Massillon defeats Niles McKinley 25‑12 Tigers cash in on Dragon’s turnovers
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“We’re just glad that one’s over with,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said after his team’s 25‑12 win over Niles McKinley before 8,919 fans Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“That certainly wasn’t our regular crew out there,” he added.
The Tigers, going with a patchwork lineup due to numerous injuries on defense, converted three of five Red Dragon turnovers into touchdowns as they raced to a 25‑0 lead.
The Red Dragons refused to fold, however, and rallied for a pair of touchdowns before it was over.
“We’re proud of our kids,” said Niles coach Jack Pierson. “If it weren’t for the dog‑gone mistakes we’d have been in the ball game.
As it was, a couple of mistakes by the Tigers allowed the Dragons to get back in the ball game in the second half.
A blocked punt set up Niles’ first score, and a failure to convert on a fourth‑and‑one play from their own 39 cost the Tigers another score.
But the Tigers’ last three touchdowns were set up by Dragon mistakes ‑ one fumble and two interceptions.
“We were playing with a lot of different people in there,” Currence noted. “For the most part they did a good job. It was our decisions on some of those plays that hurt us.”
One was going for the first down on fourth‑and‑one at their own 39.
“We should have punted the ball. But we had it and we wanted to control it. We just overestimated our ability. When you get a big lead, sometimes your willing to take a risk. We should have been more conservative.
Currence said one good thing about the game was he was able to rest many of his injured regulars.
“In a way I’m happy (getting to rest some players), but I’m not pleased with our mental discipline in the second half. Hopefully next week we’ll be healthy.
“We’ve got to start putting it together,” he added, referring not to next Friday’s game against Mansfield Senior but the Nov. 7 clash with 8‑0 Canton McKinley.
The Tigers are now 6‑2 and Niles falls to 3‑4‑1.
Massillon had control of the game from the opening kickoff when it drove 73 yards in 14 plays with fullback Greg Grimsley bulling over from a yard out. Greg Radtka’s kick made it 7‑0 with 5:36 left in the initial quarter.
Grimsley gained 23 yards in eight carries in the drive and quarterback Rick Spielman gained 23 in three carries and also completed a 19‑yard pass to Robert Oliver on a third‑and‑six play.
After an exchange of punts, Tiger junior tackle Sam Clark ‑ starting in place of the injured Joe Peters – recovered a fumble at the Niles eight yard line following a bungled handoff.
Oliver swept left end on the next play for a 13‑0 lead. Radtka’s kick was wide right.
Rodney Hill, a senior defensive halfback, set up the next Tiger score when he intercepted an Ed Kurowski pass at his own 15 and returned it 11 yards.
The Tigers then drove 74 yards in five plays as Spielman found Gary Conley wide open in the end‑zone with a 32‑yard TD pass. Spielman’s run for the extra points failed and the Tigers led 19‑0 with 6:33 to play in the half.
Key plays in the drive were a 27‑yard pass from Spielman to senior wide receiver Dan Ricker and a 24‑yard run by senior halfback George Roknich.
It took the Tigers only three plays to come up with another turnover at the start of the third quarter. On a third‑and‑five play at their own 46, Chris Spielman intercepted Pat Holmes’ pass at the Niles 48 and returned it 27 yards.
Five plays and a pass interference penalty later the Tigers had a 25‑0 lead on Grimsley’s one‑yard run. A pass for the extra points failed, and with 7:51 to play in the third quarter it looked like the route was on.
But somebody forgot to tell the Red Dragons they were out of it, and they used some inspired play to get back in the game.
Chuck Canann blocked a punt by Massillon’s Scott Zupp, and the ball rolled out of bounds at the Tiger 16.
Following an incomplete pass, Jeff Wrataric rambled 12 yards and speedy little Tim Trifilette (5‑4, 130) covered the final four for the tally with :09 left in the third quarter.
Senior George Nikitenko, the Tigers’ offensive center, was in on defense to help fill a hole caused by injuries, and he intercepted Holmes’ pass on the extra points try.
The Tigers then decided to grind it out and get the game over with, but the charged up Niles’ defense stopped Grimsley on third‑and‑one and Spielman was sacked back at his own 31 on fourth down.
Facing a third‑and‑one at the Tiger 22, Trifilette scooted 21 yards around right end to the one yard line, and Carmen Cicero took it in on the next play with 9:05 to play in the game. A run for the points after failed, and it was 25-12.
The Tiger defense stiffened thereafter, however, and Mark Haubert ended the game with an interception at his own 20 as time expired.
The Dragons had one other turnover, a fumble recovered by defensive end Tony Morelli.
Niles lost its top two quarterbacks to injury as Floyd Davis injured his knee and Kurowski reinjured his collar‑bone.
The statistics were fairly even except for two categories: turnovers and points, Massillon never turned the ball over while Niles did it five times.
The Tigers had 140 yards rushing and 91 passing and Niles had 105 rushing and 86 passing. Massillon had 13 first downs and Niles had 11.
Individually, Spielman completed four of nine passes (he threw only one in the second half) for 91 yards and a touchdown, his eighth of the season.
Grimsley gained 63 yards in 20 carries. Spielman, despite two sacks for 16 yards in losses, gained 31 yards in eight carries. He had 137 yards In total offense in the first half.
The Tigers will host the Mansfield Senior Tygers Friday at 8 p.m.
Fans are reminded that tickets for the McKinley game will go on sale at the Stadium’s west ticket window Monday at 8 a.m. There are 1,000 end zone seats remaining and there will be a limit of two per person.
Season ticket holders who have purchased McKinley tickets, but did not pay postage, can pick up their tickets at the ticket office at Washington High School.
Tigers wallop injury-Plagued Dragons 56-8 Currence concerned about overconfidence
By DENNY HIGHBEN Independent Sports Writer
“We’ve got to come back to earth and get ready for a tough week with Padua,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said Saturday night.
He was standing in the vistors’ lockerroom at Niles McKinley High School. Massillon had just slayed the Red Dragon with remarkable ease, scoring eight touchdowns and amassing almost 500 yards of total offense. But Currence wanted to be sure the non‑contest was put into perspective.
“I don’t want us to get overconfident. Niles had about eight sophomores starting. That’s an awful lot of young kids to start against us.”
The Red Dragons have been watching talented teammates fall to injuries faster than twigs in a tornado before the season started.. Almost half of the first team that did play went up against the Tigers as walking wounded. And the one player Currence was worried about before the game ‑ place kicker and linebacker John Giangardella, didn’t play.
He suffered a broken arm last week. The team’s leading tackler a guard on offense and an excellent field goal kicker, Giangardella was dressed and ready to kick Saturday, even with his arm in a cast.
“The loss of Giangardella was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Frank,” Currence said, referring to Nile’s coach Frank Thomas.
“They just don’t have the depth,” Currence added.
“I’m not saying we didn’t play well, I thought we did,” he added. “But I don’t want us to feel like we have peaked. We’d score like that on our sophomores, too.”
The Tigers had possession of the ball twice in the first quarter and didn’t score. The first time they drove downfield but a 36‑yard field goal attempt by sophomore Jim Bushe was off target. The second time they couldn’t pick up a first down and had to punt.
That was the only time the Tigers punted and after the next Niles punt, “the roof fell in,” as Thomas put it.
Massillon wide receiver Mike Reese caught Fred Cleary’s punt at the Tiger 39, got behind a wall of blockers on the left side of the field and streaked to the Niles’ 15. Cleary made the touchdown‑saving tackle, but it did little good. On the first play halfback Dave Huth took a pitch on a short‑side sweep, built up a full head of steam by the time be turned the comer and rambled in for the score. Quarterback Dave Eberhart kicked the extra point and the buzz saw was turned on for good with 18 seconds left in the quarter.
After the next Niles punt ‑ there were 10 of them – the Tigers started at their own 45. Mike Jones picked up two yards on first down, then Eberhart fired a 15‑yard pass to Reese and an 18‑yarder to Mike Feller. That put the ball at the 19 and Don Fulton charged through the middle of the line on the next play. He was challenged at the two but flattened the defender and dove in for ‑the score. Eberhart added the PAT and it was 14‑0 with 9:29 to go in the half.
After the next Niles punt, the Tigers started on their own 29 and used one play to score. Mike Jones threw a halfback pass to Jeff Elliott. The pass cleared the defensive backs’ raised arms, settled into Elloitt’s hands about the Niles’ 40 and he ran all the way in. Eberhart kicked again and made it 21‑0 with 6:42 left in the quarter.
The next Tiger drive penetrated deep into Dragon territory but was pushed back by a clipping penalty and after Niles held, Eberhart missed a 35‑yard field goal attempt. Niles took over at the 20, but two plays later defensive back Mike Spicer intercepted a Floyd, Davis pass. He stole the ball around the 35 and ran it to the 15, but a clipping penalty put Massillon back on the 30.
