Tag: <span>Shawn Crable</span>


2002: Massillon 20, Warren Harding 21

Tigers come so close
Massillon loses in overtime on wide point‑after

Independent Sports Editor

High school sports can be a cruel, unforgiving endeavor, especially in the win‑or‑go‑home scenario of the playoffs. It is a fact of life to which the Massillon Tigers can attest today.

The Tigers fell to the Warren Harding Raiders 21‑20 in overtime at the Rubber Bowl in a Division I state semifinal game in front of an estimated 22,000 fans Saturday, and, they did so in heart‑rending fashion. The margin of victory ‑ a missed point after touchdown.

“There’s not a whole lot I can say to our kids right now,” Tiger coach Rick Shepas said amid a pack of reporters after the game. “They’ve got to learn from this kind of adversity.

“Sometimes you fall short but it doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. It doesn’t mean the kids haven’t played hard.”

No one who watched this classic confrontation between two of Ohio’s traditional high school football powers could possibly say such a thing. The painful emotions of the gut‑wrenching defeat were etched on the faces of every player wearing the orange uniform and black helmet of the Tigers.

Shepas vowed in the days before the game his charges would leave everything on the field. They did that and more, and yet fate seemed to conspire to prevent this proud team from reaching the goal for which they have worked so hard for the past 11 months.

Even Warren Harding coach Thom McDaniels seemed reluctant to accept the victory the way the contest ended. “It was a classic,” said the former McKinley mentor. “It shouldn’t have ended that way.” Certainly, McDaniels could sympathize. His son missed a point after touchdown kick in the 100th Massillon‑McKinley game that cost the Bulldogs a one point overtime defeat.

The missed extra point, which sailed wide left, was eerily reminiscent of the Tigers’ 14‑13 defeat in the playoffs to St. Ignatius in 1991 when a Massillon extra point glanced off the goal post upright and fell away.

The defeat ends the Tiger season at 11‑3 and also spells the final chapter in what has to be considered one of the greatest defensive teams Massillon has ever produced in its proud gridiron history.

“This result doesn’t speak for the way our defense played the whole game,” Shepas said. “I want our defense to be remembered for the outstanding team they are. They are outstanding.”
It seemed Massillon might be bound for the state championship game when Ricky Johnson bolted around left end for a six‑yard touchdown with 1:11 to play, capping off a well‑conceived 12‑play, 62‑yard drive that featured several fine runs by Steve Hymes out of a WingT look the Tigers hadn’t deployed the entire game. Max Shafer’s point after was true and the Tigers led 14‑7.

What happened next must have seemed like a bad dream that just repeats itself over and over as Warren’s Mario Manningham returned the ensuing kickof f to midfield, giving the Raiders hope for overtime. It was Manningham’s two kick returns for touchdowns that helped Warren defeat Massillon 31‑27 in a week nine game at Warren.

And, befitting their regular season state poll champion status, the Raiders took advantage as Mike Kokal hit Treymayne Warfield with a 17‑yard touchdown pass with :17 on the clock. Joe Spain’s point after was good and the game went into overtime at 14‑14.

“We had a chance there at the end, but we just didn’t hang on,” Shepas said.

Warren tallied first in overtime but only after recovering its own fumble at the goal line. Kokal scored on the next snap after that miscue from a yard away. Spain’s conversion kick was good and the Raiders were up 21‑14.

Johnson gained 10 yards around left end on Massillon’s first play of overtime. Two plays later, Matt Martin made a clutch throw on third and goal to A.J. Collins in the right edge of the end zone and it was 21‑20.

On the fateful extra point, with the wind, blowing left to right, the football sailed left of the left upright to bring the game to an end.

“Our fans were great,” Shepas said just before leading his team to the locker room. “They stayed in the stadium. I’d like our fans to learn to be a little bit more positive with our kids all the time, which they’ve been. “We’ll keep going forward.”

Warren Harding drew first blood in a familiar fashion, converting a lengthy punt return into a touchdown.

Taking the opening kickoff, Massillon moved from its 20 to the Warren 37 on a short Martin to Relford pass that the play‑making junior transformed into a 52‑yard gain. The Tigers had an opportunity to get inside the Raider 20 but a dropped pass foiled the play and they were forced to punt.

Thaddeus Walker fielded Shafer’s punt at the Warren 12, found a seam and didn’t stop running until he was pulled down 54 yards later at the Massillon 36.

Three consecutive carries by Warren running back Richard Davis and a facemask penalty on the Massillon defense advanced the ball to the Tiger 11. Four plays later, Stephon Alexander appeared to be stopped on fourth‑and‑goal from the one but the line judge ruled he broke the plane of the end zone and signaled touchdown Warren. Spain added the point after and Warren Harding was up 7‑0 at 5:23 of the first quarter.

Massillon’s scoring drive began at 9:17 of the second quarter at the Tiger 20 yardline after Relford picked off a Warren pass in the end zone.

But the real story of the initial 24 minutes of play was the yellow blizzard of flags falling from the sky. In all, game officials penalized the two state semifinalists 13 times for 85 yards in the first half. Nine of the flags went against Massillon, costing the Tigers 55 yards.

Martin’s screen pass to Johnson picked up 13 yards. One play later, Martin found Johnson running alone down the right sideline for a 30‑yard completion to the Warren 36. An interference penalty against Warren pushed the ball to the Raider 21. A couple of five‑yard penalties pushed it back to the 31 but the Tigers gained it back and more on an 18‑yard screen pass from Martin to Terrance Roddy. Martin got another first down on a keeper, then hit Collins in the left corner of the end zone for the Tigers initial score of the evening. Shafer added the extra point and it was a tie game at 7‑7 with 3:40 to go in the half.

Massillon 20
Warren 21
First downs rushing 4 8
First downs passing 5 7
First downs by penalty 1 0
TOTAL first downs 10 15
Net yards rushing 66 139
Net yards passing 181 125
TOTAL yards 247 264
Passes attempted 31 29
Passes completed 12 12
Passes intercepted 1 2
Punts 9 8
Punting average 34.3 33.5
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/0
Penalties 11 5
Yards penalized 61 35

Massillon 00 07 00 07 06 20
Warren 07 00 00 07 07 21


W ‑ Alexander 1 yard run (Spain kick)
M ‑ Collins 9 yard pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 6 yard run (Shafer kick)
W ‑ Warfield 17 yard pass from Kokal (Spain kick)
W ‑ Kokal 1 yard run (Spain kick)
M ‑ Collins 11 yard pass from Martin (kick failed)

MassilIon rushing: Hymes 5‑42, R. Johnson 12‑21, Martin 3‑7, Roddy 4‑1.
Warren rushing: Davis 19‑63, Phillips 7‑34 Kokal 5‑18, Massucci 5‑15.

Massillon passing: Martin 12‑31‑181, 2TD, 1 INT.
Warren passing: Kokal 11‑22‑118, 1 TD, Phillips 1‑7‑7, 2 INT.

Massillon receiving: Relford 2‑58, R. Johnson 4‑53, Jordan 2‑26, Collins 2‑20, 2 TDs,
Roddy 1‑18, Ashcraft 1‑6.
Warren receiving: Warfield 5‑65, 1 TD, Manningham 3‑31, Stella 1‑13, Johnson 1‑9, Alexander 1‑7.

“Our fans were great.
They stayed in the stadium.
I’d like our fans to learn to
be a little bit more positive
with our kids all the time,
which they’ve been.
We’ll keep going forward.”

Rick Shepas
Massillon coach

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 14, Pickerington 0

Tigers are regional champions

Independent Sports Editor

Rick Shepas saw that look in his players eyes at halftime. Maybe it was the Eye of the Tiger.

