A nice crowd turned out at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday night to watch Massillon and Lakewood St. Edward square off in a final pre-season scrimmage. Unfortunately, the Eagles had the better of it, winning 31-0 in one half of football.
St. Eds showed why they won Division 1 state titles in 2014 and 2015, while losing in overtime in a regional finals game last year. They have great size and speed, plus a wealth of experience. And their intensity level is beyond what Massillon saw in its first two scrimmages against Avon and Berea MIdpark. The youthful Tigers just didn’t match up well in this one.
The Eagles scored three touchdowns and a field goal in their first four possessions to open up a 24-0 advantage as the second quarter got underway. For the night, they rolled up 343 yards of offense, scoring on runs of 23, 25, 25 and 2 yards and kicking a 25-yard field goal. Defensively, they held Massillon to just 44 yards and three first downs. In fact, the Tigers never crossed midfield, except when Jamir Thomas intercepted a pass and returned it to the Eagle 31. Only they turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
On the bright side, the coaching staff has plenty of game film to use in pointing out areas that must be improved upon prior to the season opener against Mentor.
In earlier action, both the JV and the Freshmen teams scrimmaged. The format was four 10-play series each, starting at the opponent’s 40 yardline. The JV team lost to St. Eds four touchdowns to two. The Freshmen team defeated St. Eds six touchdowns to three.
The intensity was high for Saturday’s scrimmage No. 2 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Massillon was coming off of what Coach Nate Moore described as a disappointing performance against Avon last Tuesday and looked to ramp up both the execution and the effort. Meanwhile, Berea Midpark was trying to erase the memory last year’s complete domination by the Tigers in a similar venue.
The much-improved Titans were led by strong-armed quarterback Trevor Bycznski, a 6’-5”, 225 lb. junior. Massillon, meanwhile, countered with a bevy of skilled athletes. While the scrimmage started off fairly even, in the end it was clear that the Tigers had shown the improvement they were looking for enroute to another dominating performance versus the Titans.
Part 1 of the scrimmage called for each team to run two 10-play series, starting at their own 40 yardline. Massillon tallied three times and Midpark twice.
Midpark: TD on a 3-yard run. TD on a 45-yard pass. The second score was a sideline throw to the wide receiver, who slipped a potential tackle by the cornerback and raced 40 yards to the end zone. The Tigers’ Preston Hodges recorded an interception
Massillon: TD on a 25-yard run by Tyree Broyles. TD on a 60-yard bomb from Anthony Pedro to Dean Clark. TD on a 50-yard bomb from Pedro to Tre-von Morgan.
Part 2 of the scrimmage called for each team to run a series of plays starting at the opponents 20 yardline. Massillon tallied four times and Midpark twice.
Midpark: TD on a 20-yard pass. TD on a 10-yard pass. Kameron Simpson recorded an interception.
Massillon: TD on a 20-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Aydrik Ford. TD on a 5-yard pass from Longwell to Hunter Anthony. TD on a 1-yard run by Marcellous Blake. TD on a 10-yard pass from Pedro to Morgan.
The JV team then got into the action, with Robbie Page intercepting a pass. Jayden Ballard scored from 60 yards out and again from 40 yards out on passes from Jacob Catrone.
Part 3 of the scrimmage was one half of game condition football. At this point the Tigers appeared to kick it up a notch and were clearly the better team, scoring four times in their first five possessions. Midpark never threatened.
Midpark had the ball first, starting on its own 20 yardline. On the first play from scrimmage Cameron Simpson stepped in front of the intended Titan receiver and intercepted a Bycznski pass at the 26. From there, it took just one play for Jamir Thomas to take a handoff from Longwell and race to the end zone. Clay Moll’s kick was good and the Tigers were out to a quick 7-0 lead.
The other three scores came on long drives. Moll connected on a 28-yard field goal, Dean Clark caught a 16-yard pass from Longwell, aided by a terrific block from Morgan, and Thomas ran 53 yards, making the final score 24-0.
Play was much improved from the Avon scrimmage, particularly when the teams went to game condition football.
This is not a “one-man” team. Several players are capable of making the big play.
Lots of athleticism and depth at the skill positions. Decent size, but not so much depth along the lines.
Overall team speed is much improved from last year.
All three quarterbacks (Longwell, Pedro and Catrone) executed the offense well and were fairly accurate on their throws. All showed the potential to go deep.
Three good running backs (Thomas, Louis Partridge and Blake) providing both power and speed where called for.
Open field tackling needs a bit of work.
Still need to improve the pass rush, but this may be due to using a base 3-4 alignment.
The kicking game is in good hands with Moll converting all of his PATs plus the field goal try. His kickoffs were high and deep, with one reaching the end zone on the fly.
The final scrimmage is against Lakewood St. Edward, scheduled for 7:00 pm on Friday, August 18.
The Tigers opened their 3-game scrimmage schedule with a trip to perennial Division 2 power Avon. Typical of a first scrimmage, it was an opportunity for the coaches to evaluate individual players as they search for the eventual starting eleven. A final score is certainly not an indicator of a team’s potential, but the degree of effort certainly carries some weight. That is what the coaches were looking for and on this night it wasn’t lacking for either team.
The scrimmage opened with Massillon’s first team offense running ten plays followed by Massillon’s second team offense running ten plays. Each possession started at the Tiger 30 yardline. Then it was Avon’s turn. The series was then repeated once more.
The Tiger first unit advanced to the Avon 32 on its first possession, but failed to pick up a first down on the second possession. The second unit moved to the Avon 15 on its second possession, but ran out of plays.
Avon’s first possession was stopped at the ten on an interception by Dean Clark. The second possession stalled at the Massillon 45. Avon’s second team was stopped at the Massillon 20 on its first possession.
The next phase of the scrimmage involved running a series of plays starting at the opponent’s 25, similar to an overtime or red zone scenario. Massillon’s first team scored when Jamir Thomas ran in from the 15. The second team scored twice, on a 3-yard run by Louis Partridge and an Anthony Pedro to Jaden Ballard pass covering 25 yards.
Avon’s first unit scored on a 5-yard run and the second unit scored on a 23-yard pass/run and a 13-yard run.
Between possessions, each team had an opportunity to practice field goals. Massillon’s Clay Moll was perfect from 20, 32 and 37 yards, and two of four from 42 yards out.
Offensively, Massillon mixed the run and pass equally. Aiden Longwell started at quarterback and, when given the time to throw, was accurate on most of his passes. In the running department, Jamir Thomas showed the power he exhibited last year, with surprising speed in the open field. Louis Partridge appears quicker and shiftier than last year and also ran with some physicality.
Avon’s defense utilized a 3-4 blitz package, which caused a lot of problems for the Tiger offensive line. And since the quarterback was called down when pressured or when exiting the pocket, many plays were just never completed. However, Longwell showed the ability to tuck the ball and run when needed.
Defensively, Massillon was aligned in a base 3-4 defense with cover 2 and only blitzed on occasion. With Avon opting to throw the ball 90% of the time, it did find success through the air given the minimal pass rush, albeit all of the completions were of the short variety. But the scheme did set up their few runs nicely.
Both offenses appeared ahead of the defenses in this early going, except for Massillon’s inability to handle the blitz. This was probably due to neither team scouting and game-planning the other. But then again, neither could finish off a drive.
There will be a bit of a learning curve for these young Tigers as they become accustomed to both a new offense and a new defense. But they appear to be talent-rich, very quick and better open-field tacklers than last year.