Massillon goes deep to dump Mt. Lebanon Passing attack clicks early; Tigers rush for over 300 yards
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
On a night in which Mike Currenee was honored during pre‑game festivities, Massillon utilized a deep passing attack that would have made the former Tigers mentor proud and blitzed Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) 54‑20, in front of 8,971 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday.
Mt. Lebanon, which reached the Pennsylvania Class AAAA state semifinals a year ago, had neither the speed nor the skill to match Massillon’s multiple deep threats.
The Tigers jumped to a 14‑0 lead on their first two possessions and were never headed by the Blue Devils, who were playing their season opener.
Massillon’s quick‑strike, no‑huddle attack was razor sharp in the first 24 minutes of play. None of the Tigers’ four first half touchdown drives took more than five plays and each covered at least 50 yards.
Quarterback Justin Zwick and wideout Devin Jordan had the Mt. Leb defense on its heels early, hooking up on the deep post pattern for 45 yards on the Tigers very first play from scrimmage and then connecting on a 38‑yard touchdown aerial that put Massillon up 21‑7 midway through the second quarter.
“When we hit that one deep on the first play, we knew we’d have that the whole game,” Jordan said afterward. “We watched film this week and we knew the middle of the field would be open the whole game.”
But Jordan wasn’t the only Tiger receiver on the same wavelength with Zwick in the first half. On Massillon’s second possession of the evening, Stephon Ashcraft made a lunging 33‑yard reception down the left hash mark. Two plays later, Zwick executed the bootleg, then rolled to his right and found Jordan at the 5. The 6‑foot‑3, 190‑pound junior dove into the end zone to put the hosts up 14‑0.
“From the scrimmage tape we saw, we thought we could get over top of them,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “We burned them deep a couple times and that really helped us in those drives. We mixed up the plays pretty good and got in the end zone.”
Robert Oliver opened the scoring for the Tigers, scoring from two yards out on a stretch play around right end at 5:58 of the first quarter.
Jordan’s 17‑yard touchdown pass from Zwick at 1:04 of the first culminated a three‑play 50-yard drive. David Abdul’s second point‑after made it 14‑0.
Mt. Lebanon answered with a well‑conceived 12‑play, 80‑yard march, capped by Brian Young’s one‑yard plunge. Young carried the ball nine times on the drive, which ate over five minutes off the clock.
The Tigers came right back and did it in stunning fashion. On first down Oliver gained 11 yards on a draw play to the Massillon 40, then the senior tailback tore off 22 more yards to the Mt. Leb 38. From there, Zwick found Jordan wide open over the middle for six. Abdul’s kick was true and Massillon was up 21‑7 at 7:03 of the second.
“That score was really big,” Shepas said. “Really big. The touchdown after their score was big because they had some momentum going and they’re a big physical football team and they know how to win.”
Abdul boomed a 51‑yard field goal capping a seven‑play drive to make it 24‑7 at 3:29 of the second quarter.
The Tigers closed the first half scoring with a five‑play, 87‑yard drive. It began when junior running back Ricky Johnson skirted right end for 25 yards.
Three plays later, Zwick found Joe Jovingo along the left sideline for a 37‑yard gain to the Mt. Leb 17.
On first down from there, Ashcraft came open along the left hash mark, pulled in a Zwick aerial at the 3‑yard line and stepped into the end zone.
Abdul’s PAT made it 31‑7 at the intermission.
“They’re probably even better skilled that we saw on film,” said Mt. Lebanon coach Chris Haering. “Their skill players are outstanding and they have great depth at those positions.
“You could tell there was a difference athletically too. They are a well‑prepared team and they played outstanding tonight.”
Mt. Leb scored early on the second half when Dan Breiding picked up a Tiger fumble and ran 19 yards to pay dirt to make it a 31‑13 ball game.
After the teams exchanged punts, the Tigers put it out of reach by marching 87 yards in 13 plays. Oliver ran the ball on seven of those snaps, picking up 43 yards as the Massillon offensive line asserted itself. Defeats Mount Lebanon 54‑20 Zwick rolled to his right and hit Jordan in the end zone from eight yards out for the touchdown. Abdul’s kick made it Massillon 38, Mt. Lebanon 13 with less than a minute to play in the, third quarter.
“The threat of having Zwick is big,” said Oliver, who rushed for 135 yards in 18 carries. “It opens holes up for me and the whole offensive line really stepped it up this week.
“The whole week we were talking about how big and physical this team was coming in and the line stepped up and met the challenge. Coach Shepas thought we needed some work since last week the line and the running game wasn’t that good. We got the work and it was good.”
“We had to step it up tonight,” Jordan said. “Justin is leading our team right now and we’ll get even better. We’re getting better.”
Haering said the tone was set early in the game when Jordan and Ashcraft got behind the Mt. Leb defense and Zwick got them the football.
“Giving up those long balls gives them the sense they could do that whenever they wanted,” Haering said. “It gets our guys thinking about backing up, and then they started running the ball effectively too. They just do a tremendous job.
“They have so many tremendous players that you can’t take away any one guy and over commit because then they’ll beat you with some other guys. Coach Shepas has done an outstanding job putting together this group and they have to be proud with the product they’re putting on the field.”
MASSILLON 54 MT. LEBANON (PA.) 20′ M ML First downs rushing 18 9 First downs passing 8 3 First downs by penalty 3 1 TOTAL first downs 29 13 Net yards rushing 310 217 Net yards passing 235 41 TOTAL yards 545 258 Passes attempted 25 12 Passes completed 12 7 Passes intercepted 0 1 Punts 1 6 Punting average 29 37.8 Fumbles/Lost 3/1 1/0 Penalties 7 6 Yards penalized 77 75
MASSILLON 14 17 3 16 54 MT. LEBANON 0 7 6 7 20
SCORING M ‑ Oliver 2‑yard run (Abdul kick) M ‑ Jordan 17‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) ML ‑ Young 1‑yard run (Schnirel kick) M ‑ Jordan 38‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) M ‑ Abdul 51‑yard field goal M ‑ Ashcraft 17‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) ML ‑ Breiding fumble recovery in end zone M ‑ Jordan 8‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) M ‑ Jovingo 2‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) ML ‑ Young 62‑yard run (Schnirel kick) M ‑ Abdul 48‑yard field goal M ‑ Boyd 2‑yard run (Kick failed)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Massillon rushing: Oliver 18‑135, Johnson 7‑114, Boyd 5‑37. Mt. Lebanon rushing: Young 31‑199.
MASSILLON ‑ Decals, magic potion and a lucky penny weren’t enough.
McKinley’s Bulldogs were simply too much for Massillon Saturday afternoon before 17,926 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Not even record setting performances by Massillon’s Bruce Spicer and Mike Scott were enough to stave off a determined bunch of “Mad Dogs.”
When the final gun went off the scoreboard read: McKinley 17, Massillon 6.
And it wasn’t a game that could’ve gone either way. Massillon’s lone score occurred with a scant 32 seconds remaining, the Tigers’ fate already sealed.
Although the Bulldogs (7‑3) finished with a slight 296‑284 edge in net yards, the Tigers (6‑4) led in just about every other statistical category.
Statistics, though, are among the greatest half‑truths in the universe.
Massillon held a 20‑12 edge in first downs. The Tigers possessed the ball longer, and ran off a whopping 21 more offensive plays.
But the Bulldogs led in the two area, that counted the most ‑ big plays and total points. In both categories the Tigers lacked.
“That’s what wins big games for you,” Massillon defensive tackle John Kroah said. “We couldn’t stop theirs, and they didn’t make any mistakes. Maybe we just underestimated them.
“Personally, don’t think there was the same kind of intensity that we had for the Perry game.”
The strike‑it‑rich‑quick preference by the Bulldogs paid off handsomely to the tune of 17 points. Here’s the reasons why:
‑ Flanker Jeff Smith catches a 28‑yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left in the first half; ‑ Smith, also a safety, intercepts a Scott pass in the endzone to thwart a Massillon score; – Tailback Chris Clax bursts 80 yards for a TD 36 seconds into the second half; – Sophomore Mark Smith, with the wind at his back, drills home a 45‑yard fourth‑quarter field goal at the 7:55 mark to give the Dogs a 17‑0 lead.
Truly, McKinley was a rags to riches story this season. They were 1‑3 at one point. They unearthed their biggest treasure with Saturday’s win.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers had a chance to draw first blood. But Todd Manion’s wind-aided 54‑yard field goal attempt fell well short of the intended mark.
Before setting up for the three-point try the Tigers used two time outs. That would come back to haunt them later in the period.
Taking over at their own 20, the Bulldogs went 80 yards in eight plays behind the throwing of junior quarterback Brian Chaney.
Chaney hit six of seven passes in the drive for 78 yards, the finale being a 28‑yard strike to Smith over the middle. Smith’s point‑after was good, and McKinley held a 7-0 lead with 59 seconds remaining in the half.
Massillon, with no time outs left, promptly took the ball from its own 34 following the kickoff and marched to McKinley’s 9‑yard line behind Scott’s pin‑point passing, Scott hit Derrick Newman for 19 yards, Cornell Jackson for 23 and Spicer for 14 more.
Faced with a first down from the Bulldog 9, Scott sought Newman in the end zone. The pass was intercepted by Smith instead.
Mr. Momentum remained in the Bulldog locker room at halftime, joining the team minutes later on the field of play when Clax burst 80 yards to paydirt just 36 seconds into the half.
In the span of 95 seconds, the Bulldogs had pulled off three big plays. Three more than the Tigers had all game.
Twice in the third period the Tigers, who had pour field position for the bulk of the game, were within striking distance. Both times, though, they were denied entry into the end zone.
Massillon had the ball once at its own 45, but had to punt three plays later. The same fate befell them on their next possession, taking the ball at McKinley’s 47 and punting three plays later again.
McKinley threatened to break the ballgame wide open on its ensuing set of downs, driving to the Tiger 27 where they were faced with a fourth‑and‑2. Clax took off with the ball to his right, but Massillon defensive end Chris Slinger put the stopper to him short of the yard stick.
With the distinct possibility of being shut out for the first time in the series since 1973, the Tigers got the ball back for the final time at their own 13 with 3:19 remaining.
Scott, who had a sterling first half, was off to a retched second‑half showing, completing just four‑of‑19 passes before the final drive.
But the senior dug down and went work. He hit Spicer for a pair of 11‑yard gains. Irwin Hastings for nine more, and Spicer again for eight. Wes Siegenthaler then caught a pass for 12 yards and Spicer another eight yarder.
Hastings was found open once again, this time for a 14‑yard gain to McKinley’s 14. Two straight passes then fell incomplete when Scott connected with Siegenthaler for a first down at the Bulldog 2.
On the ensuing play, Hastings swept the left side for a long‑awaited but way too little TD. Only 32 seconds showed, and the subsequent onside kick attempt was recovered by the red and black.
On this sunny day not even the decals that equipment manager Keith Herring purchased and then applied to the front of each player’s helmet worked.
Not even the “win potion” of assistant coach Butch Hose could do it’s thing.
And not even the “lucky penny” assistant coach Keith Dewitz found outside the coach’s door nine days earlier could come through.
It just wasn’t meant to be.
It’s back to the drawing board for Currence, staff
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON There will be no grace period for Mike Currence this year. Canton McKinley saw to that Saturday afternoon.
In front of 17,926 spectators at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, the Bulldogs gave Thom McDaniels his first win in three outings against Massillon with a 17‑6 decision.