Eberhart immediately passed to Jones to put the ball on the six, Huth gained a yard, then Eberhart hit Jones again for the score with 18 seconds to play. Eberhart added the PAT for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Junior Rick Spielman started at quarterback in the second half, and guided the Tigers downfield until one of his passes was intercepted near the goal line by Mike Hudzik. After a sack by defensive end Paul Spinden, a short run and an incomplete pass, Niles had to punt again.
The Tigers started on their 46 after the punt and Jones took off on first down for a 17‑yard gain. Huth picked up nine yards on the next play and the lights went out – literally. The power to the press box and scoreboard died. The Tigers scored again while the clock was out, after a roughing‑the‑passer penalty turned a third‑down incompletion into a first‑and‑goal at the 10. Speilman threw to Feller, who pulled the ball down with one hand; Greg Radtka kicked to conversion for a 35-4 lead.
Massillon’s second string defense came in on the next series and Niles inserted a different quarterback, junior Ed Kurowski. That combination helped the Dragons, and the clock started working in time for the fans to see Niles get its initial first down of the game with 3:46 to play in the third. Kurowski completed five-of‑six passes to move the Dragons to the Tiger three, and fullback Mark Knepper scored from there. Knepper also scored the two‑point conversion to make it 35-8.
The hometown fans went wild and thought the Dragons would make it a little closer when Niles successfully pulled off an onside kick following the score.
But the Massillon first team defense returned to action for the next series and put an end to that notion. On third‑and‑ten defensive back Dwayne Boss cut in front, of an intended receiver, picked off a pass and rambled 54 yards for a touchdown. Eberhart went in for the conversion, made it and the score was 42‑8.
After another Niles punt, the Tigers started from their 49. On third down, Spielman passed to junior Dan Ricker for a 26‑yard gain. Junior Larry Newman bolted to the four on the next play, then scored with 9:08 left. Radtka’s kick made it 49‑8.
Niles got a first down on the next series courtesy of a penalty, then had to punt to the Massillon 27. Junior Michael Moore ran through the middle and gained 28 yards. Three more running plays put the ball at Niles’ 16, and Moore took the ball in from there, breaking a tackle at the line and lunging across the goal line after being hit near the two. Radkta kicked the PAT to end the scoring with 3:56 left.
“It was nice to get our young kids in the game for experience,” Currence, said afterwards. “Because we might need them in the future.”
As for Niles’ young kids, Dragon coach Frank ‑Thomas said, “It’s tough to take sophomores and throw them in against a team ranked so high in the polls.
“We knew they were a great team coming in and knew we’d have our hands full,” Thomas said. “We had ’em for a while, but they’ve got the ability to make the big play. After that punt return, the roof fell in.”
Thomas, who was a Tiger assistant coach before taking the Niles job last season. said the 1980 Tigers are every bit as good as previous teams.
“One thing they have this year that makes them, a little better is the kicking game. It is excellent in every aspect, including the return teams,” he said.
Thomas’ banged‑up squad is now 3-4‑1, and must play at Warren Harding next week. Massillon, now 7‑0‑1 with a 30‑game regular season unbeaten streak, will take on Parma Padua Friday. Padua, stuggling at 4‑4, is the last team to beat the Tigers. That loss came in the playoffs is last year.
First downs rushing 13 2 First downs passing 7 2 First downs by penalty 2 1 Total first downs 22 5 Yards gained rushing 283 77 Yards lost rushing 5 21 Net yards gained rushing 278 56 Net yards gained passing 193 40 Total yards gained 471 96 Passes attempted 15 17 Passes completed 9 5 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 57 17 Times kicked off 9 2 Kickoff average 49.3 29.0 Kickoff return yardage 45 111 Punts 1 10 Punting average 41.0 35.2 Punt return yardage 78 8 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 2 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 7 4 Yards penalized 85 45 Touchdowns rushing 5 1 Touchdowns passing 2 0 Touchdown 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 54 51 Total time of possession 21:27 26:33 Attendance 8,500
NILES 0 0 8 0 – 8 MASSILLON 7 21 14 14 – 56
MASS ‑ Dave Huth 15‑yard run (Dave Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Don Fulton 19‑yard run (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott 71‑yard pass from Mike Jones (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Jams 5‑yard pass from W Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Mike Feller 10‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (Greg Radtka kick) NILES ‑ Mark Knepper 3‑yard run (Knepper run) MASS ‑ Duane Boss 55-yard interception return (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Larry Newman 4‑yard run (Radtka kick) MASS ‑ Michael Moore 16‑yard run (Radtka kick)
Team effort earns Massillon fourth straight win Tigers sharp in 33-0 win over Niles
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent S ports Editor
“This was the first time we played this well as a team,” Massillon coach Mike Currence said after the Tigers blanked the Niles Red Dragons 33‑0 Friday night.
“The players are starting to forget themselves as individuals. We’re starting to become a team. ‑ and a great one.”
Niles coach Frank Thomas ‑ one of Currence’s former assistants ‑ offered no argument with that statement.
“They’re a super, super football team,” Thomas said in the, quiet Niles lockerroom. “I knew they were, and I knew they were quick, too. But I didn’t know they were as quick as they are.
The 9,468 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium who endured a misty drizzle throughout the game saw the Tigers’ put on their best performance of the season. The win raises the Tigers’ record to 4‑0, with a 2‑0 mark in the All‑American Conference.
Currence was pleased with the performance of his offense and defense, and cited the work of quarterback Dave DeLong, who started in place of the injured Bill Scott.
“I have to give Dave DeLong a lot of credit tonight,” he said. “He came off the bench and did a good job. Actually, the whole offense did a good job. We have a great group of seniors, and their concentration and execution was the best it’s been.
“We did make a few errors. We got sacked a couple of times and those were errors they weren’t DeLong’s fault. But we came off the field, changed the blocking assignment’s and got it straightened out. In the second half we did anything we wanted to offensively.”
DeLong did a fine job directing the Tigers’ offense. He took them to a score in each quarter ‑ and a 27‑0 lead ‑ before giving way to substitute Dave Eberhart.
He completed 6 of 9 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. His only target was wide receiver Marty Guzzetta, who hauled in a total of 7 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns on the evening.
Guzzetta’s second TD catch came on a halfback pass from Bill Burkett that covered 34 yards. Burkett also gained 65 yards in 7 carries.
Sam McDew topped all rushers with 79 yards in 11 carries and Bill Beitel added 61 yards in 10 carries to the balanced Tiger running at tack.
Beitel and Burkett each scored a touchdown rushing and Fred Borck capped the scoring by catching a TD pass from Eberhart.
In addition to his passing, DeLong also ran with the ball several times, including a 13‑yard carry on the first play of the game. He gained 22 yards on four carries, but was sacked twice for losses totaling 22 yards.
Thomas noted that the Tigers didn’t pass as much without Scott at quarterback.
“They took advantage of what they had;” he explained. “DeLong is more of a running quarterback, and they came out with the sprint series right off the bat. He runs real well and he threw well, too.”
Thomas also praised the Tiger defense, which recorded its third shutout in four games and didn’t let the Red Dragons get past their own 45-yard line. They allowed Niles only one first down, and that was on a penalty.
“We just couldn’t block them,” he said. “We tried to establish our running game but we couldn’t catch them. Both their lines (offense and defense) manhandled us. They executed well offensively and defensively and their defense totally bottled us up.”
“Our defense was unbelievable the way they held them,” Currence added. “I think we controlled the line of scrimmage. We just out hit them, that was, the key.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Letcavits also said the whole defense played well and added that Mike Spicer who filled in for injure safety Jamie Schlegel, did nice job.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched from their own 32 to the Niles 14, but lost the ball on downs when a sweep by McDew on fourth‑and‑two fell a yard short.
Niles was forced to punt, and DeLong took the Tigers on a 52‑yard, four‑play drive that began with a 16‑yard pass to Guzzetta and ended with a 23‑yard scoring strike to Guzzetta. DeLong rolled right and eluded the Red Dragon rush before finding Guzzetta wide open. Jeff Fry booted the point after for a 7‑0 lead with 3:16 left in the first period.
The Tigers took over possession again near the end of the first quarter following another Niles punt.
They drove 55 yards in eight plays with Beitel scoring over left tackle with 9:34 to go in the half. Fry made it 14‑0 with his PAT kick.
The Tigers took over after another Niles punt, and were put into bad field position when the offensive blocking broke down and DeLong was sacked at his own 10 for a 14‑yard loss. A draw play on third down got the ball out to the 13, but it appeared the Red Dragons would get the ball in good field position with over five minutes left in the half.
However, Tiger punter Mike Hodgson boomed a 62‑yard punt ‑ a long, spiraling, line drive that sailed over the heads of the Red Dragon return men and rolled to the Niles 25 yard line. Hodgson also added a 50‑yard punt for a touchback later in the quarter.
