Tag: <span>T.R. Rivera</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 10, Canton McKinley 7

Massillon tops McKinley in OT

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ It looked like plain old mud wrestling, but Mas­sillon defensive tackle Bob Dun­widdie said it had a name.

“It’s called our sci‑fi stomp,” he said after the Tigers’ dramatic 10‑7 overtime high school football victory over McKinley Saturday before 17,000 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Program Cover

After McKinley’s Akram Alzught missed a 38‑yard field goal on the last play of the game, Mas­sillon’s players sprinted to the 50­-yard line and began rolling around in the mud. They got up for a little dancing, and then it was back down in the muck for more celebrating.

But even the guy who has to wash the jerseys had to be smiling. The victory snapped a four‑game losing streak for the Tigers against McKinley, and some say it could even make the difference Tuesday when Massillon voters decide whether they want a new high school.

“I won a state championship (at Galion in 1985), but this is bigger, “ said Massillon coach Lee Owens. “This community has been down, and we needed it. This is just an unbelievable win.”

The deciding points came on a 23‑yard field goal by junior Lee Hurst on Massillon’s first series of overtime. It was Hurst’s first field goal of the season.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1988

As if the way he won it wasn’t spectacular enough, Hurst almost won the game in more dramatic fashion. With 2:07 left in regula­tion, his 47‑yard field goal attempt was wide right by about two feet.

“That was frustrating because I thought I had it, and it just went, wide,” said Hurst, who pounded the turf in agony after the kick. “But I was able to get it out of mind quickly.

McKinley (6‑4) won the overtime toss, and e!ected to let the Tigers (7‑3) have the first possession. Beginning at the McKinley 20, Massillon got one first down, but the drive stalled at the 7, and Hurst booted the go‑ahead field goal.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1988

In the first half, a driving rain and severe winds hampered the kicking game. But, fortunately for Hurst, there was no rain and little wind when the game was on the line.

On the second play of McKinley’s overtime possession, Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Henry threw the ball into the end zone to a wide‑open Alfred Hill, but the ball slipped through Hill’s hands.

“When I saw him wide open, my heart missed one full beat,” Owens said. “When I saw we were still alive, I said to myself, ‘Thank God, we finally got a break this season.”

Two plays later, Alzught squibb­ed his field‑goal attempt to the left, and pandemonium erupted.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1988

While it was one of the most dramatic endings in the 94‑year­ old rivalry (Massillon leads the series 51‑38‑5), much of the game matched every cliche uttered by the two coaches all week. It was hard‑hitting and intense. Nobody literally left their heart on the field, but some players came very close.

Both touchdowns were scored in the second quarter. With 7:40 left in the half, McKinley halfback Derrick Gordon, who gained 77 yards on 22 carries, scored on a one‑yard run, and Alzught added the extra point.

With 2:09 left before intermis­sion, Jamie Slutz hit Doug Harig with a seven‑yard TD toss, and Hurst kicked the extra point. Slutz is the Tigers’ backup quarterback, but he was in the game thanks to the latest surprise from Owens.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1988

While the chains were being moved for a first down, Owens sneaked Slutz into the game as a running back. Before McKinley had a chance to react, quarterback Hurst had handed the ball off to Slutz, who flipped the ball to a wide‑open Harig.

“Coach put that in a couple of weeks ago, but we didn’t want to use it until then,” Slutz said. “We were saving it for McKinley.”

“I recognized it right away, and I was yelling to the players,” said McKinley coach Thom McDaniels. “But it’s hard when you’re 30 yards away and 17,000 people are screaming.

The story in the second half was defense. When McKinley got down to the Massillon 9 late in the third quarter linebacker David Lewell smashed Lamuel Flowers for a one‑yard loss on fourth‑and‑1.

Led by the running of Jason Staf­ford, who gained 123 yards on 21 carries, Massillon twice advanced inside the McKinley 40‑yard line. But twice McKinley’s defense forced fumbles.

By the fourth quarter, the Tigers’ defense was frustrating McKinley to such a degree that McDaniels felt he needed to take a huge gamble.

With 5:53 left and the Bulldogs facing fourth‑and‑2 at the 50, McKinley tried a fake punt. The ball was snapped to up‑back Darnell Clark, but he was stopped a half‑yard short of the first down.

McDaniels said he thought it was a “win or lose” gamble, but it was neither after Hurst’s 47‑yarder just missed on Massillon’s ensuing possession.

Tiger back: Defense

‘main factor’

Key plays in overtime hidden
factors in victory vs. McKinley

Total first downs 13 11
Rushing attempts 42 43
Net yards rushing 197 138
Net yards passing 38 119
Total yards gained 235 257
Passes attempted 13 19
Passes completed 4 8
Passes Int. by 0 1
Punts 5 4
Punting average 33.0 32.8
Fumbles 3 2
Fumbles lost 1 2
Penalties 1 3
Yards penalized 10 19
Attendance 17,750


(Mas) Stafford 21‑123, Dixon 6­-48, Hurst 10‑9, Dunwiddle 4‑18
(McK) Gordon 22‑77, Flowers 11‑42, Henry 2‑15, White 4‑7.

(Mas) Hurst 3‑12‑131, Stutz 1‑1‑0 7.
(McK) Henry 8‑19‑0, 119.

(Mas) Stafford 2‑24, D. Harig 1‑7, Spencer 1‑7.
(McK) Flowers 3‑27, Hunter 3-52, Hedrick 1-15, White 1-13.

McKINLEY 0 7 0 0 0 7
MASSILLON 0 7 0 0 3 10

McK ‑ Gordon 1 run (Alzught kick)
Mas ‑ D. Harig 7 pass from Slutz (Hurst Kick)
Mas – FG Hurst 23

Key plays in overtime hidden
factors in victory vs. McKinley

Independent Sports Editor

If they had a draft of Stark Coun­ty’s high school football players Jason Stafford might be the first pick in the whole thing.

Stafford did his usual thing Satur­day, rushing for 123 yards in the Massillon Tigers’ 10‑7 overtime vic­tory over the McKinley Bulldogs.

Yet, Stafford’s view of the glo­rious day was that, if there was a draft of high school players and he was picking, he’d say, “I’ll start with defense … and I’ll take those Massillon guys.”

“The defense played great Stafford said in a mud‑caked locker room after the Tigers sealed a 7‑3 season and froze McKinley’s final ’88 mark at 6‑4.

“The defense,” Stafford said, “was the main factor in the game.”

Sure, it was Lee Hurst’s clutch 23‑yard overtime field goal that put the Tigers ahead 10‑7. And it was a missed 38‑yard field goal by McKin­ley’s Akram Alzught that ended the game.

But it was the defense that kept McKinley from winning the game in regulation.

And it was the defense that made it so Alzught’s final field goal attempt was 38 yards ‑ a mile by high school standards, especially on the muddy field the Paul Brown Tiger Stadium gridiron became as a result of Friday/Saturday cloud­bursts.

“We came together when we had to come together,” said nose guard Steve Harlan, who played despite a torn shoulder. “They broke through a couple of times, but we sucked it up.”

Late in the third quarter, with McKinley driving toward what could have been a killing touch­down, the Bulldogs elected to go for a first down on fourth‑and‑one from the Tiger 10. Bulldog fullback Lamuel Flowers had been playing with fire all day, and the give went to him. Tiger linebacker David Led­well also went to him, smashing Flowers into a standup position, The Tiger line drove him backward and Massillon got the ball on downs.

“They tried to run off tackle and we stuffed it,” said Tiger end Steve Snodgrass, who was in on the play.

Now the game was in overtime. Both teams got a chance to line up at the 20 and try to score.

The Tigers, losing the coin toss and having to go first, rammed in­side the 10 before settling for Hurst’s field goal.

Hurst’s heart leaped when the snap was slightly off line, but Todd Porter managed to make a clean spot.

“I have to do it,” is what Hurst ,said he was thinking. He did, with his first field goal of the season.

Now McKinley had a chance to counter, getting the ball on first down at the 20.

Chad Buckland and Jason Rel­ford slammed tailback Derrick Gordon for a yard loss. Then came the play that made 17,750 hearts jump. McKinley quarterback Ryan Henry rolled right and looked to the end zone. At the last minute he un­leashed a bullet toward tight end Alfred Hill, wide open in the end zone. Hill didn’t get in front of the ball and it zipped by his fingers.

Most fans were locked in on the wide‑open Hill. Many missed the fact Henry was pummeled by Tiger tackle Trace Liggett as he threw. Without Liggett’s rush, Henry would have been able to case the ball to Hill. Instead, he had to fire a rocket shot that was ever so slightly off line. With the ball as slippery as it was, ever so slightly can be ever so much.

The Tigers survived. On the next play, senior defensive back Mike Pritchard made a superb play in knifing in front of Gordon and knocking away what could have been a critical completion at the 7.

Now McKinley had to try a long field goal. The attempt did not come close, being kicked on a low line far short of the uprights. The Massillon part of the crowd ‑ which was the vast majority ‑ erupted while the ball was in the air.

McKinley’s four‑game winning streak against Massillon was over. The Tigers had won.

The game was played on a roller coaster, both in terms of the action and the weather.

Rain that started during the pre­vious night and gained momentum as the game approached left the field soaked. The contest started in a drizzle, but, in the second quarter, that turned to one of the heaviest downpours the series has seen.

First‑year head coach Lee Owens has brought a lot of good things to Tigertown. One, of them nobody knew about was PAM.

Tiger equipment manager Keith Herring said PAM ‑ a slick veget­able spray ‑ was used liberally on the bottoms of the Tigers’ spikes.

“It really helped keep the mud off our shoes,” said running back Lamont Dixon.

The Tigers mounted an outstand­ing ground attack late in the first half and through most of the second half.

The rain subsided by the third quarter and the sun actually broke through the clouds early in the fourth.

It was McKinley breaking through first on the scoreboard. The Bull­dogs won the battle of field position early and, on their third possession, had to drive only 37 yards following a punt for a touchdown.

Henry’s fourth‑and‑three bootleg run worked to perfection and gave McKinley first and goal at the 8. On fourth down at the 1, McKinley cal­led time out, then sent Gordon, who finished with 77 yards in 22 carries, over the left side for a touchdown. Alzught’s kick made it 7‑0 with 7:40 left in the first half.

A deflected pass and interception gave McKinley the ball back mo­ments later, but the Pups lost a promising series when Tiger line­backer Tom Mattox pounced on a Flowers fumble at the Massillon 35. From there, Stafford and junior run­ning back Lamont Dixon followed the Tiger line down the field.

Stafford gained 8 yards and Dixon stormed for 10. An 8‑yard bootleg run by Hurst put the ball on the McKinley 37, then Hurst connected with Stafford on a wide‑open screen pass for 30 yards to the 7.

Owens then sent in one of the sec­ret plays the Tigers were saving for the McKinley game. Jamie Slutz, a senior who has performed well all year in the role of backup quarter­back/trick play artist, sprinted into the game and lined up at “A‑back,” which usually is Dixon’s position.

“We’ve practiced that for three weeks,” Slutz said. “We were sav­ing it for this game.”

McKinley’s defense didn’t have a chance to react to Bulldog coaches screaming from the sidelines. Slutz took a handoff from Hurst, backed up a step, and spotted junior Doug Harig breaking free in the end zone. Slutz gently lofted a perfect pass over the only McKinley defender in the neighborhood and Harig made an over‑the‑shoulder catch. Hurst’s kick made it 7‑7 with 2:07 left in the half.

