overpowered them. They hit pretty hard, but I don’t know if they were expecting us to hit as hard as we did.”
Nor were the Tigers expecting the troubles they had with the passing game. The shovel pass to Stafford was the only completion of the night in eight attempts.
”They were the first team all year that was able to take away our, passing attack,” Maronto said.
The Middies didn’t mount much of an air game, either, as Tisdale completed two of seven passes for 29 yards. However, Middletown used a 268‑149 advantage in rushing yardage to win the battle of net offense 277‑209.
As a result of McKinley’s 14‑7 victory over Glen0ak Friday night, the Bulldogs and Tigers will enter their annual showdown with 6‑3 records.
“All I know is we’ve got a lot of’ hard work to do,” Maronto said. “We have to re‑evaluate and regroup. I’m certain of one thing. The team will come back and play their hearts out.”
MIDDLETOWN 12 MASSILLON 7 MAS MID First downs rushing 11 15 First downs passing 1 0 First downs by penalty 1 2 Total first downs 13 17 Yards gained rushing 151 274 Yards lost rushing 2 6 Net yards rushing 149 268 Net yards passing 60 9 Total yards gained 209 277 Passes attempted 8 7 Passes completed 1 2 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 2 4 Kickoff average 58.0 55.8 Kickoff return yards 30 48 Punts 3 1 Punting average 37.0 46.0 Punt return yards 0 0 Fumbles 4 0 Fumbles lost 2 0 Penalties 3 4 Yards penalized 30 29 Number of plays 39 50 Time of possession 18:38 29:22 Attendance 7,254
MIDDLETOWN 6 0 3 3 12 MASSILLON 0 7 0 0 7
MID ‑ Harkrader 3 run (kick failed) MAS ‑ Stafford 60 pass from White (Hurst kick) MID ‑ FG Feczko 27 MID ‑ FG Feczko 38
A Tiger opening football game is usually used to tune up the Washington High School team, but tonight’s go with the Middletown Middies is anything but, folks.
Some 12,000 fans are expected to see the veteran charges of Middletown mentor Jack Gordon provide one of the stiffest tests of the season for the young pupils of new Tiger Coach Mike Currence.
IF THE Orange and Black can get by this one, they’ll get a big boost. But if not it could be a long fall for Currence, who came here in May for Lakewood St. Edwards.
“It (tonight’s game) is darn important,” said the brown-haired skipper. “If we win, we’ll be a contender in the All-American Conference. It (the opener) is a gauge for the whole season. This is probably the most important opener we’ve had here in years. I don’t think we’ve ever met a team ranked as high as Middletown in an opener.”
Currence hopes the Middies will not be ready mentally, but he says the Tigers will be.
The game shapes up as a David-vs.-Goliath affair offensively because Middletown’s offense averages 204 pounds, compared to the Tigers’ 178. However, the Orange and Black’s offense has a slight advantage: 193-185.
The big differences show between the Middies’ 215-pound offensive line and the Tigers’ 187-pound defensive line and the Massillon 206-pound offensive line and the Middletown 194-pound defensive line.
“MIDDLETOWN WILL try to come right at us and push us out of there with their weight,” Currence said. “They will also try to throw a bit to keep us loose when we get up there real tight and then come back up the middle again.”
Currence expects Gordon to throw on first and 10 or second and one on two situations to keep the Tigers off guard. Middie junior quarterback Jackie Gordon is rated great by Currrence on the basis of reports from Gerry Faust, coach of defending state Class AAA champion Cincinnati Moeller which plays Middletown every year.
“Gordon’s real threat is probably with the pass and not the run,” Currence said. “He throws a tough possession pass which we’re worried about. He has thrown mostly to the wingbacks and split end in scrimmages but has also used a tailback who can catch the ball well.”
Currence says Middletown has consistently run 8, 10, 12, 14 yards at a clip so the Tiger skipper knows the Middies have a good blocking line led by senior tackle Tim Sorrell (6-3, 238).
“He’s quick enough to play defense and big enough to be a good offensive tackle,” Currence said.