“I won’t be celebrating (this) week,” Currence, Massillon’s head coach of nine years, said. “I’ll be working. We’ll start a week early on next year’s game.”
“The big run killed us,” Currence said of Chris Clax’s 80‑yard run to paydirt on the first play from scrimmage to open the second half. “That put us down two, and now we really had to start playing catch up.
“I don’t know how many they had,” he said of the Bulldogs’ big plays, “three, four, five, six, seven or eight. They made a lot of them, and we didn’t get any big plays.
“I think we were up, but I don’t think we played as well as we could’ve. We had them several times, but we just didn’t cash them in.
“We used a few different formations and alignments, but it didn’t bother them. The formations and plays didn’t stop them from winning.”
Currence admitted his club aired the ball much more than they wanted to against McKinley’s seasoned secondary. The Tigers put the ball in the air a team record 49 times.
Although the Tigers dropped to 6‑4 with the loss, Currence wasn’t totally dismayed.
“We started out with a very young team,” he noted. “We have a lot to be proud of. We certainly aren’t proud of losing the last one, though.
“The senior never gave up, and I’m certainly proud of them.”
Massillon got off to one of its worst starts, saddled with a 1‑3 record after just four weeks. Then the Tigers started to put things together, stringing five consecutive wins before Saturday’s swan song.
And how does McKinley rate with Massillon’s other nine opponents this season?
“I think they are the best team we’ve played,” Currence said.
But there will be little time for reflection.
On Friday, the head coach received some bad news. His father-in‑law had passed away. Today Currence and his wife Joan are in Maryland, where funeral arrangements were taking place.
MCKINLEY 00 MASSILLON 00
McK M First downs rushing 5 4 First downs passing 7 15 First downs by penalty 0 1 Totals first downs 12 20 Yards gained rushing 213 63 Yards lost tasting 18 29 Net yards rushing 195 34 Net yards passing 101 250 Total yards gained 296 284 Passes attempted 14 49 Passes completed 8 23 Passes int. by 2 0 Times kicked off 4 2 Kickoff average 46.5 32.2 Kickoff return yards 16 1 Punts 4 6 Punting average 30.3 32.2 Punt return yards 23 15 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 1 0 Fumbles lost 0 0 Penalties 1 2 Yards penalized 13 20 Touchdowns rushing 1 1 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 51 72 Time of possession 23:31 24:29 Attendance 17,926
MCKINLEY 0 7 7 3 17 MASSILLON 0 0 0 6 6
Mck ‑ Jeff Smith 28 pass from Brian Chancy (Mark Smith kick) Mck ‑ Chris Clax 80 run (M. Smith kick) Mck ‑ M. Smith 45 FG M ‑ Irwin Hastings 2 run (pass failed)
Scott, Spicer stand out For Tigers in face of defeat
By STEVE DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Personal accomplishments lose their shine in the face of defeat.
Bruce Spicer and Mike Scott know that all too well.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s disheartening 17‑6 loss to Canton McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon’s S & S combination was, needless to say, distraught.
Spicer, a senior wide receiver, set three Tiger pass receiving records. Scott, a senior quarterback, established two passing standards.
Entering the McKinley game, Spicer already owned the single game receiving mark with nine. He bettered that by two with his 11 receptions for 104 yards.
On the first play from scrimmage, Spicer caught a 10-yard pass that gave him the regular‑season reception mark with 46. Marty Guzzetta had held the record with 45.
Guzzetta’s all‑time single season record of 50 catches was knocked down a notch. Spicer finished the year with 56 receptions.
In his career Spicer caught 66 passes, which rank him third on the all time list behind Curtis Strawder (68) and Guzzetta (69).
Those 56 catches by Spicer netted him 583 Yards, putting him in second place behind Guzzetta’s 706 total in 11 games.
“I got a pretty good end, don’t I?” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said of Spicer.
“The records didn’t mean a lot because we didn’t win the game,” a subdued Spicer said. “I think we hurt ourselves. We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of letdowns here and there.
“The win over McKinley is what everybody wanted.”
Spicer said the 80‑yard touchdown run by McKinley’s Chris Clax to open the second half took the wind out of the Tigers’ sail.
“It was like the bottom fell out,” he said. “It was something that happened that you didn’t think could happen.”
Scott bounced back from a preseason back injury to certify himself as one of the all‑time top Tiger passers.
Despite missing nearly four full games, Scott pushed his name into third place in the single-season attempts chart. His 178 throws this year trailed only Brian DeWitz (181) and Brent Offenbecher (182).
Scott also ranks fourth on the career most attempts list with 190. His 1,208 passing yards this year rank him sixth on the all‑time career chart, and his 244 yards passing against McKinley put him fourth in the single‑game books.
Against McKinley, Scott heaved a yeoman‑like 48 passes to surpass his own record of 32 set earlier this year against Stow. The senior signal caller also completed 23 attempts to better his standard of 19, also set against Stow.
“I knew we had to get the ball down there some way and score, but I didn’t do it,” Scott said about his abundance of aerial attempts. “After a big score like that (Clax’s 80‑ yard run) everybody is down on themselves and we knew we’d have to come back and score.
“We were trying to get a good (big play) touchdown for ourselves in order to get back in the game. They were jumping most of our primary receivers and we had to go to our secondaries.”
There was nothing secondary about the performances turned in by the S & S duo. Though it will take some time for their deeds to sink in, they can hold their heads high.
Mike Scott and Bruce Spicer will long be remembered as two of Massillon’s finest.
In the 89 games the Bulldogs and the Tigers have battled on the high school football field since 1894, there have been numerous surprises and upsets.
But it was not to be Saturday, as the favored Massillon Tigers mugged the feisty but overmatched McKinley Senior Bulldogs 18-7 before 21,232 fans in a freezing mist at Fawcett Stadium.
It was the 50th victory for the Tigers in this scholastic gridiron granddaddy, increasing the edge over the Bulldogs, who have won 34 times and tied five others.
To be sure, this 1983 band of Bulldogs fought the valiant fight, played perhaps as well as they have played this disappointing season. But it was not enough this dreary afternoon.
The Massillons had too many guns. The outcome was never really in doubt.
Massillon was favored by 10 points, according to the odds fellows. The Tigers won by 11.
It could have been worse, embarrassingly much worse.
Massillon’s first scoring threat misfired when Bronc Pfisterer missed on a 34-yard attempt for a field goal.
The Tigers also missed a TD near the end of the half when McKinley’s Pierre Taylor intercepted a Brian Dewitz pass in the end zone, a bizarre play on which the officials almost mistakenly awarded the Tigers a safety (see Stewart on Sports column, Page 43).
In addition after the longest drive of the day, Massillon fumbled the ball away on the McKinley 1-yard line in the fourth period, and after that had an apparent interception taken away for roughing the Pups’ passer.
The Tigers’ rushing game was perhaps short of awesome, but certainly more than effective. Massillon’s ball carriers netted 260 yards on the ground, an average of 5.1 per carry, and it allowed the Tigers possession for 61 percent of the clock time.
The victory salvaged respectability for the Tigers, who with a 9-1 record will watch from the sidelines as the OHSAA grid playoffs begin this weekend.
It is expected to be announced today that Alliance (10-0) and Akron Garfield (9-0), the team which tamed the Tigers 14-10 in the second game of the season will play for the Region 3 championship in Division 1.
If Alliance is the No. 1 team in the computer ratings for the region, the playoff game probably will be in Fawcett, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
McKinley finished 6-4, it’s worst record since 1976, the first year of consolidation from four Canton high schools to two.
But McKinley coach Thom McDaniels said his players had nothing to be ashamed about Saturday.
“I’m proud of the way they (the Bulldogs) attempted to win the football game,” he said.
“The Ursuline and Elder games (two of the losses) left a bad taste in the mouth. Against Moeller, (the other loss) we weren’t ashamed of ourselves, either,” said the coach who completed his second season as the head man at McKinley, and his fourth at the school.
”I didn’t have any heart attacks in the first half,” Massillon Coach Mike Currence was to say afterward. “But I had about five in the second half.”
“McKinley didn’t quit, and they played a good game. McDaniels is a great coach, and he did not have the best material this season.”
“I don’t think this was a great McKinley team, when compared to some of the ones in the recent past, but they played tough.”
Tigers trip Bulldogs
The swift senior tailback, Craig Johnson, who carried only once for a loss of three yards in the Tigers first possession that ended in the aborted field goal, finished with a flourish, running for 138 yards in 20 carries, putting him at 1,008 yards for the 1983 season.
On their second possession, the Tigers zipped 52 yards in only four plays, the finale a one-yard touchdown plunge by All-Ohioan Chris Spielman, who not only gained 55 yards on 15 carries and scored both Tiger touchdowns, but also led a swarming defense from his linebacker position which stifled McKinley’s running game.
Dewitz sparked the TD drive with a 19-yard rollout romp on the first play, and then was hit late by a Bulldog. The 15-yard penalty put the Tigers on the Pups’ 18, from where Johnson got eight and Spielman nine to set up the touchdown.
Spielman’s 33-yard punt return on the last play of the first period set up the second Tigers’ score.
Even though the Bulldogs’ defense held Massillon to 13 yards over the first six plays of the second quarter, Pfisterer drilled a 36-yard field goal to put the visitors up 10-0 with 9:20 left in the half.
The Bulldogs’ junior Jeff Angione sparked his team with a 42-yard return of the ensuing kickoff, and McKinley marched to the Tigers’ 28, before a dropped pass on fourth down turned the ball over.
But three plays later, Anthony McCullough pounced on a Dewitz fumble and the Pups were back in business at the Tigers’ 47, from where they scored in eight plays.
McKinley quarterback Kevin Parrish, who completed six of 21 passes for 82 yards before being injured late in the fourth period, hit Jeff Smith in the end zone with a 15-yard scoring strike 55 seconds before the band show. Anthony Taylor’s placement pulled the Pups to within three at 10-7.
After Spielman returned the kickoff to his own 43, Dewitz flipped a screen pass to the fleet Johnson, and he turned the play into a 41-yarder, putting the ball at the Bulldogs’ 16.
Then came Pierre Taylor’s interception in the end zone with seven seconds left.
After the lengthy discussion by the officials, who finally made the right ruling of a touchback, Parrish fell on the ball to end the half.
What may well have been the final turning point came midway in the third period.
McKinley couldn’t move with the third quarter kickoff, and Massillon marched from its own 14 to the McKinley 12, thanks to a 38-yard scamper by Johnson and runs of 17 and 13 by Dewitz, who was the Tigers second leading rusher with 62 yards on 11 carries.
But Dewitz fumbled and McKinley middle guard Bob Gilmore covered the ball, only to have the Bulldogs’ offense fumble it right back on the first play.
Four plays later, Johnson ran in from four yards out to make it 16-7.
The PAT took a while.
Finally, from 13½ inches away, Spielman plunged for the two-pointer to conclude the day’s – and the season’s – scoring, with 4:29 remaining in the third period.
McKinley came back to the Tigers’ 18, thanks mostly to a 25-yard pass from Parrish to junior end Rafe Lazar, the Pups’ longest gainer of the day.
The Tigers, with 2:12 left in the third, then took final control of the game. They managed to come up with the key plays, just when the Pups thought they had them stopped, and moved the ball 81 yards in 14 plays to the McKinley 1, where, with a second-and-goal, Dewitz fumbled the snap again, and the ball wound up in the end zone where McKinley’s Jeff Smith covered it for another touchback.