Momentum had shifted.

“It was a 949 special,” Harig said. “The ball looked like a pea when it was coming to me. But I figured I’d better catch it, or just keeping run­ning to the locker room.”

McKinley controlled much of the first half, but the Tigers dominated the second half after McKinley’s big third‑quarter drive was stopped at the 10.

A 19‑yard scramble by Hurst got Massillon out of the hole, and a 31­-yard sideline scamper by Stafford put the Tigers in scoring position at the McKinley 34. Dixon made a nice run to the 22 but fumbled and the Bulldogs took over.

The Massillon defense forced a three‑and‑out series and the Tigers drove again, this time to the McKin­ley 38 before Hurst and Stafford mis­sed a handoff and the Bulldogs reco­vered at the 41 midway through the fourth quarter.

McKinley gambled on fourth down on its resulting possession, when a run on a faked punt was stop­ped near midfield.

Hurst wound up trying a 47‑yard field goal with 2:07 left.

When it was over, Jeff Harig, Doug’s brother, wore a huge grin that shone through a face hidden by mud.

“They had a lot of people going both ways, and maybe we were a little fresher at the end,” said Jeff, who was on the field as a blocker, as was Doug, in the double tight end set the Tigers used to run the ball into position for Hurst in overtime.

“We won. That’s all that mat­ters.

McKinley streak goes ‘poof’

Tiger tight end Harig says he was helped by
a cream puff

Independent Correspondent

Doug Harig enjoyed a post‑game hotdog moments after the Massil­lon Tigers devoured some ‘Dogs on the football field Saturday.

The tight end offered some food for thought on the significance of the Tigers’ 10‑7 overtime victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley.

“We finally got our pride back,” said, Harig. “This win offsets our three losses.”

Sure, the setbacks to Austintown ­Fitch, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Warren Harding hurt. The last ­second defeats at Fitch and at War­ren were especially heartbreaking. But a fifth consecutive loss to McKinley undoubtedly would have exceeded all those combined.

Backyard bragging rights were at stake Saturday afternoon and there hasn’t been anything for Ti­ger fans to hoot and holler about in this rivalry since the days of Chris Spielman, Brian Dewitz, Tom Gru­no, Craig Johnson and Company.

Lee Owens understood. The first ­year Massillon head coach was ex­tremely emotional after his team’s seventh and unquestionably most important victory of the season.

“This town has been hungry the last four years and this win was for the entire Massillon community,” he said.

No added incentive was needed for Massillon. But Harig said he had a personal one after a surprise package was delivered to his home earlier in the week.

“There was a cream puff in it with a note,” he explained. The note read: Dear Jeff, you’re the only cream puff bigger than this. Feed it to your brother too.

“We didn’t eat it. We don’t know who sent it, but whoever did, thank you. It fired us up.”

Jeff Harig, the senior tight end, was held without a pass reception Saturday. But he concluded the year with 26 catches for 259 yards, and three touchdowns – hardly cream puff kind of numbers.

His younger brother snagged a Jamie Slutz toss as easily as catch­ing a cream puff in the second quar­ter. The seven‑yard touchdown catch whetted the Tigers’ appetite that set up the dramatic win.

Jeff finished his high school career at Massillon on a winning note. Doug, a 6‑1, 173‑pound junior, can’t wait for 1989.

“This win will carry over to next year and we need some momentum because we play Moeller and Mid­dletown early,” he said .

Starting free safety Joe Pierce had a touchdown‑saving tackle in the fourth quarter. The 6‑0, 161­pound junior echoed Harig’s senti­ments.

“This is a big win for the juniors and will make it easier to work har­der (in preparation) for next sea­son,” said Pierce.

Of course, the victory also meant a lot to the seniors. It was their last McKinley game. Defensive tackle Trace Liggett couldn’t have asked for anything more.

“I don’t think I’ll ever play in as big a game, unless it’s the Super Bowl,” said Liggett, who is re­garded as a major college prospect. “It was a great win and a great way to end the season.”

Last May 13, Owens was hired as the new football coach. Liggett attended the press conference where Owens was introduced. He was impressed with the youthful coach then and even more so after playing for him.

“He is an inspiration to us. He is a good teacher and made practice fun. The players wanted to work hard for him,” said Liggett.

“This win is a big springboard to next year,” said Owens. “I feel that we would have had to start all over (with the program) if we had lost.”

As it worked out, cream puffs ‑and victory ‑ never tasted better.

Expectations fulfilled

Hurst’s winning field goal puts
finishing touch on Tigers’ year

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ When your quar­terback’s passing percentage is better than your kicker’s extra ­point percentage, it usually means you’ve either got a great quarter­back or a lousy kicker.

That is, except in Massillon. Tigers’ coach Lee Owens says he has a great quarterback and a great kicker.

Lee Hurst handles both jobs for the Tigers. He’s done an excellent job at quarterback all season. As far as his kicking performance is concerned, until Saturday, the less said about it the better.

But in Massillon’s 10‑7 overtime victory over McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Hurst showed that Owens knows what he’s talking about.

Hurst, who had made only 11‑of-­21 previous extra points and had not made a field goal all season. made his only extra‑point attempt and he kicked a 23‑yard field goal in overtime that gave the Tigers the win.

“I never lost confidence in Lee,” Owens said. “He’s been taking a lot of heat all season, but he did the job.”

Hurst’s most impressive kick was actually one that he missed. With 2:09 left in the game, Massil­lon faced fourth‑and‑13 from the McKinley 30. A field goal from there would have to travel 47 yards, one yard shorter than the Massillon record.

“I asked Lee if he could make a field goal from the distance, and he said, ‘I can make it,” Owens said. “He almost did.”

Hurst’s kick had plenty of distance, but it was wide right by about two feet.

After the game, while being hugged by most of the population of Massillon, Hurst dedicated the vic­tory to the Tigers’ seniors.

“I’m only a junior, so next year will be my year, ” Hurst said. “But this year belongs to our seniors.”

The seniors are the players who have suffered the most at the hands of McKinley. The Bulldogs had defeated the Tigers four straight times, the most con­secutive victories for a McKinley team since the early 1900s.

“This game meant everything to our season,” said senior running back Jason Stafford, who rushed for 123 yards on 21 carries. “I didn’t care if we started out the’ season 0‑9 as long as we beat McKinley.”

“This is just a great feeling,” said senior defensive tackle Trace Liggett, who spearheaded a Mas­sillon defense that held the Bulldogs to 117 yards and no points in the second half and overtime. “I can’t even describe how I feel right now, To beat McKinley is what it’s all about.”

Interestingly, in 1983, the last time Massillon beat McKinley, Tigers’ defensive tackle Bob Dunwiddie was pulling for the Bulldogs.

“Sure, I was cheering for McKinley,” Dunwiddie said. “I lived in Canton and attended Souers Junior High through the seventh grade, Then in the eighth grade I moved to Massillon and became Tiger.”

Owens said beating the Bulldogs meant everything to the Tigers’ season.

“If we had lost it would have been just like starting over,” Owens said. “But winning means that we’ve achieved the type of season we wanted. It’s rubber ­stamped the season. And it’s also a building block for next year.”

The Tigers finished the year 7‑3, one game better than last season. Massillon lost its three games by a combined margin of nine points.

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 46, Washington D.C. Woodson 12

Tigers fully tuned for big test vs. McKinley

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers have lost exactly two McKinley tuneups since 1932.

It was obvious by 8:15 p.m. Saturday that the 1988 get‑ready game Would follow the old pattern.

Program Cover

Informed of the Tigers’ amazing record in pre‑McKinley games, head coach Lee Owens smiled wryly and said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with scheduling, does it?”
Well, it just might.

The Woodson High team from Washington, D.C., that fell to the Tigers 46‑12 was stocked with talented players.

“We could put eight or nine of them to good use,” one Massillon coach said on the sideline while watching the carnage.

Talent not withstanding, Woodson lacked numerous aspects of the Massillon machine that have made football here what it is ‑ which is pretty darned good, even if it’s not what it once was.

“I’ve been coaching for 26 years, and that’s probably one of the best teams I’ve ever seen,” Woodson head coach Bob Headen said.

The Tigers led 40‑6 at halftime, by which time junior running back Lamont Dixon had done most of his damage in a night that included 104 rushing yards in only seven carries, with touchdown runs of 10, 29 and 53 yards. Senior fullback Jason Staf­ford rushed 12 times for 97 yards, giving him 875 yards on the year. He scored two touchdowns.

Stafford said he is at “95 percent” in his recovery from a pulled ham­string.

Quarterbacks Lee Hurst and Jamie Slutz combined to complete 10 of 13 passes for 90 yards.

The Tiger defense almost could have passed for an offense, based on the amount of time it spent in the Woodson backfield. Warrior play­ers were thrown for 56 yards in losses.

Both teams ran 46 plays. Therein the similarities ended.

The Tigers pronounced them­selves fully tuned for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game against McKinley at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The fans are ready, too. Hundreds of them were lined up outside the Ti­ger Stadium ticket office this morn­ing at 7, 30 minutes before the win­dow opened. Tickets were to be sold through 4 p.m. today.

The Tigers and Bulldogs both en­ter Saturday’s showdown (the Ti­gers lead the series that started in 1894 50‑38‑5) with identical 6‑3 re­cords. This is the result of McKinley having been stunned 9‑6 Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium by Cen­tral Catholic.

Jeff Mayle, a lineman who helped open gaping holes for Dixon and Stafford Saturday, didn’t know and seemed not to care what impact McKinley’s loss would have on the Bulldogs.

“I wouldn’t say we ever root for McKinley,” Mayle said. “I just want to help us beat them. The key will be for us to block their speed. Their nose guard, (Lamuel) Flow­ers, is really quick.”

Mayle didn’t know that Flowers, who made the Stark County coaches’ all‑county team last year as a junior, missed Saturday’s game because of a disciplinary suspension. Whether he will play this week is uncertain, although fans and coaches from Massillon are presuming Flowers will suit up.

Tiger senior Shawn Ashcraft was surprised by the McKinley score.

“I was hoping we’d both win so we’d both come into the game on a bubble, and we could burst theirs,” he said.

Bob Dunwiddie, Massillon’s senior defensive tackle/bull offense running back, figures the Bulldogs can worry about themselves.

“I don’t think we could be any more ready after beating St. Joseph and killing these guys (Woodson),” he said.

The mood among the Massillon coaches was tense in the locker room after the Woodson game.

Everyone was laughing heartily the previous week, when the Tigers drilled Cleveland St. Joseph 33‑8. Now it was different. It was time to think about McKinley, which has defeated Massillon four straight times.

“There’s only one thought run­ning through my mind,” Owens said. “There’s been only one thought running through my mind all week. I kept getting messed up in practice and I had to catch my­self.”

The thought, of course, was beat­ing McKinley.

“That thought has dominated since day one,” Owens said.

The 32‑year‑old, first‑year Mas­sillon coach said he had hoped Woodson would give the Tigers a greater challenge in Game Nine.

On the plus side, Owens said, “We were able to play an opponent where it didn’t make as much a dif­ference if we looked ahead. We were running things designed for McKinley all week.”

Anticipation for the game seems to be at the same level as it has been in past years when both teams en­tered with superior records.

