Tag: <span>Raekwon Venson</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Massillon 21, Cleveland St. Ignatius 14

Fourth-quarter rally carries Massillon football past St. Ignatius


Chris Easterling

MASSILLON A little more than fifteen seconds. That, in real time, is barely more than a couple of blinks of the eyes.

On Friday night, it was enough time for Massillon to turn a potential loss into a 21-14 win over St. Ignatius.

“Those guys play hard,” Tigers coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 4-1 heading into next Saturday’s home showdown with rival McKinley. “I’ve said that from the start. Led by the senior class. These guys just play hard, man. You just let everything play out.”

With 7:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, Raekwon Venson’s 1-yard touchdown, plus Jayden Ballard’s two-point conversion pass to Zach Catrone, allowed the Tigers to tie the game at 14-14. That, however, was just the start.

On the first play of the Wildcats’ next possession, Jaidan Wise fell on a lateral at the Ignatius 15. The next play, Venson tore up the middle of the defense into the end zone for a TD, giving Massillon the 21-14 lead with 7:02 remaining.

“I mean, I think that’s effort,” Moore said of Wise’s recovery. “Why wouldn’t you? I think that’s the right question. It’s not, ‘Why did he?,’ it’s ‘Why wouldn’t he?’ I think that’s effort.”

Venson finished with 96 rushing yards on 29 carries.

The two fourth-quarter TDs contrasted with what the Tigers had been able to generate through the first three quarters. Despite a 209-147 yardage advantage over the initial 36 minutes, their only two scores were a pair of Alex Bauer field goals which gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead with 26 seconds into the second quarter.

St. Ignatius, meanwhile, was able to make sure its two scores were touchdowns. The first came on a 20-yard Marty Lenehan TD run with 3:45 remaining in the first half.

The second TD, even bigger for both, was Emmett Hanna’s 80-yard interception return with 2:56 remaining in the third. That gave the Wildcats a 14-6 lead.

“The defense did a nice job,” said St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle, whose team fell to 1-2. “They were out there really too long. Let’s face it, that’s what we started seeing.”

As good as the Wildcats’ defense was, the Massillon defense was just as good. If not better. The Tigers limited St. Ignatius to 152 net yards.

Wise’s recovery was one of three turnovers the Tigers were able to get their hands on. The senior linebacker also came up with an interception in the first quarter which helped to set up Bauer’s second field goal.

Austin Brawley also made an interception in the fourth quarter to set Massillon up at the St. Ignatius 26 with just under six minutes remaining.

“Discipline and effort,” Moore said of his defense.

The Tigers, though, would give the Wildcats a bit more life when they reciprocated with their own interception on a fourth-and-14 play that Chris Snyder returned to midfield with just over four minutes left. Massillon’s defense did not let St. Ignatius get any closer than the Tiger 41 before taking over on downs.

Venson and Jumacius Portis, who added 58 yards on 12 carries, then ran out the rest of the clock.

Reach Chris at chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Massillon 28, Cleveland Benedictine 10

Massillon football plays takeaway to take down Benedictine


MASSILLON The last two games, Massillon’s defense has been like a brick wall for opposing offenses to try and penetrate. On Friday night against Benedictine, that defense had a little more give to it than previously, but it was still far from giving.

And when the Tigers needed a big play, that defense was more than happy to provide it as well. That was a big reason why Massillon was able to win its third consecutive game, a 28-10 victory over the Bengals at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 2-1 heading into next Friday’s game with St. Ignatius. “They really answered the bell from last week. … Defense played really well again. Ran to the football, physicality, tackling and picked up some turnovers, which were huge.”

Benedictine was able to post 285 yards of offense on 68 plays, both of which were season highs for Tiger opponents by a wide margin. The Bengals also scored the first points – a first-quarter Ivan Shuran 42-yard field goal – and first touchdown – a fourth-quarter 26-yard Ronnie Schultz-to-Christopher Gales pass to make it 14-10 – that Massillon had allowed since Week 1 against St. Edward.

However, none of that ultimately hurt the Tigers in the final tally. That’s because their defense was able to get the big takeaway when it needed to get one.