A pass interference penalty and a 22-yard Parrish to Pierre Taylor aerial putt he ball on the Tigers 40, from where Parrish threw a pass that was picked off by Massillon’s Derrick Dave. But the Tigers’ were flagged for roughing Parrish, and the Pups had a first down at the Tiger 25…but without Parrish, who left the game with a knee injury. Reports indicate he was treated and released at Timken-Mercy Medical Center after the game.
Brian Worstell, a 5-11 junior, came on, but he could fare no better, and the Pups gave up the ball at the 19.
Troy Jenkins, McKinley’s premier runner who had gained 1,101 yards in his first nine games, picked up 72 yards in 15 carries.
Pass Receiving – Massillon: Johnson 2-57, Spielman 1-13, Crenshaw 1-8, McKinley Senior: Jenkins 3-17, Lazar 2-32, p. Taylor 1-21, Draper 1-12, Smith 1-15.
Missed field goals – Massillon: Pfisterer 34.
Massillon celebrates Golden Anniversary
By STEVEN DUNGJEN Independent Sports Editor
CANTON – Massillon football celebrated a Golden Anniversary of sorts Saturday afternoon at Fawcett Stadium – 50 wins over McKinley.
The Tigers (9-1) posted an 18-7 victory over the Bulldogs (6-4) in the 89th meeting between the two before a packed house. With the win Massillon upped its series lead to 50-34 with five ties.
Massillon held the statistical edge in nearly every category of importance: first downs (19 to 11), rushing (227 yards to 79) and total yards (332 to 175).
It was one of those kind of days where everything went wrong, but nothing did.
Although the Tigers scored two touchdowns and a field goal, head coach Mike Currence’s squad squandered away more golden opportunities than it wanted to.
In the first quarter alone the Tigers had a first down at the McKinley 18 and came away empty-handed when a 34-yard field goal went astray.
Massillon was knocking on the door again late in the second quarter, with a first down at the Bulldog 16. This time an interception halted the drive.
Another time, this in the third period, the Tigers had a first down at the McKinley 12. A lost fumble again stymied Massillon.
And if three blown opportunities weren’t enough, the Tigers continued their version of give-away in the final period when another fumble at the McKinley one stopped yet another golden chance.
“We made some mistakes,” Currence admitted, citing the fumble in the end zone in the fourth quarter as a prime example. “That was terrible.”
Through it all, though, the Tigers still prevailed. That’s because a stingy defense made it happen.
Forced to go to its passing game in the second half, McKinley finished with just 79 yards rushing on 23 carries. The Bulldogs’ lone TD occurred following a Massillon fumble.
In the air the Bulldogs picked up 96 yards, but quarterbacks Kevin Parrish and Brian Worstell combined to complete just eight-of-29 attempts.
Only two of McKinley’s 10 possessions began inside Massillon territory. More often than not the Bulldogs were pinned back inside their own turf, especially in the opening stanza when the hosts netted a total of nine yards.
Massillon appeared well on its way to a score on the game’s opening set of downs, marching to the McKinley 18 with a first down. Two straight runs lost five yards when quarterback Brian Dewitz ran for six yards.
On fourth down Pfisterer, who holds career and single-season field goal kicking school records, missed on a 34-yard attempt.
A roughing the punter call on McKinley during the drive kept the Tiger hopes alive.
After holding McKinley on its second possession, the Tigers were back in action with the ball at their own 48.
Dewitz scampered 19 yards on a bootleg, but McKinley was called for spearing on the play. With the ball now on the 18 stellar running back Johnson, who finished with 133 yards rushing, gained nine yards.
Then Spielman got into the act, gaining eight yards to the one and adding the final yard for the TD at the 4:14 mark. Pfisterer added the extra-point and the Tigers led 7-0.
McKinley was stopped in its tracks once again on its next series, but Spielman broke off a 33-yard punt return to give Massillon good field position at the Bulldog 32.
Johnson picked up eight yards on the first play from scrimmage and Spielman added three more for a first down. Dewitz was then sacked for a six-yard loss when the Tigers were then called for illegal motion.
A Dewitz pass fell incomplete before Johnson broke off a 13-yard scamper to the McKinley 19 to put Pfisterer within field goal range. The senior booter responded with a 36-yard field goal, giving Massillon a 10-0 lead at 9:30.
McKinley mounted its first serious threat on the next series with tailback Troy Jenkins running four yards on a fake punt for a first down. However, the drive stalled on Massillon’s 28 when a Parrish pass bounced off the hands of Leon Draper.
Three plays later and the Tigers gave the ball right back when Dewitz lost the handle on the center exchange. McKinley’s Anthony McCullough recovering at the 47.
Eight plays later and Parrish found Jeff Smith on a slant over the middle for a score with 51 seconds left in the half.
With time running out in the half Massillon reached the Bulldog 16 when Johnson ran 41 yards down the right sidelines on a screen pass. Dewitz then threw a pass over the middle which was intercepted by Pierre Taylor.
Taylor, who caught the ball in the end zone, then ran out of the end zone. Currence was quick on the field, asking for a safety.
After some deliberation by the game’s officials the Tigers were awarded a two-point safety. Now, it was McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels’ turn to “discuss” the play.
Again the game’s officials conferred. When they broke huddle they reversed their earlier decision and took the two points off Massillon’s side of the scoreboard.
“The McKinley coaches out coached me on that one,” Currence said tongue-in-cheek. “They showed me the ruling. It doesn’t seem right to intentionally take a safety.”
The two teams swapped turnovers in the third quarter, Dewitz losing a fumble to Bob Gilmore and Massillon’s Tim Sampsel recovering a Bulldog bobble one play later.
Four plays after Sampsel’s fumble recovery gave the Tigers excellent field position at the McKinley 19, Johnson ran four yards to pay dirt behind a good block by Tom Gruno at the 4:29 mark.
On the conversion, McKinley was called three straight times for encroachment. With the ball resting inside the one, Spielman carried in the two-pointer for a 18-7 Tiger lead.
McKinley then drove to a first down at the Massillon 23 following a 25-yard pass play, but three straight passes fell incomplete to stop the drive.
Massillon then chewed up over eight minutes of time on its next possession, but came away with nothing to show for it when the center snap was bobbled at the McKinley one with Smith recovering in the end zone.
The Bulldogs put together their last threat on the ensuing series, marching from their own 20 to Massillon’s 21 thanks in large part to a pair of 15-yard penalties, one for pass interference and another for roughing the quarterback.
But the drive stalled when a fourth down pass failed to gain the necessary yardage.
On last McKinley hope was thwarted by a Pat Spicer interception with less than a minute left.
Tiger ‘D’ turned Pups into kittens
By NORM WEBER Independent Sports Writer
CANTON – While the Massillon offense surprised McKinley with some new wrinkles Saturday in Fawcett Stadium, the Tiger defense was its reliable self in the 18-7 victory.
The Bulldogs did get one touchdown off the tight Tiger defense, but the score was set up by a Tiger fumble.
Other than that drive, the Tiger defense didn’t yield much. In the first quarter McKinley’s offense ran nine plays for nine yards.
Tackle Tom Gruno and nose guard John Franke incessantly applied pressure to Bulldog quarterback Kevin Parrish. The defense up front also showed strong pursuit on flushing out McKinley’s screen passes.
“I was getting a little concerned in the third quarter when they started driving,” Franke said. But then when we stopped them on our 18-yard line, I knew they weren’t going to score on us any more.”
Gruno admitted that Saturday’s game was the most exhausting of his career, but well worth it.
“With eight minutes left in the game I felt like dropping; I could hardly breathe,” said Gruno, who doubled at fullback. “Usually we’re ahead 44-0 in the fourth quarter and I’ll get a rest. This is by far my most tiring game.”
“I’d go to the sidelines when Timmy Sampsel would replace me at fullback. Every time I kept saying to the rest of the defensive players, ‘We’ve got to stop them.’ Nothing stood in our way. I knew it after we stopped them three consecutive times at getting a first down in the first quarter.”
“McKinley has some big tackles. But we were able to out-quick them. That was all we could do. We got so fired up every time I went to the sidelines on my offensive breaks. Beating McKinley is great.”
HUMBLE HERO – Tailback Craig Johnson was the first Tiger to go over the 1,000-yard mark rushing this season. His 133 yards against McKinley give him 1,003 on the season.
“How many yards to I have for the season?” a humble Johnson asked in the locker room after the game.
Johnson went over the magic number with a 13-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t know it then,” Johnson answered. “Which play was it?”
SPIELMAN’S VOW – When McKinley stopped the Tigers two years ago at Fawcett Stadium to earn a trip to the playoffs and eventually win the state championship, Chris Spielman vowed that the Tigers would never lose at Fawcett while he was playing.
“After we lost two years ago I said our team – and you can underline team, would not be beaten on this field again,” said Spielman. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I’d like to thank Massillon for everything.”
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN – The Tigers may not be going to the playoffs, but based on Saturday’s performance, could be the best team in the state.
“If we played Akron Garfield next week we’d beat them by four touchdowns,” said Gruno. “This is a much improved team. I’ve been sitting in bed, listening to the radio and praying that Alliance or Garfield would lose. But we can’t control that.”
Neither Alliance nor Garfield, which beat Massillon 14-10 on Sept. 9, have lost. They’ll meet in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.
Topics of discussion such as the great Garfield debate are what keep the off-season fires burning.
Playoff game here Saturday night Sandusky next as Tigers nip Pups
By MIKE HUDAK Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON – Victory whoops echoed throughout a locker room where passage was difficult because of wall-to-wall well wishers wanting to reach out and congratulate the players who were an extension of their own lives.
But Ty Beadle, the Tigers’ 6-foot-2, 265 pound senior tackle was not smiling. The young giant was drained mentally and physically and his eyes seemed to peer through the floor he was staring at.
It was a helluva game, he understated.
Teammate Charles Calhoun, the Gladiator like Tiger guard, brought the twinkle back to Beadle’s eye. “We showed them the line could run today, too, he quipped.
Early in the third quarter, Calhoun had provided the only levity in what wasn’t a laughing matter, picking up a fumbled snap and carrying the ball six yards before being pulled down by the swarming Pup defense.
“That was the famous Clydsdale right play,” quipped Calhoun and Beadle laughed.
Beadle deserved to laugh, the Tigers had won, a perfect regular season had been completed and a home date in the playoffs assured. Unemployment may have hit the highest mark in Massillon since the 1930s but there was no “Depression” in Tigertown on Saturday, Nov. 6, 1982.
According to Tiger statistician Tom Persell, the talk around town after the game was that the Tigers were “flat”, that they had heard so often how they were supposed to overwhelm the Bulldogs that they were lulled by the publicity.
Not so. The first time the Tigers touched the ball following the opening kickoff they held the ball 18 plays, moving down to the Bulldog 15 before a penalty and a devastating McKinley pass rush moved them back to the 34 where a fake punt and a run by quarterback Brian DeWitz fell short of the first down.
This initial stand buoyed the Pups confidence. McKinley from that moment on played to its maximum defensive potential – known to be quite good before the game even began. It was the McKinley offense that was suspect and despite moments of glory, it remained the Pups ‘Achilles Heel’ as they failed to score for the first time in the annual classic since 1979.
After the Tigers initial drive, neither team threatened again the remainder of the half. Massillon fans were contemplative at halftime; typical reactions when friends spotted each other were raised eyebrows or shrugged shoulders when would the vaunted Tiger offense roll into gear?