TIGERS Offense ENDS – Sam George (5-11, 165, Sr.); Rick Chovan (5-11, 171, Sr.). TACKLES – Tim Tournay (6-2, 270, Sr.); Tim Daniels (6-7, 230, Jr.). GUARDS – John Hauser (5-11, 211, Sr.); Mark Lauber (6-1, 212, Sr.). CENTER – Mike Ramsey (5-8, 180, Sr.). QUARTERBACK – Bret Traylor (5-10, 159, Sr.). HALFBACKS – Jay Harper (5-5, 160, Sr.); Greg Carpenter (6-1, 188, Jr.). FULLBACK – Rich Cleveland (6-1, 180, Soph.). Defense ENDS – Gene Miller (5-10, 170, Jr.); Dave Engler (5-9, 180, Jr.). TACKLES – Randy Laase (6-5, 211, Sr.); Jesse Toles (6-0, 190, Sr.). MIDDLE GUARD – Carl Dorsey (5-9, 185, Jr.). LINEBACKERS – Kurt Walterhouse (6-0, 170, Jr.); Gary Border (6-0, 203, Sr.). SECONDARY – Anthony Grizzard (5-9, 168, Sr.); Randy Lash (5-8, 165, Sr.); Bill Henderson (5-9, 160, Sr.); John Letcavits (6-0, 155, Jr.).
MIDDLETOWN Offense ENDS – Ron Gregory (5-11, 180, Sr.); Tom Dorn (6-1, 185, Sr.). TACKLES – Greg Tigg (6-3, 248, Sr.); Tim Sorrell (6-3, 238, Sr.). GUARDS – Todd Ramsey (5-11, 214, Jr.); Lucious Ramsey (6-3, 247, Sr.). CENTER – Dave Rhea (6-1, 195, Sr.). QUARTERBACK – Jackie Gordon (6-3, 210, Jr). HALFBACKS – Jim Thompson (5-10, 170, Sr.); Rick Clements (6-2, 170, Sr.). FULLBACK – Lawrence Mack (5-10, 185, Sr.). Defense ENDS – Joe McMonigle (6-2, 200, Jr.); Frank Armstrong (5-11, 185, Sr.). TACKLES – Sorrell, Ed Brown (5-11, 205, Sr.). MIDDLE GUARD – Chris Jones (5-11, 175, Sr.). LINEBACKERS – Todd Bell (6-1, 180, Sr.); Jim Irwin (6-1, 175, Jr.). SECONDARY – Joe Merritt (5-9, 160, Sr.); Eric Cresham (5-8, 165, Sr.); Clements Gregory.
Referee – Edward Feils. Umpire – Arthur Burton. Head Linesman – Leonard Brudzinski. Field Judge – Henry Miesle. Back Judge – Glenn Halm.
Middies, rain dampen Tiger hopes
By CHUCK HESS, JR. Independent Sport Editor
“It won’t rain for all of them.”
You’re right, Mike Currence. There are better times coming for the Tigers.
HAMPERED BY wet weather which is not the best thing for run and shoot football – the Tigers’ new offense – but is great for power control up the middle, which the Middletown Middies ran Friday night, the Washington High gridders went down 6-0 before the veteran visitors from southwestern Ohio.
But 12,154 fans saw the Orange and Black put up a tremendous defensive battle against a team which outweighed them by an average of 26 pounds per man. They held the Middies to 121 yards but managed only 74 themselves – a figure which hasn’t been seen here in years.
Currence even tried using some straight-T football in order to help things.
Rain came down before the game and during the third quarter, making for a wet ball which caused nine fumbles by each team. The Tigers lost five and the Middies one.
So the defense continually had to bail the offense out. There were some bad snaps on both sides which caused havoc with punters, but the Tigers got the words of this too.
“WE ALMOST has this one in the rain against a much bigger team and a much more experienced team,” said Currence. “People told me the way these kids are down here,” he added. “My goodness! Look how we played! A group of kids with two years’ experience. You can’t tell me these kids didn’t give me 100 per cent tonight. It was just inexperience with the ball that killed us. We did a pretty good job defensively.”
The Tigers almost scored in the third and fourth quarters at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Junior quarterback Marc Longshore had the ball slip from his hands as he was running, preparing to pass on fourth down from the Middleton 11 in the third quarter.
Bret Traylor tried to hit Longshore, playing end in the fourth quarter but the wet ball slipped from Marc’s hand on the Middletown 40 with the agile junior in the clear.
Middletown’s lone touchdown came in the second quarter on the end of a 47-yard drive when 5-11, 170-pound senior tailback Jim Thompson scored on a 20-yard draw play. Jackie Gordon’s conversion kick was wide left with 10:08 left.
THE MIDDIES threatened in the first quarter after recovering Traylor’s fumble on the Orange and Black’s 28-yard line but Jesse Toles halted the drive on the two when he recovered Lawrence Mack’s fumble and raced to the 10.