Owens shares that impression, citing “McKinley’s streak, a new head coach in Massillon, and the fact both teams have been out­standing somewhere along the line this year.”

Behind the scenes is another fac­tor. Owens and Thom McDaniels, the seventh‑year head coach at McKinley, are not the best of friends. McDaniels is miffed that Owens said during the pre‑season that he would not participate in a film exchange between the teams.

As for Massillon‑Woodson, it was not the best of games, although it did feature some entertaining mo­ments before most of the fans began clearing out in the third quarter.

The Tigers drove 41 yards on six plays with their first possession, scoring on a 10‑yard counter play blocked so well Dixon could have jogged into the end zone.

A snap far over the Woodson pun­ter’s head set up the Tigers at the 4‑yard line moments later. Stafford scored from 2 yards out and it was 13‑0.

Woodson quickly had to punt, and the Tigers quickly drove to score 57 yards in three plays, the last of which was a 29‑yard blast by Dixon.

It was 20‑6 after one quarter, the result of Woodson benefiting from a tipped ball that became a 40‑yard scoring pass.

The Tigers added touchdowns from Dixon (his 53‑yard explosion), Stafford (on a 4‑yard Hurst Pass), Hurst (on a 2‑yard run) and De­smond Carpenter (on a 3‑yard pass from Slutz).

Running back Kyen Hill was a bright spot for Woodson with 97 rushing yards in 20 carries. Hill, who says he runs a 4.3 40 and is strongly considering playing at Ohio State, enjoyed the trip to Tigertown.

“The hospitality of the people in town was fantastic,” he said. “We didn’t do well in the game, but they were just ready for us.

“I liked their players. No. 81 (Monte McGuire) … tell him I’d like to meet him again some day. I’d like to shake his hand.”

If they meet again, McGuire wants to be able to say, “Hey, Kyen, remember when we played you guys the week before we beat McKinley…”

First downs rushing 12 6
First downs passing 5 3
First downs by penalty 2 0
Totals first downs 19 9
Yards gained rushing 280 157
Yards lost rushing 11 56
Net yards rushing 269 101
Net yards passing 90 93
Total yards gained 359 194
Passes attempted 13 9
Passes completed 10 3
Passes Int. by 1 0
Times kicked off 8 3
Kickoff average 55.6 43.3
Kickoff return yards 65 83
Punts 0 5
Punting average 00.0 27.8
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 4 6
Yards penalized 31 60
Number of plays 46 46
Time of possession 21.07 26.53
Attendance 8,378

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 33, Cleveland St. Joseph 8

Tiger Victory ‘heals a lot of wounds’

Independent Sports Editor

EUCLID ‑ Brother, did the Mas­sillon Tigers need a win.

And, boy, did they ever get one, against one of The Big Brothers of Ohio high school football, Cleveland St. Joseph.

”This heals a lot of wounds,” Massillon tight end Doug Harig said on the muddy sidelines as Tiger fans stomped their feet in the background toward the end of Saturday night’s stunning 33‑8 victory at Euc­lid Panther Stadium.

Harig and his brother Doug both had a hand in what head coach Lee Owens called “as good a first half as I’ve ever seen played.”

Another Lee ‑ Hurst ‑ the quar­terback, said Jeff’s younger brother Doug had been bugging him for weeks.

“Why don’t you throw me a pass,” Jeff wanted to know.

He got one, from 5 yards away in the corner of the end zone, for as Massillon’s second touchdown. Brother Doug snared a conversion pass for 14‑0 Tiger lead with the game not yet nine minutes old.

A minute into the second quarter, Jeff Harig caught a 4‑yard Hurst pass for another touchdown.

Six minutes later, fullback Bob Dunwiddie plowed an inch or two for another touchdown.

Incredibly, a Tiger team that had lost three straight games led 26‑0 at halftime.

And there was no way St. Joseph, a ball‑control team, was going to come back.

“We didn’t seem flat,” said Bill Gutbrod, who is 255‑97‑17 as the only head coach St. Joseph has had. “You’ve gotta give them credit. They just killed us. I can’t figure out how they lost three ball games.”

This was the same St. Joseph team that beat Akron Garfield, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and Toledo Whitmer in succession be­fore losing back‑to‑back to McKin­ley and Cleveland St. Ignatius. The Vikings made a huge statement by beating what is supposed to be an awesome Mooney team 14‑0. The same Mooney team socked it to a solid Cincinnati Xavier squad 37‑0 Saturday.

“I’d say right now that they’re su­perior to anyone we’ve played,” Gutbrod said.

This was easily the most dazzling Massillon win over a powerful team since an 18‑7 victory over McKinley in 1983.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only had the Tigers lost consecutively to Fitch, St. Vincent-­St. Mary and Warren Harding, but they were 4‑6 dating back to last year’s 8‑0 defeat in a brutal mud bath against St. Joseph.

“Not counting our loss to McKin­ley, last year’s St. Joseph game was the worst loss I’ve been through,” said Trace Liggett, a defensive tackle who helped the Tigers limit St. Joseph to one first down in the first half.

“They were not a passing team and we forced them to pass. I thought the defense played well. Mostly, though, we were just sick of losing.”

Liggett said Saturday’s field con­ditions were nowhere close to as bad as the ones that greeted the team in Euclid last year.

Still, strong winds and freezing rain pelted players’ faces as the game began. Mounting a steady offense seemed unlikely.

Surprisingly, the Tigers passed on the first play. Hurst’s attempt was incomplete, but the Tigers had made a statement.

“Passing is always in our game plan and the coaches had decided we were going to pass no matter what the field conditions,” Hurst said.

Passing drifted to the back­ground, though, when the Tigers ran wild right off the bat.

On the game’s second play, full­back Jason Stafford, who finished with 105 yards, streaked for 13. On the next play, Stafford ran for 11.

“The offensive line was blowing them 5 yards off the ball,” Stafford said. “Basically, everybody was real fired up,”

An overlooked factor during the losing streak was Stafford’s health. He was playing, but with a right leg hampered by a hamstring pull. If you’ve ever had one of those, you know they can be nasty and slow to heal.

“To be honest, I’m still not 100 percent. Stafford said. “But I’m feeling better. I’m getting there.”


First downs rushing 10 0
First downs passing 0 0
First downs by penalty 1 0
Totals first downs 11 0
Yards gained rushing 157 38
Yards lost rushing 7 12
Net yards rushing 150 26
Net yards passing 32 0
Total yards gained 182 26
Passes attempted 7 0
Passes completed 6 0
Times kicked off 4 2
Kickoff average 53.8 48.0
Punts 0 3
Punting average xx.x 26.3
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 1 1
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 0 3
Yards penalized 0 25
Number of plays 37 14
Time of possession 15.53 8.07


(Mas) Stafford 11‑50, Hurst 6-­47, Dixon 5‑41, Sparkman 4-8, Dunwiddie 4‑4.
(Joe) Miller 5‑21, Woodfolk 6‑9, Clark 2‑1.

(Mas) Hurst 6‑7‑0 32, 2 TDs.
(Joe) no attemts.

(Mas) Jeff Harig 2‑13, Doug Harig 1‑3, Carpenter 1‑8, Manion 1‑3.

Hurst and A‑back Lamont Dixon were the other key men in Massillon’s gaining 150 rushing yards in the first half.

“After those three losses, every­body said all week in practice that we’ve got to do something,” Dixon said.

Dixon’s “something” was 41 rip ­roaring yards in five first‑half car­ries. Hurst had his best night of the year on the bootleg run, rushing 47 yards in the first half on six carries. Hurst turned over the chores to Jamie Slutz after the Tigers built a’ 33‑0 lead.

“That quarterback impressed the hell out of me,” Gutbrod said.

Gutbrod had to be at least as awed by Massillon’s first‑half de­fense. The Tigers sat in a 6‑2 (six linemen, two linebackers), same as, they had against the other sock‑it‑to‑you team on their schedule, Fairfield. St. Joseph amassed only 26­yards in the first half, all on the ground, and arrived at their final ­figure of 195 with lots of yards with the outcome long‑earlier decided.

“We wanted it,” said Tiger defensive end Monte McGuire. “The last few weeks have been tough. Real tough. We hardly talked about the games. We’ll talk about this one.”

The Tigers took the opening kick­off and drove 76 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown. Short passes to Jeff Harig and Troy Manion kept St. Joseph off balance and aided the running game.

On first and goal from the 6, “bull offense” backs Liggett and Dun­widdie checked in, but the Vikings stopped two runs for 2 total yards. The “bull” checked out, and Staf­ford took a lightning‑quick handoff on third down, zooming the 4 yards for a touchdown. Hurst’s kick was wide and the Tigers led 6‑0 with 7:02 left in the first quarter.

Dunwiddie, now playing defen­sive tackle, pounced on a Sam Clark fumble three plays later and Mas­sillon was in business at the Viking 30. Dixon’s 15‑yard run keyed a TD mini‑march capped by Hurst’s 5­yard pass to Doug Harig on third down. Jeff Harig’s conversion catch made it 14‑0 with 3:27 left in the quarter.

Again, the defense made an im­pact, with David Ledwell and Dun­widdie combining for a sack that set up a St. Joseph punt.

Massillon took over 2 yards short of midfield and ran toughshod to the 4. Stafford, Dixon and Hurst each made key runs, setting up the 4­ yard touchdown toss on first and goal to Jeff Harig. Hurst’s kick mis­fired but the Tigers led 20‑0 with 10:49 left in the second period.

Yet another strong defensive stand forced a three‑and‑out for the Vikings. This time, a short punt plopped dead on the St. Joseph 37. An 8‑yard pass to Desmond Carpen­ter fueled a 37‑yard drive that en­ded with the bull offense back on the field and Dunwiddie carrying it in on fourth‑and‑inches.

The conversion pass failed and the Tigers settled for a 26‑0 lead with 4:06 left in the half.

Stafford galloped 50 yards around the left side for an insurance touch­down, looking quite like his old self, at 6:28 of the third quarter. Hurst, still struggling with his placekicking but saying his injured leg is feel­ing better, drilled the P.A.T. this time to create the 33‑0 lead.

“Making that one was important to me,” he said.

The Vikings drove 55 yards for their touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

When it was over, the Massillon players frolicked in the mud. Many of their fans hung around outside the locker room and chanted gleefully.

“You’ve got to say something ab­out our fans,” Owens said. “To drive all this way in the rain and sit in the cold … we felt such a respon­sibility to them.”

Nobody dressed in orange was heard asking for a refund.

First downs rushing 13 6
First downs passing 0 4
First downs by penalty 1 0
Totals first downs 13 6
Yards gained rushing 246 142
Yards lost rushing 15 22
Net yards rushing 231 120
Not yards passing 49 75
Total yards gained 280 195
Passes attempted 10 12
Passes completed 8 5
Passes int. by 1 0
Times kicked off 6 2
Kickoff average 55.7 35.5
Kickoff return yards 12 27
Punts 2 5
Punting average 31.0 22.6
Punt return yards., 0 9
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 2 5
Yards penalized 17 51
Number of plays 56 44
Time of possession 25.56 22.04


(Mas) Stafford 15‑105, Hurst 6‑47, Dixon 9‑39, Slutz 3‑16, Dunwiddie 5‑5.
(Joe) Woodfolk 13‑56, Miller 12‑59, Moore 2‑6.

(Mas) Hurst 7‑8‑0, 38, 2 TDs; Slutz 1‑2‑0, 11.
(Joe) Miller 5‑12‑1, 75.