Again, the Tigers first possession of the half, after forcing McKinley to punt, appeared to be the opening of the flood gates.
Beginning possession on the McKinley 42, halfback Chris Spielman, who enjoyed a spectacular day and garnered more page one press than perhaps any junior in journalistic history, picked up chunks of turf in eight-yard chunks as the Tigers drove to the Pup three.
But a flag for clipping on the run that set up first and goal turned the drive around. Moments later, it was fourth and goal from the 17.
Bronc Pfisterer rushed onto the turf for a field goal attempt. But at the last second, he rushed off and Tim Sampsel rushed on, barely avoiding a delay of game flag and attempted a kick that was wide left.
Tiger head coach Mike Currence explained the apparent confusion.
Massillon outplays McKinley, but losses 9‑7 Pups’ big plays waste fine Tiger effort
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tiger lockerroom was ripe with the stunned silence of a team that had just played its heart out, outplayed its opponent and lost.
Amid the hanging heads and wet eyes stood Tiger coach Mike Currence. The hurt he felt in his heart for his team showed on his face. “They’re all different,” he said.
True to form, Saturday’s 87th Massillon‑McKinley game was different from all the rest. The Bulldogs’ 9‑6 victory before 22,828 fans in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium gave them their first perfect season since 1956 and puts them into the computer playoffs‑for the second year in a row.
Yet, except for one play, it was a game that seemed to belong to the Massillon Tigers.
That one play, however, was a big one. An 81‑yard pass from Bulldog quarterback Rick Worstell to end Nick Faulkner that wiped out a 6‑3 Tiger lead and proved to be the margin of victory.
It was just about the only defensive mistake the Tigers made all day. However, several offensive mistakes left the Bulldogs off the hook.
The Tigers won a decisive victory in the battle of the statistics, but the only stat that really counts is the one in lights on the scoreboard.
Massillon had 14 first downs to five for McKinley, and held the Pups to 55 yards rushing in 31 carries. McKinley gained only six yards rushing the first half, and didn’t get a first down rushing until just before the end of the third period.
The Tigers piled up 265 yards to 163 for McKinley. Take away the one pass play, and the Bulldogs had only 82 yards total offense.
“It’s a tough one to lose, especially when you play as well as we played and control the ball the way we did,” Currence said.
“But we had some turnovers that caused us bad field position. That stopped us from working our whole offense, which stopped us from scoring more.
“I thought we moved the ball real well and I was never worried when our defense was on the field. I thought we would score in the second half,” he added.
But two fumbles and an interception haunted the Tigers in the second half, and the superior McKinley kicking game probably was the overall difference.
Nick Xides had a school record 44‑yard field goal in the first half. The boot was a low line drive that was literally carried just over the crossbar by a strong wind.
However, Massillon’s Tim Manion had the wind at his “back when he got too far under a 30‑yard attempt and it fell short with 4:28 to go in the third quarter.
A short punt by Manion into the wind also helped set up field goal.
While Manion had his problems kicking, he played an outstanding defensive game, moving from linebacker to end and causing the Pup offense trouble all day.
He helped stop McKinley’s only – other serious – scoring threat late in the third quarter when he tipped a pass at the goal line that was intercepted in the end zone by Matt Hickey.
Perhaps the most crucial event of the game came with 1:53 left to play and the Tigers driving for what their fans hoped would be the winning score.
Starting at their own 15 after a clipping penalty on a punt return, the Tigers were grinding it out on the ground.
Greg Grimsley gained four yards, George Roknich bolted for 10 and a first down, then Grimsley carried for 15 and another first down.
Roknich carried for five more, Larry Newman for two and Grimsley was stopped for a two‑yard gain on third-and‑three at the Bulldog 47.
On fourth‑and‑one, Tiger quarterback Rick Spielman lost control of the ball after the snap and McKinley middle guard Stan Jackson fell on it, ending the Tiger threat and insuring his team of a 10‑0 season.
Tiger tans were stunned. Their team had outplayed the Bulldogs all day and they were certain this drive would be the clincher.
It was ironic that Spielman would be victimized by the fumble. He had put the Tigers in the lead with a brilliant 21‑yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Facing a fourth‑and‑15 at the Pup 21, he dropped back to pass. He was almost; sacked in the pocket, but broke free and scrambled to the left. He broke another tackle and cut back across the middle of the field. He slipped through the grasp of another Bulldog tackler at the 15 and scooted around the right side all the way for a score. The Tiger offensive line also did a great job of blocking off the pursuit on the play.
The score, which came at 9:42 of the second quarter, gave the Tigers a 6‑0 lead.
But Xides booted his field goal at 3:45 and a Ross Rankin interception (his first of two for the day) stopped another Tiger drive at the Bulldog 19, and two plays later, Worstell and Faulkner hooked up on their game winning play.
“Faulkner came up with the key play,” Bulldog coach Terry Forbes said afterwards in a joyous McKinley lockerroom. “We went deep a couple of times and that was the only time we connected all day.”
Forbes said the Pups made some minor adjustments at halftime to counteract the Tiger air attack, which had accounted counted for 81 yards in the first half. Massillon didn’t complete a pass in the second half, with Rankin picking off Spielman’s only pass in the third period, and the Tiger senior quarterback going 0‑for‑4 in the final period.
But Currence said the Tigers hadn’t planned to pass much in the second half anyway. He and his coaches felt they could move the ball on the ground against the McKinley defense.
They were doing just that prior to the fumble on their final series.
Spielman ended the day with seven completions in 20 attempts for 81 yards while Worstell had five completions in 14 attempts for 108 yards.
Leading receivers for the Tigers were Roknich with two catches for 38 yards, Robert Oliver with three for 23 yards and Newman with three for 20 yards.
The Tigers totaled 184 yards rushing, with Grimsley gaining 80 yards on 14 carries and Roknich picking up 41 yards on six carries to lead the way.
Forbes had praise for the Tigers’ effort, though he wouldn’t say they were the best team his Bulldogs played all year. “We’ve played some fine football teams and Massillon ranks right up there with the best.”
Except for a few plays on this sunny November Saturday, no comparisons would have been necessary.
Winter arrives early for Tiger grid faithfull By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor The air was warm and the sun shone brightly as it set on the first day of winter Saturday afternoon in Massillon.
Forget the calendar, winter started with the sounding of the gun which ended the annual season finale between the Massillon Tigers and the McKinley Bulldogs in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
You see, the score stood at nine points for the Bulldogs and but six for the Tigers.
So, for the first time since 1975, winter in Massillon has started a month and a half early.
And for the first time in his six seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, Mike Currence won’t have the glow of victory over McKinley to warm his football thoughts until spring.
For most of the early afternoon on Saturday it had appeared otherwise. The Tigers, undaunted by the Bulldogs’ 9‑0 record, had come to play.
And play they did. Even McKinley fans agreed afterwards that the Tigers had played the better game.
But luck was on the side of the Bulldogs this day, and they made the big plays the Tigers couldn’t.
Except for an 81‑yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rick Worstell to end Nick Faulkner, in which Tiger defensive backs Grady Robinson and Rodney Hill missed tackles, the Tigers controlled the game. Even despite the pass, the Tigers could have won had they not turned the ball over four times.
Indeed, Currence played down the Bulldogs’ big play.
“Those things happen sometimes,” he said of the Tigers misreading the coverage and then missing the tackle. He said he felt the four turnovers were what hurt the most. That and bad field position. The Tigers were able to roll up a lot of yards, but produce only six points. They needed 10.
The game was hard fought, and the 22,828 fans in the stands received more than their money’s worth. It was anybody’s ball game right to the end, when the Bulldogs’ Stan Jackson recovered a fumble at his own 49 to kill the Tigers’ final threat.
It was sweet revenge for Bulldog fans. The Pups had lost four straight to Mike Currence coached teams until last season, when they won 16‑7. That didn’t last long, however, as the Tigers turned around and upset McKinley 14‑6 the following weekend in a quarter‑final playoff game. The Tigers went on to finish second in the state, the Bulldogs stayed home and prepared for the sudden winter.
There will be no rematch this time. The Bulldogs will play Parma Normandy Saturday night in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium in the playoff quarter‑final match.
After Saturday’s game had ended, McKinley coach Terry Forbes paid a visit to the Tiger lockerroom to congratulate Currence on the fine game his team played.
The coaches exchanged compliments and shook hands.
“Good luck in the playoffs,” Currence said. “Our people will be here next week rooting for you. Beat Moeller.”
And so ended the Tigers’ season. The 7‑3 record marks the first time the Tigers lost more‑than twice under Currence. It also means the Bulldogs, after four straight losses, have won two of the last three from the Tigers.
It was a disappointing season, but for awhile on Saturday afternoon it looked like it was going to have a happy ending.
As it turned out, Tiger fans found themselves muttering those four words they had almost forgotten: wait until next year.
Crusaders prevail in title game 30-7 Moeller ends Tiger ‘Cinderella Story’
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
Massillon’s 1980 Cinderella football team met its midnight Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.
Behind the record four-touchdown performance of senior fullback Mark Brooks, the Crusaders powered their way to a 30‑7 victory and a second straight state championship before 25,000 fans. It was also Moeller’s fifth title in the past six years.
The Tigers fell behind 14‑0 in the first quarter and never recovered as Moeller’s offensive and defensive lines dominated play against the out manned Tigers.
Moeller rolled to a 24‑0 halftime lead and were never threatened, despite a game effort by the Tigers.
“We made mistakes ourselves, and they made very few,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said afterwards. “That’s the ball game. You can’t do that against Moeller.”
“This is not run‑and‑shoot weather,” he said of the rainy, dreary weather, “It’s great weather for a big fullback.”
And Moeller’s 6‑2, 220‑pound Brooks was up to the task. He scored three touchdowns in the first half as he rushed for 84 yards in 23 carries. He finished the game with 133 yards in 33 carries, and his four touchdowns and 24 points are both playoff records.
“Brooks?” Currence asked rhetorically. “Ohio State could have used him against Michigan.”
If stopping Brooks wasn’t enough of a problem Moeller quarterback Mike Willging rifled several key passes and had five completions (in seven attempts) for 105 yard. Wide receiver Rob Williford caught four of those for 77 yards and Brook caught one for 28 yards.
Moeller outgained the Tigers 212‑42 in total yardage in the first half.
But despite the Crusaders’ offensive fireworks, it was a defensive play by halfback Rob Brown that hurt the Tigers the most.
Moeller took the opening kickoff and drove 61 yards in 13 plays with Brooks going over from three yards out. The Tigers had almost stopped the drive at their own 40, but halfback Tim King barely made a first down on fourth-and-one. Tony Milink kicked the extra point after the TD for a 7‑0 Moeller lead with 5:24 fell in the first quarter.
Massillon took the kickoff and started from its own 23. Quarterback Dave Eberhart went straight to the air, but his pass intended for Mike Feller on the right sideline was picked off by Brown at the 36 and returned to the 32.
Willging hit Brooks with a 28‑yard pass, and Brooks then scored from four yards out with 4:29 on the clock. Milink’s kick made it 14‑0.
The Tigers were hurt by the interception, but came back. They took the kickoff and drove to Moeller’s 22 yard line where they had a second‑and‑two.
But halfback Robert Oliver was thrown for a four-yard loss, Massillon was called for an illegal motion penalty, a pass from Eberhart to Oliver gained only a yard and Eberhart was sacked for an eight‑yard loss on fourth down, ending the threat, ending the first quarter, and just about ending any hopes the Tigers had of coming back.