Whatever it was, the Massillon Tigers came out and dominated the second half of play to secure a 14‑0 Division I regional championship game victory over the Pickerington Tigers in front of 12,234 fans at Arlin Field in Mansfield, Saturday.

“I saw a difference in our kids in the locker room at halftime,” Shepas said following the post game handshake. “It was a different feeling than we’ve had in the five years that I’ve been here.” That feeling translated into a victory that sends the Tigers to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.

The Massillon defense made it all possible by holding Pickerington without a first down on three third‑quarter drives. It set up the second Tiger touchdown when Shawn Crable forced and Markeys Scott recovered a Pickerington fumble at the 30‑yard line.

“We took ownership of this football game,” Shepas said. Massillon scored the only touchdown it would need on a seven‑play, 80‑yard drive on its second possession of the third quarter.

A pair of sideline passes to James Helscel got them rolling and the march was capped off when Matt Martin hit Devin Jordan on a crossing Pattern that caught the Pickerington defense flowing the opposite direction. Jordan snared the ball at the 25 and scampered the rest of the way to pay dirt. Max Shafer hit the extra point and it was a 7‑0 game at 2:54 of the third quarter.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Scott fell on a Pickerington fumble at the Pickerington 30.

After a holding penalty against the Tigers, Martin found A.J. Collins open for a 15 yard gain to the 21. Ricky Johnson picked up nine yards up the middle and one play later Martin dropped a pass into the waiting arms of Jordan in the right corner of the end zone for the two touchdown cushion.

“A couple of the big plays we ran and moved the ball well on were called by (senior wide receiver) James Helscel,” Shepas said. “He called the scat pass for the touchdown about three plays before. Then he mentioned snag and we hit Devin in the corner on the snag pass.

“Our offense came out and did what it needed to do. I’m glad for these kids. They play hard and they deserved it. We talked about what we needed to do and they challenged themselves.”

Martin completed six consecutive passes during Massillon’s third quarter surge. But he deflected the credit to the coaching staff. “The coaches made some great adjustments,” he said. “They put some new plays in for us and we just executed. The line blocked well. The receivers caught everything. Ricky ran hard and blocked good. “We just came together in the second half.”

Pickerington never did manage a first down in the third quarter and only had six first downs to go with three turnovers in the entire second half.

“We came in at halftime and said we need to get it done for each other and came out in the second half and dominated the football game,” said Massillon co‑captain Keith Wade.

The First had tug‑of‑war a for field position as both defenses flexed their muscles while both offenses tried mostly unsuccessfully ‑ to deal with the slippery field conditions.

Massillon best drive came on its opening possession. Two consecutive Martin to Jordan passes, petted 23 yards and got the Tigers the Pickerington 42 but the drive was doomed when a shotgun snap from center sailed over Martin’s head.

Two huge plays by Shawn Crable on Pickerington’s initial drive accounted for negative 15 yards forcing the purple Tigers to punt.

The balance of the first half went about the same way as each offense managed a big play or two, only to see their possessions snuffed out by penalties, dropped passes and solid defensive play.

Massillon and Pickerington combined for only 129 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, with only 50 of that total on the orange‑and‑black’s ledger.

Massillon could have been in deep trouble, fumbling the ball three times in the first 24 min­utes of play. Fortunately for the locals, they recovered all three bobbles.

One of the Massillon’s wilder miscues came on a muffed punt at its own 20. It appeared Pickerington recovered the ball but a huge pile‑up ensued and when the officials final­ly pulled all the bodies off the heap, it was Massillon with the pigskin.

Late in the first half, Relford returned a Pickerington punt to near midfield. On first down, Martin lofted a pass deep down the left sideline that Stephon Ashcraft caught inside the Pickerington 15. But the play was nullified when a chop block penalty was whis­tled on Massillon.

While that was disappoint­ing to the Massillon sideline, the Tigers would not be de­nied.

“No one wanted to quit here,” said Martin. “We want­ed to go the rest of the way.”

“They’re a good football team,” said Pickerington coach Jack Johnson. “No doubt about it. I wish them all the luck in the world and I hope they go all the way.”

Massillon 14
Pickerington 00
First downs rushing 3 7
First downs passing 10 3
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 13 11
Net yards rushing 46 116
Net yards passing 172 61
TOTAL yards 218 177
Passes attempted 23 17
Passes completed 12 7
Passes intercepted 2 1
Punts 5 4
Punting average 31.4 33.0
Fumbles/Lost 3/0 2/2
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 59 25

Massillon 00 00 14 00 14
Pickerington 00 00 00 00 00


M ‑ Jordan 40 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Jordan 11 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)


Massillon rushing: R. Johnson 20‑64.
Pickerington rushing: Trapasso17‑68, Ultican 11‑27.

Massillon passing: Martin 12‑23‑112, 2TDs, 2 Ints.
Pickerington passing: Ultican 7‑15‑61, 1 Int. Trapasso 0‑1‑0.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 7‑108 2 TDs, Collins 2‑41, HeIscel 2‑21, R. John­son 1‑2.
Pickerington receiving, J. Jablonka 1‑22. Harrison 2‑14.

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 23, Massillon Perry 21

It’s up and It’s good

Tigers will face Pickerington; Perry ends year at 10‑2

Independent Staff Writer

A pair of Matts gave the Tigers a winning hand.

The Massillon Tiger football team rode the arm of Matt Martin and the foot of kicker Matt Shafer to a thrilling last‑second 23‑21 victory over the Perry Panthers Saturday night. The Ohio High School Athletic Association regional semifinal contest was played before an estimated crowd of 17,000 at Fawcett Stadium.

Shafer kicked a 35‑yard field goal at the game’s final gun, capping a 57‑yard drive sparked by the passing of Martin.

Martin finished the game 21 for 29 through the air for 294 yards and added a 65‑yard punt on a quick kick for good measure.

The Tigers’ heroics were necessary after Perry came back from a 20‑7 deficit in the third quarter with two touchdown runs by Chris Kortis, the second giving Perry a 21‑20 lead with 1:17 left in the game.

The drive was set by a stunning sequence of plays just a minute earlier.

The Tiger defense sacked Perry quarterback Bob Perez on a fourth down to give the team possession with a little over two minutes to play.

The Panthers took the ball back and promptly scored, giving Massillon the final shot.

Martin completed six straight passes on the game winning drive, setting up Shafer’s winning kick.

With the win, the Tigers avenged two recent losses to Perry, including a 23‑6 loss in an opening round playoff game in 1999.

Massillon advances to play Pickerington, who crushed Gahanna Lincoln, 48‑13.

Within 30 minutes of the Victory, fans flooded downtown Massillon. Lincoln Way was closed off as revelers ‑ included Rick Shepas’ charges danced in the streets.

The game gave the Tigers bragging rights over the Federal League, giving them a 2‑0 record over the conference this season.

The Tigers defeated North Canton 31‑0 last Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Warren Harding, which handed Massillon one of its two losses this season, barely escaped Byers Field in Parma with a 18‑16 win over Lakewood St. Edward, also on a last second game‑winning field goal.

Massillon 23
Perry 21
First downs rushing 2 8
First downs passing 12 6
Firsst downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 14 15
Net yards rushing 28 141
Net yards passing 294 117
TOTAL yards 322 258
Passes attempted 29 15
Passes completed 21 7
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 5 7
Punting average 42.2 27.9
Fumbles/Lost 5/3 1/1
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 52 6

Massillon 00 13 07 03 23
Perry 00 07 00 14 21


M ‑ Johnson 3 run (Shafer kick) 9:27
M ‑ Jordan 68 pass from Martin (kick failed) 5:43
P ‑ Cerreta 31 pass from Perez (Perez kick) 1:41
M ‑ Jordan 25 pass from Martin (Shaffer kick) 11:44
P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 6:42
P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 1:17
M ‑ Shafer 35 FG 0:00


Massillon rushing: Johnson 13‑24, Woods 4‑12.
Perry rushing: Kortis 15‑68, Perez lt29, Schleiden 8‑28.