(Mas) J. Harig 3‑17, D. Harig 1‑5, Manion 1‑3, Carpenter 1‑8, Stafford 1‑11.
(Joe) Gardner 3‑47, Robertson 1‑25.

MASSILLON 14 12 7 G 33
ST. JOSEPH 0 0 0 8 8

M ‑ Sparkman 4 run (kick failed)
M ‑ D. Harig 5 pass from Hurst (J. Harig pass from Hurst)
M ‑ D. Harig 4 pass from Hurst (kick failed)
M ‑ Dunwiddie 1 run (pass failed)
M ‑ Stafford 50 run (Hurst kick)
J ‑ Gardner 3 run (Miller run)

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 19, Austintown Fitch 20

Fitch kicker knocks win(d) out of Tigers

Independent Sports Editor

AUSTINTOWN ‑ Defeat came like a knuckle sandwich for the Massillon Tigers Friday night.

Two thin slices of bread ‑ the first play of the game and the last ‑ were enough to smother a middle that belonged to Massillon. Enough to put Austintown‑Fitch in the money with a 20‑19 high school foot­ball victory.

The end came as time expired on a 43‑yard field goal by Fitch junior Jeff Wilkins, who said he was “scared to death.”

“It was like the life was taken out of all of us,” Massillon head coach Lee Owens said. “That’s the tough­est loss I’ve ever been through … and the players, too.”

The Tiger locker room, caked with mud, sweat and tears, was anger and dejection.

As the players showered, dressed and walked out, though, they were greeted by a scene that touched Owens.

Massillon fans lined up to form a tunnel at the door, cheering and ap­plauding the Tigers as they headed to the bus.

“I worked my tail off to get the players back up in the ‘locker room,” Owens said. “Those fans did a lot better job than I could have.”

Fitch got the ball back on a punt with 1:57 left and drove 50 yards in 12 plays. Quarterback Derick Fletcher scrambled for what proved to be three had‑to‑have‑’em yards to the Massillon 26. He went out of bounds with three seconds left.

Forty‑three yards is a helluva distance for a high school place‑kicker. You see NFL kickers miss from there every Sunday. But Mas­sillon fans had watched Wilkins boom two kickoffs into the end zone twice after he was penalized five yards for kicking off out of bounds.

There was an eerie sense that he had a chance.

The Fitch head coach, former Massillon player David Hartman, was not optimistic. He had hoped the play on which Fletcher scram­bled for three would net 12 on a side­line pass.

He watched Wilkins get off the kick from the left hash mark.

“I couldn’t tell if it was good,” he said. “It was crazy. I just waited for the signal.”

This reporter stood five yards be­hind the goal post as the ball boomed high into the night air. The line was perfect. But would it have enough juice?

It did. Barely, clearing the cross­bar by no more than six inches. The referee’s hands shot skyward. Fitch had won.

“How often is a high school kicker going to make a 43‑yarder under that kind of pressure?” Owens said.

Minutes later, a victory bell rang in the distance. It had the sound of a funeral knell as orange‑clad fans filed out of what had been a packed visitors’ grandstand.

For those who had seen Massillon play at Fitch two years earlier, the ring carried a haunting echo.

Then, as on this night, the Tigers entered the fourth quarter seeming to have victory put away. But on that night, Fitch scored twice in the closing minutes, including on a short run by Leo Hawkins on the last play from scrimmage for the win.

The outcome left both teams with 4‑1 records.

It left the two camps in quite different moods.

Owens was fighting tears and could barely speak.

“We had opportunities to win and we didn’t win,” the coach said quietly. “We needed to make a cou­ple of first downs the last time we had the ball and we didn’t. We gave the opponent an opportunity to make a great kick.”

The Tigers overcame a shocking start. On the first play from scrimmage, 5‑foot‑8 junior halfback Chuck Wesson broke through the left side of the line on a counter play and raced 80 yards for a touchdown.

By the start of the fourth quarter, though, Massillon seemed in com­mand, having just pushed a 12‑10 halftime lead to 19‑10.

Wesson had outrun Tiger safety Joe Pierce on that 80‑yard play. But late in the third quarter, Wesson fumbled after fielding a punt, and, Pierce recovered at the Fitch 35. On fourth‑and‑two from the 7, quarter­back Lee Hurst scored on a bootleg run and kicked the extra point to create the 19‑10 score with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.

Fitch, however, drove 61 yards for a touchdown on its next posses­sion, thanks largely to a 40‑yard Fletcher‑to‑Wesson pass on third-­and‑long. Matt Zokle scored from six yards out, Wilkins’ kick was good, and the Tiger lead shrank to 19‑17 with 7:51 left.

The Tigers didn’t “go conserva­tive.” On fourth‑and‑inches from his own 30, Owens gambled big with a “go‑for‑it” call. But then, giving Fitch the ball back would have been a gamble, too, because the Falcons had looked good on that 61‑yard drive.

Hurst sneaked for two yards and, the first down.

On third‑and‑nine, the Tigers gambled again with a pass. This time it didn’t work. Fitch safety Chuck Campbell intercepted and the Falcons had the ball at the Tiger 41.

The Tigers staged a big defensive stand, highlighted by T.R. Rivera’s sack of Fletcher that set up fourth-­and‑nine. This time, it was Fitch going for it on fourth down … but failing to make it. An incomplete pass returned the ball to Massillon on the Tiger 33 with 3:18 left.

“I thought it might be over,” Fletcher said.

The Tigers rushed three times for six yards and elected to punt. Hurst’s boot sailed 22 yards and went out of bounds at the Fitch 33 with 1:48 remaining.

Fletcher went to work. He com­pleted a 13‑yard pass at 1:42, escaped what seemed to be a sure interception at 1:20 and completed a nine‑yard toss to set up fourth-­and‑one at 0:44. Wesson rammed for four yards and a first down at 0:23, when Hartman used his final timeout.

At 0:12, Rob Tofil went out of bounds after catching a 12‑yard pass from Fletcher. At 0:08, Fletch­er took off on the scramble that set up the winning field goal.

“We had the desire to win,” Fletcher said. “Some of us went both ways the whole game (Fletch­er among them ‑ he even played on kickoff teams), but we’re in excel­lent shape. I wasn’t ever tired, really.”

The Tigers would have been in better shape had they converted their extra points.

The sting of Wesson’s 80‑yard TD trek was erased quickly enough. On the Tigers’ second play from scrim­mage, fullback Jason Stafford grabbed a short rollout pass from Hurst, streaked down the left side­line, amazingly broke out of a box of tacklers, and sprinted home on a 69‑yard touchdown play. Hurst’s booming PAT attempt, however, was called wide right.

The Massillon defense put on good stands in Fitch’s next three series. After the third one, Mark Owens returned a punt 20 yards to the Fitch 32.

On fourth‑and‑four from the 26, Stafford slanted over the right side for a first down, hurdled over the safety Fletcher like Edwin Moses in his prime, and exploded into the end zone on a 26‑yard run.

The Tigers went for two and moved to within 1 1/2 yards of the goal stripe after a pass interference call against Fitch. A run up the mid­dle failed, and what would have been two valuable points were nixed.

Fitch then drove 66 yards in 16 plays to where Wilkins made a 25­-yard field goal nine seconds before the band show. Fletcher’s mastery at running the wing‑T offense was as much a factor as anything. He was the same sort of elusive quar­terback as Barberton’s Butch Momchilov proved to be against the Tigers on Sept. 16.

Fletcher’s value went beyond his statistics ‑ 40 yards rushing and 117 yards passing.

The Tigers did a good job bottling up hard‑running fullback Matt Mrakovich (20 yards in eight car­ries), although Mrakovich man­aged three pass receptions for 30 yards on bootleg plays. After Wes­son’s 80‑yarder, he added 38 yards in 11 carries for 108 yards on the night.

Stafford rushed 78 yards in 13 car­ries and caught two passes for 82 yards, giving him 160 combined yards. Hurst completed six of 11 passes for 128 yards and two in­terceptions.

Fitch wound up with a 325‑278 edge in total yardage.

Hartman now owns a 3‑1 record against his alma mater.

“I’m just so proud of the team,” the Fitch coach said. “Last year, it seemed a number of times we were destined to lose some tough ball games. Maybe the way we won tonight is a sign something else is destined for us this year. Maybe this is our year.”

Massillon’s year isn’t over, the Tigers’ head coach said.

“There’s not much time for feel­ing sorry for ourselves,” he said. “We’ll come back. I promise that.”

First downs rushing 8 9
First downs passing 3 6
First downs by penalty 0 0
Total first downs 11 15
Yards gained rushing 162 208
Yards lost rushing 12 6
Net yards rushing 150 208
Net yards passing 128 117
Total yards gained 278 325
Passes attempted 11 17
Passes completed 6 9
Passes intercepted 2 0
Times kicked off 4 4
Kickoff average 53.8 52.0
Kickoff return yards 36 81
Punts 3 3
Punting average 30.7 38.0
Punt return yards 48 0
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 4 6
Yards penalized 43 35
Number of plays 41 62
Time of possession 17:06 30:54
Attendance 8,500

(Mas) Stafford 13‑78, Dixon 9‑54, Hurst 8‑18.
(Fitch) Wesson 12‑108, Mrakovich 8‑20, Konnerth 9‑28, Fletcher 11‑40.

(Mas) Hurst 6‑11‑2 128.
(Fitch) Fletcher 9‑17‑0 117.

(Mas) Stafford 2‑82, Carpenter 1‑26, Owens 1‑6, Manion 1‑10, Harig 1‑4.
(Fitch) Wesson 2‑48, Mrakovich 3‑30, Kon­nerth 1‑4, Scott 1‑13, Tofil 1-13.

MASSILLON 6 6 7 0 19
FITCH 7 3 0 10 20

F – Wesson 80 run (Wilkins kick)
M ‑ Stafford 69 pass from Hurst (kick failed)
M ‑ Stafford 26 run (run failed)
F ‑ FG Wilkins 25
M ‑ Hurst 7 run (Hurst kick)
F ‑ Zokle 6 run (Wilkins kick)
F ‑ FG Wilkins 43

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 14, Fairfield 6

Band grand, ‘D’ dandy as Tigers trip Fairfield

Independent Sports Editor

Massillon packaged a musical postcard for southwestern Ohio Saturday night.

Splashed on the front was a col­lage of band members who were playing when Paul Brown was coaching, a few thousand balloons, fireworks, and a Massillon football player smashing a ball carrier backward.

The inscription on the back of the postcard read: “Massillon 14, Fair­field 6. You guys got anything like this down there?”

Program Cover

The overwhelming display may or may not have had something to do with Fairfield’s quarterback on one play lining up to take a snap from the guard.

If not, the answer to the question was still clear, Southwestern Ohio may have teams as good as the one up here. But the overall show doesn’t compare.

“There are too many distractions here,” said Ben Hubbard, the nine­-year head coach at Fairfield. “Of course, that’s the way it’s planned.”

“It’s way different playing up here,” said Fairfield running back Mike Ritzie, who was a sophomore starter on the 1986 Indian team that won the Division I state title.

A game in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium is always unusual by high school football standards. But a few things were added Saturday to the end of puttin’ on the ritz.

Most notable was the band show. A halftime blockbuster featured nearly 300 members of Tiger Swing Bands past and present in a 50th anniversary bash. Almost every year of the band’s history, 1938‑88, was represented by somebody toot­ing “Tiger Rag.”