Niles took the opening off of the second half but failed to move the ball again ‑ and the Tigers took over at the Red Dragon 45 following a 28‑yard punt.
DeLong went right to the air and lofted a long pass down the right sideline to Guzzetta. The senior receiver leaped into the air and made a great catch with a Niles defender hanging onto him. The play was good for 30 yards and a first down at the Niles 25.
Three plays later Burkett swept right end behind some good blocking and bulled over a Dragon defender at the goal line for a 12‑yard TD run. Fry hit his third straight kick for a 21‑0 lead with 8:45 remaining in the third period.
The Tigers got the ball back after a Niles punt at their own eight yard line and proceeded to cover the 92 yards to paydirt in nine plays.
On fourth‑and‑four from the Niles 34, DeLong pitched the ball to Burkett and he threw to Guzzetta ‑ who was wide open again ‑ for the touchdown. The score came on the first play of the fourth quarter. A run for the extra points failed and Massillon led 27‑0.
The Tigers final tally came with 4:13 to go in he game. Jeff Spicer picked up a Red Dragon fumble at the Niles nine yard line and returned it to the three. One Massillon penalty and three plays later, Eberhart hit Borck with a 5‑yard TD pass. Eberhart’s kick failed when he had to attempt it from the 15 yard line following an illegal procedure penalty on the Tigers.
The Tiger defense held Niles to minus‑four yards in the first half, and a total of eight for the game. The Red Dragons didn’t complete a pass until 2:22 remained in the game, and that was good for only one yard.
The Tigers, meanwhile, rolled up 18 first downs, 226 yards rushing, 149 yards passing (375 total yards) and controlled the ball for 28:19.
Despite being happy with the win and his team’s play, Currence was ready to put the game behind him.
“The real test will come next week because there are some men coming to town,” he said, referring to unbeaten and unscorned upon Cleveland Benedictine. The Bennies are 3‑0 and will play West Tech today in Cleveland.
“We’ll see what we’re made of,” Currence added.
NILES 0 0 0 0 0 MASSILLON 7 7 7 12 33
Mass ‑ Marty Guzzetta 23 pass from Dave DeLong, (Jeff Fry kick). Mass ‑ Bill Beitel 3 run (Fry, kick). Mass ‑ Bill Burkett 12 run (Fry kick). Mass ‑ Guzzetta 34 pass from Burkett (run fail). Mass ‑ Fred Borck 5 pass from Dave Everhart (kick fail).
FINAL STATISTICS MASS. OPP. First downs‑rushing 13 0 First downs‑passing 5 0 First downs‑penalties 0 1 Total first downs 18 1 Yards gained rushing 252 35 Yards lost rushing 26 28 Net Yds. gained rushing 226 7 Total yards gained 375 8 Net yds. gained passing 149 1 Passes attempted 13 9 Passes completed 10 1 Passes intercepted by 0 1 Ydg. on passes intercepted 0 0 Times kicked off 6 1 Kickoff average (ydg.) 49.8 30.0 Kickoff returns (yds.) 2 104 Times punted 3 9 Punt average (yds.) 49.7 34.9 Punt returns (yds.) 19 0 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 0 1 Lost fumbled ball 0 1 Penalties 8 2 Yards penalized 80 10 Touchdowns rushing 2 0 Touchdowns passing 3 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 55 29 Total time of possession 28 19 19:41 Attendance 9,468
The skies opened up early and so did the Massillon offense, but it took the defensive wizardry of Darren Longshore to dampen the upset hopes of winless Niles McKinley Saturday night.
Longshore stated on a 64-yard punt return, set up a Tiger touchdown with an interception and took a TD away from Niles as Massillon raised its record to 4-0 by downing the Red Dragons 27-7 at Niles.
Despite a storm that delayed the start of the game by 55 minutes, Tiger quarterback Brent Offenbecher ignored the weather and concentrated on what he does best – throwing the football.
Offenbecher came out firing and connected on his first three passes as the Tigers marched for a 7-0 lead on their first possession, but their offense disappeared in the second quarter and the Dragons were able to knot the score shortly after halftime.
That’s when Longshore took over.
“I can’t say enough about Darren,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said of his senior defensive halfback. “He made the play of the game.”
The play occurred late in the third period when, with the Tigers clinging to a precarious 1.3 7 lead, Longshore fielded Niles punter Mike Kopetsky’s kick on the Massillon 36 yard line, broke a tackle at the 40 and sped down the right sideline behind a wall of blockers for six points.
Longshore helped provide more breathing room in the fourth period by picking off a Dragon pass and dancing 16 yards to the Niles 37. Four minutes later the Tigers had the game on ice.
Earlier, the Tiger defender made a touchdown saving tackle on Dragon workhorse Dave Negro, who had shaken loose for 20 of the 120 yards he would ramble for on the night.
Negro lugged the ball 2 times as the Dragons plugged straight ahead with a ground game that didn’t befit the 0‑4 team they were to become.
“We couldn’t stop them,” Currence said after his Tigers had captured their second All-American Conference win. “They ran power at us as well as any team can. We had to wait for mistakes to hurt them.
“But you have to give credit to our defense,” he added. “They took the ball away from them.”
The first theft came after Niles had taken the opening kick‑off and driven into Massillon territory on burst of 10, 10 and 12 by Negro. Dragon fullback Rick Kelsh fumbled, however, and Longshore was on the spot, as usual, to pick it up.
“The fumble hurt us. We had the momentum,” Dragon coach Tony Napolet noted. “We played very well the first half and controlled the line of scrimmage.
“But Massillon is so quick off the ball. They’re the best team we’ve played up to now,” Napolet said. “I thought we could get back in it, but that punt return was the turning point.
Neither coach thought that rain as a critical factor in the outcome. Massillon dumps Niles for fourth straight win It fell on both sides of the line,” Napolet said. “It didn’t inhibit what we wanted to do, and it sure didn’t stop them from throwing the ball.”
Offenbecher who hit on five of his first six aerial attempts, finished the night at 10 for 17, good for 119 yards.
“A wet field always limits you. You can’t try the fancy things. Bill this field wasn’t bad,” Currence said, “They have nice drainage.”
Jeff Beitel, who spearheaded the Tigers 115-yard ground attack with 69 yards unofficially on 15 carries, gave Massillon its quick lead on a 7‑yard touchdown run after his brother Bill grabbed a 31-yard pass from Offenbecher to set the stage.
The Tigers fashioned another first‑quarter drive that featured romps of 16 and 10 yards by Beitel, but it fizzeled four yards from paydirt when Dragon defensive end Chris Skocik trapped Offenbecher on a rollout on a fourth down play.
Niles took it from that point to the Massillon 45 with the help of a first down on fourth and a foot by Bob Rufh. The Tiger rejected Rufh, though, when the same situation arose on their 45 for a key defensive stand.
After a second period in which the Tigers could muster only a dozen yards, the Dragons threw a scare into their visitors, scoring on the first play from scrimmage of the third period.
The Tigers received the second-half kick-off and started from their 11 after being assessed half the distance to the goal for a clipping penalty.
The ball squirted out of Offenbecher’s hands, then out from under a pack of would-be recoverers and into the Tiger end zone, where Niles’ Harry Nidel tracked it down for a touchdown.
“They never should have scored,” said Currence, who blamed himself for the turn of events. “I made a mistake. We should have kicked off the second half, too. On a night like this, field position is more important than the ball. Let this be a lesson to me.”
The Tiger bounce back from the sudden tie for a sustained drive of 69 yard, keeping the ball for 6:24 before Bill Beitel knifed into the end zone from nine yards out for a 13‑7 lead.
Then came Longshore’s key punt return to increase the margin to 19‑7 and his in interception that set up a 37‑yard Tiger scoring drive which ended with a 3-yard keeper by Offenbecher.
Jeff Brief tossed a halfback pass to Ron Wright for the two point conversion to complete the scoring. Wright also accounted for the only other Tiger extra point with his boot after the first TD.
Niles air game wasn’t nearly as successful as its ground attack. Quarterback Dean Clark, who entered the game second to Offenbecher in AAC passing statistics, completed only 3 of 12 aerials for 20 yard.
Tiger defensive end Bruce Solinger found Clark as many times as the Dragon QB found his receivers. Solinger accounted for three sacks that set the Dragons back a total of 32 yard.
MASSILLON 7 0 12 6 27 NILES 0 0 7 0 7
M ‑ Jeff Beitel 7 run (Ron Wright kick); N ‑ Harry Nicer recovered fumble in end zone (Rick Phillips kick); M ‑Bill Beitel 9 run (kick felt); M – Darren Longshore 64 punt return (kick fail); M ‑ Brant Offenbecher 3 run (Wright pass from J. Beitel).