Massillon passing: Martin 21‑29‑294 TD, INT.
Perry passing: Perez 7‑15‑117 TD, INT,

Massillon receiving: Jordan 7‑170 2 TDs, Ashcraft 4‑44, Relford 4‑32.
Perry receiving: Cerreta 4‑62 TD, Woodard 2‑37.

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 31, North Canton 0

Tigers sweep Hoover from Playoffs

Massillon shines in impressive win Massillon mauls N. Canton, 31‑0

Repository sports writer
NORTH CANTON Both Massillon and North Canton came into Saturday’s Division I regional quarterfinal game giving up 2.4 yards a rush. When the host Vikings discovered almost immediately they could not run on the Tigers, they quickly found out they sure could not pass on them.

Billy Relford alone was a one‑man, four-headed, fire‑eating monster for Massillon, intercepting ‑ four of the Tigers seven interceptions of the Tigers’ seven interceptions in a 31‑0 mauling of the Vikings.

A junior cornerback, Relford intercepted the first pass Hoover quarterback Jimmy Savage attempted ‑ while lying on his back. The 5‑foot‑8 Relford snared Savage’s next attempt, too, and this time he stayed on his feet, running the pick back 51 yards down the right sideline and then somersaulting into the end zone to put Massillon up 14‑0 with 3:01 left in the first quarter.

“Our defensive was phenomenal tonight,” said Massillon coach Rick Shepas, whose 9‑2 team advances to play Perry in a regional semifinal Saturday. “They got some turnovers in the first quarter … that was a turning point in the game.

“It was all due to Billy Relford. All Relford did was set a Massillon mark for interceptions in a season. His four picks in the first half probably are a record, but his nine for the season did set a new Massillon mark.

When Tony Graves intercepted Savage’s third attempt of the night and rumbled and stumbled 33 yards to the Hoover 2‑yard line, the game was over. Ricky Johnson, who scored the first touchdown on an 8‑yard toss‑sweep, cracked in the next play, and it was 20‑0, after Max Shafer’s missed point‑after.

Marquice Johnson made Savage’s evening a tad more miserable by sacking him for a safety in the second quarter, but it was the “fiery‑eyed” Relford, according to Shepas, who continued to slay the Vikings. He picked off Savage twice more in the half, the second at the back of the Massillon end zone to keep North Canton off the board.

The fact he ran the ball back 91 yards and nearly scored only enhanced his heroic play. His touchdown return was the big one, though.

“I just saw him do an out route, and the grass was hard to do a break on,” said Relford’ speaking of Hoover wideout Eric Kubilus. “When I saw his break was slow, I just broke on it ‑ I saw (Savage) throw the, ball. I broke on it, timed it and ran it all the way back.”

The first interception got Relford, and the Tigers, rolling. It was 3rd‑and‑7, and he went up with Kubilus and won the battle, despite landing on his back.

“Actually, (Kubilus) was behind me,” said Relford. “I played the wrong defense. But, I made up for it with the interception. It just fell in my hands.”

Massillon too strong for Hoover

That was not true of his endzone theft. Relford went up against 6‑3 Curt Lukens, turned on the ball before Lukens did, climbed the ladder faster than Lukens, got the ball, climbed down ‑ then ran full speed the other way before getting tackled. Shafer then missed a 35‑yard field goal at the first‑half gun, but it did not matter because the damage had been done.

Hoover., which wanted to control the clock with the run, netted just 51 yards the first two periods. That led to a 1‑for‑12 passing effort in the half.

“Sometimes the holes were there, but the holes aren’t there very long,” said North Canton coach Don Hertler Jr., describing the effort by Massillon defense. “We had a couple of dropped balls, threw some interceptions, and you can’t expect to win with seven turnovers.

“You can’t turn the ball over five times in a half and win.”

Oh yeah, the Tigers played a little offense too. They put together an eight‑play, 64‑yard drive that consumed 3:20 the first time they touched the ball. Johnson ran hard, scoring twice and eventually collecting 119 yards. Matt Martin was on fire, hitting 7‑of‑11 the first half for 96 yards and a touchdown. The senior lefty finished 16‑of‑23 for 202 yards and one touchdown, with one interception, and he loved watching his defense give him field position.

“That’s the best I’ve seen the defense play,” said Martin. “They were great, giving us the short field to work on all game.”

There was no fourth‑quarter‑lapse, as there had been against St. Ignatius and at Warren Harding. When Dustin Jarvis intercepted the Vikings’ seventh aerial in the final two minutes, it, ended a great season for the Federal League champs.

“We had a great run,” said Hertler. “I’m proud of the way a majority of our players played the game and how they handled themselves.

Devin Jordan caught six passes for 95 yards and an 11‑yard touchdown for Massillon, and Stephon Ashcraft grabbed five for 73 yards. Relford caught one, for 9 yards. He also worked an offensive pass interference call against Hoover, so dominating was his play even the referees felt he deserved the call.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Relford. “I wanted the record, that was one of my goals. But the main thing was the defense played great all game.”

Shawn Crable

2002: Massillon 34, Canton McKinley 17

Tigers overwhelm Bulldogs
Massillon secures its fourth straight post‑season berth

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers paved their way into the playoffs by steam rolling archrival Canton McKinley in the second half for a 34‑17 victory in front of 16,162 fans on a cool, gray autumn Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

It was Massillon’s fifth consecutive victory over McKinley in the teams’ 110th meeting all‑time.

Program Cover

The Tigers, who improve to 8‑2 and will play at North Canton in a regional quarterfinal game next Saturday, were prohibitive favorites against McKinley, which falls to 3‑7. But the Bulldogs struck first for a 6‑0 lead and it took a Max Shafer 21‑yard field goal to give Massillon a 17‑14 lead at halftime.

The second half was a different story as the Massillon defense shut down McKinley running back Ryan Brinson, who had rushed for 123 yards in the first half, and the Tiger offense went almost exclusively to the ground game to overpower the Bulldogs.

“McKinley has done such a great job over the five years I’ve been here,” Tiger coach Rick Shepas said after getting an ice‑water drenching from his players at game’s end. “We needed everything in our play book to go against this McKinley team. Spider Miller does an outstanding job of coaching. Their kids played very hard. Brinson is a great back and I think Mike Shaffer is going to be a great quarterback as well.

0ur kids have been fighting all year long and they’ve been in big games and have come up short. But I’ll tell you what, I think our coaches have done a great job and I’m very proud of the way our kids have responded. We get a chance to play another week and who knows what can happen after that.”

McKinley sideline boss Spider Miller, who held his team together through an injury‑riddled and emotionally tumultuous season, had the Bulldogs primed to pull the upset.

“Our kids have never quit,” Miller said. “They played with great pride and character, but we just ran into a great football team. “Massillon has a lot of talent. We hung in there for awhile.”

The teams exchanged punts to open the second half with the Tigers taking over at their 43. That’s when Shepas opted to line up in the I‑formation and power the football at McKinley.

Massillon ran the football on seven consecutive plays, with senior Ricky Johnson getting six of those handoffs. Johnson, who would finish the game with 188 yards rushing to top the 1,000‑yard plateau for the season, capped the march with a nine‑yard gallop around right end. He extended the football over the goal line as he was being tackled.