Moeller took over at the Massillon 38 and drove 62 yards in 10 plays with Brooks diving over from a yard out. Willging kept that drive alive with a 35‑yard pass to Williford, and a nine‑yard pass to Williford on a third‑and‑six play that netted a first down at the Tiger four. Milink converted and it was 21‑0 with 7:23 to go in the half.
Massillon suffered another blow on its next possession when halfback Mike Jones injured his knee on a pass reception. Jones had gained 29 yards in live carries with some fine running, and at the time was just about the whole offensive attack for the Tigers. His knee was to be checked this morning.
Massillon punted and Moeller added its fourth straight score with five seconds left in the half when Milink kicked a playoff‑record 49‑yard field goal for a 24‑0 halftime bulge.
The Tigers came out in the third quarter and took it to the the Crusaders ‑ for a while.
They put together an opening drive that carried from their own 32 to the Moeller 12. The drive was highlighted by Eberhart’s passing, as he completed five for 44 yards. A roughing the kicker penalty also gave Massillon a needed first down at the Moeller 26.
But Eberhart’s 11th pass of the drive was intercepted by Mike Larkin at the five and returned to the 20.
Following an exchange of punts, Moeller drove deep into Tiger territory, but Ed Newman killed the threat when he fell on a fumble by Willging at his own six yard line.
Ron Davis recovered a Massillon fumble at the Tiger 21 in the final period, and Brooks capped the drive with his fourth and final TD of the day on a two‑yard run. Mike Loretto blocked Milink’s extra point try.
With under a minute to play. Jeff Grove recovered a fumble by reserve quarterback Tim Jolley at the Moeller 23.
With Just 20 seconds to play, Tiger backup quarterback Greg Radtka found Rick Boerner wide open for a 23‑yard TD pass Eberhart booted the extra point to complete the scoring.
We knew we had to throw on them,” Currence said. “Our quarterback threw an interception on our first play, but we settled him down and he came and threw well for us (Eberhart finished the game with nine completions in 19 attempts for 80 yards).
“We had a couple of sparks, and I thought we were going to put a couple in on them.
“There’s a lot of heart on this team, and it fought back all year. If we would have had a little more momentum, we might have comeback,” he said.
The Tigers finish the season as the Division playoff runnerup with a 10‑2‑1 record. Moeller went 13‑0 to take the title.
And now, Tiger fans need wait only 43 more weeks to prove they can give Moeller a better game than they did Sunday. On Saturday Sept. 19,1981, the two playoff finalists will square off in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
First downs rushing 2 11 First downs passing 6 4 First downs by penalty 1 2 Total first downs 9 17 Yards gained rushing 59 197 Yards lost rushing 64 18 Net Yards gained rushing -5 179 Net yards gained passing 103 109 Total yards gained 98 288 Passes attempted 20 11 Passes completed 10 6 Passes intercepted by 0 2 Yardage on passes intercepted 0 19 Times kicked off 2 6 Kickoff average 32.5 46.0 Kickoff return yardage 102 25 Punts 4 2 Punting average 36.5 35.5 Punt return yardage 0 0 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 3 Fumbles lost 1 2 Penalties 5 7 Yards Penalized 95 75 Touchdowns rushing 0 4 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of play 45 61 Total time of possession 20:35 27:25 Attendance 25,000
MOELLER 14 10 0 6 30 MASSILLON 0 0 0 7 7
MOE ‑ Mark Brooks 3‑yard run (Tony Milink kick) MOE ‑ Brooks 4‑yard run (Milink kick) MOE ‑ Brooks 1‑yard run (Milink kick) MOE ‑ Milink 49‑yard FG MOE ‑ Brooks 2‑yard run (kick blocked) MASS ‑ Rick Boerner 23‑yard pass from Greg Radtka (Dave Eberhart kick)
‘Still Tigers, and that’s what counts’ By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor “At the beginning of the season, people were saying we’d go 6-4,” Massillon senior center, Doug Eberhart was telling a group of reporters outside the Tiger lockerroom.
“But we ended up state runnersup. We’re still Massillon Tigers and that’s what counts.”
With that remark the Tigers’ only returning starter from a year ago excused himself and walked into the quiet team lockeroom. he had made his point. The long‑awaited match with Cincinnati Moeller had turned into an easy 30‑7 state championship game for coach Gerry Faust and his Crusaders.
Moeller dominated the game from beginning to end and claimed its second straight state title all fifth in the last six years.
They proved they are without a doubt the very best team in Ohio high school football. Maybe the best in the whole country.
And despite the defeat, the Tigers proved something too. They proved their tradition and spirit is still as strong as ever. And they proved that a lot of hard work – and a lot of heart ‑ can take a team a long way.
“We actually were inexperienced,” Tiger Coach Mike Currence said referring to his team at the start of the season.
“But there’s a lot of heart on this team and it fought back all year.”
The Tigers seemed destined on several occasions to fail to make the playoffs this year. They had a 10-0 season in 1979, but lost in the first playoff game. With almost the entire team graduating, it looked like an uphill battle to get back into the playoffs.
It was. The Tigers had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Akron Garfield and Youngstown South.
They had to rebound from a 7‑7 tie against perennial nemesis Warren Harding – a tie that came on a long pass play just before the game ended.
The team did falter in the season final against Canton McKinley. But thanks to the expanded playoff format which qualifies the top two teams in each region they got another shot at the Bulldogs.
I an emotion packed contest, their pride refused to let them lose. A much maligned defense miraculously held the Bulldogs at bay as the Tigers won their first playoff game 14‑6.
The team did it again the following week when they routed Willoughby South in the semifinal game.
Suddenly, the team that was going nowhere was going to Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium to play Moeller for the state title.
That Moeller proved awesome and handled the Tigers easily should not detract from all the high points of this past season.
There will be other seasons and hopefully ‑ other state title games. But that will have to wait.
After the longest football season in Tiger history (13 games), this Massillon team deserves to be remembered for what it accomplished, and not for what it failed to do.
Moeller’s Faust pays Tribute to Tiger spirit By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor “I’ve never been so impressed with a city of people who back their high school like the city of Massillon.”
That’s what Moeller coach Gerry Faust called to say this morning. In all the celebrating Sunday after another state football title, Faust didn’t have much time to talk to reporters.
So he called this morning to pay his compliments to the team and people of Massillon.
Some 8,000 Massillon fans made the 4 1/2‑hour drive to Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium to see their Tigers play Moeller for the Division I football championship.
I was impressed not only with the cheering and spirit and complete dedication to the school, but also with their sportsmanship.” Faust said of the fans.
“It was really a great thrill for us to play the great Massillon. Just playing Massillon was really a highlight for us.
“I just want to say hats off to you people. You have fine tradition and fans. We don’t get impressed that easily, but it was as an unbelievable experience to witness the great Massillon family, It was a privilege for us to play them. I’m even more impressed now than I was before,” Faust added.
The Massillon fans were to be commended. They traveled en mass to see their Tigers. They decorated their cars in fine style for the long trip down, and they kept them decorated for what proved to be an even longer trip back.
And even when the Tigers weren’t fairing well on the field, they stayed and cheered. Despite the lopsided score and the persistent, drenching rain most of the Tiger fans stayed until the bitter end.
And their spirit never wavered, not even in the miserable ride home, through fog and rain.
At a roadside rest area just before the I-71 bridge over the little Miami River, a vanload of Tiger fans had stopped to wait out a traffic jam.
”We’ll get ’em next year one of them said. And the rest agreed (the two teams will meet Sept. 19, 1981 in the Akron Rubber Bowl).
The Tiger faithful had worn their orange and black colors proudly, even in defeat.
They were still proud of this Tiger team. A team that wasn’t supposed to go anywhere this season, but ended up going to the state title game.
This team had a lot of heart and never quit. And the same can be said of its fans.
Meet McKinley in playoffs Tigers will get another Chance Friday
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers won’t have to wait a whole year to gain revenge for the 16‑7 loss the McKinley Bulldogs inflicted on them Saturday afternoon in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers will be going to the playoffs for the second straight year, but not on the basis of their performance on Saturday.
The Bulldogs simply outplayed the Tigers both offensively and defensively to raise their record to 9‑1 and grab first place in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings.
The Tigers’ 8‑1‑1 record still produced enough points to net them second place, thanks to Lakewood St. Edward ‘s loss to Cleveland St. Joseph Saturday night.
So now, we’ll do it all over again when the Tigers travel to Canton’s Fawcett Stadium for the Region 3 championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
That may be the end of the road for the Tigers, however, unless they dramatically improve upon the kind of performance they turned in Saturday before the 21,754 fans who packed Tiger Stadium to see the 85th meeting between the two schools,
The Bulldogs unleashed a bevy of fast, hard‑running backs who totaled 221 yards rushing against the Tiger defense. That running attack was complemented by the eight of 12 passing of quarterback Rick Worstell, which accounted for another 92 yards.
This balanced attack proved too much for the Tiger defense. The Bulldogs controlled the ball and kept the Tiger offense off the field. McKinley had the ball for 32:46 compared to just 15:14 for the Tigers.
And when Massillon did get the ball, they did little with it. The Tigers netted only 96 yards ‑ 42 rushing and 54 passing ‑‑ and lost the ball twice on interceptions and once on a fumble.
Whether the Tiger’s simply had a bad day, or were just plain outmanned, will be determined Friday.
“You have to hand it all to our kids.” a happy Terry Forbes said about his team’s victory in his first game against Massillon as the McKinley coach.
“They wanted the game so much. We were able to concentrate and do the things we wanted to do. One thing stood out: our character and togetherness, and our ability to come from behind.”
Currence, in the quiet atmosphere of the Tiger lockerroom, also touched on togetherness ‑ or the lack of it ‑ his team displayed.
“We didn’t play well today. We didn’t hit good and we didn’t have any togetherness or unity. We knew we would have to come up with the big play, but they got them. You can’t make mistakes and beat them.
“I’ve already cried, and now I’m ready to go on. We have a great football program here, and if things work, we’ll get another shot at them Friday. I’d like to go back after them.”
While much ado was made of the speed of the McKinley backs, Currence indicated his team lost the game in the trenches, where the Bulldog lines were bigger and more physical than the Tigers.
“We’ve played quick teams before and won,” Currence said. “They have great quickness and we knew their speed was going to hurt us. We knew they’d score because they have a great offensive team. But they controlled the ball on us.
“We can take their fast backs, but (wide receiver Todd) Fisher is the guy we didn’t do the job on. They got their passing attack going, and when that happens you’ve got to give up ground to the running attack. They have better balance than they’ve had in the past.”
Despite the Pups’ offensive performance, Currence said the turning point of the game was an unusual conversion pass by the Bulldogs, and a safety against the Tigers.
The Bulldogs took a 14‑7 lead in the third quarter when Paul Giavasis rolled right after a fake kick attempt and passed into the end zone. The ball was batted away by Tiger defensive back Dwayne Boss in the back of the end zone, but fell into the unsuspecting hands of Fisher, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The safety then gave the Bulldogs a 16‑7 lead and meant the Tigers would have to score twice to win the game.
“Psychologically, the safety hurt us,” Currence explained, “because we were down by two scores. Take those two plays away and we’re back in the ball game.”
The Tigers started off in trouble on the opening kickoff, when it was fumbled ‑ but recovered ‑ by Rick Boerner at his own 14 yard line.