M IN First downs rushing 7 7 First downs passing 6 0 First downs penalties 0 1 Total first downs 13 8 Yards gained rushing 132 126 Yards lost rushing 17 30 Net yards gained rushing 115 96 Net yards gained passing 127 20 Total yards gained 242 116 Passes attempted 21 12 Passes completed 12 3 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 10 0 Times kicked off 5 2 Kickoff average (yards) 48.6 47.5 Kickoff returns (yards) 22 89 Times punted 2 4 Punt average (yard) 31.5 33.7 Punt returns (yard) 111 11 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 1 3 Lost fumbled ball 1 2 Penalties 9 3 Yards penalized 61 15 Touchdowns rushing 3 0 Touchdowns passing 0 0 Touchdowns by interceptions 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 1 1 Total number of plays 54 52 Total time of possession 25:22 22:38
Massillon gambols pat Niles by 27-7
NILES ‑ Darren Longshore scored on a 62‑yard punt return and intercepted a pass that set up another touchdown Saturday in leading Massillon to a 27‑7 All‑American Conference football victory here Saturday night.
The win pushed the Tigers to 4‑0 overall and 2‑0 in the AAC. Niles’ record is just the opposite: site; 0‑4, 0‑2. The game was delayed more than 30 minutes because of lightning.
Longshore’s punt return broke open what had been a close game, giving the Tigers a 19‑7 edge midway through the final period.
On Niles next possession, Longshore picked off a Dean Clark pass and returned it 11 yards to the Niles 37. Eight plays later, quarterback Brent Offenbecher scored on a 3‑yard sneak.
Tony Napolet couldn’t find the right words in English to describe his team’s 34-7 loss to Massillon Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“Buona Serra momentum, buona serra ball game.” Napolet said as he threw up his hands in the visitor’s lockeroom following the game.
Translation: good night momentum, good night ball game.
The Niles McKinley head coach couldn’t have picked a better phrase to describe a game that was closer than the score indicated – or rather COULD have been closer than the score indicated.
Tiger head coach Mike Currence put it this way:
“Neither team beat the other up, it was just a matter of breaks. And we got most of them.”
It was also a matter of junior quarterback Brent Offenbecher riddling the Niles’ defense for 12 completions in 18 attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
The 12 completions is a new post 1958 record, and his four game total of 40 out of 67 for 654 yards already ranks him third on the all-time (post-1958).
Getting back to Napolet, he referred to Niles’ pass interception by Dan Giangardella that was run back for a touchdown, but nullified by a clipping penalty, as the turning point in the ball game.
“We had the momentum when we scored the second touchdown (on the interception.” Napolet said. “We had in the momentum and they have to take it away.”
The play occurred with 5:34 to go in the third quarter with Massillon holding a comfortable 21-7 lead. Offenbecher dropped back to pass and was rushed hard.
He tried to loft the ball over the Niles’ defenders but Giangardella grabbed the ball at the Tigers 48 and rambled un untouched to the end zone. A clipping penalty against the Red Dragons called the play back, however, and Niles took over on the Massillon 45.
Two plays latter, Massillon’s Tony Matie recovered a Red Dragon fumble at his own 48, killing the Niles’ threat.
“With a couple more breaks, it could have gone the other way.” Currence said. “A couple more bad breaks. I think the penalties were there, they’ll see them on the films,” he added.
While Niles committed the most costly penalty of the game, the Tigers were whistled for a lot of infractions themselves. Fourteen for 77 yards to he exact.
“I couldn’t believe we were those mistakes,” Currence said. “I thought it was going to be like the Gahanna game, when they came back. They throw well and the way we were making mistakes the they could have got two (touchdowns) real quick.”
Currence noted that the Tigers defensive line – led by tackle Jerry Shafrath and nose guard Carl Dorsey – put good pressure on Niles’ quarterback Joe Soda all night.
“We were gambling against them,” Currence said. “We set our defense against their strength and they did the same to us.”
Napolet admitted his Red Dragons had a lot of breakdowns.
“We didn’t block well up front. Their nose man, Dorsey, is a good football player,” he said.
“We have a fine quarterback, but how can he throw the ball when he is running for his life?”
“Massillon has a good foot ball team, they’re tough to defense.” Napolet said.
And Offenbecher is fine quarterback. But I still say the turning point in this football game was when that touchdown was called back. God bless Currence, God bless Massillon, God bless everybody, but that was the turning point.”
The Tigers scored the first three touchdowns of the game, and added a safety, all in the second quarter.
With 1:29 to go in the first quarter, Tiger linebacker Steve Dottavio caught a fumble by Niles’ halfback Mike Sylvester in mid-air at the Red Dragon eight yard line and returned it to the five.
On the first play of the second quarter, Greg Carpenter crashed over from a yard out on a fourth and one play for the score. Mark Westover’s extra point kick was wide and Massillon led 6-0.
Niles took the ball and drove to a first down at their own 39 and on second and eight John Letcavits intercepted a Joe Soda pass at the Massillon 47.
Mike Grove gained three yards and Richard Cleveland rushed for a first down on a 14-yard trap play up the middle to the Niles 35.
Offenbecher then threw a beautiful pass down the right sideline to Mark Pringle who caught the ball as he stepped over the goal line. Pringle had his man beaten by two or three steps. Westover split the uprights this time and Massillon was out front 13-0.
Following a Soda punt, Offenbecher took the Tigers to the Niles’ five, hitting four straight passes Grove fumbled, however, and Niles recovered at the three.
However, Marc Longshore intercepted a Soda pass at the Niles’ 38 and ran it back to the three yard line with :26 left before the band show.
Offenbecher found Pringle open in the right corner of the end zone on the next play. Offenbecher was tackled attempting to pass for the extra points and the Tigers had a 19-0 lead.
Niles got the ball at their own 24 with 15 seconds left following the kickoff. Soda dropped back to pass and was chased all the way to his own end zone where here a host of Tigers led by Dorsey and Frank Sweterlitsch tackled him for a safety with three seconds left in the half. The Tigers took a 21 0 lead into the lockeroom at halftime.
Following the second-half kickoff. Soda punted on fourth down but Marc Longshore fumbled at his own 23 and it was recovered by Niles’ Jack Durig.
Five plays (one a penalty) later Soda hit Shawn Boyle in the end zone for the Red Dragons’ only score of the night – that counted. Carmen Butto booted the point after and Niles trailed 21-7.
Then came Giangardella’s interception and the ensuing clip which was followed shortly by Matie’s fumble recovery.
The Tigers then marched 52 yards with Offenbecher going the last one on a keeper for the touchdown. The big play in the drive was an Offenbecher pass to Curtis Strawder for 38 yards and a first down at the Niles 14. It was a big third and 11 play, and was also important because it was Offenbecher’s first pass after the interception He rolled left and hesitated slightly, but his throw was on the money.
The Tigers attempted to kick the point after, but the snap from center was high and Westover tried to pass to Letcavits but was unsuccessful.
Shafrath sacked Soda for a 16-yard loss on a third down play and Marc Longshore returned Soda’s fourth-down punt from his own 48 to the Niles 39.
The Tigers then took 13 plays, including six penalties, to march in for the final score.
Offenbecher went the last two yards himself for the score and Westover’s kick made it 34-7.
Included in the drive was a 42-yard touchdown pass from Grove to Strawder that was called back because Grove stepped across the line of scrimmage before he released the ball. It was a good pass nonetheless.
The Tigers also benefited from a roughing the kicker penalty, a 15-yard run Grove and a 14-yard pass from Offenbecher to Grove for a first down at the Niles’ four.
The Tigers intercepted four passes; with Marc Longshore getting his third of the season and Letcavits, Bill Dodd and Rod Caldwell (who wore number 36) each getting their first.
Pringle caught four passes for 55 yards and a pair of TDs (giving him three for the year), Strawder caught two for. 47 (and had a third catch nullified when the Tigers opted to take a penalty on the play), Carpenter caught two for 25 and Grove hauled in a pair for 25 yards.
Cleveland led all rushers with 46 yards in 10 carries. Grove added 25 in five rushes and Carpenter had 25 in 10 carries.
The Tigers will entertain Cleveland Benedictine Friday night at 8 p.m. at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Tickets are now on sale at the WHS ticket office, all Demmer Hardware stores and Hal’s Sport Shop.
The win was the Tigers third in a now. They are now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the All-American Conference (it was the AAC opener for both teams). Niles is now 2-2 (0-1).