“We felt like we could go up there and just power football right up the middle,” said Tiger senior tackle J.P. Simon “We felt like we were the more physical team, the more conditioned team. We felt like we could have success that way and that’s just what we did.”

Shafer added the point after and Massillon was up 24‑14 at 3:26 of the third quarter.
A long Brinson kick return gave McKinley good field position but Tiger cornerback Jamaal Ballard outfought Bulldog wideout Tyrone Gillespie on a deep pass to quell Canton’s momentum.

Massillon was then forced to punt and McKinley capitalized with Matt Campbell’s 31‑yard field goal to cut the Tiger lead to just 24‑17 at 10:55 of the fourth quarter.

But on the ensuing kickoff, Billy Relford returned the ball 61 yards to the McKinley 27.
“I felt like it was time,” said Relford. “I told coach to let me get the ball. I told the guys, ‘You set the wedge and I’m going to run this ball.’ They set the wedge and I just followed my blocks and just took off.”
Six plays later, Shafer kicked his second field goal of the game ‑ this one from 30 yards out ‑ and Massillon was up 27‑17 with 7:41 to play.

Eeriely, Massillon led Warren Harding 27‑17 with 7:29 to play one week ago but didn’t close. “Absolutely we talked about that and we worked on it all week,” Shepas acknowledged. “We were able to respond today.” The response came in the form of Ballard’s second interception of the afternoon, just three plays after the ensuing Tiger kickoff.

“Every game I always come out with the idea I’m going to shut down my side of the field,” Ballard said. “With them throwing to my side every time this afternoon, I proved that. He kept throwing it and I kept taking the ball from them.” “Jamaal Ballard needed to have a game like this,” added Shepas. “I’ll tell you what, he played great today and he has played great for two years here. He is an outstanding player.”

The Tigers tacked on their final score with a seven‑play, 45‑yard drive capped by a seven‑yard Johnson touchdown run over left tackle. Shafer added his fourth extra point of the afternoon to go with the two field goals.

“Max is definitely our Special Teams Player of the Game after a situation where last week he didn’t realize how important he was to our football team,” Shepas said. “I think he learned last week and I think he knows for sure now.

It’s awesome,” Shafer said. “It feels great because I wasn’t in last week and everything so I worked twice as hard this week to come back to where I was before.”

The smell of upset was in the air early on. McKinley jumped out when senior linebacker Josh Grimsley blocked a Massillon punt and senior Dorian Chenault covered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Relford blocked the extra point attempt and McKinley was up 6‑0 with 7:09 of the first quarter.

The Tigers came right back to score on their next possession. Beginning on the Massillon 29, the Tigers went to Johnson on four consecutive plays and he advanced it to the McKinley 47. Then, out of the wing‑T, Steve Hymes picked up seven yards on a keeper play to the 40. On first down Hymes ‑ ran the option to perfection, pitching to Johnson when the defense committed to him. Johnson went untouched down the right sideline 40 yards to the end zone. Shafer’s point after was on target and Massillon was up 7‑6 with 4:47 showing on the first quarter clock.

It appeared Massillon was about to blow the game open when it scored the very next time it touched the ball. Matt Martin handed the ball to James Helscel on an end around, but Helscel pulled up and threw a strike down the right sideline to Devin Jordan for a 45‑yard gain to the Bulldog 15. After a holding penalty on Massillon, Martin connected with Jordan at the 10 and the senior wideout carried it into the end zone. Shafer’s kick made it 14‑6 Massillon with :20 left in the opening period.

Brinson tuned the momentum back in McKinley’s favor after the teams exchanged punts.

On a first down play from the Bulldog 25, the sophomore running back went around right end, somehow eluded a pack of Tiger tacklers at the line of scrimmage, then bolted 75 yards to pay dirt. Shaffer hooked up with Chris Jeter for a two‑point conversion and it was a 14‑14 contest at 11:34 of the second quarter. That’s the way it stayed until the waning moments of the first half.

Beginning on their own 47, the Tigers got in position for a field goal when Martin found Relford wide open along the left sideline for a 47‑yard gain. Three plays later, Shafer was true on a 21‑yard field goal to set the stage for the second half, and the Tigers drive to their fourth straight playoff berth.

Massillon 34
McKinley 17
First downs rushing 13 4
First downs passing 4 3
First downs by penalty 0 1
TOTAL first downs 17 8
Net yards rushing 248 150
Net yards passing 130 59
TOTAL yards 378 209
Passes attempted 13 26
Passes completed 5 14
Passes intercepted 0 2
Punts 7 6
Punting average 32.1 27.2
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 0/0
Penalties 9 2
Yards penalized 72 21
Massillon 14 03 07 10 34
McKinley 06 08 00 03 17


MCK ‑ Grimsley 10 blocked punt return (kick failed)
M ‑ Johnson 40 run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Martin 34 pass to Jordan (Shafer kick)
MCK ‑ Brinson 75 run (Shaffer to Jeter)
M ‑ Shafer 21 field goal
M ‑ Johnson 9 run (Shafer kick)
MCK ‑ Campbell 31 field goal
M ‑ Shafer 30 field goal
M ‑ Johnson 7 run (Shafer kick)


Massillon rushing: Johnson 31‑188, Woods 9‑37.
McKinley rushing: Brinson 17‑152.

Massillon passing: Martin 4‑12‑86 1 TD.
McKinley passing: Shaffer 5‑21‑59 4 INT.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 2‑78, Relford 1‑48, Johnson 1‑5.
McKinley receiving: Gillespie 2‑44.

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 54, Cleveland Lincoln West 6

Tigers put Lincoln West away with early burst
Massillon carries 7‑1 slate into Warren Harding showdown

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers two‑week, late‑season interlude against out‑manned opponents came to an end with a 54‑6 victory over the Cleveland Lincoln West Wolverines in front of 6.229 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.

The Tigers have scored 128 points in the last eight quarters of football against 0‑8 Woodrow Wilson and 0‑8 Lincoln West. Neither will be on the Massillon schedule next season.

Program Cover

In fact, there were persistent reports this week the Tigers attempted to buy out their contract with Lincoln West ‑which has lost 4 straight football games ‑ but were rebuffed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Massillon coach Rick Shepas denied there was any move to buy out the contract in favor of an open date, which would have been more beneficial for the Tigers from a computer playoff points standpoint.

Regardless of the quality of its foe, Massillon was on its game the first quarter. The Tigers had 11 snaps on offense in the initial 12 minutes of the contest and got a first down or a touchdown on nine of those plays.

“I thought we were really sharp,” Shepas said afterward. “I was really pleased with the way the players prepared this week. There was a lot of focus for a Lincoln West team. We wanted to improve and I believe we accomplished that tonight.”.

The Tigers led 34‑0 at the first stop on Shawn Crable’s 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, two Ricky Johnson touchdown runs, and two Matt Martin scoring passes ‑ one to Stephon Ashcraft that covered 18 yards and the other to Devin Jordan for 16 yards. Both touchdown passes were set up by interceptions by Tiger senior safety Dustin Jarvis.

“We wanted to let Matt Martin call the whole game offensively and he did a great job,” Shepas said. “Steve Hymes did much of the same in the second half.

“I thought we were’ sharp on both sides of the ball.” Martin completed 7 of 8 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in one quarter of play. He has connected on 16 of his last 18 aerials for 276 yards and five touchdowns.

If nothing else, the game provided a couple of injured Massillon starters an opportunity to ease back into action. Johnson did not play last week, resting a badly sprained ankle. The Tigers leading rusher started and played the entire first quarter of Friday’s rout, toting the ball three times for 13 yards.