Fireworks exploded. White birth­day balloons filled the sky on this crisp, clear September night.

The home folks responded with a spontaneous, spine‑tingling roar.

For the first two 1988 home games, paid attendance figures were the ones announced. This time, a decision was made to punc­tuate the message to southwestern Ohio. The total, in‑house crowd was announced ‑ an impressive 12.869.

It is important to note that by halftime the score was 14‑0, Mas­sillon.

An old Massillon guy, Jim Place, now the head coach at Fairfield’s Greater Miami Conference rival Middletown, sensed that the kill had already been made.

“If you want to win in Massillon,” said Place, here to scout Fairfield, “something good has to happen for you early. If it doesn’t, and you don’t set the tone, the kids start to wonder. They start looking at the crowd.”

The outcome left the Tigers with a 4‑0 record and in position to move from No. 5 to No. 4 in the statewide Associated Press poll, since No. 4 Boardman lost to McKinley Friday.

The Tigers will play at Austin­town‑Fitch Friday.

Fairfield, 3‑1, probably will lose its No. 7 state ranking, although there will be a quick chance for re­covery, since the Indians take on No. 1 Princeton ‑ their next‑door neighbor ‑ on Friday.

“We lost the fourth game in 1986 and won the state title,” said Ritzie. “Now we’ve lost the fourth game in 1988. I hope there’s a connection.

“We just lost to a good team tonight. We’ve played two very tough teams already this year (Oak Hills and Purcell‑Marian). Each of them had one thing they didn’t do real well. Massillon is more ba­lanced. Everything they do, they do well.”

Something good did happen early, but for the Tigers, not the Indians

On the sixth play of the game, Ti­ger linebacker David Ledwell inter­cepted a Briany Noster pass over the middle and returned it 39 yards to the 6‑yard line.

“Our guys put their hats on their quarterback and he couldn’t see where he was throwing,” Ledwell said. “It was a pretty easy intercep­tion.”

The Tigers set up their offense for the first time this season without tailback Jason Stafford, who couldn’t get sharp in practice after suffering a hamstring pull the pre­vious week against Barberton. Staf­ford played later, but juniors Lamont Dixon and Ryan Sparkman were the running backs most of the night.

It was Dixon who blasted 11 yards for a touchdown, going over left tackle and following Sparkman’s block, after the Tigers were backed up by a procedure penalty. Lee Hurst’s kick made it 7‑0 with 7:49 left in the first quarter.

Something else good happened three plays later: Again, it was something good for the Tigers.

Ballyhooed Fairfield running back Oliver Whyte, was nailed after a short gain and fumbled the ball away to Tiger safety Joe Pierce at the Indians’ 38‑yard line.

The Tigers nickeled and dimed into scoring position, running for gains of 4, 1, 2, 5, 4 and 1 yards and passing for 4, 9, 4 and 4 yards. On fourth‑and‑two from the five, Dixon plowed four yards to the 1. Two plays later, Hurst sneaked in for a touchdown, added the point‑after kick, and the Tigers stunningly led 14‑0 with only 10:51 gone in the game.

Another Ledwell interception set up the Tigers at the Fairfield 27 late in the first half. Massillon head coach Lee Owens elected to go for a touchdown and the kill instead of a field goal when the Tigers had fourth and goal from the 2. Stafford was stopped at the line of scrim­mage on a sweep left with 1:43 left in the half.

“We wound up scoring a touch­down after going for it on fourth down earlier,” Owens said. “After debating both sides for a while, we thought we could get the yards.”

The Tigers didn’t, and the score stayed 14‑0 at halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter it was looking like three extra points would’ve come in handy. Fairfield, which got the ball on an intercep­tion at the Tiger 26, now had first-­and‑goal at the 3. Ledwell and T.R. Rivera ‑ part of what was at times a 10‑man front on the Tiger defen­sive line ‑ stuffed Fairfield’s T-­formation attack on first down. Fairfield again gained nothing on second down, then Keith Warstler racked Whyte for a two‑yard loss on third down. A fourth‑down pass was incomplete and the Tigers had their second big goal‑line stand of the year, the first having come at Altoona.

It was part of a great night for the defense, which held Fairfield to 16l yards prior to a meaningless 54. yard scoring drive that ended with a 34‑yard TD pass on the last play of the game.

“Last week, the offense carried us,” said Tiger defensive tackle Bob Dunwiddie. ”This week, we carried them.”

“Fairfield kind of had a down night, maybe because we were so up,” Rivera said. “They’re not a passing team. We had a lot of guys on the line and we stuffed them pretty good.”

Stafford came in to the game hav­ing rushed 52 times for 450 yards. He was held to six yards in seven carries.

“I wanted to start but the coaches decided that I shouldn’t,” he said. “Maybe that was just as well. Maybe I couldn’t have helped the team. I’ll be 100 percent for the next game.

Owens said the offense had an off night but the defense was superb.

“Give (defensive coordinator) Jim Letcavits and the defensive guys a lot of credit,” Owens said. “We had 10 guys on the line at times and dared them to pass. When they did, they didn’t do it very well. In a way, it was a gambling defense. But it was a calculated gamble.”

First downs rushing 10 8
First downs passing 2 6
First downs by penalty 2 2
Totals first downs 14 16
Yards gained rushing 136 125
Yards lost rushing 37 26
Net yards rushing 99 99
Net yards passing 76 116
Total yards gained 175 215
Passes attempted 16 24
Passes completed 10 9
Passes Int. by 2 1
Times kicked off 3 1
Kickoff average 49.7 42.0
Kickoff return yards 14 47
Punts 3 2
Punting average 29.0 35.5
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 2 1
Penalties 7 6
Yards penalized 53 23
Number of plays 57 59
Time of possession 23.59 24.01
Attendance 12,869

Individual statistics

(Mas) Sparkman 10‑20, Dixon 16‑89, Stafford 7‑6, Hurst 7 for minus‑15, Owens 1 for minus‑1.
(Fair) Ritzie 5‑35, Whyte 12‑18, Noster 8‑15, Roberts 9‑22, Eppard 1‑9.

(Mas) Hurst 10‑16‑1 76.
(Fair) Noster 9‑24‑2 116.

(Mas) Manion 2‑9, Spencer 2-­20, Harig 2‑21, Carpenter 2‑14, Sparkman 1‑3, Smith 1‑9.
(Fair) Roberts 1‑32, Phillips 1‑7, Bair 3‑57, Passmore 3‑22.

FAIRFIELD 0 0 0 6 6
MASSILLON 14 0 0 0 14

Mas ‑ Dixon 11 run (Hurst kick)
Mas ‑ Hurst 1 run (Hurst kick)
Fair ‑ Bair 34 pass from Noster

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 34, Barberton 21

Tigers’ big plays Work like magic

Independent Sports Editor

Tom Persell, a magician by avocation, was at a loss to explain the trick the Massillon Tigers pul­led on the Barberton Magics Friday.

“This time of possession is unbelievable,” said Persell, also a stat­istician, as he stared at a facts sheet fresh out of his computer in the pressbox at Paul Brown Tiger Sta­dium.

Program Cover

A paid crowd of 11,548 had just watched‑the Massillon Tigers beat the Barberton Magics 34‑21. What the crowd didn’t know was that the Tigers pulled all of those points out of a hat they wore for only 13 mi­nutes and 45 seconds. The Magics, meanwhile, hogged the stage on offense for 34 minutes, 15 seconds.

“You could do some serious re­search and I doubt you’d find a Mas­sillon team that scored 34 points with a time of possession like that,” said Persell.

Actually, there was a simple ex­planation.

When you score on an 85‑yard run, as Jason Stafford did in the second quarter while showing off his 4.38 speed in the 40 (times two), the offense is in and out.

Ditto when you score on a 74‑yard run, as quarterback Lee Hurst did one play after Barberton closed the cap to 14‑7 in the third quarter.

Same with Lamont Dixon’s 50­yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

The offense scored and sat, and it was “bring on the D.”

“Sometimes,” head coach Lee Owens was saying, “maybe we do score a little too quickly.”

Not that Owens plans to tell the ball carriers, “Fellas, run for 20 and take a dive.” It’s just that those take‑your‑breath‑away plays don’t give the defense any breathers.

The way Barberton’s bite‑sized quarterback, third‑year starter Butch Momchilov, was running the option, there was no time for deep breaths.

While the Tiger offense big­ played Barberton to death, Battlin’ Butch was whipping up volatile Momchilov Cocktails.

The Tigers met their quota on offense. Their goal is 350‑400 yards a game. They made it a third week in a row, with 400 on the nose.

The defense has a quota, too. Hold the foes under 200 yards. It hasn’t happened yet, but Barberton was the first team to really break the bank, collecting 347 yards.

Massillon’s defense made big plays when it had to, but was still concerned about Barberton’s abil­ity to move the ball.

“I don’t want to be too critical of us,” Owens said. “Give Barberton some compliments. They were like a boxer. We’d knock them down, and they’d get right back up.”

The Tigers missed a lot of tack­les, true. They will have to start connecting more frequently if they are to beat next week’s foe, Fair­field, which returns 19 of 22 starters from the only team to beat Cincin­nati Princeton last year (Fairfield improved to 3‑0 by edging Cincinna­ti Purcell‑Marian 7‑0 last night).

It is also true that Momchilov is the kind of option QB who makes tacklers miss. He proved to be a wizard at the fakes and pitches essential to making an option offense work.

When he wasn’t faking or pitch­ing, he was keeping and squirting out yards on his own.

”They played pretty good offense,” said gritty Tiger defen­sive back Brian Bach, who stands about 5‑feet‑8, and noted Momchi­lov is “about an inch shorter than me.

“He can cut real good,” Bach added. ”But we still need to play better on defense. I think we need more enthusiasm.”

Enthusiasm is building in town now that the team has improved to 3‑0 by beating a team that came in at 2‑0. It is tempered by a question many exiting fans were asking: “Can the Tigers stop Fairfield, or will they have to try to win a shootout?”

“The players aren’t happy with where we are on defense and I know the coaches are disappointed,” Owens said. “Right now, I’m baffled.”

But then, Fairfield, whose head coach Ben Hubbard led a scouting contingent to the Tigers’ game in Altoona last week, faces its own baffling question. How does one contain (forget about stopping) Jason Stafford?

The senior fullback rushed for 156 yards in 10 carries Friday, pushing him over 450 yards for three games. The only thing that stopped him was a pulled hamstring muscle he suf­fered with less than a minute left in the third quarter. He sat out the fin­al period.

“It happened when I was running downfield throwing a block,” he said while standing on the sidelines, keeping an eye on the action. Just then, his teammate Dixon broke loose for the 50‑yard touchdown run that created the final score. He be­gan running toward Dixon, making a “No. 1” signal with his index finger.

The play on which Stafford was injured was Hurst’s 74‑yard bootleg run.

Earlier, Stafford had run 85 yards on a play the team calls “inside ice.”

I fake to the inside then cut to the outside,” he said.

Barberton apparently had a good scouting report on Stafford. After Momchilov, who also plays safety, dove at Stafford and missed, he buried his faceguard in the turf. He knew no one would catch the blazing fullback. By the time Stafford reached the goal line, his closest pursuers were 15 yards behind.

After the game, the “inside ice” was on Stafford’s left hamstring in the training room.