GRIDSTICK M N First downs rushing 9 4 First downs passing 6 2 First downs penalties 1 1 Total first downs 16 7 Yards gained rushing 156 77 Yards lost rushing 16 86 Net yards gained rushing 140 9 Net yards gained passing 166 72 Total yards gained 306 63 Passes attempted 19 24 Passes completed 12 8 Passes intercepted by 4 2 Yardage on passes intercepted 36 0 Times kicked off 6 3 Kickoff average (yards) 50.7 50.0 Kickoff returns (yards) 80 106 Times punted 3 5 Punt average (yards) 38.0 47.0 Punt returns (yards) 45 0 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 5 Lost fumbled ball 2 2 Penalties 14 6 Yards penalized 77 67 Touchdowns rushing 3 0 Touchdowns passing 2 1 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 56 52 Total time of possession 26:46 21:14
Niles 0 0 7 0 7 Massillon 0 21 6 7 34
M – Greg Carpenter 1 run (Rick fall); M – Mark Pringle 35 pass from Brent Offenbecher (Mark Westover kick); M – Pringle 3 pasa from Offenbecher (run fail); M – safety; N – Shawn Boyle 9 pass from Joe Soda (Carmen Butto kick); M – Offenbecher 1 run (pass fail); M – Offenbecher 2 run (Westover kick)
Offenbecher makes up for interception
By ROLAND A. DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“At first I thought ‘on, no,’ then I saw the flag and felt relief.”
That was how Tiger junior quarterback Brent Offenbecher said he felt after he saw his wobbly pass intercepted and run back for a touchdown by Niles’ Dan Giangardella in the third quarter.
FORTUNATELY for the Tigers, a clipping penalty brought the play back and Tony Matie recovered a Red Dragon fumble two plays later.
“It was just a bad pass,” Offenbecher said. “I got a lot of pressure and tried to throw it over their heads and it didn’t make it. We got a lucky break,” he added, referring to the clip.
“I knew when I went to the sidelines my dad (quarterback and receiver coach Bill Offenbecher) would yell at me.”
As it turned out, Brent more than made up for his mistake as he set a Tiger record of 12 completions in one game, hitting 12 of 18 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
That broke the mark of 11 completions he set two weeks ago against Gahanna Lincoln.
IT ALSO moves him into fourth place on the all-time completions list for a season, with six games left to play.
How does be take his record‑breaking success?
“My dad told me about it first, but I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. Then I read it in the paper,” Brent explained.
“Massillon has just never been known for its passing. Then coach Currence brought it in,” is how he passed off his records.
“I also have super receivers (Mark Pringle, Curtis Strawder, Bobby Grizzard, Mike Grove and Eric Clendening).”
Brent said he missed having Pringle to throw to in the first two games. “We missed him a lot, He’s a big, fast target – he’s just super.”
If the Tigers don’t win this week it could be all over in 1976.
That was the word head Coach Mike Currence had for the Tiger Touchdown Club at its weekly luncheon Monday at the Massillon Club.
AFTER Currence had finished it was announced that senior monster back and Co-Captain Anthony Grizzard had been selected by club members as their Hardnose of the Week. At the end of the season the player with the most votes becomes the Hardnose of the Year.
“If we lose Saturday night at Niles we’ll be out of things as far as the computer is concerned and maybe in the All-American Conference race,” Currence said. “If we lose we won’t have a chance of someone else knocking off Niles.
Currence asked for more noise from the fans at Niles to which President Gene Boerner replied, “We’ll make all the noise we can. You’ll hear Massillon fans yelling louder than the hometown fans.”
But club members agreed they didn’t need noise such as came from the student section last Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium when Brown was speaking at half time. One member suggested that a delay in the start of half time festivities had gotten the students restless.
“Nobody has run up the middle on Niles,” Currence said, but that doesn’t bother us because our offense is designed to attack the perimeters.”
CURRENCE is not sure what the problem is with the quarterbacks. He does know they are not getting the pass protection they should be getting. He asked members not to evaluate Bret Traylor’s performance to date for that reason, explaining Bret hasn’t been that far off in practice.
Members suggested various ways to cut down on fumbles such as having players tape thumbtacks to their fingers or wear rubber thumb grips or just toss the ball into the water bucket during practice. The first two suggestions are illegal and the third is out because you can’t get a true grip on a wet ball, according to Currence.
Massillon is 13-8 victor over Niles
By FRED GERLICH Repository Sports Writer
NILES – Massillon’s heralded “run and shoot” offense finally gunned down a noteworthy foe Saturday night, dropping the state’s sixth-ranked Niles McKinley Red Dragons 13-8 before 13,000 noisy onlookers at Riverside Stadium.
Tigers’ Coach Mike Currence will have an awful lot of “player of the week” awards to hand out Monday as Massillon came up with the big play both offensively and defensively.
Niles, trailing 13-0 going into the final period, forced three Tiger turnovers in the final 12 minutes to make it a ball game.
The loss was the first in four games for Niles and Massillon evened its record at 2-2 in winning its second in a row. The game was a mutual opener in the All-American Conference.
Red Dragons quarterback Curtis Rein threw a 28-yard pass to end Mike Pizzano to get his club on the board with 8:56 left in the game.
Rein then snaked around left end for the two-point conversion that put Niles back in the contest.
Pizzano intercepted a Bret Traylor aerial at the 5:50 mark and teammate Joe Connel ran 30 yards with 1:46 remaining to give the Red Dragons two good chances at pulling off a comeback win.
But the Tigers’ defense held on both occasions, stopped Niles at the 26 and 24 yard lines in the final half of the last period.
Paced by Richard Cleveland’s 122 yards in 17 carries, Massillon held a 257-54 rushing advantage.
Niles was led by Phil Chelsea who ran 8 times for 23 yards, despite being hampered by an ankle injury. He was injured when he slammed his right foot in a car door 40 minutes before the game.
The Tigers totaled 11 first downs to 10 for Niles and the Red Dragons had an edge in passing, completing 12 of 21 for 141 yards. Massillon hit on one of three for 13 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers were forced to punt on their first possession of the second stanza.
Niles Ken Wiencek fielded the ball at the Red Dragons’ 10-yard line, was smacked to the ground by a Tiger tackler and coughed up the ball.
Massillon’s John Letcavits scooped up the ball at the four and sailed into the end zone with 7:11 left in the half. Mike Hardwick’s conversion made it 7-0. Niles punted after the ensuing kickoff and the Tigers took over on their own 16.
Then the Massillon offense moved down the field like a runaway steamroller, 84 yards in 10 plays, with Bret Traylor completing his only pass of the night, a 13-yard TD toss to Rick Chovan just 1:05 before the band show.
Currence called the win “a great team victory”. “No other team in the state could have come into Niles and beaten the type of team Coach Tony Napolet has here.
“But the community of Massillon backed us all the way,” Currence said.
The Tiger fans unleashed a roar upon the Tigers’ initial appearance on the field and didn’t let up until the final whistle, as there were several thousand from Massillon who made the pilgrimage here.
On the Tigers performance, Currence said, “We just made less mistakes tonight. We moved the ball against everyone we played but mistakes have been hurting us until tonight. If Bret (Traylor) ever comes around to being the type of quarterback we think he is capable of being, we’ll win some more ball games,” Currence said.
Tiger – Niles lineups
Tigers Offense ENDS – Sam George (5-11, 165, Sr.); Rick Chovan (5-11, 171, Sr.). TACKLES – Tim Tournay (6-2, 270, Sr.); Tim Daniels (6-7, 230, Jr). GUARDS – John Hauser (5-11, 211, Sr.); Mark Lauber (6-1, 212, Sr.). CENTER – Mike Ramsey (5-8, 180, Sr.). QUARTERBACK – Bret Traylor (5-10, 159, Sr.). HALFBACKS – Jay Harper (5-5, 160, Sr.). Greg Carpenter (6-1, 188, Jr.). FULLBACK — Rich Cleveland (6-1, 180, Soph.). Defense ENDS – Frank Sweterlitsch (6-1, 180, Jr.); Dave Engler (5-9, 180, Jr.). TACKLES – Randy Laase (6-5, 211, Sr.); Jesse Toles (6-0, 190, Sr.). MIDDLE GUARD – Carl Dorsey (5-9, 185, Jr.). LINEBACKERS – Kurt Walterhouse (6-0, 170, Jr.); Gary Border (6-0, 203, Sr.). SECONDARY – Anthony Grizzard (5-9, 168, Sr.); Randy Lash (5-8, 165, Sr.); Bill Henderson (5-9, 160, Sr.); Van Jones (5-11, 155, Sr.).
