Tigers near‑perfect in routing Eagles
‘Flawless’ team effort, adds” to ‘Nick’s Night’ as Tigers roll 42‑14
By MIKE HUDAK
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Halftime activities had ended, and Massillon Tiger offensive coordinator Nick Vrotsos was returning to his familiar perch in the upper loge of the pressbox.
A ladder separates the two decks; and for Vrotsos, each week’s climb is a happy reminder of the ladder of success he has climbed in Massillon in his unparalleled 25 years as a Tiger assistant.
Friday night was a bit different.
“This is my night, fellas, my night!” beamed a jubilant Vrotsos to his admirers in the pressbox. And indeed it was.
Not only had Vrotsos been presented with a surprise 25‑year plaque from the Tiger Booster Club in pre‑game ceremonies, (along with the original picture which appeared on Friday’s Tiger program), but his offensive charges had built an overwhelming 21‑0 lead at halftime in the “Computer Bowl” contest against GlenOak.
When it was all over, the first‑ever meeting between the two schools ended in a one‑sided 42‑14 Tiger win, assuring the Tigers of moving ahead of at least GlenOak when next week’s regional rankings are released.
“We were practically flawless tonight!” beamed Vrotsos after the game.
True, and from their first play from scrimmage, no less!
GlenOak received the opening kickoff, moving the ball two yards, on the ground in three plays, typical of the night’s efforts against the Tiger starters. A punt gave the Tigers possession on their own 36.
Tiger quarterback Brian DeWitz took center Rick Hamit’s snap, faked a handoff, rolled out left and unleashed a long pass to Gary Conley, who caught the ball on the run and ran the final 30 yards untouched. Bronc Pfisterer, becoming ‘Mr. Automatic’ on extra points, kicked his first of seven conversions and the Tigers led 7‑0 with 9:31 left in the opening period.
“I was surprised the coach (Mike Currence) went for the long one on the first play,” said DeWitz, fast moving up the ranks of all‑time Massillon throwing leaders. “But as soon as I threw it, I knew it was in there.”
“Loved it … loved it,” cooed the cool Conley afterwards. “The defensive back took the initial run fake and I just snuck around behind him, Brian fired a beauty and the result was a quick six.”
“That was Nick’s call to go right at them,” said Currence in praise of Vrotsos.
Vrotsos admitted that ‘unofficial’ coach Sonny Spielman, now the assistant principal at Longfellow Junior High, planted the idea in his head, adding, “It was a good call, that play’s been open for us most of the year.
GlenOak never recovered from the opening shockwave. On their next possession it was three downs and punt, then the Tigers came right back with a time‑consuming, 12‑play touchdown drive.
The drive was consummated entirely on the ground except for a screen pass to junior Chris Spielman on the second play good for 16 yards. Constant success was found on the “student body” right and left plays ‑ end sweeps.
“They jammed up everybody in the middle, practically giving us the outside,” said Vrotsos. ” And we’ll take what they give us.”
Spielman took final honors with a two yard sweep. The Tigers led 14-0 with 1:05 remaining in the initial quarter.
Massillon scored once in the second quarter ‑ another time‑consuming, 88‑yard drive. Spielman capped it with a seven yard sweep with 58 seconds remaining in the half for a 21‑0 lead.
Tigers show their best
At halftime, despite an almost even time of possession. Massillon led in total yardage 248‑26! GlenOak managed only one first down, midway through the second period.
By the third quarter, the Golden Eagles were “Bushed.” Massillon took the kickoff and marched 70 yards in six plays ‑ the first two plays runs of 29 and 17 yards by senior Jim Bushe, who capped the drive with a one‑yard scoot with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
Bushe was the Tigers’ leading rusher on the night, toting the leather 13 times for 142 yards.
“Give the line credit,” said Bushe. “I swear our guards are almost as quick as me, and they were just burying the Eagles tonight.”
A few more Eagle feathers were ruffled when pass coverage broke down with 29 seconds left in the quarter. A wide‑open Jim Geiser hauled down another DeWitz bomb for a 66‑yard score.
Down 35‑0, the Golden Eagles finally started moving the hall in the final period against the Tiger backups. Following a play in which GlenOak running back Greg Wagner suffered an ankle injury, quarterback Monty Crowl hit senior receiver Rob Wright with a 52‑yard touchdown toss. Wright was a bright spot for GlenOak, adding two interceptions for a fine night’s work.
Crowl, a speedy senior southpaw noted primarily as a fine runner and ballhandler, had his throwing arm kept under wraps in the first half, but found good success in the late going.
On the Eagles next possession, he completed four passes, including a nine‑yard scoring toss to senior Jimmie Burks, as GlenOak went 66 yard in eight plays for a late tally. Crowl ended the game nine‑of‑17 for 158 yards passing.
But the Tiger reserves had a bit of firepower left in them, too. Following an unsuccessful onside kick attempt, senior quarterback Brad Offenbecher led the Tigers 53 yards, hitting junior Richard Crenshaw with a 16‑yard scoring pass with 29 seconds left for the final 42‑14 margin.
Offenbecher played his best hall of the year in the game. On the scoring drive, the brother of Ohio State’s Brent Offenbecher connected on two‑of‑four passes and scrambled nine yards on another play.
The surprisingly‑easy win gave the Tigers an unblemished 8‑0 mark on the year going into next week’s game with Mansfield ‑ a game sandwiched between the GlenOak and McKinley epics where the players must work extra hard to avoid a letdown.
For GlenOak, the loss snapped a six game winning streak, the first since an opening night 14‑0 loss at the hands of McKinley.
It also spoiled the homecoming of former Tiger coach Bob Cummings, who had hoped for a better effort but admitted, “Massillon took dead aim on us and beat us to a pulp.”