“Ricky Johnson is 100 percent good as new,” Shepas reported. “You saw him running out there. He looked fresh and ready to go.”

Another seeing action after a lengthy layoff was senior inside linebacker Tony Graves, who had played in just one game since suffering a high ankle sprain in the season opener. Graves was in for one series of downs in the first quarter but did not return. “Tony Graves is getting back in the flow and ready to go,” Shepas said.

Two key Tigers who did not see action were starting strong safety Markeys Scott (shoulder) and No.2 running back Terrance Roddy (knee). “We look to get Markeys back Monday at practice if the doctors say OK,” Shepas said. “But it looks like Terrance will be out four to six weeks with that knee.”

Steve Hymes took over at quarterback for Massillon in the second quarter and hit Ryan Schindler with a 20‑yard touchdown pass. Max Shafer’s fifth point after kick made it 41‑0 with 3:43 to play in the half.

Lincoln West used a pass interference and two long pass completions ‑ one of which bounced off a Tiger defender and into the hands of Armando Lugo ‑ to get inside the Massillon 5‑yard line late in the first half. On fourth‑and‑goal, Michael Woulard bucked off right guard and into the end zone from about a foot out to break up the shutout.

Hymes, who rushed for 79 yards in 14 carries, scored from six yards out mid‑way through the third quarter to put the Tigers up 47‑6.

Junior running back Tuffy Woods closed the scoring with a nine‑yard touchdown run with 4:49 to play. He finished the night as the game’s leading ground gainer with 106 yards in 10 carries.

After having the team sing Happy Birthday to his daughter Maria, Shepas gave his charges the weekend off. He says the Tigers are where they need to be one week in advance of playing their most important game of the season against No.1 ranked Warren Harding.

“I think so,” he said. “These kids have done a great job from the time we started conditioning in the winter time. They practiced with great focus. “They’re a little bit on edge. They know the Ignatius game is going to factor in a little bit. They want to do their best to finish it out.”

If there was a down note for the Tigers in the game, it was their 10 penalties for 102 yards. But as Shepas noted, most came after the first team was long gone. “We played a pretty clean first half,” he said. Lincoln West head coach Walter Stokes was certainly impressed. “Massillon played a really good football game,” he said. “They are really well coached and fundamentally sound. I think they will have a nice run in the playoffs.”

For that to happen, the Tigers must first get past Warren Harding one week from tonight at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Massillon 54
Lincoln‑West 06
First downs rushing 13 3
First downs passing 10 3
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 24 9
Net yards rushing 231 11
Net yards passing 235 106
TOTAL yards 466 117
Passes attempted 20 18
Passes completed 15 5
Passes intercepted 0 3
Punts 0 4
Punting average 00.0 25.8
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 3/1
Penalties 10 6
Yards penalized 102 36

Massillon 34 07 06 07 54
Lincoln‑West 00 06 00 00 00


M ‑ Crabel 20 interception return (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 1 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Johnson 18 run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Ashcraft 18 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Jordan 16 pass from Martin (Shafer kick) M ‑ Schindler 20 pass from Hymes (Shafer kick) L‑W ‑ Woulard 1 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Hymes 6 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Woods 9 run (Smith kick)


Massillon rushing: Woods 10‑106 TD, Hymes 14‑79 TD, Pullin 3‑15, Johnson 3‑13 2 TDs, Walterhouse 2‑9, Pettis 2‑9.
Lincoln‑West rushing: Woulard 22‑39 TD.

Massillon passing: Martin 7‑8‑150 2 TDs. Hymes 8‑12‑85 TD.
Lincoln‑West passing: Abdul‑Hakim 4‑12‑61 3 INTs. Johnson 1‑6‑45.

Massillon receiving: Hauser 3‑51, Ashcraft 2‑45 TD, Jordan 2‑43 TD, Helscel 2‑39, Schindler 2‑31 TD, Woods 4‑26.
Lincoln‑West receiving: Abdul Hakim 1‑45, Lugo

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 74, Youngstown Woodrow Wilson 0

Massillon mauls Woodrow Wilson

Independent Sports Writer

With the mismatch between the Massillon Tigers and Youngstown Woodrow Wilson Redmen obvious from the start, among the Tigers priorities was keeping their key players healthy. No such luck.

Program Cover

An injury to senior running back Terrance Roddy ‑ Massillon’s second leading rusher this season cast a shadow over the Tigers 74‑0 victory over Wilson on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Massillon was closing in on its first touchdown of the game after receiving the opening kickoff when Roddy hurt his left knee on a carry that put the ball on the three‑yard line. After lying on the field for a minute, he limped off the field with assistance and didn’t return.

“We’re thinking it’s a knee sprain,” Massillon coach Rick Shepas said. “We don’t know. We, won’t know until we get it looked at.”

The Roddy injury comes one week after the Tigers top rusher Ricky Johnson limped off the field in the second half of the Mansfield game after aggravating his sprained ankle.

Aside from the injury to Roddy, the Tigers, now 6‑1 on the season, pretty much had their way with the 0‑7 Redmen.

For one thing, Shepas wanted to see a more disciplined performance from his team He wanted his squad to eliminate some of the penalties that have been problematic over the course of the first six weeks of the season. The Tigers only committed two infractions for 10 yards.

“I think our guys did a good job,” Shepas said. “They had a good week of practice and they played very enthusiastically instead of playing to the level of their opponents and that’s a credit to them.”

Another focus of Friday night’s action was the Tiger passing game. Despite the sheets of rain that fell throughout the first half of the contest, Massillon was able to get some work done in that area as well.

Starting quarterback Matt Martin played the first half and completed nine of his 10 passing efforts for 127 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to junior Shane Walterhouse and sophomore Brian Morningstar who split the quarterbacking duties in the second half. Devin Jordan led the receiving efforts with four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.

“We had a great game plan from our coaches,” Martin said. “The line blocked very well and I had a lot of time. The receivers caught the ball well in the wet weather and the backs ran hard. It was a total team effort.”

Prior to the injury, Roddy had set up the initial touchdown of the game with a run of 20 yards. After the injury, junior Tuffy Woods stepped right into the breach and looked very impressive. After finishing off the first scoring drive from three yards out, he quickly scored again on Massillon’s next possession.

Following a Billy Relford punt return to the Wilson 27, Woods carried for 26 yards before scoring on the next play on a 1‑yard run.

After the Tigers sent Wilson three and out again, junior quarterback Steve Hymes lined up as a running back and scored from 22 yards out on the first play of the drive. That was set up by another strong punt return by Relford.

After rushing for the first three touchdowns, the Tigers scored the next couple through the air. Martin hit A.J. Collins for a 15‑yard touchdown pass that made the score 26‑0 after the extra point kick by Max Shafer.

After a blocked punt gave the Tigers the ball on the Wilson eight, Martin threw a 10‑yard touchdown pass to James Heischel. A two‑point conversion on a pass from Relford to Woods made it 34‑0 at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter.

Martin finished his day off with a six‑yard touchdown pass to Jordan at the end of the second quarter to make the score 41‑0 at halftime.

Even after mass substitutions in the early going of the second half, the Tigers not have much difficulty continuing to dominate. Shepas was pleased with the performance of his backups. “In that second half I thought Eric Smith made some nice hits,” Shepas observed.

“Tomar Pettis did a real nice job on defense. Andrew Pullin ran the ball well and Walterhouse and Morningstar did a good job at quarterback.” Pullin raced in from 15‑yards out for one score early in the third quarter. Walterhouse scored on another 15‑yard run and Pullin broke another scoring run from the Wilson 45 to make it 61‑0 after three quarters.