NILES Offense ENDS – Mile Woodford (5-9, 160, Sr.); Duane Thomas (6-0, 175, Sr.). TACKLES – John Slwinski (5-11, 185, Sr.); Mark Joseph (5-11, 197, Sr.). GUARDS – Tom Golder (5-9, 170, Sr.); John Blakely (5-9, 180, Sr.). CENTER – Brian Williams (5-10, 185, Sr.). QUARTERBACK – Curtis Rein (6-0, 180, Sr.). HALFBACKS – Phil Chelsea (5-9, 158, Sr.); John Virostko (6-0, 170, Sr.). FULLBACK – Geoff Tabor (6-1, 205, Sr.). Defense ENDS – Joe Bezilla (5-10, 175, Sr.); Ray Rashilla (5-10, 180, Sr.). TACKLES – Joe Connell (6-0, 250, Jr.); Bob Tenney (6-0, 225, Sr.). MIDDLE GUARD – Marty Chance (5-8, 185, Sr.). LINEBACKERS – Tabor; Sam Giangardella (6-1, 210, Sr.). SECONDARY – Ken Masciangelo (5-9, 165, Jr.); Ken Weincek (5-9, 160, Sr.); Mike Pizzano (5-8, 160, Jr.); Virostko.
OFFICIALS All-American Conference rules prohibit releasing Officials’ names to the public before game time.
Currence warns: beware Bennies
By CHUCK HESS, JR. Independent Sports Editor
There’s one trouble with upset victories such as the Tigers’ effort at Niles last Saturday night. If a team savors the win too much, it might not taste victory the next time out.
“Cleveland Benedictine is tough,” said Tiger Skipper Mike Currence. “They won 48-0 over Painseville Harvey Friday. We must work hard to prepare for the Bennies. We made too many offensive mistakes at Niles. We’re lucky our defense did the job or we would have been beaten.
AUGIE BOSSU’S team (3-1) will face the 2-2 Tigers, who won their second consecutive game last Saturday night, at 8 p.m. Friday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Saturday’s 13-8 All-American Conference victory over Niles McKinley put Washington High into a tie with Steubenville and Alliance for first place. Niles dropped into a deadlock with Canton McKinley and Warren for fourth.
After the Orange and Black had scored twice in the second quarter to stun the Niles fans and elate the Tiger faithful in the sellout house of 13,000 at Riverside Stadium, the “Tiger Claw Defense” continued t6o throw a mighty roadblock – with one exception – in the way of the Red Dragons. Niles played some mighty fine iron curtain ball themselves, led by linebackers Sam Giangardella and Geoff Tabor and minus four defensive starters, injured in the first half.
The Tigers’ great defensive effort started after Tabor had picked up a John Traylor fumble in the first quarter. Linebacker Kurt Walterhouse threw quarterback Curtis Rein for an eight-yard loss to the Massillon 26.
Several Obiemen halted Rein at the Tigers’ 12-yard line on fourth down in the second stanza after Niles had taken control on the Tigers’ 35 when Mark Westover’s punt from the end zone was partially blocked.
Co-Captain and monster back Anthony Grizzard intercepted a pass at the Massillon 45 to halt the Red Dragon’s furthest advance in the third quarter.
Grizzard, used for the first time on runback teams, carried the pigskin 50 yards after a punt to the Niles 24 in the goodbye canto only to have Traylor and Rich Cleveland misfire on a handoff at the 18. Giangardella recovered at the 24 to set up Niles’ only touchdown drive.
TAILBACK PHIL Chelsea, after battling the flu during the week, tossed a pass to halfback Mike Pizzano for 11 yards, dashed for 13 and then the Dragons got the benefit of a disputed 15-yard late-hit penalty, for a first down on the Tigers’ 38. Two plays later Pizzano took Rein’s pass at the one and stepped in for the score with 8:56 left.
Rein ran the end for the conversion and the fans had visions of another Niles comeback win such as occurred in 1966, 1974 and almost occurred in 1975.
Pizzano intercepted a Traylor pass on the Massillon 41 in the fourth quarter, ran to the 30, but the Dragons were guilty of clipping. Eight plays later end Dwayne Thomas was hauled down short of a first down on the Massillon 26.
On second down from the 34, assistant Coach Nick Vrotsos called a change in blocking assignments which enabled fullback Rich Cleveland, who carried for 100 yards plus for a third straight game, to roll for 56 yards to the Niles 10. But Traylor, while trying to consume time with a keeper run, fumbled. Tackle Joe Connell recovered and rambled to the 40 where Traylor knocked him out of bounds.
The Dragons took to the air, getting to the Massillon 31, thanks to a 15-yard Rein to end Bill Ifft pass. But middle guard Carl Dorsey sacked Rein and linebacker Kurt Walterhouse busted up two passes to end things.
THE MASSILLON offense out-performed the Niles version, 256 net yards to 54. Cleveland carried 18 times, netting 118 yards. Traylor lugged the swinehide 17 times, netting 61 yards, picking up important yardage several times.
He threw only three passes, but one was a 12-yarder to end Rick Chovan, who just eluded his defender in the end zone in the second quarter. Mike Hardwick was wide left on his conversion kick with the clock showing 1:05 left.
Jay Harper, Cleveland and Traylor had set the score up with 14, 26 and 12-yard runs.
The Tigers’ first touchdown came with 7:11 left in the same period. Ken Wiencek tried to field a Westover punt at the 12, but was hit an awful whack by Van Jones, the ball popped loose; John Letcavits scooped it up at the three and scored. Hardwick kicked the conversion.
Wiencek was lost for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
IN HIS post game comments Currence was happy with the Tigers’ perimeter attack but unhappy that they couldn’t run up the middle as they did before, that the fumbles continued and unhappy that the pressure on the opposing quarterback wasn’t greater.
“They were tough up the middle,” Currence said. “We kept trying and trying and finally Cleveland broke the big one up the middle. We’ve got to get some sticky glue for our fingers and we must not drop so many people back on passes.”
“Our defense had the composure our offense didn’t have. When its fourth and one you have to have it and if you don’t have it, you don’t have a great ball club.”
Currence was overwhelmed by the fan backing.
“I’ve never gone to an away game and had the kind of support we had,” said Currence. “The booster club outdid itself. I expect the same treatment every game.”
GRIDSTICK M N First downs rushing 11 4 First downs passing 1 7 First downs penalties 1 0 Total first downs 13 11 Yards gained rushing 285 82 Yards lost rushing 29 28 Net yards gained rushing 256 54 Net yards gained passing 12 98 Total yards gained 268 152 Passes completed 1-3 14-23 Passes intercepted by 1 1 Yards on passes Intercepted 0 4 Kickoff 3-42 2-58 Kickoff returns 42 35 Punts 4-32 4-44 Punt returns 50 0 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 3-3 5-2 Yards penalized 4-50 3-45 Touchdowns passing 1 1 Misc. touchdowns 1 0 Total number of plays 55 57 Total time of possession 26:41 21:19
Tiger field goal beats Red Dragons Defense, fumble key to AAC win
BY DENNY HIGHBEN
Niles McKinley had the ball on Massillon’s six-yard line. It was fourth down and three yards to go for a first down, with 2:04 left in the game.
Massillon was ahead 3-0, a score that would have been unbelievable except for the somewhat bizarre results of the first three games of the Tigers’ 1975 season.
THERE WAS certainly noise in Tiger stadium at that moment, though it seemed as quiet as a museum at midnight.
Niles called time out to decide what to do. The Dragons started to lineup for the play and the Tigers called time out.
The young athletes finally lined up to attack and defend. The ball was snapped, but not on cue. When the pile in the center of the line cleared away, Massillon’s Dan Nagle had the ball.
And the Tigers won their first All-American Conference game of the season 3-0. The winning margin was a 27-yard field goal by Keith Harmon in the second quarter.
“What can a guy say?” Niles Coach Tony Napolet asked rhetorically after the game.
IT’S TOUGH to get beat 3-0, real tough. We’re proud of our kids…A break here and a break there and the outcome would have been different,” he said.
The fumble, which seemed an anticlimactic way for the Niles’ drive to be halted, was a break for the Tigers and a welcome one. After the loss to Upper Arlington last Friday night, many of the comments in the coaches’ locker room centered around the idea that if the Tigers’ didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any. The fumble may have saved the game, but the Tiger coaches’ feel Niles would have been stopped short of the first down.
“We didn’t hit like last week,” (against Arlington), Tiger Coach Chuck Shuff said, “But when it counted we did the job.”
Why the fumble? Napolet said he was told by the Niles center that a Massillon defensive lineman yelled “HIT” and the center snapped the ball – just a bit too early. “HIT” was one of Niles’ signals and on that particular play it signaled the snap.
The play, Napolet said, would have been an option with quarterback Don Burlingham either keeping or pitching back to Phil Chelsea, a super tailback who gained 118 yards in the contest.
THE TIGER coaching staff was told the fumble resulted when a Tiger yelled “motion” to alert his defensive comrades that Niles’ fullback Chuck Gillespie had started to move and the center snapped the ball.
Harmon’s 27-yard field goal was kicked with 11:55 left in the second period. The Tigers started the drive on their own 23. One of the biggest plays of the drive came on a third-and-10 at Massillon’s 47, when quarterback Todd Keller dropped back to pass.