Currence felt compassion for his illustrious predecessor, but summed up the situation pragmatically:
“Better him than me.”
Massillon mauls GlenOak 42‑ 14
By STEVE DOERSCHUK
Assistant Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ The year was 1980. It was a snowy, cold November Sunday in Cincinnati. It was the day Massillon’s Tigers played Moeller High for the Ohio High School Division I football championship.
The day came to mind Friday night after the Tigers shot down ClenOak’s Golden Eagles 42‑14 before, 16,490 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Moeller was awesome in ’80, but Massillon was a good team, and folks were eager to see if the Tigers could make a game of it.
Friday, GlenOak wore the shoes that had been on Massillon’s feet in 1980. The Golden Eagles were the good team challenging the powerhouse.
This one wasn’t a game, either.
The Tigers started with a bang, scoring on a 65‑yard Brian DeWitz‑to‑Gary Conley pass on their first play from scrimmage, and poured it on until the first team sat down with a 35‑0 lead on the board after three quarters.
Massillon improved to 8‑0, halting a six‑game GlenOak winning streak and leaving the Eagles with a 6‑2 record.
“Ain’t no stoppin’ us now,” said Conley, a speedy senior split end. “We’ll take ’em one at a time until we get to the 13th game.”
No. 13, if it comes to that, would be for the state title ‑ perhaps against Moeller.
“We’re state bound … if we can keep our heads on straight,” said running back Jim Bushe, who used blockbuster blocking by the offensive line and his own speed and shiftiness to amass 142 yards in only 13 rushes.
Bushe says he wants to play football in the Big Ten Conference some day. Heck, he could have played in the Big Ten Friday.
Massillon dominated almost every phase of the game, but the running attack was the real crusher.
Bushe saw to it that it was over early, gaining huge chunks of yardage on runs to the outside.
The Tigers had the ball four times in the first half and scored three touchdowns. An interception by Rob Wright, one of GlenOak’s few bright spots, snuffed out the other drive.
Senior guard Charles Calhoun explained why the Tigers ran wild on the outside.
“We outweighed their defensive line by about 30 pounds a man,” said Calhoun, a 240‑pound senior. “They were submarining us, dying in the hole to try to stuff the middle. So we just went to the outside. Then they stopped submarining us, and we hit them with some counter plays that worked pretty well.”
The Tigers led 478 yards to 241 yards in total offense, but even that whopping margin was deceiving. Through three quarters, the Tigers led 390‑73 in total offense.
After that, Massillon brought in its second string, against which the Eagles scored both of their touchdowns.
Massillon coach Mike Currence said the Tigers had been worried.
“Maybe we were so fired up because we scared,” he said. “On film, GlenOak’s offense executed almost everything perfectly.”
But the Tigers did what no other team has done ‑ shut down GlenOak’s running game.
“People were saying GlenOak has the best offensive line in Stark County,” Massillon defensive coordinator Jim Letcavits said. “Our people shut them down. It was the best tackling we’ve had.”
The last thing GlenOak wanted to happen was one of the first things that happened ‑ the big play, early.
GlenOak took the opening kickoff, ran three plays, then punted to the Massillon 35.
Nick Vrotsos, Massillon’s offensive coordinator, sent in “14 waggle.” It had almost brought a touchdown on Massillon’s first play of the season, against another Federal League team, Perry.
“It calls for me to take my man deep over the middle,” Conley said. “It looked like the defensive back started to go for the run fake. I got open, and Brian threw me a perfect pass.”
Conley caught the ball on the GlenOak 25 and outraced GlenOak’s Fermin Olivera to the end zone at 9:31 of the opening quarter.
Three GlenOak plays and a punt later, the Tigers launched a 12‑play, 63‑yard touchdown drive. Bushe and halfback Chris Spielman did most of the damage on the ground, with Spielman going the final two yards at 1:05 of the first period.
GlenOak had a chance to get back in the game when Wright’s interception gave the Eagles the ball on their own 49 early in the second quarter. The Eagles drove to the Massillon 39, getting their only first down of the first half, before having to punt.
Then Massillon put the game away with a 78‑yard touchdown drive that again featured Bushe and Spielman. Spielman dove into the end zone on a seven‑yard run 58 seconds before the band show.
The rout was on when the Tigers took the second‑half kickoff and drove 70 yards for a score, with Bushe rushing for all but three of them and scoring on a one‑yard blast.
Later in the third quarter, DeWitz and split end Jim Geiser hooked up on a 66‑yard touchdown pass.
DeWitz completed five of eight passes for 168 yards. His touchdown pass to Geiser flushed him over 1,000 yards for the season. He now has completed 63 of 107 tosses for 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Massillon romps 42‑14
The Eagles made it 35-7 on a 59‑yard scoring pass from quarterback Monte Crowl to split end Wright at 8:14 of the fourth quarter. Crowl later found Jimmie Burks on a nine yard scoring pass.
The Tigers led 22‑9 in first downs and 268‑91 in rushing yards. Star tailback Greg Wagner of GlenOak was held to 21 yards in nine carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. The extent of the injury was unknown.
Next Friday, Massillon hosts Mansfield Senior and GlenOak hosts Louisville.
GlenOak 0 0 0 14 14
Massillon 14 7 14 7 42
Mass ‑ Conley 65 Pass from DeWitz (Pfisterer kick)
Mass – Spielman 2 run (Pfisterer kick)
Mass – Spielman 7 run (Pfisterer kick)
Mass – Bushe 1 run (Pfisterer kick)
Mass – Geiser 66 pass from DeWitz (Pfisterer kick)
Glen – Wright 59 pass from Crowl (Olivera kick)
Glen – Burks 9 pass from Crowl (Olivera kick)
Mass – Crenshaw 16 pass from Offenbecher (Pfisterer kick)
Att – 16,490