Tiger tailbacks, defense keys to rout
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
Independent Sports Editor
It was a nice try, fellows – sliding the Tiger down a wire just prior to the kickoff, to be cremated by flames from the scoreboard horse’s mouth – but it wasn’t about to turn out that way.
The Orange and Black had a terrific Friday night! In fact you might say it was devastating!
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AN ESTIMATED crowd of 10,000 saw the Tigers boot the “House of Horrors” myth right out of Harding stadium and into the Ohio River which surges by Steubenville.
Of the 26-0 victory over the Big Red, Washington High Assistant Coach Nick Vrotsos said, ‘This was the most gratifying of any here since I joined the staff.” The native of Martins Ferry – just down the stream a bit – has seen seven since he came to Massillon in 1958.
When going over the latest list of Tiger assets, you could mark them off as follows:
Item 1 – Tailbacks Willie Spencer and Larry McLenndon gaining 352 of the Orange and Black’s 378 net rushing yardage. Spencer, the All-American conference’s leading rusher and scorer, gaining 193 yards in 20 carries – including 114 in 10 lugs in the first half – and tallying two touchdowns; McLenndon picking up 159 yards in nine tries and two TDs; both boys doing this while playing a lot of defense along the way.
Item 2 – An offensive line, led by guards Bruce Christoff, Randy Heck, Dan Guiffre and Scott Graber and center Steve Studer, snaring the opposition slicker than a mousetrap pinions an unsuspecting rodent – a tribute to the coaching of Vrotsos.
Item 3 – An all-around defense tighter than the purse strings on Jack Benny’s pocketbook, resulting in the Tigers’ fourth shutout in six tries and only 126 total yards for the Big Red.
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“USING TWO TAILBACKS certainly helped us, our line blocked well, we defensed them real well and I thought quarterbacks Scott Dingler and Kevin Westover looked good,” head Coach Bob Commings said. “We had more depth and that hurt Steubenville.”
By winning the Tigers moved to a 5-1 season record and took over third place in the All-American conference at 1-1. The defending league and Ohio Class AAA state champions should have picked up valuable ground in both the Associated Press poll and the Ohio High School Athletic association’s computer ratings.
While handing out praise for top performances, a great deal should go to 139-ound Steubenville senior quarterback-defensive back Mike Mavromatis. He perhaps more than any other epitomized the courage and guts of a team which took an unmerciful pounding, but time and again came back for more.
“He’s a great kid! A real competitor!” said Commings. Mavromatis was about the hardest guy to bring down the Tigers have run up against this year, but men like end Bob Stephan and linebacker Mike McGuire were equal to the task.
There were no scores in the first quarter even though both teams got close with the Tigers’ effort dying on the Steubenville 18 after Spencer had landed on a first play Big Red fumble on the Steubenville 32. An offside penalty and a fumble on a pitchout set the Tigers back to the 33.
A 25-yard pass-run from Mavromatis to halfback Herm Davis on the ensuing series didn’t help the Big Red as Mavromatis was thrown from the Tigers four to the 19 on fourth down by Spencer who then took off over right tackle for 43 yards to the Steubenville 46 to start an 81-yard, five-play drive. After offside and motion penalties – the last of which nullified his TD – Spencer went over left tackle from the 21 on second and 14 with 8:54 left in the second canto.
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DINGLER’S KICK was wide right.
Davis intercepted a pass on the Steubenville six and Hannon picked off a Big Red aerial on the Massillon 28 to thwart further first-half scoring.
Hannon ran back the second half kickoff 24 yards and McLenndon set sail over right tackle on the next play for 57 yards and a TD with the help of a downfield block by McGuire. The score came with 11:26 left and Spencer followed around with a right end for two more counters.
Willie got the next score with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter, capping a five play, 70-yard drive with a 38-yard jaunt over right tackle, breaking a tackle in the process. A 17-yard, pass-run from Dingler to Thompson down the center after a motion penalty set the stage.
Spencer missed the conversion over left tackle.
The Tigers took over on the Big Red 46 after a short punt. Westover unloaded a 30 yarder to McGuire who jumped up between two men on the 15 along the left side, grabbed the ball and continued to the four. McLenndon traversed right tackle with 4:22 remaining for six points.
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HANNON DIDN’T make the end zone for the conversion but two minutes later hauled in a pass from his 22 to his end zone to kayo Steubenville’s final threat.
Commings had yanked the first team but put them back in again, drawing the ire of Steubenville fans. However, he instructed his team not to call time with the clock running out and the Tigers on the Big Red 10 after McLenndon had raced 64 yards around left end to the Steubenville 17.
With state championships decided on polls, the shutout is a necessity.
“It went pretty much as we expected as far as Massillon’s aggressiveness and power was concerned,” Steubenville Coach Abe Bryan said. “They just handled us out there. We made some mental mistakes, but hit well. We went away from our game plan in the first quarter and really blew it badly. Then we had to play catch-up football. They have a fine team. We are not physical enough and must eliminate mistakes with our size if we are to beat the good teams.”
He concluded, “Spencer played a great game and broke an awful lot of tackles when we had clean sweeps.”
MASSILLON – 25
Ends – Stephan, Matie, McGuire, D. Edwards, Bodiford.
Tackles – Heath, Weirich, T. Peters, Green, Shumar.
Guards – Christoff, Heck, Graber, Guiffre, Mayles, Vogt, Keller, Balizet, Bash.
Centers – Studer, Allman, Cocklin, McCabe.
Quarterbacks – Dingler, Muhlback, Westover.
Halfbacks – W. Spencer, McLenndon, Thompson, T. Edwards, Nussbaumer, Wonsick, Jackson, Weise, Christie.
Fullbacks – Perry, Hannon, Wood.
STEUBENVILLE – 0
Ends – Gilliam, Hill, Sims, Warren, Jarvis.
Tackles – Kalifut, Bougard, Markakis, Hargrove.
Guards – Holmes, Dorsey, Embry, Fahay.
Centers – Medley, Nixon.
Quarterbacks – Mavromatis.
Halfbacks – H. Davis, Snyder, Alfred, Johnson, R. Snyder.
Fullback – Gray.
STEUBENVILLE 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 0 6 8 12 26
M – Spencer, 21 run (run failed);
M – McLenndon, 57 run (run)
M – Sepncer, 38 run (run failed)
M – McLenndon, 4 run (run failed).
Referee – Milo Lukity.
Umpire – Dr. Henley Freeman.
Head Linesman – Sam DiBlasi.
Field Judge – Jim Murray.
ATTENDANCE – 10,500
First downs, rushing 16 7
First downs, passing 2 1
First downs, penalties 2 1
Total first downs 20 9
Yards gained rushing 408 151
Yards lost rushing 30 54
Net yards gained rushing 378 97
Net yards gained passing 70 29
Total yards gained 448 126
Passes completed 4-7 2-13
Passes intercepted by 2 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 0 0
Kickoff average (yards) 5-49.0 1-42.0
Kickoff returns (yards) 25 97
Punt average (yds.) 2-36.5 6-35.3
Punt returns (yds.) 10 4
Fumbles (lost) 3(1) 1(1)
Yards penalized 7-55 3-25
Total number of plays 54 55