Several Niles defenders slipped through the pass protection and as Keller scrambled for his life he threw a perfect strike to Keith Harmon who ran to the Niles’ 27 before being tackled.
Bill Harmon, who gained 79 yards in the game, ran the ball five times, getting just inside the five-yard line and putting the Tigers in a fourth-and-two situation as the first quarter ended.
An illegal procedure penalty put Massillon back on the nine and Keith Harmon came in and kicked the field goal, a perfect shot through the center of the uprights.
RED DRAGON Tailback Phil Russo ran the ensuing kickoff out to the Niles 42 and Chelsea ran six consecutive times, getting all the way to the Tiger 13. The defense stiffened and passes on third and fourth down for Niles fell incomplete.
With both defensive units giving outstanding performances, only two scoring threats were managed from that point on – the Dragon drive that went from the Niles 36-yard line and ended with the fumble and one by the Tigers in the third period.
The Tigers third-quarter drive was aided by a roughing-the-kicker penalty, which put the ball on Niles’ 45 and a 33-yard pass from Keller to Jay Harper on the next play. The drive was halted after a holding penalty was called on the Tigers and a 37-yard field goal attempt by Keith Harmon was a few feet wide.
Shuff was pleased with the performance of his team, especially in the improvement of the passing attack and the defensive secondary. Keller completed three of eight passes, all for long yardage and a couple of his aerials slipped away from the receivers. Keller was intercepted once.
The defensive secondary, which has been the subject of criticism in the past, played an outstanding game by shutting down the usually potent passing attack of Niles and making some bruising tackles.
THE DRAGONS completed three of 10 attempts and Don Stewart picked off a Burlingham pass in the first period.
Niles is now 3-1 and Massillon, after two weeks of frustration, is 2-1-1.
Looking to next week’s game against Cleveland Benedictine, Shuff said, “There’s no let-up. They were young last year, but have matured and are a very good football team.”
The Bennies were 2-1 before this weekend’s action.
Massillon 0 3 0 0 3 Niles 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON – 3 Ends – Arnrer, Conley, Chovan, Matie, Laase. Tackles – Mark Lauber, Genet, Drobney, Easter, Mike Lauber, Tourney. Guards – Brand, Schumacher, Chrsitoff, King, Hauser. Centers – Nagle, Mitcheal. Quarterback – Keller. Running backs – Stewart, Warthen, Henderson, Jones, Harper, B. Harmon, A. Grizzard, Ellis, Parson, K. Harmon, Dorsey, T. Grizzard.
“ This could be the start of something big” was the way a popular record of several years back put it.
After three weeks of frustration the Tigers shifted their ground game into high gear Friday night at Tiger Stadium and trounced Niles McKinley’s Red Dragons 23-7 before 15,118 the season’s largest turnout—in one of the fastest games ever played here.
WITH SENIOR tailback Charles Danzy and sophomore full back Bill Harmon both back after nursing ankle injuries, the fans saw on of the best inside- outside show: seen in quite awhile at the “House of Champions.” The Washington High School team gained 222 yards to Niles’ 88 and ate up 32.18 to the Dragon’ 15:42 on the clock.
Danzy, dancing the perimeter, gained 126 yards—losing none in 21 attempts—and ran for two conversions. On his second PAT he dove at junior safety Dirk Abernathy and caromed off him into the end zone.
Harmon, pulverizing the middle, netting 55 yards—losing only three in 16 carries—keeping the Niles defense honest. The Danzy-Harmon panzer attack accounted for 181 yards of the Tigers’ beautiful acreage.
Credit senior center Joe Studer, senior right guard Mark Fenton and senior right tackle Bruce Chapman with opening the holes.
Senior tailback Terry Henderson spelled Danzy beautifully when he was given some relief from his tailback-linebacker duties. Henderson also threw a 17-yard halfback pass to senior wingback Charlie Swann to complete the scoring after junior quarterback Greg Wood had sneaked in from the one for 8-7 and 16-7 leads in the second and fourth quarters respectively.
Henderson’s halfback pass was the same play on which the Tigers had scored TD on the Dragons last year, according to head coach Bob Commings. He has used this play twice in two years
THE TIGERS might have had three other scores ad not broken plays stopped them at the Niles 27-yard line in the second and third quarters and the clock run out with the ball on the Dragons’ 22 after free safety Swann’s 19-yard interception runback in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers might not have run out of plays on the second quarter drive had not Mark Pifer’s 62-yard punt return to the Niles 21 been ruined by a clipping penalty which set the Orange and Black back to the Dragons’ 49.
The Massillon faithful got a jolt in the first quarter when Abernathy recovered Danzy’s fumble on the Tigers’ 43. Nine plays later senior Jeff Monos boot legged to the left on a counter keeper and scored from the five with 3:51 left. Senior Chris Mackey soccer kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
A scare came when linebacker Clark West picked off Wood’s pass to Jeff Huffman at the Niles 45 and ran 43 yards to the Tiger’s 12. Two plays later Monos tried to pass from the 18, got hit by end Vince DiLoreto, fumbled and Bill Csonka recovered on the Niles’33.
“That was the turning point of the game,” a bitterly disappointed Niles coach Tony Napolet said. “We were in a jet out pass maneuver. I called the wrong play. We were in field goal position and I have every faith Mackey could have kicked one and put us ahead 10-8.”
DILORETO PUT the Orange and Black in position for their final TD when he jarred Mackey on an option pitch from the Niles 24 and DiLoreto and strong safety Denny Gutshall leaped on the ball. Three plays later Henderson passed to Swann, followed by Senior Alan Bilks, conversion kick with 32 seconds left.
“We got close to playing a complete football game,” Commings said. “We’ve gone two consecutive weeks with great emotional effort. I think maybe we became a football team tonight.”
The Tigers’ regular season winning streak is at 16 with four this season. Niles is 2-2 after the All- American Conference opener which was also the defending champions Massillonians’ debut.
A group of footballers will be coming out of the Buckeye state’s southland Friday night bent on becoming “Bengal Lancers” – not the fabled type from India – at Tiger stadium.
They’ll be after the hides of the Massillon Tigers – seeking to do what the home standing Niles McKinley’s Red Dragons couldn’t do before 14,311 at Riverside stadium last Saturday night. Cincinnati LaSalle high’s brand of Lancers has one thought in mind – knock the Tigers off of “Playoff Coulevard.” * * * LIKE THE Tigers, undefeated in four games, the Lancers have some impressive credentials – such as a victory over Cincinnati St. Xavier which held Massillon’s recent foe, Upper Arlington, to a scoreless deadlock.
“I’ve been saying right along LaSalle’s tough,” Tiger Coach Bob Commings said, “but people won’t believe it. They’re huge! We’re going to run right into a hornets’ nest!”
As if this isn’t enough pressure looking the Tigers in their collective faces, Steubenville’s Big Red – tied with Massillon and Canton McKinley for the lead in the All-American conference which opened play last weekend – are slated to arrive Friday, Oct. 13.
Right now Commings wants that “Obie Spirit,” as it’s known in 1972 and which brought the Orange and Black a hard-fought victory last Saturday – this time 16-6 – to continue. By handing Niles its first defeat in four games and putting a fourth straight win in the Massillon column, the Tigers gave themselves a giant push ahead in the race for the four Class AAA playoff spots in the state’s first ever post season presentation.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Commings said. “They beat a good team for the second straight week. We came out in the second half and did what we were supposed to do. We didn’t lose our cool in the face of a team which had a great running attack in Lou and Clark West.”
The only thing which irked the Tiger skipper was that his charges failed to take advantage of two scoring opportunities. * * * “OUR BEST football is in front of us,” he said. “One of these days we’re going to get out there and do it right.”
What the Tigers continued to do right was kill the enemy with its mistakes – a Tiger trademark – picking off three of four Niles fumbles and intercepting two passes. One of the fumble recoveries led to the Orange and Black’s winning touchdown.
“Our kids did a good job until that last fumble,” Niles Coach Bob Shaw said. “We felt we had a good running team and if we could keep the ball and keep Massillon from scoring we’d be all right. If you don’t turn the ball over in your own territory, you’re okay. I really didn’t think Massillon could come back and do it again.”
Shaw said the Tigers have good size and speed and a runner with loads of ability in left half Tom Hannon who got a lot of blocking help and running relief from fullback Alex Wood, who picked up some mighty important yardage working up the middle.
Niles’ Joe Cicero, a junior quarterback forced into action by the injuries of Rick Tomlin and Jeff Monos, handled the direction of the triple option well under Tiger pressure. Shaw also lauded fullback-linebacker Bob Mannella and defensive end Tom Williams for their play. * * * FOR THE fourth straight week Hannon the AAC’s leading ground gainer, picked up over 100 yards – this time a net 112, losing only five in 23 carries for a 4.9 average. He scored a touchdown, a conversion and passed to right half Terry Edwards for another.