“They had 285 yards, which is more than we want,” said Moore, whose offense had 266 total yards on 49 plays. “It’s a huge number, but they ran 68 plays. That’s the biggest thing. Our offense has to protect our defense more. We have to retain possession more, keep the chains moving more and that will help our defense out.”

On three different occasions in the second half, the Tigers were able to come up with interceptions to keep Benedictine from making things more difficult for them. Not only that, but Massillon converted all three of them into touchdowns to turn a 7-3 halftime lead into the final margin.

Two of those interceptions were courtesy of Martavien Johnson on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions. The biggest, though, may have come courtesy of Isaiah Clark late in the third quarter.

Benedictine, which only trailed by four, had marched on 17 plays to the Tiger 10, where it faced third-and-goal. Clark jumped the route at the 5, picking off the pass and bringing it back to Bengal 43.

“Just a great break on the ball,” Moore said. “Played very aggressive.”

Three plays later, Raekwon Venson runs it in from the 3 to give Massillon a 14-3 lead with 1:41 left in the third. It was the second of what was three touchdown runs for Venson, who finished with 108 yards on 23 carries.

Johnson would set up Venson’s third scoring run with his first pick of the night, which was brought back 38 yards into Benedictine territory. Five plays later, aided by a Bengal personal foul, Massillon made it 21-10 on a 5-yard scoring run with 6:54 left.

“I just thought he came out and ran hard,” Moore said of Venson. “That’s all we’re asking him to do. He answered the bell. He came out and ran hard.”

Benedictine’s third pick in four possessions came when Johnson pulled one in on Massillon’s side of the 50. The Tigers would turn that into a game-sealing Jumacius Portis 6-yard run with 29 seconds remaining.

Reach Chris at chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Massillon 24, Warren Harding 0

Defense swarms as Massillon shuts down Warren Harding


MASSILLON It’s awfully easy to win a football game when the other team can’t cross midfield. It’s even easier when they don’t score a point.

It may not have been the easiest of Massillon’s 901 all-time wins on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. That said, the 24-0 victory over Warren Harding was made a lot easier by the performance of the Tiger defense throughout.

“We’re used to our offense really setting the tone in every ballgame that we play in,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose 2-1 team will meet 2-1 Benedictine next Friday night. “It just hasn’t been like that necessarily this year. The defense has. The defense has been outstanding all three weeks that we’ve played. Those guys are playing their tails off.”

The Tigers head into next week’s cat fight on a two-game win streak that has been highlights by a pair of glistening defensive efforts. Massillon has posted back-to-back shutout wins for the first time since doing it to Youngstown Woodrow Wilson and, interestingly enough, Warren, in Weeks 7 and 8 of the 2005 season.

For the second week in a row, the Tigers limited a team to less than 50 net yards of offense, including negative rushing yards. Columbus Bishop Sycamore managed just 46 net yards on 43 plays, including minus-26 rushing yards on 23 attempts, in last week’s 35-0 Massillon win.

Warren was only able to muster 49 net yards on 43 plays on Friday night. The Raiders’ 25 rushing yards netted them minus-5 yards.

Their record-setting senior quarterback, Elijah Taylor, was held to just 54 passing yards while completing 8-of-20 passes with one interception. Despite holding all of Warren’s career passing records, he will depart having not even topped 100 passing yards in three of his four games all-time against Massillon.

“It’s everybody doing their job on every play,” Moore said. “When guys do their job, that gives us a chance. When you have guys who can win one-on-one battles, out of 11 guys on the field, if you have nine, 10, 11 guys winning their one-on-one battle, you’re going to be pretty good.”

That defense also set up Massillon, which led 7-0 at halftime, to deliver the second-half haymaker. It turned a Caiden Woullard blocked punt into a 4-yard Raekwon Venson touchdown, then an Isaiah Clark interception into a 28-yard Alex Bauer field goal for a 17-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers’ defensive performance kept Warren in its own territory throughout the game. The Raiders’ 11 possessions, not counting a kneel-down at the end of the first half, never crossed midfield.

The opposite was true for the Tigers’ offense, which finished with 344 net yards on 67 plays. That included 216 passing yards, 209 of those by Zach Catrone, who returned from a one-game absence due to injury.

Catrone completed 21-of-31 passes with a pair of interceptions. It was his 17-yard pass to Martavien Johnson which gave Massillon a 7-0 first-half lead.

