Tag: <span>Neil Buckosh</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 7, Walsh Jesuit 34

Walsh Jesuit gains its revenge

No. 1 ranked Warriors hand Tigers 34‑7 defeat

Independent Sports Editor

The post‑game team huddles told the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 3

Tigers end first half with road win

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

Independent Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Statistics courtesy of Richard Cunningham

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 21, Akron Garfield 10

Tigers’ attack hits high gear

Independent Sports Editor

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

Program Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Marc Cleveland

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1998: Massillon 9, Clovis West, CA 21

Picked off!

Interceptions turn tide against the Tigers

Tigers fall in Shepas debut

Independent Sports Editor

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

Program Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Marc Cleveland