“I saw the hole open up and I just took it,” Pullin said of his 45‑yard jaunt. “I hope that I’ll get to play a little more next‑week and hopefully I’ll be able to produce the same way.”

With Roddy possibly sidelined, that may indeed be the case. Pullin finished with 90 yards on 10 carries to lead the Tigers’ ground game.

The defensive backups got into the act as well as Pettis, a sophomore, sacked the quarterback for a 18‑yard loss and later dropped a Wilson running back for a fouryard loss.

“I had to pinch to the outside and there was the opening,” Pettis said of the sack. “I rushed in on the quarterback and I don’t think he even saw me at first.”

Pettis proved he could do it on offense to with a 17‑yard run with 1:06 to go in the contest and Gavin Pedrotty intercepted a Wilson pass ran in the final score as time expired.

As badly as his team was outplayed by the Tigers, Wilson coach Dan DiGiacomo was proud of his team for not quitting. Even late in the game, the Redmen exhibited enthusiasm after making a play.

“They played for 48,” DiGiacomo said. “We asked them to give all they had for 48 minutes and they did that.”

The garne marked the first start for Tiger linebacker Shawn Crable, who had seen some time against Mansfield after returning from foot surgery. After the game, the defensive stalwart said he felt fine.

“I was just happy to be back on the field,” Crable said. “I didn’t feel any pain. I was getting a little restless, but they held me out for the right amount of time.”

Massillon 74­
Wilson 00
First downs rushing 14 1
First gowns passing 4 0
First downs, by penalty 1 0
TOTAL first downs 19 1
Net yards rushing 251 ‑18
Net yards passing 141 20
TOTAL yards 392 2
Passes attempted 12 15
Passes completed 11 4
Passes Intercepted 0 1
Punts 0 5
Punting average 00.0 29.2
Fumbles/Lost 4/0 2/1
Penalties 2 2
Yards penalized 10 15

Massillon 19 22 20 13 74
Wilson 00 00 00 00 00


M ‑ Woods 3 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Woods I run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Hymes 22 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Collins 15 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Heiscel 10 pass from Martin (Woods pass from Relford)
M ‑ Jordan 6 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Pullin 15 run (Smith kick)
M ‑ Walterhouse 15 run (Smith kick)
M ‑ Pullin 45 run (Kick failed)
M ‑ Pettis 17 run (Smith kick)
M ‑ Pedrotty 63 interception return


Massillon rushing: Pullin 10‑87, Roddy 4‑34, Pettis 5‑32, Hymes 2‑31, Woods 3‑29, Walterhouse 4‑19, White 2‑12.
Wilson rushing: Benjamin 5‑11.

Massillon passing: Martin 9‑10‑126 3 TDs, Morningstar 2‑2‑15.
Wilson passing: Sims 4‑14‑20 INT.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 4‑92 TD, Collins 1‑14 TD, Woods 2‑12, Gates 1‑12,
Helscel 1 ‑10 TD, Smith 1‑3.
Wilson receiving: Jones 3‑12.

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 56, Mansfield Senior 0

It’s Tigers … spelled with an “I”
Mansfield’s Tygers are beaten in every phase of the game

Independent Sports Editor

Lennox Lewis over Mike Tyson.
Richard Nixon over George McGovern.
The German army over the French army.

Program Cover

One‑sided victories all. But no more so than Massillon’s 56‑0 demolition of a Mansfield Senior team that was 4‑1 and ranked seventh in its computer region coming into Friday night’s game that was played in front of 7,538 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

It was one‑sided almost from the opening kickoff as Massillon’s defense pitched its second shutout of the season and permitted Mansfield just two first downs in the first half, which ended with the Tigers comfortably in front 35‑0.

“Massillon has a very good football team I and we have a very young football team,” said Mansfield coach Stanley Jefferson. “They were able to physically come out and hammer it to us and we couldn’t do anything to stop them on either side of the football.”

That is reflected in the statistics as Massillon compiled 446 total yards to Mansfield’s 184.

It looked like the Tiger team that decimated its first three opponents and dominated St. Ignatius for a half.

“We are a very good football team when our kids are in the right frame of mind,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “They can’t been too high or too low. They have to be right in the middle with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. And that’s really important. That’s why we have to sit on them like we do. The better these kids feel about themselves, the more they take for granted.

“It took us a little longer to get over the Ignatius loss. We were moping around and we were flat against Fitch.” The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage all night long, rushing for over 330 yards and averaging over eight yards per running play.

“We had a good week of practice all week,” said Tiger offensive tackle J.P Simon. “We went extra hard every day. We’re trying to come off the ball and dominate. We just wanted to come out tonight and show everybody what we are about.

“Give the backs a lot of credit. They were breaking a lot of tackles and hitting the holes hard.”

Although he didn’t start the game, due to missing a practice this week, senior Ricky Johnson led the Massillon ground game with 111 yards and three touchdowns in only 12 carries.

Fellow senior Terrance Roddy was superb once again with 75 yards and a touchdown in only six totes.

“We got into a good flowing mixing up formations in the running game on them,” Shepas said. “I thought Matt Martin did a good job checking at the line of scrimmage and I thought we de a good job throwing as well.

“We didn’t make some plays in the pass game. As much as we throw it, we want to be better in that area.”

Just minutes after Massillon scored on a Steve Hymes to Brad Hauser three‑yard touchdown pass to close the scoring with 1:12 to play, the Tigers were doing what Shepas calls Green Bay conditioning drills in the middle of the field.

“Those are just a little reminder for people who aren’t giving effort or for penalties that might hurt us,” explained Tiger co‑captain Keith Wade. “We’re trying to eliminate that stuff and become a better football team.”

It’s hard to imagine a better team than Massillon showed in the first half against Mansfield. The Tigers scored on their second possession following a 24‑yard Mansfield punt.

On first down from the Mansfield 48, Roddy took a handoff from Martin and found an opening over right guard and tackle. Roddy broke it to the right sideline at the 45 and was off to the races, finally being dragged down at the 6.

Two plays later, Roddy went over right guard again for the touchdown from four yards out. Max Shafer’s kick made it 7‑0 Massillon at 5:25 of the first quarter.

Mansfield’s second possession was a three‑and‑‑out series that ended with a shanked punt that traveled just 14 yards.

“Our special teams have been sporadic all year,” lamented Jefferson. “You can’t do that against Massillon. They take advantage of that.”

A holding penalty on the Tigers negated an eight‑yard Roddy touchdown run following the punt, but Massillon scored two plays later when Martin completed a short pass to Roddy in the left flat, and the senior running back outran the pursuit to the end zone for the touchdown. Shafer’s point‑after conversion made it 14‑0 Massillon at 3:08 of the first.

Johnson was inserted in the game after Mansfield’s third punt in as many possessions gave Massillon the ball at midfield. On second‑and‑10, the 6 foot, 193‑pound senior skirted around right end for 36 yards to the Mansfield 15‑yard line.

Martin hooked up with George Pribich for 10 yards to the 1 and Johnson did the honors from there, bucking into the end zone at 11:15 of the second quarter. Shafer’s kick was true and the Tigers led 21‑0.

Once again Mansfield went three‑and‑out but an excellent punt forced Massillon to start at its own 23. A six‑play drive that included an 18‑yard inside run by Tuffy Woods was capped by a 32‑yard touchdown run by Johnson at 7:30 of the second quarter. Shafer’s point‑after made it 28‑0 Massillon.

Massillon’s final tally of the first half was set up when Michael White recovered a muffed punt at the Mansfield 25. Five plays later Johnson bowled over a Mansfield tackler at the one‑yard line and strode into the end zone for his second touchdown of the half. Shafer tacked on the conversion kick at 2:04 of the first half and it was a 35‑0 contest.