Middletown drove to the Tigers’ 22 in the second period but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a punt.
After Mark Westover fumbled a snap in the third quarter and punted only five yards to the Tigers’ 44, the defense hit hard, causing two Middie fumbles – both recovered by the foe – and got the ball back on downs at the Middletown 46.
However, they lost it two plays later when sophomore Rich Cleveland fumbled while running a draw and Dale Hopper got it for Middletown on his 45.
Middletown threatened again with 1:17 left in the game when a Traylor to Jay Harper pitch went awry on the Tigers’ 19 and Todd Bell recovered. But time ran out with the ball on the eight.
“Tonight was made for our offense,” Middletown Coach Jack Gordon said, “but we had hoped to throw the ball.”
GORDON COMMENTED that his offense is big and strong up front, but the Tigers are a very quick team, which bothered the Middies. However, they were able to follow their game plan of controlling the line of scrimmage.
Two of their backs Mack and Thompson – gained 152 total yards. Mack picked up 89 in 24 carries, losing only one yard. Thompson got 63 in 15 tries with no losses.
“I think Mike (Currence) has done a fantastic job of putting in a new offense in three short weeks,” Gordon said. “I’m very impressed with their spirit and desire.”
He felt that the fact that he had experienced players in his lineup helped tremendously.
“It was a great defensive game for both sides,” Gordon said. “They have great traditional football up here. To come up in the Tigers’ den and open up with a win has got to be a great win for us.”
Middletown downs Massillon, 6 to 0
By Hymie Williams Plain Dealer Bureau
MASSILLON – The coaching debut of Mike Currence of Massillon High was foiled by the Middletown Middies, 6-0, on a water-soaked Paul Brown Tigers’ Stadium gridiron before 12,154 fans Friday night.
Heavy rain before the game and also in the third period made for an extremely slippery gridiron that stymied the running and passing games for the two clubs.
Currence was coach of Lakewood St. Edward last season where his team went 10-0 and lost out to Cincinnati Moeller, 14-12, in the state AAA championship game.
Currence inherited a rookie team at Massillon, with not a single returning offensive regular. The Massillon mentor tried both Bret Traylor and Marc Longshore at the quarterback spot, but neither had much success.
The Tigers attempted 18 passes and completed only three.
The Middletown team, with veteran talent at most positions scored the game’s lone touchdown at 10:08 of the second period when running back Jim Thompson found an opening in the Massillon forward wall and raced 20 yards for the score. The drive covered 43 yards. Jack Gordon’s attempt for the extra point was wide. Gordon is the son of the Middletown coach.
MIDDLETOWN 0 6 0 0 6 MASSILLON 0 0 0 0 0
SCORING SUMMARY Middletown – Jim Thompson, 20 run (kick failed).
GRIDSTICK Mass. Midd. First downs rushing 6 5 First downs passing 2 0 First downs penalties 1 1 Total first downs 9 6 Yards gained rushing 100 156 Yards lost rushing 72 38 Net yards gained rushing 28 118 Net yards gained passing 46 3 Total yards gained 74 121 Passes completed 3-18 1-2 Passes intercepted by 0 0 Times kicked off 0 3-45 Kickoff returns (yards) 66 0 Times punted 6-26 6-30.5 Punt returns (yards) 0 27 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 9-5 9-1 Yards penalized 4-20 3-35 Touchdowns rushing 0 1 Total number of plays 59 60 Total time of possession 22:23 25:37
To the Editor of The Evening Independent
My wife and I attended the football game last Friday and stayed overnight in Massillon. Our son is a Middletown player and our daughter is a cheerleader.
I think I can safely speak for all Middletown fans, coaches and players when I say that you showed us how a real championship town performs.
Many things impressed us, the drive through your handsome downtown and every window with a “Sink the Middies” poster, that enormous gold “Ohio Scholastic Champions” flag on top of the bank, our entrance into your fine stadium with 12,000 people there in a driving rain and what must be the largest American flag in the state unfurling for the National Anthem.
Your enormous marching band played beautifully and put on a fine show before the game. Their routines and music at the half marked them as truly big time.
And what a football game! It wasn’t over until the final seconds ran out on a super-gutty team. Your boys never quit; they were still hitting hard on the last play.
But the people we met impressed us most. You all were pleasant, unfailingly kind, smiling and gracious, even as we left the stadium. Anybody can be a good winner, but the real champ is a good loser.
You are quality folks. Please invite us back again soon to show us how high school football should really be played and enjoyed. Harold Dorn Middletown September 12, 1976