“He was wheeling-and-dealing a little bit,” Moore said of Catrone. “‘Taking what the defense was giving him.”

Massillon would have 12 possessions in the game, with the only one not reaching Warren territory the final one of the game. What cost the Tigers a chance to maximize many of those drives were 13 penalties for 145 yards, as well as three turnovers.

Reach Chris at chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2020: Massillon 35, Columbus Bishop Sycamore 0

Milestone for Massillon: Tigers pick up win No. 900 against Bishop Sycamore

Sep 04, 2020 11:11 PM


MASSILLON The win itself was historic for Massillon. The path to getting to the historic win, though, had more than its share of bumps for the Tigers.

Massilon became the first team in Ohio history to win 900 games all-time on Friday night thanks to a 35-0 victory over Columbus Bishop Sycamore at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers’ win total is tied for fourth with Mayfield (Ky.) nationally.

In order to get No. 900 in the books, though, Massillon had to battle through both its share of choppy play as well as some key injuries both before and during the game. In the end, though, the Tigers were able to overcome all of that to not just hit that milestone, but also move to 1-1 this season.

“We’re really happy to put another brick on the pile,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “Whether it’s 900 or 901 or 902, I don’t think that really makes much of a difference to us. That’s more a 30-years-down-the-road question, I think. We’re just trying to stack bricks right now.”

The Tigers played the entire game without starting quarterback Zach Catrone, who did not dress due while recovering from an injury suffered in the season opener. Moore declined to comment on Catrone’s injury, or any other injuries Massillon suffered during the first half Friday.

In Catrone’s place started Jayvian Crable, the son of former Tiger and University of Michigan star Shawn Crable. The sophomore appeared to get more and more comfortable as the game went on, both running the ball and throwing it.

Crable threw his first career touchdown pass with 11:07 remaining, finding Austin Brawley for a 20-yard strike to go in front 28-0. It was a milestone he had appeared to gain the previous play, when he found Martavien Johnson on a 10-yard strike, but a holding call negated the play.

The sophomore finished 11-of-18 passing for 123 yards with the one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball eight times for a team-high 78 yards.

“I don’t think he was, I guess, nervous going into the game,” Moore said of Crable. “I thought he was ready to go. When you’re out there with bullets flying for the first time, that’s always going to take some getting used to. Even that being said, when he pulled the ball down and took off, those were good plays.”

Multiple lengthy injury delays took some of the rhythm out of the first half. However, the two teams also contributed the choppiness by combining for four turnovers — two each — as well as 14 penalties, 11 by the Centurions, over the initial two quarters.

Despite that, however, Massillon was able to make the most of its opportunities to open up a 21-0 halftime lead. Like the game itself, it was an unconventional way the Tigers took to get to that number.

They bookended the half with a pair of safeties thanks to two bad punt snaps by Sycamore. They also got a pair of Raekwon Venson touchdown runs, an 8-yarder and a 4-yarder.

Alex Bauer’s 25-yard field goal with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter was the middle of the scoring sandwich Massillon put together in the first half. That boot gave the Tigers a 12-0 lead.

That lead alone would’ve been enough against Sycamore, a non-OHSAA online-only charter school which was a late replacement when the regular season was reduced to six games in mid-August. The Centurions struggled to consistently move the ball throughout the evening, often hurting themselves with penalty after penalty.

At halftime alone, Sycamore was flagged 11 times for 76 yards, while its 24 offensive plays netted just 3 yards. By the time the game was over, the Centurions had 18 flags for 108 yards, compared to just 46 net yards on 43 plays.

“Our defense played lights out,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of really good things going on over there. So, I think the first thing you have to acknowledge is to tip your hat to the defense. Those cats played their tails off and played really well.”

The deepest penetration for Sycamore was to the Massillon 21 on the first possession of the third quarter. That possession, though, ended with an dropped pass on fourth down from the Tiger 38.

Only two other Centurion drives moved into Tiger territory, but both never got past the 44.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE


2019: Massillon 35, Avon 10

Backs, line answer the bell for Massillon
Nov 29, 2019 10:18 PM


PARMA Massillon coach Nate Moore believes in a workmanlike approach to a game.