After a scoreless third quarter, Hymes found pay dirt on a 10‑yard bootleg run around left end at 10:28 of the fourth quarter.

Devin Jordan got into the act, hauling in a high‑arcing Hymes pass in the end zone just 12 seconds later after Massillon covered its own kickoff.

Massillon 56
Mansfield Senior 0
Mas Man
First downs rushing 15 7
First downs passing 3 2
First downs by penalty 2 0
TOTAL first downs 20 9
Net yards rushing 334 183
Net yards passing 112 1
TOTAL yards 446 184
Passes attempted 23 8
Passes completed 13 3
Passes intercepted 0 0
Punts 5 9
Punting average 33.6 32.7
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 3/2
Penalties 7 7
Yards penalized 68 60
Massillon 14 21 00 21 56
Mansfield 00 00 00 00 00


MAS ‑ Roddy 4 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Roddy 17 pass from Martin (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 1 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 25 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Johnson 3 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Hymes 10 run (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Jordan 26 pass from Hymes (Shafer kick)
MAS ‑ Hauser 3 pass from Hymes (Smith kick)


Massillon rushing: Johnson 12‑111 3 TDs, Roddy 6‑75 TD, Hymes 10‑68 TD,Woods 6‑61.
Mansfield rushing: Phillips 32‑149.

Massillon passing: Martin 11‑21‑83 TD, Hymes 2‑2‑29 2 TDs.
Mansfield passing: Molyet 3‑8‑1.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 2‑31 TD, Ashcraft 3‑23., Roddy 1‑17 TD, Woods 2‑13.
Mansfield reveiving: Greer 1‑3

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 24, Austintown Fitch 14

Back on track
Tigers bounce back with a convincing 24‑14 triumph over Austintown Fitch

Independent Sports Writer

It wasn’t one of those patented seven‑ or eight‑touchdown wins some folks have come to expect, but the Massillon Tigers were able to wear down the Austintown Fitch Falcons for a 24‑14 victory on Friday night at Falcon Stadium. The 4‑1 Tigers took advantage of an errant snap on a punt and a couple of big runs by Ricky Johnson to survive the Falcons, who fall to 3‑2 on the season.

Johnson ran the ball for 91 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns, but it was the 6‑foot, 193‑pound senior’s blocking that made Massillon coach Rick Shepas especially happy. With Johnson playing a role in paving the way, senior Terrance Roddy actually led the Tigers in rushing with 140 yards and a touchdown on 11 totes.

“Ricky has been doing a nice job on a banged up ankle,” Shepas said. “There is no one showing more courage on our football team then Ricky Johnson. He’s very unselfish. He did a very good job blocking for Terrance Roddy, who had a nice game himself.”

Johnson credited Roddy and his backfield mates for his success. “We’ve got three or four good backs,” Johnson said. “If they key on one, the other will hurt them. That opens the other backs. It goes both ways. I won’t let him absorb a hit, just like he won’t let me absorb a hit.”

While the Tigers were able to run the ball for a collective 278 yards, Austintown Fitch made sure that none of it would be easy. In fact, the Falcons let Massillon know right away that nothing was going to be easy.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and pounded their way to the Fitch 21‑yard line when they fumbled a snap out of the shotgun. Austintown’s Robert Hill scooped up the ball and ran it 30 yards. Eight plays later Jason Aikens plunged through for a one‑yard touchdown at the 5:55 mark of the first quarter.

Fitch stopped the Tigers on the ensuing drive, but returned the favor at the end of its next possession when a snap went over the punter’s head. The Falcons’ Shea Stewart alertly kicked the ball out of the end zone for the safety. The Tigers ‑ trailing 7‑2 ‑ were able to take advantage of the free kick.

Johnson broke off a 21‑yard run to set up his own three‑yard touchdown jaunt two plays later. Steve Hymes ran in a two‑point conversion to but Massillon up 10‑7 at the 19:22 mark.

“That was the turning point,” Shepas said. Fitch drove right back down the field and was threatening to retake the lead, when the Falcons gave Massillon another gift by coughing up the ball after reaching the Tiger 17. Brandon Fogle covered the fumble for Massillon.

Massillon had a chance to build some tremendous momentum in the closing minutes of the first half. A couple of Matt Martin passes to James Helscel moved the ball into the Falcon end. After getting inside the Fitch 10‑yard line, a sack and a couple of incomplete passes brought on the field goal unit. But Fitch’s Davanzo Tate came up with the block to keep it a three‑point ball game.

Any positive momentum that Fitch had going into the second half after the blocked field goal dissipated when the Tigers sent them three‑and‑out on their first three possessions of the third quarter.

After Aikens had run for 55 yards in the first half to lead the Falcons, Massillon held him to just 11 more after the band show. “They made some adjustments, but I don’t think we gave the plays a chance to develop,” Fitch coach Carl Pelini said. “They started pressing and starting pressing, cutting back and doing things that we haven’t done this year. They made some adjustments, but it was nothing that we couldn’t have adjusted to.”

Another big Johnson run helped the Tigers to another touchdown midway through the third quarter. He broke a 62‑yarder down the left sideline that put the ball on the Falcon 5. Roddy scored on the next play to make it a 17‑7 spread at that point.

The Falcons continued to struggle offensively and Massillon’s Jamaal Ballard blocked an Austintown punt and fell on it at the Falcon 5‑yard line. Johnson punched the ball in on the next play. Eric Smith’s second extra point of the game gave the Tigers a commanding 24‑7 lead at the 5:57 mark of the fourth quarter.

Austintown did score in the closing minute of the game to make the final a little more respectable. A three‑yard run by Dallas Root capped off a 35‑yard drive that occurred after Massillon fumbled a punt snap.

Martin completed nine of 16 passes for 91 yards. Helscel caught a team‑leading five balls for 46 yards.

Part of the game’s overtone, especially early on, for the Tigers was putting the St. Ignatius loss behind them and Shepas felt that they did that. “Last week was a tough one for everyone,” he said. “Everyone in the community wanted that win and we played so well for three quarters. It’s bound to stay with you for a while, but this has been a good place for us. Our kids showed that they can persevere through the adversity for a job well done.”

With Fitch having had three wins against solid programs in GlenOak, Jackson and Mansfield, Johnson knew a slew of playoff computer points were on the line if the Tigers could post a win. “We came in and did what we had to do, ” Johnson said. “We needed the points.”

Massillon 24
Fitch 14
First downs rushing 10 4
First downs passing 5 4
First downs by penalty 1 2
TOTAL first downs 16 10
Net yards rushing 245 74
Net yards passing 91 60
TOTAL yards 336 134
Passes attempted 16 7
Passes completed 9 4
Passes intercepted 0 0
Punts 4 6
Punting average 38.8 35.5
Fumbles/Lost 3/1 2/1
Penalties 9 3
Yards penalized 119 15

Massillon 02 08 07 07 24
Fitch 07 00 00 07 14

AF ‑ Aikens 1 run (Stewart kick) 5:55
M ‑ Safety, punt kicked out of end zone 0:01
M ‑ Johnson 3 run (Hymes run) 9:22
M ‑ Roddy 5 run (Smith kick) 5:11
M ‑ Johnson 5 run (Smith kick) 5:57
AF ‑ Root 3 run (Stewart kick) 0:27


Massillon rushing:
Roddy 11‑140 TD, Johnson 16‑91 2 TDs, Hymes 4‑21.
Fitch rushing: Aikens 20‑45 TD.

Massillon passing:
Martin 9‑16‑91.
Fitch passing: Aikens 2‑4‑38, Hassen 2‑3‑22.