“It’s not too bad,” he said. “I’ll I be ready to play.”

Stafford’s touchdown may have .been the key play in the game.

The Tigers had scored. early, par­laying Steve Snodgrass’ fumble recovery into a 38‑yard drive capped by Ryan Sparkman’s 1‑yard plunge at the 7:18 mark of the first quarter.

But Barberton tied the score at 7‑all with its next possession, driv­ing 79 yards in 13 plays, including an 18‑yard completion to the Tiger 13 on fourth‑and‑three. Big fullback Pat Robertson, who finished with 99 yards in 19 rushes, went the final yard.

Barberton further asserted itself by forcing the Tigers to punt on their next possession. The Tigers in turn came, up with an important de­fensive stand and forced the Magics to punt.

Earlier, a clipping penalty that infuriated the Massillon coaches brought back what would have been a 60‑yard TD blast by Stafford. The clipping flags came out again on the punt, and the Tigers were backed up to their own 15.

Stafford solved the field position problem in a hurry by breaking loose on first down for the 85­yarder.

Barberton head coach Don Ault was thinking about plays like that when he said, “That’s genes … there’s not much we could do about some of their big plays. They just out‑manned us.”

After the touchdown, Hurst ‑ not changing to a special kicking shoe for ‑the first time this year ‑ kicked his second extra point and the Ti­gers led 14‑7 with 4:08 left in the half.

Momchilov optioned Barberton to where it missed a 38‑yard field goal attempt with two seconds left in the half,

At halftime, Barberton led 171-­169 in total offense and 17:23‑6:37 in time of possession.

The Tiger defense, following a pattern of doing something positive when it had to, kept the Magics at bay by forcing a punt on the first possession of the second half.

The Massillon offense then threatened to put away the game by driving 60 yards in nine plays for a score. The touchdown came on an excellent adjustment. On third-­and‑one from the nine, Barberton’s defense shifted during the snap count so that most of its men were clogging the middle. The handoff went to Sparkman, who bounced off left tackle to the outside. He had clear sailing into the right comer of the end zone. Hurst’s kick was wide but the Tigers led 20-7 with 6:08 left in the third quarter.

The Magics didn’t disappear. The kickoff stuck them at their own 23 but Robertson quickly bulled for gains of 11 and 10. The drive kept moving and wound up consuming 77 yards in nine plays. Momchilov fired a seven‑yard pass to Steve Cuckler for a touchdown, and the kick made it 20‑14 with 57 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers faced the same sort of crises a week ago, when Altoona scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut a Massillon lead to 6 points. The Tigers then drove for a clinching touchdown on a mostly running drive described by Owens as “slug‑nose football.”

This time, the Tigers went back to kicking butt with the boot. On first down, Hurst, on the bootleg keep, sprinted around the right side, where he found an uncommon volume of running room.

“It was just a normal boot,” Hurst said. “I wasn’t really sur­prised I had that much room. Their linemen are aggressive and they jump inside. We had good blocking going on the play, too.”

“The play went the way the night went for us,” said center Don Ger­ber. “We came together and played as a team. On that play, everybody executed his block.”

Hurst showed good speed in turn­ing the corner and outrunning three Barberton pursuers on the 74‑yard burst.

Late in the game, Barberton rec­overed a Tiger fumble near mid­field and drove again. Momchilov passed seven yards to Dan Dimick for a touchdown. The kick was good and suddenly Barberton trailed 28­-21 and was within an onside kick of making real trouble. The same sort of thing happened in last year’s Barberton game, when the Tigers sweated out a 34-26 victory in the Rubber Bowl.

As in 1987, the Tigers recovered the onside kick ‑ this time, Mark Owens did the honors. Dixon’s 50-­yard TD burst came with 47 seconds left in the game.

“Everything is coming together,” concluded Tiger tight end Jeff Harig, who caught two pas­ses for 35 yards. “The line is hitting hard and getting it done.”

Speaking for the defense, end Monte McGuire said, “We played hard, but we’ve just got to get a lit­tle more aggressive. Put it in the books. We’re going to beat Fairfield. ”

Another word from the defense, by defensive back Shawn Ashcraft: “I thought we played well at times. We missed a few tackles. We can do better. Next week, we have to make no mistakes.”

“Barberton was good,” said Owens. “But Fairfield will be better.

First downs rushing 9 12
First downs passing 3 6
First downs by penalty 0 2
Totals first downs 12 20
Yards gained rushing 351 226
Yards lost rushing 8 40
Net yards rushing 343 186
Not yards passing 57 161
Total yards gained 400 347
Passes attempted 9 23
Passes completed 5 13
Passes int. 1 0
Times kicked off 6 4
Kickoff average 55.5 35.3
Kickoff return yards 31 91
Punts 2 3
Punting average 41.0 33.0
Punt return yards 18 0
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles 1 2
Penalties 6 5
Yards penalized 68 24
Number of plays 38 71
Tlme of possession 13:45 34:15
Third‑down conv. 4‑6 8‑15
Attendance 11,548

BARBERTON 0 7 7 7 21
MASSILLON 7 7 14 6 34


First quarter
M ‑ Sparkman 1 run (Hurst kick) 718
Second quarter
B ‑ Robertson 1 run (Horvath kick) 11:57
M ‑ Stafford 85 run (Hurst kick) 4:26

Third quarter
M ‑ Sparkman 9 run (kick failed) 6:08
B ‑ Cuckler 7 pass from Momchilov (Horvath kick) 0:57
M ‑ Hurst 74 run (Hurst run) 0:32

Fourth quarter
B ‑ Dimick 7 pass from Momchilov (Horvath kick) 1:41
M ‑ Dixon 50 run (kick failed) 0:47


Massillon ‑ Stafford 10‑156, 15.6 ave., I TD; Sparkman 10‑28, 2.8 ave., 2 TDs; Hurst 6‑98, 16.3 ave., 1 TD; Dixon 3‑61, 20.3 ave., 1 TD.
Barberton ‑ Robertson 19‑99, 5.2 ave., 1 TD; James 9‑59, 6.6 ave.; Momchilov 18‑25, 1.4 ave.; Ocepek 1‑3, 3.0 ave.

Massillon ‑ Hurst 5‑9‑56, 56%, 0 TDs, 1 interc.
Barberton ‑ Momchilov 13‑23-­161, 57%, 2 TDs, 0 interc.

Massillon ‑ Harig 2‑35, 17.5 ave.; Spencer 1‑8; Manion 1‑6; Carpenter 1‑8.
Barberton ‑ Ocepek 3‑25, 8.3 ave.; Dimick 3‑51,17.0 ave., 1 TD; Cuckler 2‑36, 18.0 ave., 1 TD; Davis 2‑31, 15.5 ave.; James 2‑7, 2.5 ave.; Robertson 1 ‑11.

Massillon tops Barberton 34-21

By Bill Lilley
Beacon Journal staff writer

Barberton coach Don Ault knew the best way to try and stop the high ­powered Massillon offensive attack was to keep the ball out of the hands of multi‑dimensional quarterback Lee Hurst and swift tailback Jason Stafford.

Barberton’s offense followed the game plan almost perfectly Friday night. The Magics dominated possession of the ball as they hogged it for more than 34 minutes and ran 60 plays to the Tigers’ 38.

The only problem was that when the Tigers did have the ball, they were the epitome of efficiency.

Massillon scored on five of its 38 plays, including three touchdown runs of 50‑plus yards, to record a 34‑21 victory over the previously unbeaten Magics be­fore a crowd of 11,548 at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“Barberton had the ball all night, but we had the points and that’s all that mattered,” said Hurst.

“It seemed like our defense was on the field all night, but when we did have a chance we usually made the most of it.”

Hurst was a key factor, but on this night it was his feet rather than arm that helped decide the game with a key third‑quarter run.

The Tigers (3‑0) had broken a 7‑7 second‑quarter tie when Stafford raced 85 yards to give Massillon the lead for good.

The Tigers upped their advantage to 20‑7 midway through the third quarter when junior fullback Ryan Sparkman ran 9 yards to cap a 60‑yard scoring drive.

The Magics, however, weren’t done,

Shifty senior quarterback Butch Momchilov led a typical Barberton drive ‑ 9 plays, 77 yards, 5:11 consumed ‑ and hit Steve Cuckler with a 9‑yard TD pass.

That cut the Magics’ deficit to 20‑14 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter,

Masillon defeats Magics

But on the first play following the kickoff, Hurst faked a sweep to left to Stafford and the Magics’ defense collapsed on the senior tailback, who had 156 yards on 10 carries at that point.
Stafford, in fact, carried out the fake so intensely that he pull­ed a hamstring muscle and. was sidelined the rest of the game.

Hurst, meanwhile, bootlegged around the right side and raced 74 yards for a touchdown.

“It was bootleg keeper all the way,” said Hurst, who rushed 10 times and gained 98 of Massil­lon’s 343 rushing yards.

“All I have to do is read the blocks out front by (tight end) Jeff Harig and (guard) Tom Menches. They did a great job and I couldn’t believe how alone I was.”

Neither could Ault.

“We knew they had the bootleg and we knew we had to stop Hurst, but when you’ve also got a great back out there like Stafford you’re naturally more worried about him,” said Ault.

“We were keying on Stafford and Massillon did a great job exe­cuting.

“I thought we did a great job of ball‑control all game, but you can’t keep it away from them forever.

“And when they did get it they did a very good job ‑ that’s why I’d have to say they are a state power.”

The Magics made it interesting when Momchilov threw another TD pass with 1:41 to play to trim Massillon’s lead to 28‑21.

Massillon’s Mark Owens cov­ered the ensuing onside kickoff attempt and two plays later jun­ior fullback Lamont Dixon busted a 50‑yard TD run to clinch the game with 47 seconds left.

“Our offense did a great job, maybe too good a job because our defense was worn out by the end of the game,” said Massillon coach Lee Owens, whose squad faces Fairfield next Saturday.

“Maybe we need to take a lit­tle more time putting it in the end zone to give our defense a break.

“But in all seriousness, you have to give Coach Ault and the Barberton team a lot of credit. They did a great job controlling the ball and never gave up.”

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 18, Altoona, PA 7

Fan-tastic! Massillon supporters fill local motels

By Kay Stephens
Staff Writer
(Altoona Mirror Sept 10, 1988)

When the high school football team from Massillon, Ohio, comes to Altoona today, at least 2,000 fans are expected to follow.

And because the Massillon vs. Altoona game is at night, local motels and hotels are booked solid.

Each of those fans will probably spend an average of $70 to $75 each for room, meals and other expenses, James Caporuscio of the Altoona‑Blair County Chamber of Commerce estimated. So the mass of fans from Massillon should be pumping an additional $150,000 into local businesses.

Those Massillon fans who come early or leave late are likely to help make the Keystone Country Festival at Lakemont Park a success. Some fans are expected to stop at the festival today before the 7:30 p.m. game or on Sunday before they go home.

The Sheraton Altoona set aside 35 rooms for the team and about 35 for the fans. In addition to a convention and some rooms for the Keystone Country Festival vendors, the 226 room facility is sold out.

Other Altoona motels like Days Inn, Knights Inn and Holiday Inn, in addition to smaller motels like the Wye Motor Lodge and Rogers Motel, have no rooms for tonight.

Some motel clerks said they were referring room requests to motels in nearby towns.