The Tigers punted, and the Bulldogs took over in good position at the Massillon 47. Their drive stalled at the 28, however, and the Tigers took over.
With the help of a pass interference call and an 11 yard run by halfback Robert Oliver, the Tigers eventually moved to the McKinley 47. On second‑and‑eight, McKinley’s Mike Freeman intercepted a tipped pass and the Pups took over at their own 46.
A clipping penalty on the first play pushed them back to the 29, but on third‑and‑21 Worstell hit Fisher with a 22‑yard pass and a first‑down at the Tiger 43.
Six plays later Sidney Lewis swept 11 yards around left end for the score. The kick failed, and McKinley led 6‑0 with 1:32 left in the quarter.
The Tigers couldn’t move the ball, but a tremendous 65‑yard punt by Dave Eberhart ‑ which spiraled over the Bulldog returners’ heads ‑ settled on the McKinley one yard line and the Tigers had the Pups in the whole
From the nine, Ed Grimsley shanked a 22‑yard punt and Massillon had the ball at the Bulldog 31. Seven plays later, Eberhart sneaked over from the one, and booted the extra point to put the Tigers out front 7‑6 with 6:05 to go in the half.
The Bulldogs received the kickoff to open the second half, and promptly marched 80 yards in 15 plays with Lewis taking it in from four yards out. The drive was highlighted by three Worstell completions ‑ two to Fisher ‑ all for first downs.
The Bulldogs then faked the kick and Giavasis’ batted pass was caught by Fisher for a 14‑7 Bulldog lead with 5:06 to go in the quarter.
Massillon immediately turned the ball back over to the Bulldogs when Eberhart dropped back to pass, was hit and literally had the ball taken out of his hands by McKinley’s Scott Dixon.
Dixon had clear sailing the final 30 yards to the end zone, but he tumbled the ball. Bob Harsh alertly recovered for McKinley.
The bulldogs then drove to the Massillon six, but on third‑and‑goal Mike Spicer intercepted Worstell’s pass in the back of the end zone. He mistakenly tried to run the ball out, however, and was tackled at the three.
On the first play, halfback Mike Jones was nailed in the end zone for a safety, and the momentum suddenly shifted back to the Bulldogs. The safety gave the Pups, a 16‑7 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
That third quarter was the Tigers’ undoing, as McKinley scored 10 points while the Tigers had the ball for only two offensive plays ‑ a fumble and a safety.
McKinley mounted another drive following the kickoff after the safety, but Spicer again intercepted Worstell, this time at his own eight.
The Tigers then drove to the McKinley 14, but that drive was killed when Harsh intercepted Eberhart’s pass at the nine, ending the Tigers’ comeback hopes.
So Saturday was one day the Tigers will have to forget, And nothing would erase the bad memory of a loss to McKinley more than a victory one week later.
Thanks to the expanded playoff system, the Tigers will get that chance.
TIGER GRIDSTICK MASS OPP First downs rushing 3 12 First downs passing 2 5 First downs by penalty 2 0 Total first downs 7 17 Yards gained rushing 66 225 Yards lost rushing 24 4 Net yards gained rushing 42 221 Net yards gained passing 54 92 Total yards gained 96 313 Passes attempted 17 12 Passes completed 5 8 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 3 3 Times kicked off 3 3 Kickoff average 59.0 47.0 Kickoff return yardage 38 18 Punts 4 3 Punting average 43.0 23.7 Punt return yardage 3 1 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 1 1 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 3 7 Yards penalized 15 73 Touchdowns rushing 1 2 Touchdowns passing 0 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 38 61 Total time of possession 15:14 32:46 Attendance 21,754
McKinley 6 0 10 0 ‑ 16 MASSILLON 0 7 0 0 ‑ 7
McK ‑ Sidney Lewis 11‑yard run (kick failed) MASS ‑ Dave Eberhart 1‑yard run (Eberhart kick) McK ‑ Lewis 4‑yard run (Todd Fisher pass from Paul Giavasis) McK – safety
McKinley’s backs end Stark Debate Bulldogs end Massillon’s unbeaten streak By Milan Zban Beacon Journal staff writer
Nobody bothered to ask Amy Carter about Canton McKinley’s proliferation of running backs.
But Stark County’s version of the great debate is over. McKinley settled the issue on the football field on a chilly but sun‑splashed Saturday at Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium.
Amy would have agreed with 21,754 that it was the running of four Bulldog backs who applied so much pressure on Massillon’s defense that it cracked, tottered and finally fell, 16‑7. And with it went Massillon’s unbeaten, but once tied, streak through nine games.
Terry Forbes, McKinley’s first year coach, also ended Massillon’s four‑year domination of the 85‑yeard‑old classic on his first try.
He sent Dwayne Randle, Sid Lewis, Mike Simms and Mike Lynch pounding off the tackles and sweeping the ends for 221 yards on the ground.
And when they were temporarily stalled, the call went to quarterback Rick Worstell, who will be around for another classic next year. Worstell threw a dozen times, completing eight for 92 additional yards.
THE VICTORY pushed McKinley atop the Division I, Region 3 state computer ratings, giving it a shot at the state playoff quarterfinals, next week.
Massillon, the pre‑game leader over McKinley, 147.75‑to‑133.37 in computer points, may still win a berth in the playoffs as third‑place Lakewood St. Edward lost a 21‑6 decision to Cleveland St. Joseph Saturday night.
Massillon probably will wind up second and behind McKinley. If that happens, the teams will be rematched Friday night at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
While the McKinley offense was doing it’s job, rolling up 313 yards, the Bulldogs’ defense also was quite effective. It almost completely shut down dangerous Dave Eberhart, Massillon’s gifted quarterback who has passed for 1000 yards. McKinley breaks Massillon streak Eberhart was only five‑for‑17 for 54 yards with two interceptions.
“IT WASN’T so much McKinley’s secondary that took away our passing game, but Mckinley’s rush,” Eberhart said. “They came at me in that slanting defense which we couldn’t pick up and I didn’t get much of a chance to set up and throw.
“Maybe we’ll play them again next week,” he said hopefully, “but I’d rather had beaten them this week.
“Their defense did a great job. They only gave us the ball inside the 50 one time and we took that in for a score.”
Eberhart got Massillon’s only points, sneaking 1 yard for a touchdown, then booting the extra point for a 7‑6 Massillon lead in the second quarter.
It was Eberhart’s booming 65‑yard punt to the McKinley 1‑yard line which set up the score. In the exchange of punts, McKinley’s Ed Grimsley shanked the hall and it traveled only 23 yards to the McKinley 32. Seven plays later with 6:05 left in the half, the Tigers had taken the lead.
McKinley’s Lewis, who hadn’t scored a touchdown all season, got his first of two Saturday when he raced 11 yards to culminate a 72‑yard drive ignited by Mike Freeman’s interception of an Eberhart pass at his 29.
Lewis was almost caught at the 3‑yard line but stiffarmed Massillon defender Dwayne Boss and darted into the end zone.
With 1:32 left in the opening quarter, and following a Mckinley offside penalty, Nick Faulkner’s conversion kick was wide left.
Faulkner’s miss left the door ajar for Massillon to lead at the hall.
McKinley wasted little time in the second half. It dominated the third quarter, allowing the Tigers only two possessions and each of those lasted only one play.
The Bulldogs marched 80 yards to regain the lead on a 4‑yard sprint by Lewis and an amazing two‑point conversion catch by Todd Fisher on a batted pass from Paul Giavasis at the 5:06 mark.
ON MASSILLON’S first possession of the second half, Eberhart’s arm was hit as he attempted to pass and end Scott Dixon scooped up the loose ball at the Massillon 37. After running to the 23, he fumbled, but teammate Bob Harsh was there to fall on the ball.
However, the Bulldogs’ opportunity was thwarted by an end zone interception by Massillon’s Mike Spicer who unwisely attempted to run out of the end zone and was nailed at the 3‑yard line.
On the ensuing play, Massillon running back Mike Jones was smothered in the end zone by the left side of McKinley’s line for a safety which boosted McKinley into a 16‑7 lead with only 26 seconds left in the quarter.
McKinley threatened again early in the fourth quarter, reaching the Massillon 19, but, with 8:40 remaining, Spicer again intercepted Worstell at the 7.
Massillon, with the help of a pass interference call on McKinley’s Rob Dine, reached the Bulldog 14 with 2:24 remaining but Harsh picked off an Eberhart pass to turn back the Tigers once more.
“THE GUY who killed us was Fisher,” said Massillon coach Mike Currence. “I thought we did all right against McKinley’s ground game, but Fisher came up with the big catch time and again.”
Fisher, who had four catches for 52 yards, grabbed a 20-yarder on third and two, caught one for eight yards on third and six and had another eight‑yard pickup on second and six.
Randle was the game’s leading rusher with 110 yards in 18 tries. Sims had 56 in 11 carries, Lewis 37 in seven attempts and Lynch 30 yards in 10 tries.
Playoff‑bound Tigers pound Pups 24‑0 Defense awesome in 4th straight win over McKinley
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
There used to be a sign in the Massillon weight room that read: “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.”
On the strength of an overpowering performance in their 24‑0 win over Canton McKinley Saturday afternoon, the Massillon Tiger football team will get its first chance to prove that theory since 1972.
For the team and their “Tiger Bag” waving fans are headed for the Class AAA computer playoffs. They will play Parma Padua Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a semifinal game in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
The Tiger defense’ was awesome against the Bulldogs, registering nine sacks for 78 yards in losses. Six of the sacks came in the first half as the Tigers shocked the Pups by rolling up three touchdowns for a 21‑0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Bill Scott accounted for the first two scores, throwing nine yards to Marty Guzzetta for the first touchdown, then hooking up with Greg Evans oil a 54‑yard bomb.
Evans’ score, which came on a third‑and‑six play, dazed the Bulldogs, but it was linebacker Tim Reese’s interception on the Pups’ next possession that broke their backs.
On a second‑and‑10 from his own 46, Bulldog quarterback Dave Seaman threw over the middle for Ron Rankin, but Reese stepped in and picked the pass off at his own 43 and returned it 30 yards to the Bulldog 27.
After an incomplete pass, fullback Sam McDew gained 26 yards in three rushes and halfback Bill Beitel scored from a yard out on the next play.
Jeff Fry’s third straight extra point kick made it. 21‑0 with 1:30 left in the half. The only other scoring was a 26‑yard field goal by Fry in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great, great victory to a great great year,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said afterwards. We hope we can just keep on going ‑ and win two more.”
Two more wins, of course, would bring the Ohio prep football championship back to Massillon for the first time since 1970 ‑ and it would be the first for the Tigers since the computer playoff system was installed.
The Tigers are now 10‑0 – their first perfect season since 1972 ‑ and have claim to the final All‑American Conference football championship (the league is now disbanded).
The Tigers have now either won outright or shared the AAC title four straight years ‑ all under Currence, who has now beaten the Bulldogs four straight.
And the key to this one, he said, was the defense.
“The defense gave us the field position,” he said, referring to the nine sacks and three interceptions (Jamie Schlegel and Len Robinson also picked off passes).
Currence said the sacks were a combination of a fierce pass rush and great coverage by the Tiger secondary.
Seaman tried to pass 11 times in the first half,, and six times the Tiger “Sack Cats” threw him for losses.
Currence also credited his offense, of course.
“That was a great catch by Guzzetta and a great pass by Scott,” Currence said of the Tigers’ first touchdown. “And Evans catch was a big play, it really hurt them.