The Tigers tallied in the first quarter for the first time this year and in the first half for only the third time – after a Niles punt was grounded on the Tigers’ 38. Three plays later Hannon gave on snap of his groovy hips and shot through a gigantic hole on the left side for WHS’ longest TD run of the season with 3:54 left.
Commings termed it a “power off tackle blocked well” by tackle Mike Green and guard Larry Mayles, one of Hannon’s tri-captain mates. Hannon skirted left end easily for the conversion thanks to Kevin Westover’s great block.
On the second play after the kickoff, Cicero pitched to Lou West going left and he threw a 39-yarder which the Tigers had covered perfectly by cornerback Jimmy Jackson and free safety Charles Swann, but split end Chris Mackey leaped up a little higher between them and hauled in the aerial with an amazing catch for a first down on the Massillon 31.
With the Wests thundering off both tackles on seven of the next nine plays and the Tigers penalized for illegal procedure, the Dragons scored with 11:55 left in the second stanza as Cicero slanted off tackle. Strong safety Don Muhlbach and end Dari Edwards brought down Macey on an end run to halt the conversion try. * * * MOVIES SHOWED Jackson’s cobra-like swiftness got the Tigers a Clark West fumble ball on the Dragons’ 16 in the third quarter after it was knocked loose by Swann. Two plays later Commings decided to join Shaw in the halfback pass route which both designed especially for this game and had Westover pitch to Hannon going right on third and nine. Terry Edwards made a diving, somersaulting catch of “Tombo’s” pass into the end zone with 11:54 left in the last quarter.
Westover rolled right and hit Edwards again for two more points. Interceptions by Tim Gutshall and Muhlbach halted the last two Niles’ drives.
Middle guard Tom Balizet recovered a Clark West fumble at the Niles 46 in the second period and amazing end Brian Bash grabbed another at the Niles 49 in the third stanza.
A second period jaunt was halted by fourth and three at the Tigers’ 33 and Niles’ Yugoslavian soccer style kicker Greg Cerneka tried a 51-yard field goal which wasn’t short by much.
The Tigers lost the ball on downs at the Dragons’ 35 and safety Dell Gray intercepted at his 15 in the second quarter. Manella rose up to stop Hannon on fourth and two on the 10 in the third quarter and a fumble, a delay penalty and a procedure penalty killed a drive at the Dragons’ six in the fourth period.
Both coaches called it pretty good when looking ahead earlier this week, but Bob Commings must wish he hadn’t been so correct.
He hadn’t predicted his Massillon Tigers would be edged 7-6 by the Niles McKinley Red Dragons before 17,458 – the season’s largest crowd – Friday night at Tiger stadium, but he figured their strategy well.
NILES’ BOB Shaw loves to burn you when you least expect it.
And Shaw must have seen something in his tea leaves for he had said 1971 was his turn. This was his second victory in three seasons over Commings – two here – and his third in four tries against the Orange and Black, the first coming in 1966.
On both occasions he stopped Tiger streaks – 32 games without a loss the first time and 13 this trip. His latest effort put Niles in second place behind Warren Harding in the All-American conference. The Black Panthers are 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall while the Dragons are 1-0 and 4-0.
Massillon, the 1970 league winner, dropped to 3-1 and an 0-1 AAC record. The loss will also undoubtedly drop the defending Ohio Class AAA champion Tigers out of first place in both wire service polls.
“We never gain when we beat Massillon,” Shaw, the boss of the state’s 11-ranked team, said, “but other teams do.”
Friday’s game was a great tribute to both defenses although Massillon outdistanced Niles 14-7 in first downs and 224-158 in total yards gained, posting most of those figures in the second half. Both lines hit hard and the secondarys covered the passing lanes adequately.
The Tigers completed only one of 11 passes and Niles only two of 13 for six and 19 yards respectively. This is not conducive to adequately complementing your ground game.
“They just played good defense,” Commings said. “They made the good plays – we didn’t.” When you give up only one, TD, you’re not playing bad football. Once we settled down, we played good football. They did what they do well – spring one once in awhile. * * * HE ADDED, “Their linebackers and defensive backs coming up were the toughest part of their defense.”
“Both defenses were good,” Shaw agreed. “When you get a 7-6 game, it will always be this way. This was the good football we used to play at Niles. For three years back we hadn’t stopped them. I think we forced them to pass when they couldn’t run. This helped our secondary play good defense. They cut us off with their angle defense. Their backside tackle hurt us.”
This would be Glen Weirich or Steve Studer, depending upon which way the defenders were headed.
Niles quarterback Tom Andres, Jr., burned the Tigers with his ball-handling and speed at times, although linebacker Mike McGuire bombed him several times.
“He’s the fastest man on the team so we wanted him to run the football,” Shaw said. “His good action faking to a back going one way with another coming back, helped. Andres has deceptive speed at 6-3.”
The Dragons got off more long runs, although Tigers Willie Spencer, Larry McLenndon, Don Perry and Art Thompson gave it their best. The Orange and Black offense did it in short chops and forced the Niles’ defense out of its Notre Dame 4-4 and into an Oklahoma 5-4 early in the contest.
After seeing a team score on them for the first time this season, the Tigers took the kickoff and marched 29 yards in 10 plays in the first quarter but were forced to punt from the Niles’ 38.
They moved 68 yards in nine plays in the second stanza to get their touchdown with tailback Spencer starting the drive with a 24-yarder around right end to the Niles 43. He scored for the ninth time in four games – over right tackle on fourth and four form 26 yards away with 4:52 left. A good stiff farm helped. * * * QUARTERBACK SCOTT Dingler tried to run the go-ahead conversion, but halfback Pat Burke and ends Mike Weida and Ted Williams hauled him down just short of the mark.
The Tigers had one more good drive – in the fourth quarter. It was a 10-play affair starting after a 30-yard pun t to the Massillon 39. The drive ended on the Niles 25 with four minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
Fullback Don Perry was short of the first down, but the Tigers were called for illegal procedure and offside and the Dragons were detected on a personal foul, nullifying the run and giving Spencer a chance around left end. However, Williams nailed him.
Niles got all of the margin it needed when halfback Bob Sygar intercepted Dingler’s toss on the game’s first play and raced 26 yards to the Tigers’ 29. In six plays, the Dragons had scored as Andres helped with a 13-yard, third-and-eight jaunt for a first down on the 13.
Fullback Tim Monos scored on third-and-four from the seven when Andres threw to the right and Monos grabbed the pigskin on the two. With 8:34 left, Tom Masciangelo kicked the winning point.
Sygar was a thorn in the side for the Tigers. He bolted 71 yards around the left side on a pitchout just after Massillon’s first quarter kickoff and was brought down by halfback Tom Jackson on the nine. Hannon threw fullback Bob Manella to the 20 and McGuire intercepted an Andres’ aerial on the 15 to halt the drive.
Sygar ran 43 yards to the Massillon 25 on the second quarter, but a clipping penalty called this one off. In the same period, he ran a punt back 28 yards to his 48, but another clip interfered.
He ran 68 yards to the Tigers’ 11 in the third canto, but a clip cancelled this scamper too. Sygar also hopped on Hannon’s fumble in the third episode to give the Dragons the ball on the 50.
NILES – 7 Ends – Kaszonyi, Rose, Weida, Harris, Ted Williams, Tom Williams, Allen, Mackey, C. West. Tackles – Biddlestone, Shehy, Thou, Schweitzer, Tackett, Law. Guards – Baker, Skocik, Pekarovic, Masciangelo, Peterson. Center – Wilson. Quarterbacks – Andres, Joseph. Halfbacks – Sygar, Miranda, Wolfe, Kuhn, L. West, P. Burke, M. Burke. Fullbacks – Monos, Manella.
SCORING SUMMARY N – Monos 7 pass from Andres (Masciangelo kick); M – Spencer 26 run (run failed).
THE GRIDSTICK M N First downs, rushing 14 4 First downs, passing 0 2 First downs, penalties 0 1 Total first downs 14 7 Yards gained rushing 226 170 Yards lost rushing 8 31 Net yards gained rushing 218 139 Net yards gained passing 6 19 Total yards gained 224 158 Passes completed 1-11 2-10 Passes intercepted by 1 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 3 13 Kickoff average (yards) 2-47.0 2-35.0 Kickoff returns (yards) 29 40 Punt average (yds.) 5-33.8 7-27.4 Punt returns (yds.) 0 7 Fumbles (lost) 4(1) 2(0) Yards penalized 2-20 5-55 Touchdowns rushing 1 0 Touchdowns passing 0 1 Total number of plays 64 48
OFFICIALS Referee – Milo Lukity. Umpire – Jack Werkowitz. Head Linesman – Frank Wahl. Field Judge – Del Groezinger. Back Judge – Ron Giacomo.