Some Massillon fans are expected to come by camper, Caporuscio added. A group called last summer and was referred to the Sanderbeck Campgrounds near Duncansville where they’re expected to spend the night.

While the motels and hotels are sold out, Mansion Park is not.

As of Friday, the high school athletic office estimated attendance at 4,400 to 4,500, but more tickets will be sold tonight. If the weather is good, attendance is expected to be higher, Mansion Park seats 10,471.

As of Friday, 2,600 Altoona were expected to show up for the game. There are 700 season ticket holders and the athletic office sold 1,900 game tickets.

Fans who did not buy tickets by Friday can purchase them tonight at Mansion Park. The gates open at 6 p.m,

This is the second year of a two­ year contract that the Altoona Area School District struck up with Mas­sillon School District for a football game between the two teams which used to face off regularly in the 1960s when fans traveled by trains to the games,

Massillon is bringing its band to the game, just as Altoona had to take its band last year to Massillon.

Altoona lost last year’s game, 34‑3.

When the Tigers travel,
so do the fans

Altoona amazed
by sea of orange

Independent Sports Editor

ALTOONA, Pa. ‑ A lost member of the “Trekkers from Tigertown,” fresh down the mountain that con­tains “world famous” Horseshoe Curve, needed directions to the sta­dium here Saturday evening.

A man standing in his front yard was hailed.

“You folks from Massillon?” the Altoona resident deadpanned. “Well, you, ‘just go right up there and keep going for about 10 miles.”

The man pointed to a remote peak in the wilderness. Then he laughed and gave the real directions to Man­sion Park, seven blocks from his mail box.

When he was finished he said, “I usually go to the games, but not tonight. You guys will kill us.”

Three hours later, a maroon army of fans on the Altoona High side of Mansion Park was whooping ‘it up. A little split end named Dave “Whitey” Berardinelli was dancing in the end zone, having just caught a touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Altoona was not exactly getting killed. The Mountain Lions had seized control of the action and, when the extra‑point boot sailed through, trailed the Massillon Ti­gers by just a 12‑7 margin.

In downtown Altoona, across the street from the old Penn‑Alto Hotel where some visitors from Massillon spent the weekend, stands a res­taurant called Frank n’ Joe’s.

“Breakfast is our specialty” is what the sign outside the greasy spoon says.

The restaurant can’t live on breakfast, though, so it stays open 24 hours.

“Passing is our specialty” is a sign one might hang on the 1988 Ti­gers, but they play the survival game, too. And Saturday night, they departed from their specialty to survive.

The possession after the Altoona touchdown loomed as the life‑or-­death moment in this game.

“It was time to put the finesse stuff on the shelf,” said Massillon head coach Lee Owens.

It was time, Owens said, to play “slug nose football.”

Some noses got flattened, all’ right. The Tigers marched for a touchdown in 11 plays. Nine of them were running plays. The offensive line fired out, and the running backs ran over defenders.

Owens’ ballyhooed “run and boot” offense did, however, make a cameo appearance during the march.

“The touchdown run was a boot‑leg,” Owens smiled, referring to quarterback Lee Hurst’s 8‑yard scoring roll around the right side.

Now the score was 18‑7, and would stay that way. Now it was time for the Orange Army on the visitors’ side to erupt.

The crowd at Mansion Park was about 9,000. The visitors’ grand stand was stocked to about 85 per cent of its capacity, and about percent of its inhabitants we wearing something that screamed “I’m a Tiger fan.”

More than 2,000 Trekkers from Tigertown made the trip, which, took four to 5 1/2 hours, depending on the weight of each driver’s foot.

Altoona residents marveled at the Massillon turnout.

“Why do they do it?” The ques­tion kept coming up.

They are what makes Massillon unique.” That was as good an answer as any.

The parking lot at Mansion Park was wall‑to‑wall Winnebagos, cam­pers and vans ‑ all decorated with something orange ‑ by 6:30 pm., an hour before kickoff.

Just before kickoff, members of the Reese’s Raiders club descended to the field to wave huge orange flags. The 100‑plus team members who bussed to Altoona then ran through a hoop that blared the mes­sage, “Massillon, Ohio … where everyone is a Tiger.”

At halftime, the man introducing the Massillon Tiger Swing Band – naturally, the band was there ‑ declared, “and from Massillon, Ohio, the high school football capital of the world …”

Most of the Trekkers from Tiger­town, it seemed, stayed the night.

An hour after the game ended be­came rush hour at Altoona’s fast food parlors.

“Lord, you people from Massillon eat a lot of pizza,” said a harried worker from Domino’s Pizza.

Altoona people weren’t the only ones marveling over the Trekkers from Tigertown.
Coach Owens, eating pizza and watching the Notre Dame ­Michigan game at the Sheraton, called the size of the Massillon con­tingent “amazing.”

“Would you get something like this from any town but Massillon?” Owens said.

He didn’t really need an answer.

‘Weak Two’ is tough Week two

Tigers have tough time knocking out Altoona,
await rampaging Magics

Independent Sports Editor

ALTOONA, Pa. ‑ Forget that preseason about the Massillon Tigers not having their La‑Z‑Boy Recliners until the week of the high school football.

Tigers had to fight their way out of a op before winning in Week Two. They led the Altoona Mountain Lions 18‑7 before a crowd of 9,000 here Saturday night. Four, as you probably know because preseason hype, will send the Tigers Fairfield.

Fairfield, a next‑door neighbor of Cincinnati Princeton, beat eventual state champion Solon last year and, in 1986, claimed the crown for itself. If you’re looking ahead, Fairfield is 2‑0 after beating Cincinnati Oak -21 in a track meet Friday.

Don’t look ahead.

Tigers had trouble digesting ‘Toona Saturday. And Week Three will pit the orange and black against a knuckle sandwich named Barberton Friday in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The Magics are back from scholastic foot­ball under old timer Don Ault, a former college head coach who came to the Magic City last year. They, too, are 2‑0. And they got there not by bullying habitual bung­lers. Their resounding 30‑12 victory Friday came against Walsh Jesuit, hardly a paroc­hial pipsqueak.

Walsh, usually a playoff contender, was tenderized by what veteran Massillon assis­tant coach Eric Schumacher, speaking from the Altoona Sheraton late Saturday, called “the best Barberton team I’ve seen.”

“It’ll be a big ball game,” added Lee Owens, the Tigers head coach.

Some Barberton folks in the over‑40 crowd still hold a big grudge over something that happened in 1959. Namely, a 90‑0 Massillon victory over the Magics.

You can bet the gross annual income of the Altoona Sheraton that this year’s Massillon­-Barberton game won’t be a 90‑0 job.

Meanwhile, you might have had a few tak­ers on a 90‑0 score in Saturday’s Massillon­-Altoona game.

The Tigers grabbed a 12‑0 lead by the time the game was 17 plays old.

Pro‑rating the score over four quarters ‑ slightly less than half of the first quarter was gone when the Tigers scored their second TD ‑‑ you were looking at a 96‑0 final.

And that’s how outmanned Altoona looked.

But something strange happened as the twilight disappeared and darkness swal­lowed the mountains behind Mansion Park.

‘Toona made like a shark and bit back .

The Mountain Lions played the Tigers on no less than even terms for the better portion of three periods.

And, when Altoona’s short passing game, by then clicking on eight cylinders, produced a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Lions trailed by only 12‑7.

“We got behind, but we were never afraid of them,” said Dave Berardinelli, the Altoona split end who caught the touchdown pass.

“I can’t say it was the same last year when we got beat pretty bad in Massillon. We were a slightly intimidated by the mystique. I re­member that their booster club gave us gifts in the hotel and I was thinking, ‘Gee, this must be some football town.’

“We just looked at them as another team this time.”

Yet, maybe there’s something to the mysti­que after all.

Just as mysteriously as the Tigers went flat and stayed that way for three quarters, they discovered their roar again after Altoona closed to 12‑7.

The Tigers drove 76 yards in 11 plays for a clinching touchdown.

Whereas the short passing game had click­ed during the 12‑0 getaway, the running game now became the force of the offense.

“It was time to put the finesse stuff on the shelf,” Owens said. “It was time to play slug nose football.”

Senior fullback Jason Stafford fired haymakers.

The 5‑foot‑9, 183‑pound speedster turned beat up would‑be tacklers in a series that be­came the jewel of one of the biggest night’s any Tiger rusher has ever had.

Stafford’s final, official totals were 24 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The Massillon football press guide shows that Bill Harmon, Art Hastings, Tom Hannon, Mike Mauger and Mark McDew all exceeded 200 rushing yards in a game for the Tigers. Stafford’s outing is believed to rank in the top 10 all time.

The entire offense looked to be running on nitro during the critical drive.

“I looked in their eyes and knew they were ready to go,” Owens said.

The Tigers took over on their own 24 and quickly got a tough 13 yards from “A‑back” Ryan Sparkman. Quarterback Lee Hurst passed six yards to Robert Spencer, then Staf­ford crossed midfield on an 11‑yard blast.

Hurst bootlegged for 12 yards, then Stafford ground out 5 more to bash the Tigers inside the 30. Spark­man was stopped for no gain, but Hurst connected with tight end Jeff Harig for five yards that turned into a first down after a measurement.

Then Stafford rumbled 8 yards to the 16. It was Stafford again for 4 brutal yards for a first down to the 12.

Sparkman churned out 4 more to the 8. Then, on third and a short 2, Hurst took off on a bootleg around right end. By now, Altoona’s defen­ders were wondering whether it would be Stafford or Sparkman steamrollering inside, and the boot became a perfect call. Hurst scored easily.

The extra point failed, but the Ti­gers led 18‑7 with 8:06 remaining. They had the game on ice.

“As disappointed as I am in some things about the game, we still gained more than 400 yards (403), and the defense did some good things, including a very important goal‑line stand,” Owens said.

“We were ready at the start of the game then we scored twice and kind of lost it. We didn’t smell the blood and put ’em away. It takes a team a while to get to that point. We haven’t arrived yet. But we’re getting close.”

They looked more than close in the early going.

The Tigers received the opening kickoff then drove 73 yards in only eight plays for a touchdown. After an incomplete pass, Massillon plays covered 11, 4, 5, 9, 16, 9 and 19 yards. The last play was a draw to Stafford that turned into a touchdown. Hurst’s kick was wide and the Ti­gers led 6‑0 with 9:45 left in the first quarter.

The Tiger defense started as dominantly as the offense, forcing a punt after three nonproductive plays.

Massillon proceeded to cover 77 yards in only five plays ‑ a 7‑yard run by Stafford, a 5‑yard pass to Harig, a 7‑yard pass to Troy Manion, a 25‑yard bootleg run by Hurst and a 33‑yard touchdown sprint by Staf­ford, who broke a tackle and easily outran the secondary to the right corner of the end zone.

The two‑point conversion try failed and the Tigers led 12‑0 with 6:41 left in the first period.

The Tigers got the ball back quick­ly on an interception by Chad Buck­land. That’s when the offense seemed to go flat, although Altoona head coach John Franco saw it another way.

“They have great athletes and they hit us with tremendous execu­tion on their first two series,” Fran­co said. “We made an adjustment, bringing our coverage people in closer to the receivers, and it seemed to work.”

The Mountain Lions took over on downs at their own 32 late in the first quarter then used a mix of sideline passes and shots to the tight end over the middle to drive to the Tiger 1‑yard line on first and goal.