To the fifth-year Tiger mentor, it’s all about punching the clock on game night and putting in a full 48-minute effort. That’s regardless of who the player is or what may be their perceived role.

On Friday night in a Division II state semifinal against Avon at Parma’s Byers Field, those business-like approaches helped the Tigers run their way to a 35-10 win and a second consecutive berth in the state championship game.

Massillon, 14-0, will face Cincinnati La Salle on Thursday night in Canton for the state title.

The approach started with senior running back Zion Phifer, who stepped into the starting role due to an injury to Terrance Keyes Jr. Phifer clocked and helped to knock out the Eagles thanks to a 146-yard, four-touchdown performance on 20 carries.

“He went out there and did his job,” Moore said. “I’m proud of him for it.”

Phifer’s four touchdown runs came in a variety of styles. There were runs where he was virtually untouched and others where he ran over defenders.

Then, there was his final run, a 25-yarder in the third quarter, in which he spun out of the pile and ran into the end zone. That provided Massillon with a 28-10 lead.

The final score came thanks to Raekwon Venson, a one-yard run with just over seven minutes remaining. Venson ran for 54 yards on nine carries.

“They’re physical, obviously,” Avon coach Mike Elder said of Massillon’s running game. “If you’re going to win these games, you do it in the offseason, you do it in the weight room. You do it with genetics, that’s part of the deal. They’re a physical football team.”

That physicality started up front with a Massillon offensive line which was forced to shuffle a bit when guard John Kouth went down with an early injury. Dylan Garretson, however, came in to fill the void.

It wasn’t the first time Garretson has been called upon to help fill in a vacancy. Like Phifer and Venson, though, the performance was exactly what Moore expected to see when he went in the game.

“He did his job when called upon,” Moore said. “That’s not something, that’s the expectation. That’s the expectation. I’m not going to make it into something it’s not.”

That line helped Massillon rush for 185 net yards on 32 carries. Both Phifer and Venson averaged at least 6.1 yards a rush.

“I’m proud of them,” Moore said. “I’m super proud of them. But I’m proud of everybody.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 56, Akron Firestone 0

Longwell sets Massillon’s passing mark in rout of Firestone
Chris Easterling
Sep 27, 2019 11:15 PM

MASSILLON With one flick of his left wrist, Aidan Longwell removed any doubt that existed in Massillon’s game Friday night against winless Firestone.

On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, Longwell dropped back and hit Jayden Ballard for a 40-yard touchdown pass. That pass, just 1:59 into the game, gave the Massillon senior quarterback the school’s all-time record for passing yards.

“It’s special,” Longwell said after passing Kyle Kempt as the Tigers’ career passing leader in the 56-0 victory over the Falcons. “I can’t put it into words. Just everything that’s happened at Massillon, all the history behind this program, it’s special to be a part of that.”

Longwell came into the game needing just 31 yards to pass the 6,034 career yards Kempt had compiled from 2010-12. He needed just one throw to pass that mark, the second career record he set in as many weeks after breaking the passing touchdowns mark in Week 4.

That one record-setting throw would be half of Longwell’s output on the night, as he only threw the ball twice – completing both – for 53 yards. His career total now stands at 6,056 yards with still plenty of football to be potentially be played.

“I think it takes a little pressure off,” Longwell said. “Not really for me, I wasn’t really thinking about that stuff. Everybody talking about it, it can be over now.”

There wasn’t much football for Longwell, or any of Massillon’s first-unit players, to play on Friday night against a completely over-matched Firestone team. The Tigers ran just five plays and had the football for just 52 seconds in the first quarter, yet still took a 35-0 lead in that time.

Of Massillon’s five first-quarter plays, three went for touchdowns. Beyond the Longwell-to-Ballard scoring strike, Terrence Keyes and Zion Phifer would each run for scores.

The Tiger special teams would get into the act to help with that lead. Preston Hodges would block and punt and recover it in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

Hodges also had an interception to set up the Tigers’ third touchdown, a 10-yard run by Keyes. It’s the team-high third pick for the senior outside linebacker.

“We want to come out and get better every week,” said Hodges, who was part of a defensive performance which limited Firestone to 45 net yards and three first downs on 28 plays. “We just come out and do our jobs. We play the way we were taught.”