“But it was the interception by Reese that broke their backs.”
Currence said he was still nervous with a 21‑0 lead especially when Phil Giavasis blocked a Mike Hodgson punt. late in the third quarter and Mitchell Kelly recovered the ball at the Massillon 11 yard line.
However, tackle Dave Geschwind threw Brantly Kelly for a one‑yard loss on the first play, and two plays later Geschwind Tom Mummertz and Bryant Lemon sacked Rick Worstell for a 12‑yard loss. An incomplete pass in the end zone on fourth down gave the Tigers the ball at their own 19.
When the Pups got the ball back, Jamie Schlegel intercepted a Worstell pass at the Bulldog 27 and returned it to the two yard line. Four plays later, at 7:52 of the fourth quarter, Fry booted his 26‑yard field goal.
“After the field goal I relaxed,” Currence said.
“The difference was the big play,” he explained. “When you get the big play, you’ve got them. The kids were looking for them, and they made them.
“This game will be like a springboard for us,” he added, referring to the playoffs. “We have momentum now.”
The Tigers’ first score came on their second possession. Massillon took over at the Bulldog 35 following a 17‑yard McKinley punt.
Seven plays later, Scott lofted the ball over the middle and over an unaware Sid Lewis to Guzzetta who made a diving catch in the end zone. Fry’s kick made it 7‑0 with 1:45 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers took over at 6:55 of the second quarter at their own 42 following a Bulldog punt.
On third‑and‑six from the 46, Scott threw long for Evans. A Bulldog defender leaped in an attempt to make an interception, but he missed the ball and Evans caught it at the 18 yard line. He scampered the rest of the way for the score with 5:17 left in the half.
Reese’s interception then set up Beitel’s one‑yard touchdown run just. before the half, and Schlegel’s interception set up the field goal by Fry in the fourth quarter which capped the scoring.
Now it’s on to the Rubber Bowl and, hopefully, a state championship. BEAT PADUA!
FINAL STATISTICS MASS OPNT First downs: Rushing 7 1 Passing 5 2 Penalty 0 0 Total 12 3 Yds gain rush 155 53 Yds lost rush 28 82 Net yds rush 127 29 Net yds pass 143 58 Total yds gain 270 29 Pass attempted 15 10 Pass completed 7 3 Pass int by 3 2 Pass int yds 63 2 Kickoffs 5 1 Kickoff ave 48.8 48.0 Kickoff ret yds 20 96 Punts 3 6 Punt ave 38.7 35.2 Punt ret yds 21 22 Punts blocked 1 0 Fumbles 1 1 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 3 3 Yds penalized 3.5 20 TDs rushing 1 0 TDs passing 2 0 TDs by int 0 0 Other TDs 0 0 No. of plays 56 38 Time of poss 26: 27 21:33 Attendance 21,000
MASSILLON 7 14 0 3 24 McKINLEY 0 0 0 0 0
Mass ‑ Marty Guzzetta 9 pass from Bill Scott (Jeff Fry kick) Mass ‑ Greg Evans 54 pass, from Scott (Fry kick) Mass ‑ Bill Beitel 1 run (Fry kick) Mass ‑ Fry 26 FG
The 82nd victory in the football coaching career of the Massillon Tigers’ Michael L. Currence had to be one of his sweetest, for it carried him and his 1979 Tigers to a record, an All‑American Conference title and a shot at the state championship.
Saturday’s foe was Canton McKinley, who went into the game with a good 7‑1‑1 record and were primed for another of the upsets that have marked 84‑year Tiger‑Bulldog rivalry. Coach John Brideweser of McKinley had lost all three of his previous ‑meetings with Currence’s Tigers.
But the Tigers, too, were ready. Currence had polled them on stage at a bonfire rally Friday night, asking each what he planned to do to the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon. And they did it all.
Now, for the second time since computers got into the act, the, Tigers have a crack at a state title. They will play Parma Padua (9‑1) in the Akron Rubber Bowl Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and the winner will advance to the state finals the following Saturday at the Rubber Bowl.
I Tiger quarterback Bill Scott, speaking of Padua and Cincinnati Moeller, the team he expects to face in the championship, said: “I think we can do it. We’ve got a whole town behind us.”
That the Tigers have. Let’s show them this week how much we are behind them. BEAT PADUA!
Massillon Does It Again!
…And so another Massillon-McKinley rival match is in the record books, and Massillon continues to dominate the action.
The Tigers’ 24‑0 whitewashing of the Bulldogs last weekend made it four straight over the Pups. Over the past three years, Massillon has outscored McKinley, 58‑10, including two shutouts in the last three years, both at Fawcett Stadium. Their latest triumph upped the overall series mark to a commanding 47‑32‑5 lead.
Is the rivalry becoming too one sided’?
“No way,” said Massillon Coach Mike Currence. “Massillon and Canton will always play this game. They’ve been playing it now for 84 years, and they’re going to continue playing it long after John and I (McKinley Coach John Brideweser) are gone.”
I don’t think anyone would question that. I can’t imagine November without a Massillon‑McKinley game, but there’s no question that the Tigers are becoming a more dominant force in this classic.
There are several theories as to why that’s the case. The first one is that the entire town is behind Massillon, whereas Canton doesn’t totally back McKinley.
A second theory is that the Tigers are just getting better material out of their feeder schools than the Bulldogs are, and the third theory states that many of Massillon’s players have played together longer than McKinley’s have because most of them attended the same grade schools and junior highs. Massillon is less diversified than Canton, and this might be a possible explanation contributing to Massillon’s dominance.
Personally, I support the ‘town theory.’ The fact that Massillon has its entire town behind the Tigers is a mighty big boost in a game of this magnitude.
Sure, the Tigers were gunning for the playoffs and trying to keep a perfect mark intact, but they also defeated McKinley the last three years when they weren’t headed for the playoffs.
McKinley will always have a great challenge lying ahead of them in this game, because let’s face it: Not everyone who lives in Canton is a ‘live or die’ McKinley Bulldog fan.’
It was a case of deja vu, as Offenbecher threw for two. Massillon won again, of course. The ’10‑run rule’ was not in force!
MASSILLON ‑ The Lord giveth. The Massillon Tigers taketh away!
Massillon High quarterback Brent Offenbecher turned the 83rd high school football classic against McKinley Senior High into an aerial circus in the final six minutes of the game to wipe out a 10‑0 deficit and give the Tigers a 13‑10 victory before 21,592 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Offenbecher, the 6‑foot‑1, 175‑pound senior who last year passed for two TDs and ran for another in the Tigers 21‑0 win in Canton, gave the McKinley followers an unwanted rerun.
Only this year it was in more heartbreaking.
McKinley had nearly blown the Tigers off the field in the first half. But in the end, the Bulldogs just blew the game in the waning minutes.
Not only Offenbecher’s passes helped beat the Bulldogs. It was the McKinley passes which really put the Pups down the tubes, the last two of which were intercepted by the Tigers.
So for one more year, the McKinley fans went home mumbling. Not since 1968 have the Pups won here in the Tigers’ lair, and the Massillon win was its third straight over the Bulldogs and its seventh in the last nine games.
But there was no clock malfunction this year. The timepiece ticked to perfection. The officiating was adequate, and no flag felled the visitors. So for the vanquished, only one villain remained ‑ the coach.
The second‑guessers were out in force for McKinley’s Coach John Brideweser’s decision to throw the ball on first‑and‑15 from the Pups’ own 22 with 5:20 left in the game and the Bulldogs leading 10‑6.
“We had to maintain ball control,” said Brideweser in answer to the inevitable question. Tigers dump Bulldogs “We had to get the first down, and, after we drew the motion penalty and had a first‑and‑15, I thought we needed to hit the pass.”
McKinley’s Dave Seaman, the junior quarterback who stepped in at mid‑season, saw his aerial tipped by Tiger tackle Harry Foster and grabbed off by junior linebacker Tim Reese in a diving catch just before the ball hit the ground at the McKinley 31.
Offenbecher then threw three straight quick lookin Passes, a 14‑yarder to Curtis Strawder, a 10‑yarder to Martin Guszetta and then the winning TD of 7 yards again to Strawder, the amazing pass‑eating machine who finished a two‑year career with a record 68 catches for 1,072 yards. Saturday he caught eight for 92 and both TDs.
It was not a bad call,” said Massillon coach Mike Currence of Bridey’s first‑down pass.
“They needed the yardage and the first down, and‑they might not have been able to get it running,” he said.
But the Pups took their 10‑point lead mostly by ripping through the Massillon defensive line on the ground.
In the first half McKinley gained 71 yards in 27 rushes, while holding the Tigers to a net yards rushing of “minus‑11.”
But despite the running of the Pups, they had to get a big break to get in the end gone.
Massillon’s leading rusher this season, Jeff Beitel, fumbled on the first play after a Todd Maragas punt, and McKinley’s Tony Floyd covered at the Tiger 16.
Six running plays later Brantley Kelly crashed in from the 2‑yard‑line and John Grimsley kicked the conversion to put the Pups on top 7‑0 with less than four minutes left In the half.
McKinley moved the ball 55 yards in 11 plays to get Grimsley’s 22‑yard field goal with 9:29 left in the game. That drive was keyed by Seaman’s 28‑yard pass to Doyle Lewis.
Lewis, whose catch came on his only offensive play of the game, was made at the seven between two Massillon defenders. He just out‑jumped them. But a motion penalty put the Pups back at the 19, and three runs got but seven yards, and they settled for the three.
Sam Hill’s 35‑yard return of the ensuing kickoff put the ball at the Tigers’ 43, from where Offenbecher directed his team to the end zone in seven plays, hitting Strawder an the 12‑yard TD. It was his fifth completion in that drive.
After Massillon’s go‑ahead TD, Seaman unloaded from his 29 and a broken pass pattern by his receiver allowed Darren Longshore to intercept at the 43 with 3:25 remaining. Longshore fell catching the ball, and then leaped up and ran off the field holding the bail high. The result was a brief bench‑clearing brawl, but the police, sheriff’s deputies and coaches restored order rather quickly, and Massillon resumed running out the clock.
Offenbecher’s final pass of the day, a 14‑yard completion to Strawder, naturally, came on third‑and‑10 with 1:28 left and sent the McKinley fans scurrying to the parking lot.
Offenbecher completed 9 of 9 for 95 yards in the fourth quarter, giving him 17 of 20 for, the day for 177 yards. He finally has completed his career at Massillon, with more than a mile‑and‑a‑half in yards passing, and virtually all the passing records in the Tigers school record book.
Massillon finished with an 9-0-1 overall record and won the All‑American Conference with a 4‑0‑1 mark. McKinley finished 7‑2 overall and 4‑1 in the AAC.
Tiger, Bulldog Lineups TIGERS Offense QUARTERBACK: 14 Brent Offenbecher (Sr., 6‑1. 175); FULLBACK: 43 Tom Gehring (Sr., 5‑10, 171), 16 Wally Neff (Jr., 5-8, 172), 49 Sam Hill (Jr., 5‑6, 160); HALFBACKS: 45 Jeff Beitel (Sr., 5‑7, 158), 22 Bill Beitel (Jr., 5‑7, 148); ENDS: 42 Curtis Strawder (Sr., 5‑10, 153), 13 Ron Wright (Sr., 5‑9, 173), 25 Marty Guzzetta (Jr., 5‑9. 160); TACKLES: 67 Doug Wood (Sr., 6‑2, 191); 76 Mark Kircher (Jr., 6‑1, 212); GUARDS: 69 Jim Horton (Sr., 6‑0, 177), 79 Eric Barnard (Sr., 6‑2, 215), 65 Larry Massie (Jr., 5‑7, 195); CENTER: 51 Scott Kasunick (Sr., 5‑9, 181).
Defense ENDS: 81 Bruce Solinger (Sr., 6‑0, 175), 88 Wilson (Sr., 6‑0, 182); TACKLES: 72 Harry Foster (Sr., 6‑2, 232), 71 Jeff Pedro (Sr., 6‑3, 204); MIDDLE GUARD: 55 Bob Simpson (Jr., 5‑11, 190); LINEBACKERS: 28 Dick Cleveland (Sr., 5-11, 188), 38 Kevin Harris (Sr., 5‑10, 182). 59 Tim Reese (Jr.. 5‑9, 163); MONSTER BACK: 11 Darren Longshore (Sr., 6‑1, 175); SAFETY: 21 Jamie Schlegel (Jr., 5‑11, 160); HALFBACKS: 34 Jeff David (Sr., 5‑9, 188), 12 Dan Venables (Sr., 5‑10, 160). KICKERS: 13 Wright (punts, extra points), 86 Mike Hodgson, 79 Barnard (kickoff).
BULLDOGS Offense QUARTERBACK: 12 Dave Seaman (Jr., 165); FULLBACK: 34 Charles Taylor (Sr., 190), 31 David Faur (So., 167), 30 Michael Lynch (So., 157); HALFBACKS: 42 Doyle Lewis (Sr., 180), 33 Robin Kindell (Jr., 150), 32 Lucius Rowser (Sr., 180), 40 Brantley Kelly (Jr., 160), 11 Todd Maragas (Sr ., 184); ENDS: 82 ‑Jeff Thompson (Sr., 168), 84 Ron Rankin (Jr., 170); TACKLES: 73 Steve Stranan (Sr., 215), 50 Brian Blosser (Sr., 205); GUARDS: 64 Milton Young (Sr., 197), 67 Scott Dean (Sr., 170), 65 Cyle Cole (Sr., 185); CENTER: 51 Eric Kempthorn (Sr., 180).
Defense ENDS: 34 Taylor, 86 Bo Zeren (Sr., 180), 80Mitchell Kelly (Jr., 170), 81 Phil Glavasis (Jr., 165); TACKLES: 75 Tony Floyd (Jr., 205), 73 Strahan, 83 Troy Sanders (So., 195), 85 Joe Sanders (Sr., 185); MIDDLE GUARD: 32 Rowser; LINEBACKERS: 64 Young, 67 Dean, 65 Cole; MONSTER BACK: 22 Andy Kneffler (Sr., 160); SAFETY: 42 Lewis; HALFBACKS: 21 ‑ Mark Green (Sr., 155), 20 Kelly Mullane (Jr., 160), 33 Kindell.
The Washington High School football team was the toast of the city today for its fourth quarter conquest of arch rival Canton McKinley Saturday afternoon in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Trailing 10‑0 in the fourth period, the Massillon Tiger team lived up to tradition Saturday afternoon by staging a comeback to score 13 points and win the game 13‑10. In so doing it learned one of the great lessons of life – never give up.
Many a football team would have quit after McKinley, leading 7‑0 going into the last period, put three more points on the board – but not the Tigers. That’s when they became aroused and, at the urging of Massillon fans, scored two touchdowns in the final minutes to complete the regular season undefeated for the first time since 1972. A tie with Warren spoiled an otherwise perfect mark.
It was the Tigers’ determination to succeed that saw them through, and we give them great credit for never having given up in their efforts to win the game. In sports they call that “desire,” and the Massillon boys certainly had it Saturday afternoon; otherwise they would have been on the losing end of the score.
Their late rally was typical of fourth period comebacks against McKinley a number of times in past years. Remembrances of these historical games kept most ‑fans in their seats hoping that what appeared to be the impossible would become possible.
In victory we cannot help but feel some compassion for the vanquished. They were a dejected group of McKinley players who came off the field, their hopes crushed after having had victory almost within grasp. They played hard and, even though defeated, can hold their heads high for their efforts.
As a result of the victory the Tigers are champions of the All-American Conference, and we congratulate them and Coach Mike Currence and his assistant coaches for winning the title.
The Massillon Tigers may not be going to the state football playoffs, but they’re number one in the hearts and minds of all their fans.
The Tigers simply tore apart the playoff-bound Canton McKinley Bulldogs by a 21-0 score before 20,339 snow capped fans Saturday afternoon on a muddy, waterlogged Fawcett Stadium field.
A NEAR blizzard in the second-quarter threatened to turn the game into a “Snow Bowl,” but a flurry of passes from Tiger quarterback Brent Offenbecher and complete domination by the Massillon offensive and defensive lines simply turned it into a rout.
Offenbecher scored the Tigers first TD on the first play of the second quarter when he bootlegged 11 yards around right end and literally dove over a Bulldog defender at the goal line, falling into the end zone.
He then hit Curtis Strawder with a 50-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and hooked up with Greg Carpenter for a 48-yard TD toss early in the fourth quarter.
Offenbecher finished the day with 7 of 9 passing for 162 yards on a field that no one thought he would be able to pass on. He ends the year with 1,369 yards passing on 84 of 146 passes, all Tiger records.
“Bridey (McKinley head coach John Brideweser) forgets he has to run in the mud when he lets the field get wet.” Tiger head coach Mike Currence chided in the jubilant Massillon lockerroom after the game.
HE WAS referring of course to the fact that Brideweser had declined to put the tarp on the field after the Tiger Booster Club brought it over Thursday.
“The big thing,” Currence said on a serious note, “was that we were able to throw in the mud and that we controlled the line of scrimmage. They weren’t able to run in the mud and they couldn’t throw either.
“Our lines were super,” he continued. “We beat them on the line. Their backs ran hard but they had nowhere to go.”
Brideweser’s explanation was simpler.
“We just got our ass kicked,” he said. “They’re a good football team. They’re as good as anybody in the state. How they lost two games I’ll never know.”
BRIDEWESER said his players never thought about the computer poll even after Barberton eliminated itself completely by losing to Cuyahoga Falls Friday night, assuring the Bulldogs of a berth even if they lost to Massillon.
He did agree that the loss to the Tigers would make it tough for his team Friday night at 7:30 when the Bulldogs play Cleveland St. Joseph in the Class AAA semifinal game in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
The 21-0 score Saturday wasn’t indicative of the game the Tigers played. It could have been worse. Massillon completely outplayed the Bulldogs in every facet of the game, not even allowing a first down until 6:51 was left in the game, and not many McKinley fans left in the stands.
All the Tiger fans were there though. Glued to their seats – when they weren’t standing to cheer – by a performance many just hadn’t expected to see. Sure, they new the Tigers could win, but few expected such a performance.
The condition of the field before the game was so bad that you had to wonder if the Tigers’ run and shoot offense might not turn into a slip and slide. It looked like a defensive battle might be waged.
“AT THE beginning,” Offenbecher said, we came in and saw the field and thought there was no way we could pass. Then we got out there, and it was bad, but it wasn’t real bad.”
Offenbecher showed the Tigers weren’t afraid to pass when he threw twice in the first series. One was complete to Mark Pringle for the Tigers first first down of the game and the other fell incomplete. The first drive, which included a 13-yard bootleg by Offenbecher and some good running and blocking by his teammates, ended when Mark Westover’s 34-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
The Tiger defense forced the Bulldogs to punt and Mike Hickey returned the ball five yards to midfield with 5:38 to go in the first quarter.
After one first down, the Tigers faced a third and six at McKinley’s 39 yard line. Offenbecher found Pringle open for 11 yards and a first down.
The Tigers then stuck to the ground and an eight-yard run by Carpenter gave them a first down at McKinley’s five. He then lost six yards on the last play of the first quarter, and the Tigers faced a second and goal from the 11.
Offenbecher took to the air again, this time by running 11 yards around right end and diving over a Bulldog defender into the end zone. Westover’s kick was no good and the Tigers look a 6-0 lead.
Following another Bulldog punt, Massillon took over on its own 43. Offenbecher fooled everybody, including his coach, when be took the ball and ran 24 yards around a wide-open left end.
That gave Massillon a first down at the McKinley 33. The Tigers drove to the eight when Offenbecher was hit and fumbled the ball attempting to pass on third down. McKinley recovered and ran out the clock, trailed only 6-0 at the half.
The Tigers kicked off to open the second half and like clockwork, the Bulldogs punted four plays later.
The Tigers took over at their own 40 and after four running plays and an offside penalty, faced a third and 11 at midfield.
OFFENBECHER dropped back to pass and spotted Strawder cutting across the middle at about the 25. He threw him the ball and the junior sprinted to the zone untouched, after his defender fell down.
Offenbecher then rolled right and hit Pringle with a two-point conversion pass to make it 14-0 Tigers.
Following several punts by each team, the Tigers took over at the McKinley 49 early in the fourth quarter.
Following a holding penalty against the Tigers, a run for no gain and a 19-yard pass to Mike Grove, the Tigers faced a third and nine at the Bulldog 48.
Offenbecher dropped back to pass again and hit Carpenter on the left sideline at about the 25. The senior wingback then broke down the sideline and didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line. Westover’s kick was good and the Tigers had a 21-0 lead with 8:34 left in the game. Many McKinley fans headed for the exits.
IT WASN’T until 6:51 left that Rick Asberry broke off a 14-yard run for the Pups’ initial first down. They made three more in the drive, but Kevin Gowins kept them out of the end zone when he picked off a Mike Brown aerial inside the Massillon 10.
The Bulldogs, who lost 7 3 to Massillon last year, have yet to score a touchdown against Currence.
The statistics bear out the fact that it was a super team effort by the Tigers. They gained 162 yards passing and 115 rushing while allowing the Bulldogs 81 rushing (51 of which came in their last drive) and six passing.
M C First downs rushing 8 4 First downs passing 5 0 Total first downs 13 4 Yds. gained rushing 160 101 Yds. lost rushing 45 20 Net yds. gained rushing 115 81 Net yds. gained passing 162 6 Total yds. Gained 277 87 Passes attempted 9 5 Passes completed 7 1 Passes intercepted by 1 0 Times kicked off 4 1 Kickoff average (yards) 54 5 47 0 Kickoff returns (yards) 17 68 Times punted 2 7 Punt average (yards) 39.0 23.4 Punt returns (yards) 11 1 Fumbles 1 1 Lost Fumbled ball 1 0 Penalties 3 0 Yds. Penalized 25 0 TD’s rushing 1 0 TD’s passing 2 0 Total number of plays 52 47 Total time of possession 25:51 22:09
MASSILLON 0 6 8 7 21 McKINLEY 0 0 0 0 0
MASS – Brent Offenbecher 11 run (kick failed); MASS – Curtis Strawder 50 pass from Offenbecher (Mark Pringle pass from Offenbecher); MASS – Greg Carpenter 48 pass from Offenbecher (Mark Westover kick).
CANTON – You’ll never convince Massillon football Coach Mike Currence or his quarterback Brent Offenbecher that foul weather is a passer’s worst enemy.
Offenbecher warmed up by throwing bullets through a snow storm before unloading two “bombs” of 48 and 51 yards as Massillon upset the state’s No. 2 – ranked and previously unbeaten Canton McKinley Bulldogs 21-0 at Fawcett Stadium Saturday.