Massillon receiving:
Helscel 5‑46.
Fitch receiving: Root 1‑28.

Shawn Crable
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2002: Massillon 21, Cleveland St. Ignatius 29

St. Ignatius too much for Tigers

Independent Sports Editor

It was a Friday the 13th horror story of Hollywood proportions for a vast majority of the 15,051 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium who witnessed the Massillon Tigers 29‑21 defeat at the hands of Cleveland St. Ignatius Friday night.

Program Cover

The Tigers looked like a well‑oiled machine in taking a 14‑3 halftime lead and out‑gaining the defending state champions 236‑74 in total yards in the first half.

Massillon extended its advantage to 21‑3 on Billy Relford’s 81‑yard interception return for a touchdown with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

With St. Ignatius star running back Carter Welo sitting on the bench with a left shoulder injury, it appeared the Tigers were well on their way to their first‑ever victory over the Wildcats.

Despite an 18‑point deficit, Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle stayed cool and so did his charges. “We needed to get a score,” Kyle said. “It’s 21‑3. Plenty of time. If we get one in here, there’s plenty of time.”

A facemask call on Massillon gave St. Ignatius the ball near midfield on its ensuing possession. Two plays later, Tony Gonzalez shook himself loose in the Tiger secondary and junior quarterback Brian Hoyer found him for a 37‑yard pass and run for six points. The conversion kick was good and Massillon’s lead had been sliced to 21‑9 with a few seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“Tony gets that one and he has that great speed and he takes off and gets it and that’s just what we needed right there because the kids got excited,” Kyle said. “They got excited. “When things are going wrong, you just say something is going to hit and you put it in the hands of the guys who can get it done for you.” That would be Gonzalez, who has verbally committed to play his football at Ohio State next season.

After Massillon went three‑and‑out on its next possession, St. Ignatius took over at its 31. Two Hoyer completions moved the ball to the Massillon 35. Then it was back to Gonzalez, who got behind the Tigers coverage and caught Hoyer’s high‑arcing 35‑yard aerial in the end zone at 9:59 of the fourth quarter. The kick made it Massillon 17, St. Ignatius 16, and the Wildcats could smell blood.

W hat happened next was truly a nightmare for the Tigers. Beginning on their 20‑yard line, Massillon was flagged consecutively for too many players on the field, an illegal formation and a false start to set up first‑and‑25 from the 5‑yard line. One play later, Gonzalez stepped in front of a Massillon pass in the flats and zipped 15 yards to pay dirt. The conversion pass play failed but St. Ignatius was now on top 22‑21.

Massillon looked to be rallying back following the kickoff. The Tigers moved the ball to near midfield on four consecutive running plays. On the fifth, they coughed up the football and the Wildcats recovered on the Massillon 43.

A 25‑yard Hoyer pass to an uncovered Gonzalez set up Joe Palcko’s two‑yard scoring burst. The point after kick made it St. Ignatius 29, Massillon 21 with 4:41 to go.

The Tigers would move the football to the Ignatius 30 in the game’s waning moments but four straight incompletions ended any hope for a late comeback

Afterward, Massillon head coach Rick Shepas was composed. “I think we could have played harder in the second half but this is part of the learning process,” he said. “When the momentum went, it went pretty quick.”

And how do you stem the tide against a team as accomplished at coming back as St. Ignatius?

“You just have to make some plays,” Shepas said. “We were in position to make some plays and we didn’t. “It’s another situation where we’ve played them four times. We had them beat three out of the four probably and we just let them have it. They’re a good team and that’s why they win. They have a great coaching staff. But it’s all a part of the process and it’s a matter of how we handle it from here.”

Massillon was held to 68 total yards in the second half and Shepas praised Kyle and his staff for their halftime adjustments. “They made some good adjustments but nothing we couldn’t handle,” he said. “It’s all a part of the process. It is a long season. It’s 15 games and our guys have to learn how to play four quarters with this team.”

Defending state champs continue Tigers, mastery of Massillon 29‑21 verdict

For the first two quarters, it appeared Massillon had finally gotten over the hump against its chief tormentor.

The defense set up both of the Tigers first half touchdowns by intercepting Hoyer on a pair of deep throws.

The first pickoff came on a third‑and‑11 call from the Wildcat 41‑yard line. Hoyer was looking to Gonzalez on a deep post pattern but senior free safety Craig McConnell swooped in front and intercepted the football on a dead run at the Massillon 30, returning it to the St. Ignatius 48.

On first down from there, left guard Vince Volpe and left tackle Bradley Grizzard opened up a gaping hole and Johnson tore through the cavity for 34 yards to the 14.

One play later, Johnson who rushed for 209 yards in 23 carries ‑ galloped around the left end of the Massillon line and went untouched into the end zone as senior wideout Stephon Ashcraft wiped out a St. Ignatius defensive back with a superb block. Max Shafer tacked on the extra point and Massillon led 7‑0 at 9:20 of the second quarter.

Hoyer again tested the Tiger secondary on the Wildcats ensuing possession, throwing down the left hash mark as Marquees Watkins applied the rush. Relford made a leaping interception at mid‑field and Massillon was in business once again. Three running plays ‑ two by Terrance Roddy and one by Tuffy Woods ‑ gave the Tigers a first down at the St. Ignatius 41.

Then it was time for Johnson to shine once again. The 5‑foot, 193‑pound senior took a handoff from quarterback Matt Martin and burst through a hole opened up by senior center Reggie McCullough. He was 10 yards past the line of scrimmage when he encountered Ignatius defensive back Darnell Martemus, shaking right then exploding past the stunned Wildcat and into the end zone. Shafer’s conversion kick was true and Massillon led 14‑0 at 6:46 of the second quarter.

St. Ignatius avoided the first half shutout with a 387 yard field goal at 4:15 of the second quarter.

“We have some soul searching to do because at times we didn’t play our best football,” Shepas said.

“That’s a great football team … Massillon,” Kyle remarked. “This was a great battle. People got their money’s worth.”

That is if you’re a fan of horror stories.

St. Ignatius 29
Massillon 21
First downs rushing 12 6
First downs passing 2 10
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 14 19
Net yards rushing 250 103
Net yards passing 54 203
TOTAL yards 304 406
Passes attempted 21 25
Passes completed 5 12
Passes intercepted 2 4
Punts 5 5
Punting average 40.6 31.4
Fumbles/Lost 3/2 2/0
Penalties 10 1
Yards penalized 88 5

Massillon 00 14 07 00 21
Ignatius 00 03 06 20 29


M ‑ Johnson 15 run (Shafer kick)
M ‑ Johnson 41 run (Shafer kick)
I ‑ Kedzior 38 FG
M ‑ Relford 81 interception return (Shafer kick)
I ‑ Gonzalez 37 pass from Hoyer (Run failed)
I ‑ Gonzalez 35 pass from Hoyer (Kedzior kick)
I ‑ Gonzalez 15 interception return (Massey pass from Hoyer)
I ‑ Palcko 2 run (Kedzior kick) MEN


Massillon rushing: Johnson 23‑203 2 TDs, Roddy 9‑42, Woods 7‑14.
St. Ignatius rushing: Welo 16‑78, Palcko 12‑43 TD.

Massillon passing: Martin 5‑21‑54 2 INTs.
St. Ignatius passing: Hoyer 12‑25‑203 2 TDs, 4 INTs.

Massillon receiving: Jordan 3‑40, Heiscel 1‑9, Hill 1‑5.
St. Ignatius receiving: Gonzalez 4‑102 2 TDs, Kralik 5‑59, Massey 2‑31.

Shawn Crable