Massillon used its up‑against‑the­ wall unit to stage one of its great goal‑line stands of recent years. With T.R. Rivera leading the charge of the front wall, the stubborn Tigers stopped two running plays for no gain at the 1, then sniffed out a quar­terback bootleg and tackled QB Jon Ruff for a 5‑yard loss. Berardinelli couldn’t catch up to a fourth‑down pass and the Tigers took over on downs.

“My Lord, if we score down there, it’s a different ball game,” said Franco.

As the defense ran off the field, end Monte McGuire was greeted by a hearty hand slap from assistant coach Curt Strawder.

Strawder once gave defenses fits as a Massillon receiver. He is in third place on the Tigers’ all‑time list for catches in a single game (eight). He now shares that position with Harig, whose outstanding night included eight catches for 73 yards.

Hurst completed 13 of 23 passes for 103 yards and was credited with 52 rushing yards in 11 carries.

For Altoona, Ruff completed 13 of 23 passes for 177 yards before leav­ing with a knee injury. He twisted the knee on the last play of Altoona’s touchdown drive and did not return.

The injury did not have a big im­pact on the game since the Tigers scored the first time they had the ball after the Altoona TD.

The Massillon defense came through its second straight week of shutting out an opponent in the first half. The defense has allowed only one second‑half touchdown in each of the season’s first two weeks.

Just as the offense rose up after the Altoona touchdown, the defense upgraded its play down the stretch.

After the Tigers’ final touchdown, Altoona still had eight minutes to get something going. The Tigers, however, stuffed the Mountain Lions by putting heavy pressure on backup quarterback T.J. Keith.

First downs rushing 17 3
First downs passing 7 8
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 24 12
Yards gained rushing 292 33
Yards lost rushing 13 42
Net yards rushing 279 -9
Net yards passing 124 214
Total yards gained 403 205
Passes attempted 24 34
Passes completed 14 16
Passes int. by 1 0
Punts 3 5
Punting average 33.0 35.4
Fumbles 2 3
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 6 2
Yards penalized 63 20
Number of plays 68 59
Time of possession 24.01 23.59
Attendance 9,000

Individual statistics

Massillon) Stafford, 24‑182; Hurst, 11‑52; Sparkman, 6‑37; Dixon, 2‑8.
(Altoona) Farris, 14‑22; Rusnak, 4‑minus 3.

(Massillon) Hurst 13‑23‑0 107; Slutz, 1‑1‑0 17.
(Altoona) Ruff 13‑22‑1 177; Keith 4‑11‑0 36.

(Massillon) Harig, B‑73; Pierce, 1‑17; Smith, 2‑14; Spencer, 2‑13; Manion, 1‑7.
Altoona) Berardinelli, 10‑111; Saylor, 3‑34; Farris, 3‑60.

ALTOONA 0 0 0 7 7
MASSILLON 12 0 0 6 18

M ‑ Stafford 19 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Stafford 32 run (pass failed)
A ‑ Berardineill 5 pass from Ruff (Swogger kick)
M ‑ Hurst 8 run (pass failed)

T.R. Rivera
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1988: Massillon 28, Cuyahoga Falls 6

Tigers barrel over Falls 28-6

Fake punt starts onslaught

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers ran and booted and made the crowd’s heart race.

Quarterback Lee Hurst’s heart was racing before he put on his boots.

Coach Lee Owens’ creative con­coction ‑ the run‑and‑boot offense ‑ lived up to advance bill Friday night when the Massillon Tigers outslugged and outran the Cuyaho­ga Falls Black Tigers 28‑6 in a high school football season opener seen by a paid house of 10,724 in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Hurst, a junior starting his first varsity game, didn’t let it show, but he was “sluggish” according to Owens, and for a very specific reason.

“He’s under medication and he may have had a little too much of the medication tonight,” Owens said of the man who had just com­pleted 13 of 20 passes for 138 yards.

He didn’t have the energy he normally would have.”

Program Cover

“I’ve had a problem with a racing heart,” Hurst explained. “The medication is for that. They’ve made it stronger for football sea­son. I may have had too much of it.”

Massillon had too much of every­thing for Falls.

“I thought we did really well on offense,” Hurst said. “The backs ran well and the linemen did a super job blocking.”

Fullback Jason Stafford did a lot of the outrunning and outslugging. The 5‑foot‑9, 165‑pound speed burner rushed 18 times for 103 yards.

He never quite could get his 4.39 second 40‑yard dash speed out in the open, but, as he put it, “I was close to breaking it all the way on every play.”

Hurst and Stafford were well known names last year. Lamont Dixon was not. Dixon opened a few eyes, though, when he rushed six times for 98 yards out of the “A-back” position, as Owens calls it.

Ryan Sparkman, who played de­spite an upper‑leg injury, had been ticketed for starting duty at the “A­back” spot. Dixon played as though he would like the job, running over anything that was in his way.

Speaking of surprises, the Tigers set the tempo for the evening by pulling off a big one.

On the sixth play of the game, fac­ing fourth‑and‑three from the Falls 46‑yard line, the Tigers lined up to punt.

Three Tigers lined up five yards behind center. The man on the right was senior Jamie Slutz, who spent training camp battling for the start­ing quarterback job.

“The coach told me to check out­side to see if Joe (Pierce) was co­vered,” Slutz said. “When I saw that he wasn’t, I called for the snap to come to me.”

It did. Slutz rolled out, “just look­ing to get the ball to somebody.” He saw a linebacker pop in front of the streaking Pierce. Pierce broke be­hind the linebacker and Slutz fired a strike.

The 16‑yard completion gave the Tigers a first down at the 30. The inspired Tigers gained 6, 5, 7, 5 and 5 yards to set up a 1‑yard plunge into the end zone by Sparkman.

The point‑after kick failed, but the gamble had succeeded.

“With all the buildup about our offense, it would have been hard for us to punt there,” said Owens who has said frequently that he looks at punt as “a dirty word.”

The Tigers sputtered at times the rest of the way but managed to make their offense look like they have an Indy car to tune up the rest of the season.

They led 28-0 before Falls scored on a bomb with 55 seconds left in the game.

“There were a lot of times when we out‑athleted ”em,” said Owens, smiling at the word he invented.

“I’m disappointed in a lot of things. We’ll have to be a lot better tomorrow. But I don’t want to take away from the victory earned by the players and the coaching staff. it was a great one.”

Falls is not among the top names on the Massillon schedule. The Black Tigers loomed as a team that might improve on last year’s 7‑3 campaign before a car crash last winter killed two boys, paralyzed two others and led another to trans­fer from Falls to another school dis­trict. All would have been starters this year, including one of the boys who was killed, 6‑7 quarterback Kevin Humble.

“I know a couple of Falls guys and I know they dedicated the whole season to the guys in that crash,” said Massillon middle guard Bob Dunwiddie. “They came in on a bubble. After a couple of hard hits, they came back to earth.”

Dunwiddie was pleased with the Massillon defense, which allowed only 131 yards until Falls beefed the total up to 208 on its last possession.

“We pulled together as a team in­stead of being individuals ” he said

Coach Bill Humble was not at all displeased with his team, which leads one to believe he sees Massil­lon as a powerhouse.

“Our kids played hard,” he said. “I thought we played pretty good football.”

Massillon’s early success on the faked punt “really hurt us,” Hum­ble said. “That was a real key play.

There would be others.

Midway through the second quar­ter, Dixon exploded for 49 yards on a play that highlighted an‑84‑yard scoring drive.

“It was the old Redskin play, a counter gap,” said Owens. “I thought it worked well tonight.”

Dixon’s run was sandwiched be­tween two Hurst‑to‑Marlon Smith completions. The touchdown came on a 6‑yard run by Stafford, who swept left, was caught at the three, spun away and reached the football barely over the goal line as he hit the turf.

Hurst’s point‑after kick boomed through and Massillon led 13‑0 with five minutes left in the half.

Falls went three‑and‑punt and Massillon got the ball back on the Black Tigers’ 45. A 12‑yard recep­tion by Smith put the ball on the 20. On the next play tight end Jeff Harig ran a post pattern and Hurst led him with a high‑arcing pass to the back of the end zone. Harig dove and snagged the ball with his fing­ertips, pulling it in and hanging on as he crashed to the ground with a touchdown.

Harig did it again on the point ­after try, grabbing a tipped ball for a two‑pointer that gave the Tigers a 21‑0 halftime lead.

Falls staged a mild threat late in the third quarter. With the score still at 21‑0, the Black Tigers drove to the Massillon 22 where it was second‑and‑six. Pierce flew from his free safety position to break up what briefly appeared to be a touch­down pass on second down. Monte McGuire, playing with an air cast on his left ankle, stuffed 205‑pound fullback Jim Kearns for no gain on third down. A fourth‑down pass fell incomplete and the threat was over.

The Tigers drove 78 yards in 10 plays for an insurance touchdown. Sparkman went over left tackle and exploded for an 8‑yard touchdown run with 11:06 left in the game. Hurst’s kick made it 28‑0.

Falls’ touchdown drive was cap­ped by a 41‑yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jim Bal­lard to junior split end Jim Otis.

The Tigers were disappointed that the shutout got away. As the defense returned to the bench, Owens said, “Keep your heads up.”

The heads were up in the locker room afterward.

“We could have been a little more intense, but we did pretty well,” Pierce said.

GlenOak had riddled the Tigers for 14 completions in 20 attempts in a scrimmage the previous Friday. The Tiger linebackers’ timing was off that night, as they were not mak­ing the drops that would take away passes over the middle.

“The linebackers did a real good job tonight,” Pierce said. “They helped out the defensive backs a lot.”

Pierce said losing the shutout was a disappointment. McGuire agreed, but he didn’t look very dis­appointed.

“I feel good,” he said. “A win is a win.”

First downs rushing 13 5
First downs passing 7 3
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 20 9
Yards gained rushing 237 102
Yards lost rushing 17 11
Net yards rushing 220 91
Net yards passing 154 117
Total yards gained 374 208
Passes attempted 211 19
Passes completed 14 12
Passes int. by 1 0
Times kicked off 5 3
Kickoff average 55.8 30.31
Kickoff return yards 44 184
Punts 2 6
Punting average 32.5 30.3
Punt return yards 47 14
Fumbles 0 1
Fumbles lost 0 0
Penalties 5 3
Yards penalized 77 15
Number of plays 57 47
Time of possession 21.20 26.40


(Massillon) Stafford 18‑103, Dix­on 6‑98, Sparkman 7‑15, Owens 1‑9.
(Falls) Kearns 13‑28, Arney 8‑23, Ballard 6‑37.

(Massillon) Hurst 13‑20‑1, 138; Sultz 1-1-0, 16.
(Falls) Ballard 12‑19‑0, 117.

(Massillon) Harig 4‑49, Smith 14‑33, Manion 3‑46, Pierce 1‑16, Dixon 1‑6, White 1‑4.
(Falls) Arney 8‑47, Otis Z4L 1 2‑12, Adkins 2‑12

Attendance 10,724

FALLS 0 0 0 6 6
MASSILLON 6 15 0 7 28

MAS ‑ Sparkman 1 run (kick failed)
MAS ‑ Stafford 6 run (Hurst kick)
MAS ‑ Harig 20 pass from Hurst (Harig pass from Hurst)
MAS ‑ Sparkman 8 run (Hurst kick)
CF ‑ Otis 41 pass from Ballard (pass failed)

T.R. Rivera
T.R. Rivera