Ballard would add a 87-yard punt return for a touchdown as well to make it 28-0 Tigers. It’s the second time this season Ballard returned a kick or punt for a score, having brought back a kickoff for a touchdown against St. Vincent-St. Mary.

The final two quarters were shortened to just eight minutes after the Tigers took a 49-0 halftime lead. The teams played the final three quarters under a running clock, with the coaches agreeing to start it a quarter earlier than it is required to be implemented.

“They did a good job” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team will take a 5-0 record and a 16-game regular-season win streak into next Friday’s road game at Austintown Fitch. “They came out and took care of business. They played well, executed.”

Phifer and Raekwon Venson added first-half rushing touchdowns for Massillon, which had 158 of its 293 total yards in the first half. Tanner Pierce threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Daymiere Adams in the third quarter.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2018: Massillon 101, Sun Valley, PA 6

Records fall as Massillon puts up 101 in victory
Oct 13, 2018 1:15 AM

MASSILLON Massillon was coming off its biggest win of the season to date. It was its most emotional and, easily, its closest.

As memorable as the Tigers’ win over East St. Louis (Ill.) was, they made a completely different kind of memory as they welcomed another out-of-state opponent – Sun Valley of Pennsylvania – to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday. It turned into a night not soon to be forgotten by anyone on either side.

Massillon turned a 73-point first half into a school-record 101-6 win over the Vanguards.

“Our kids work hard and they deserve to play,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose 8-0 team will play at Louisville next Friday. “We subbed early and often. We just kept scoring. I don’t know. I don’t even know what to say.”

The Tigers broke the most points in a game, which was 94, set in a 1922 win over Akron North. They were well on their way to that mark by the half, when they led 73-6.

Massillon was in front 94-6 after the third quarter. The Tigers would top the 100-point plateau on a 77-yard Raekwon Venson touchdown run with 1:56 remaining.

“They are top-notch, the highest level of high-school football program, and we’re not,” said Sun Valley coach Greg “Bubba” Bernhard, whose team fell to 3-5. “We lose our best three skill players in the first (half). We’ve got 37 kids in uniform. We’re in a tough spot. We basically had to hang on. What are you going to do?”

The school record for points in a game wasn’t the only mark to fall. Multiple individual career records also fell.

A week after Jamir Thomas became Massillon’s all-time rushing leader in the 46-40 win over East St. Louis (Ill.), he added another mark to his illustrious career. This time, he became the Tigers’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns

Thomas came into the game two behind Bob Glass’ all-time mark of 47 rushing scores set between 1935-37. He pulled within one of that mark with a 27-yard scamper to give Massillon a 17-0 lead after one quarter.

The record-tying run, a 46-yard burst with 2:01 into the second quarter, gave the Tigers a 24-0 lead. He would break the mark with 5:52 remaining in the half with a 39-yard touchdown run to make it 52-6 Massillon.

Thomas carried the ball just seven times on the night, rushing for 167 yards and three scores.

Tyree Broyles became the Tigers’ all-time leader in kickoff return touchdowns when he took the second-half kickoff back – after getting the ball handed to him by a teammate at the Tiger 24 – 76 yards for his third career score. Broyles’ record, which broke the old mark of two set by Arvine Ulrich in 1922, made it 80-6 Massillon.

“We had a couple of records go down tonight, so I’m really happy about that,” said Moore, whose team did suffer a key injury when Zion Phifer – who scored the Tigers’ first touchdown – was taken off the field with an apparent head injury late in the first half. “Jamir Thomas with the all-time career rushing touchdown record and Tyree Broyles with the all-time career kickoff-return touchdown record. Those are great things; two records which stood the test of time and two really good players who deserved those records.”

The kickoff return for a score would give Massillon touchdowns five different ways: rushing, passing, kickoff return, punt return and interception return. Tre’Von Morgan would catch a touchdown pass and return a punt for a score, while Kyshad Mack and Max Turner each had interception returns for a score.

Marcellus Blake had two rushing touchdown as well for the Tigers.

Massillon would out-gain Sun Valley 582-274 in total offense. Julz Kelly would score the Vanguards’ only touchdown on an 81-yard pass from Anthony Ellis to make it 45-6, but would be injured on the play.


Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE