Mistakes doom Tigers’ title run Massillon ends with 10-2 slate
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
The one constant in the Massillon Tigers’ late‑season three game run of excellence was missing in their 27‑20 Division I regional championship loss to the McKinley Bulldogs before a throng of 34,208 at the Akron Rubber Bowl, Saturday night.
The Tigers simply did not play mistake‑free football against their arch‑rivals the way they did in averaging 36 points in defeating St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Week 9, McKinley in Week 10 and Fremont Ross in the playoff opener.
Massillon’s mistakes weren’t all of the glaring variety, but the Pups ‑ who meet St. Ignatius this Saturday at the Rubber Bowl in the Division I state semifinals ‑ seemed to always capitalize. Among the more costly errors:
The Tigers fumbled away the football at midfield on their first possession and the Bulldogs drove 52 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
The Bulldogs’ second score came on Adrian Brown’s 71-yard burst and included several broken or missed tackles within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
McKinley’s third tally appeared to be on a blown coverage assignment in the secondary which resulted in a 47‑yard Josh McDaniels‑to-Mark Thewes TD strike.
Massillon’s second‑to‑last drive included a key illegal proceedure penalty. It ended in a punt with 7:47 to play.
The Tigers’ final ill‑fated series reached the McKinley side of the field when an illegal shift penalty, a delay of game penalty and a dropped pass doomed their comeback.
“You can’t have those kind of things, missed tackles and penalties, against a quality opponent like McKinley,” Tiger mentor Jack Ross said afterward.
“But I wish McKinley all the best. They are a very good football team and they played a great game out there tonight. They will represent the region well.”
Massillon certainly did not self destruct in the 12th week of the season. The Tigers had the Pups holding their collective breaths until the final seconds, ticked off the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs scored first 26‑yard wingback reverse, executed to perfection by Jaiyvonne Richards.
Massillon took the ensuing kickoff and drove 73 yards in just seven plays to knot the score at 7‑7. Willie Spencer Jr. was at his best on the drive, running the option with a magician’s sleight of hand, all the while frustrating the McKinley defense.
On the first snap of their next possession, the Bulldogs regained the lead. Brown got the ball on a draw play and dashed to paydirt, leaving several Tigers in his wake. The conversion kick was wide and the Pups led 13‑7.
It was the type of play, coming right after Massillon scored to even the game, that could’ve broken a lesser team’s spirit. But the Tigers came resolutely back, marching 80 yards in 17 plays. Spencer covered the final seven on an option keeper around his left end. Pribich’s boot gave the locals the lead 14-13 with 6:44 until halftime.
The Bulldogs took the second half kickoff and made a statement, driving 65 yards in nine plays. Kinta Mitchell’s 32‑yard gallop eventually led to his one-yard scoring burst at 7:10 of the third stanza. McKinley failed on a two‑point pass play and it was a 19‑14 game.
Spencer got the TD hat trick as the Tigers regained the lead with an 11‑play, 62‑yard drive. The senior signal caller completed clutch passes to Devon Williams (18 yards), Ryan Shanor (10 yards), and Leon Ashcraft (5 yards), before sweeping in from the 3‑yard line for his third tally of the evening.
After a pass fell incomplete on the try for a two‑point conversion, the Tigers owned a 20‑19 lead at 1:32 of the third period.
But the Bulldogs would land the final punch on this night. It was a roundhouse right in the form of the 47‑yard McDaniels to Thewes pass play. Julius Lancaster took a pitch from McDaniels, then hit the senior QB on a throwback for the two point conversion that made it McKinley 27‑20 with 11:11 to play.
Massillon drove to the McKinley 49, where an illegal procedure penalty changed a second-and‑five play call into second-and‑ten. Ace Gillens sacked Spencer two plays later to force a punt.
Spencer was injured on McKinley’s ensuing series when he brought down Brown on a pitch out around left end. The Bulldogs were forced to punt one play later and the Tigers last chance began at their 9‑yard line.
Ashcraft asserted his championship mettle by getting Massillon out of the hole on a 34‑yard first down burst behind Aric Simpson and Tim Mendenhall. The 5‑foot, 7‑inch, senior tailback finished the night with 131 yards on 21 carries.
With senior Mark Hiegl now at the controls, Jeremy Fraelich gained 11 yards up the middle to the McKinley 46. An illegal shift penalty followed, then a delay of game one play later set up second‑and‑20 at the Massillon 44. Hiegl rolled right and hit a receiver at the McKinley 33, but the ball fell incomplete. Two plays later the Bulldog pass rush forced an incompletion and Massillon’s unlikely run had ended.
“That’s the problem in the playoffs,” Rose concluded, unless you go all the way, you end on a sour note.
“Unfortunately, it had to happen against (McKinley). That certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”
MCKINLEY 27 MASSILLON 20 M MCK First downs rushing 12 9 First downs passing 6 5 First downs penalty 0 0 Total first downs 18 14 Net yards rushing 253 226 Net yards passing 92 120 Total yards gained 345 346 Passes attempted 13 12 Passes completed 7 9 Passes int. 0 0 Kickoff return yards 89 41 Punts 2 2 Punting average 36.5 44.0 Punt return yards 0 0 Fumbles 1 0 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 6 4 Yards penalized 41 35 Number of plays 55 38 Time of possession 27.52 20.08 Attendance 34,208
MASSILLON 7 7 6 0 20 MCKINLEY 13 0 6 8 27
MCK ‑ Richards 26 run (McDaniels kick) M ‑ Spencer 21 run (Pribich kick) MCK ‑ Brown 70 run (kick failed) M ‑ Spencer 6 run (Pribich kick) MCK ‑ Mitchell 1 run (pass failed) M ‑ Spencer 4 run (pass failed) MCK ‑ Thewes 46 pass from McDaniels (McDaniels pass from Lancaster)
It was a fitting 100th game between the Massillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium this afternoon.
The storied rivalry went into overtime before the Tigers nailed down a heart‑stopping 42‑41 victory.
Massillon finishes the regular season with a 9‑1 record, while McKinley falls to 8‑2.
Both teams will qualify for the Division I playoffs. Pairings will be announced Sunday and the two schools will probably not meet in the first round next weekend.
Today’s game was one in which neither team seemed capable of stopping the other’s offense. In fact, the 83 total points scored is an all‑time record in the series that began in 1894.
McKinley forced overtime when it scored on a seven‑yard Josh McDaniels to Shakeer Abdullah pass with less than two minutes to play. McDaniels’ extra‑point kick made it a 35‑35 contest.
After a low snap foiled McDaniels’ 50‑yard field goal attempt as time expired, the teams headed to overtime.
Massillon won the toss and deferred, giving the Bulldogs the first chance in overtime.
Adrian Brown secured a first down just inside the 10 on the first snap of OT. Four plays later, on fourth and goal from the one‑yard line, fullback Kinta Mitchell went in standing up to make it 41‑35. McDaniels quickly changed shoes for what was another in what had been a string of routine conversion kicks all afternoon. But he sliced the kick to the right, missing it.
crowd, which numbered 19,125, seemed to sense this was the opening the Tigers needed.
On second down, quarterback Willie Spencer Jr. ran the option around his right end. He appeared to have made up his mind to keep the football and was being dragged down at the 15 when he pitched to split end Victor Redrick, who was trailing the play. Redrick took the ball in stride and sprinted down the sideline and into the end zone to knot the game at 41‑41.
Then, with all the pressure of the rivalry’s 99 previous games riding on his shoulders, Nick Pribich calmly split the uprights with his conversion kick and the Tigers went wild.
On the sidelines, McKinley’s Josh McDaniels kneeled with his head bowed in defeat, being consoled by his father, Pups head coach Thom McDaniels.
Spencer and Tigers assistant coach Steve Studer sprinted to the East stands and began ringing a victory bell.
The contest was highlighted by both teams’ refusal to quit – like two great heavyweights, exchanging knockdown punches and getting up for more.
McKinley opened the scoring with 11:30 to play in the second quarter. Mitchell capped a six play, 80‑yard drive with a seven‑yard TD run up the middle to make it 7‑0 Pups.
Massillon counter‑punched with a 12‑play, 80‑yard march. Spencer kept the football on the option and cut off his right tackle for a three‑yard touchdown to tie the game at 7‑7 with 6:20 until halftime.
The Tigers got a break when McKinley fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Steve Griffith recovered at the Bulldogs’ 25. It took seven plays, but Leon Ashcraft ran through a big hole over left guard and into the end zone to make it 14‑7 with 2:18 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs executed the two‑minute drill to perfection, moving 65 yards in 10 plays with Mitchell doing the honors from the one‑yard line with just 18 seconds remaining until the band show. McDaniels’ PAT made it 14‑14 at the half.
The quick‑strike Tiger offense untied the score less than 40 seconds into the third quarter. On the second snap of the half, Ashcraft took a handoff, pitched it back to Spencer, who lofted a bomb to Redrick, The senior sprinter ran under the pass at the 23, broke a diving tackle, then cruised in to the end zone to make it a 21‑14 Massillon advantage.
Once again the Bulldogs answered, moving 82 yards in just eight plays. Adrian Brown ran the ball on the final four snaps of the march, bucking into the end zone from the 2 to tie it 21‑21 with 8:08 left in the third.
But Massillon would not be discouraged.
The Tigers, with Spencer often changing plays at the line of scrimmage, moved 68 yards in seven plays to regain the lead. Spencer hit Vaughn Mohler, who scooped the ball off the turf in the end zone for a seven‑yard TD catch, making it 28‑21 Tigers.
McKinley then mounted the longest drive of the game, going 80 yards in 15 plays. Mitchell again found the end zone from a yard away and it was 28‑28 with 8:13 left in regulation.
Back came the Tigers with another 80‑yard drive.
Ashcraft, who rushed for 109 yards on the afternoon, scored on a draw play from 20 yards out with four minutes left to make it Massillon 35, McKinley 28.
By this time, everyone in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium realized they were witnessing a classic game. Nobody believed the Bulldogs were done, and they were not.
McDaniels marshalled another drive, this one covering 68 yards in seven plays. The senior signal‑caller hit Abdullah in the left side of the end zone after a brilliant play fake. The seven‑yard TD toss accounted for the end‑of-regulation score of 35‑35.
Then came overtime, a missed extra point and the Tigers pulse‑stopping victory.
MASSILLON 42 MCKINLEY 41 M McK First downs rushing 14 15 First downs passing 3 8 First downs penalty 1 2 Total first downs 18 25 Net yards rushing 245 233 Net yards passing 103 148 Total yards gained 348 381 Passes attempted 13 20 Passes completed 6 14 Passes int. 0 1 Times kicked Off 6 6 Kickoff average 42.3 55.1 Kickoff return yards 65 52 Punts 2 1 Punting average 26.5 35.0 Punt return yards -4 0 Fumbles 0 4 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 4 5 Yards penalized 47 25 umber of plays 51 65 Time Of Possession 23:23 24:37 Attendance 19,125
In a football game like today’s contest between the Massillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs, selecting one big play is all but impossible.
But the most memorable for many was the Tigers’ flea flicker that went for a 62‑yard touchdown at the onset of the third quarter.
In addition to the significance on the scoreboard ‑ the bomb gave the Tigers a 21‑14 lead ‑ the play showed Jack Rose was going to attack the Bulldogs in the second half.
Rose sent a message to his players, to the fans and – most importantly – to the Bulldogs. He let them know Massillon was going to go out and get the victory the old-fashioned way – earn it.
With the game tied at 14, Massillon accepted the second half kickoff, and Nate Lewis returned the ball to the 29, for 19 yards.
On first down, Willie Spencer rolled left and hit Devon Williams for eight yards.
On second‑and‑two, Spencer handed the ball to Ashcraft on what appeared to be a simple dive play into the middle of the line. But Ashcraft took just one step, turned and pitched the ball back to Spencer. He looked long and there was Victor Redrick in full stride on a post pattern.
The pass was there, Redrick made the catch and 25 yards later, the Tigers had assumed a 21‑14 lead.
In doing so, they set the tone for the second half, one of the best shootouts in the history of high school football.
For the first nine weeks of the 1993 high school football season, the Massillon Tigers made the big plays, evidenced by a 47 points per game average, a 9‑0 record and a number four statewide ranking.
But things went the other way at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, as the McKinley Bulldogs parlayed big plays into a 21‑13 upset of the Tigers.
Making many of the big plays for McKinley was one of their smaller players, 5‑9, 140‑pound senior quarterback Josh McDaniels.
With the game at tied at 7‑7, and less than three minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs took over at their 34 yard line. On third‑and‑5, McDaniels kept the ball on an option, picking his way for 15 yards and a key first down.
On the very next snap McDaniels rolled right and hit Jaivonne Richards along the right sideline for 18 yards to the Tiger 28, and the Pups were in range.
McDaniels found Tom Hastings for seven more to the 21. But it appeared the Tigers Chris Porrini had come up with the stopper, when he smelled out a middle screen to Kinta Mitchell for a three‑yard loss.
McDaniels barely overthrew Hastings along the left side on a perfectly run fade pattern, setting up fourth-and‑6 at the Tiger 24. It also set up what may have been the play of the game.
On the next snap, McDaniels and Hastings connected on a short curl in the left flats, and Hastings pitched the ball back to Denell Harris, who scooted to the Tiger five where Lonnie Simpson made a touchdown saving stop.
With a minute to go until the half, McDaniels rolled right but couldn’t find an open receiver. So the coach’s son tucked the ball and took off, finding paydirt, and giving the Pups a 14‑7 lead at half.
McKinley opened the afternoon scoring on its first possession. Tailback Che Bryant carried the ball on the first three plays ‑ including a 27‑yard burst ‑ as the Bulldogs moved from their own 20 to Massillon’s 47. The Pups kept the football on the ground with Mitchell and Harris on the next two plays, moving it to the Tiger 27. Then Bryant found a gaping hole over left tackle. Defensive back Tim Menches made one of many fine stops at the 19.
Bryant then gained 10 more yards over right tackle on the next snap, making it first‑and-goal at the eight. Three plays later, McKinley faced a decision. It was fourth‑and‑goal at the three.
In came McDaniels, who didn’t start at quarterback. He lined up in field goal formation, but shifted to a conventional set at the last moment. He handed the ball to Harris, who went over left tackle for a TD. McDaniels’ PAT made it 7‑0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.
The drive covered 80 yards in 11 plays.
Massillon came right back on its initial possession of the contest. It looked like three downs and out, but a roughing‑the-kicker call on McKinley, giving the Tigers new life on their 46. On the next play, a late‑hit‑penalty moved the ball to the 39.
Tiger fullback Mike Paul carried twice for 14 yards to the 25, then Mike Danzy ran around right end for 10 more. On third‑and‑6 from the 11, Paul carried on a draw play, cut off a fine block by Brock Herring, and picked up a first down at the four. Three plays later, Paul scored from the one to make it 7‑7 with 11:57 left in the first half.
The Tigers came out for the third quarter, and looked like they were ready to erase a 14‑7 lead, driving from their 36 to McKinley’s 16, as Dixon and Danzy took turns making plays.
Dixon picked up 13 on a counter around left end to give the locals a first down near midfield, then ran another counter over right guard to the 33. Two plays later, he hit Merchant to the 21.
Danzy then found tight end Isaiah Jackson to set up first‑and‑goal at the six. But the Bulldog defense stiffened and Massillon turned the ball over on an interception by Richards in the end zone.
The Massillon defense stopped McKinley on the next possession. But the Tigers fumbled, giving the Bulldogs back the ball at the Tiger 35. Eight plays later, Mitchell found the end zone from three yards out to make it 21‑7, 37 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers came, back, getting a big play of its own on the next possession, as Danzy hit Jackson on the right sideline for 44‑yeard gainer to the McKinley 28. Two plays later, Danzy hit Merchant for a short pass on the left side. Merchant slipped two tackles, and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone, making it 21‑13.
Harris tipped away a conversion pass, intended for Jackson.
McKinley was forced to punt on its next possession. But the Tigers couldn’t do anything, giving it back to the hosts with 3:59 to play. McKinley ran out the clock without giving the Tigers the ball back.
The Bulldogs averaged 6.7 yards on first down plays, compared to under three yards for the Tigers.
MASSILLON 13 MCKINLEY 21 M Mc First downs rushing 8 10 First downs passing 4 2 First downs penalty 2 1 Total first downs 14 13 Net yards rushing 108 240 Net yards passing 101 44 Total yards gained 209 284 Passes attempted 15 10 Passes completed 5 6 Passes int. by 2 0 Times kicked off 3 4 Kickoff average 54 31.3 Kickoff return yards 10 28 Punts 2 3 Punting average 34 31 Punt return yards 6 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 4 7 Yards penalized 40 55 Number of plays 48 50 Time of possession 24:43 23:17
MCKINLEY 7 7 0 7‑21 MASSILLON 0 7 0 6‑13
McK. ‑ Harris 3 yard run (McDanielS kick) Mass. ‑ Paul 1 yard run (Endsley kick) McK. ‑ McDaniels 5 yard run (McDaniels kick) McK. ‑ Mitchell 3 yard run (McDaniels kick) Mass. ‑ Merchant 28 yard pass from Danzy (pass failed)
For many of the Massillon fans at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, the McKinley game is the culmination of an entire season.
For others, it’s the one game they live for while growing up in Tigertown.
Some are former players or booster club members. Some are only part‑time fans. Others are just your everyday Massillon Tiger fanatics.
They all had something in common. They were pulling for the Tigers to come out on top.
The game is the pinnacle of the season for both teams.
The Bulldogs did their best to take the Tiger faithful out of the game early, surging to a 14‑7 halftime lead.
“I said I was worried about this game,” one fan decked out in orange and black said on his way to take his seat after a visit to the concession stand.
“McKinley’s better than most people give them credit for.”
Many fans spent part of the afternoon reliving the excitement leading up to “The Game.”
“Everything else ‑ the nine games before this, the practice before the season ‑ is superficial, ” said Al Rogers Jr., who played for the Tigers in 1976.
“This is what playing Massillon Tiger football is all about. You throw all the records out. I remember when I was a junior we played McKinley and we were 5‑3‑1 coming in and they were 9‑0. We beat them and knocked them out of the playoffs.
“That’s what makes this game so special. The tradition is what sets this game apart from any other game in the country.”
Tiger Booster Club president Rollie Layfield will always remember the 1993-94 season. Win or lose, the Tigers, according to Layfield, had a great team.
“If we get into the playoffs, I think we’ll be respectable,” said Layfield who is only allowed to serve one term a president. “This has been a great season. This group of young men have come together as a team, and that’s what this game is all about.”
Rob Maylor, who played offensive line for the Tigers in 1981 and ’82, is a staunch Tiger fan. Maylor was one of the booster members forming the man‑made tunnel before the Tigers took the field.
He hasn’t lost any intensity since his playing days.
Maylor was slapping helmets am screaming encouragement to the Massillon players.
“As a player, this game is something you live for,” Maylor said. “When I see the players come out of the locker room and head for that hoop, I get goose bumps every week.
“This game is special, It’s the pinnacle of the season.
McKinley’s 14-6 win over Massillon Saturday was a football student’s football game.
Last year’s was all day at Cedar Point on the tallest coaster ’til you’re dizzy, Tigers 42-13.
This time it was a lot of Woody vs. Bo, rock ribbed running, smashing hits, tight all the way, every decision might mean the game.
McKinley won it, really, on the double screen pass that sprang Che Bryant for a 57-yard touchdown.
Thom McDaniels has been McKinley’s head coach since 1982. How many times has he used the double screen pass? “Twice,” he said after the game witnessed by 17,863 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. “Once to day when it went for a short gain. Once today when it went for a touchdown.”
Massillon led 3-0 at halftime on a 22-yard Jason Brown field goal. McKinley had a third-and-two on the first possession of the second half when McDaniels sent in the double screen. “We thought Massillon would have the regular screen pass pretty well defended,” McDaniels said. “We thought it would help to add a wrinkle.”
The wrinkle was to let the Tigers through to charge quarterback Joe Pukansky. Fullback Tremaine McElroy would be available as the dump-off man on the right side of the field. Tailback Che Bryant would be ready on the other side.
“I was just hoping we could get a first down out of it,” Pukansky said. “They bit on the fake (to McElroy). It was open to Che’s side.”
It was wide open. Bryant caught the ball around the line of scrimmage, the McKinley 43, ran ahead down the left sideline for 10 yards, spotted a gaping hole, cut across the grain, and used what he says is 4.5 speed in the 40 to race untouched into the right corner of the south end zone.
“Joe Gallo (the center) threw a real good block,” Bryant said. “Alfonso (Ash, the flanker) threw another one.” Two Tigers were on the ground when Bryant made his cut.
“We knew McKinley was a good screen passing team,” Rose said. “I was disappointed with our defense on that play. We lost our pursuit angles.”
Sophomore Josh McDaniels, the coach’s son, booted the point-after to give McKinley a 7-3 lead with 9:55 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers relied on 5-foot-5 senior fullback Eugene Copeland to respond immediately. Copeland, whose best game of the season yielded 85 yards in 14 carries, ran 17 yards on a trap to the McKinley 40.
A 25-yard sideline pass from, Mike Danzy to Alonzo Simpson, both juniors, got the Tigers close. The possession boiled down to fourth-and goal from the 5.
Rose said he thought about going for the touchdown. But it was so early. He sent in Brown and got a 24-yard field goal. It was 7-6, McKinley, with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
Partly since backfield starters Bryant (6-3, 178, Jr.) and McElroy (6-2, 195, Sr.) double, as standouts on defense, McDaniels likes to give them a breather for one or two series each game., The backups are sturdy and quick, just like the starters. Fullback Jeremy Kirkpatrick (6-1, 207, Sr.) and tailback Denell Harris (6-1, 195, Jr.) ran McKinley into scoring position early in the fourth quarter.
However, Bryant was re-inserted on fourth-and-one from the Tiger 21-yard line.
Both teams used defensive shifts and blitzes, successfully. This time, Massillon safety Eric Woods inched up to the line before the snap, then shot the gap. Woods smashed Bryant to the turf, for a two-yard loss. The Tigers got the ball back with 10:24 left in the game. McKinley’s lead remained one lonely point.
The Bulldog defense forced a punt, then the Tigers got McKinley in a fourth-and-one from just short of midfield with four minutes left. The Bulldogs acted as though they were going for a first down. Pukansky barked but the Tigers didn’t bite. McKinley called time out and lined up for a punt.
Rose disdained one’ risk having to drive 80 or 90 yards with time running out – in favor of another. “We went for the block,” he said. “Even if we didn’t get the block, we’d have a good chance of forcing a bad punt.”
Woods, who earlier had distracted Josh McDaniels into missing a 23-yard field goal attempt with a strong rush, was one of the shock troops assigned to go after the punt of junior Rob Pukansky, the quarterback’s first cousin, and possibly McKinley’s starting QB next year.
The Tigers got a bad punt out of it. It went off the side of my foot,” Rob Pukansky said. But Pukansky and Woods both wound up writhing in pain of the field, the aftermath of what became a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
I felt the rush coming,” Pukansky said. “When that happens, I just try to get the ball out of there, not worry about booming it or making it look pretty. I got hit right here (he pointed to his stomach).” Woods and Rob Pukansky both were helped from the field.
McKinley kept the ball, then drove. Harris, the backup tailback, wound up crashing up the middle for 16 yards and a touchdown on a fourth-and-one play. Josh McDaniels’ kick created the 14-6 final score with 50 seconds left.
McKinley improved to 9-1 but was denied a playoff bid. The Bulldogs needed to finish in the top four in Region 3, Division I. They came in seventh.
McKinley played the same strong schedule as usual but missed the tournament because four opponents they beat did not fare as well as usual: GlenOak (3-7), Warren (5-5), Boardman (4-6) and Massillon (5-5).
Copeland, with his 85 yards, and Bryant, with 92 yards in 18 carries to go along with the touchdown reception, were Saturday’s leading offensive players.
Each team wound up throwing only nine passes. The Tigers came through an entire quarter without going to the airways.
On its first possession, Massillon ran four plays and elected to punt on fourth-and-a-foot from its own 36. McKinley then punched the ball past midfield on an all running segment before a post pattern from Joe Pukansky to Ash netted 27 yards to the 8. Tiger defensive backs Dan Hackenbracht and Chad Buckland thwarted a third-down try for a touchdown pass, after which Josh McDaniels couldn’t connect on a 23-yard field goal attempt.
The Tigers’ first pass – on their first play of the second quarter – was a 19-yard Danzyto-Simpson strike. That triggered a 50-yard drive from the Tiger 45 to the Bulldog 5, featuring a 22-yard run on a third-and-12 quarterback draw by Danzy. Brown’s 22-yard field goal came on fourth-and-goal from the 5 and gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 6:13 left in the first half. McKinley wound up with a 327-173 lead in net offensive yards, a statistic belying the closeness of the game. Take away McKinley’s yardage on the double screen and the yardage the Pups gained after the roughing-the-kicker call, and McKinley’s edge was a modest 217-173.
The Tigers still lead the all-time series, 53-40-5.
MAS McK First downs rushing 6 15 First downs passing 3 2 First downs by penalty 0 1 Totals first downs 9 18 Yards gained rushing 138 237 Yards lost rushing 15 6 Net yards rushing 123 231 Net yards passing 50 96 Total yards gained 173 327 Passes attempted 9 8 Passes completed 3 5 Interceptions 1 0 Times kicked off 3 3 Kickoff average 42.3 38.4 Punts 4 2 Kickoff return yards 22 11 Punting average 36.5 28.0 Punt return yards 1 0 Fumbles 0 0 Fumbles lost 0 0 Penalties 2 4 Yards penalized 21 20 Number of plays 40 60 Time of possession 18:43 29:17 Attendance 17,863
McKinley 0 0 7 7 14 Massillon 0 3 3 0 6
MAS – FG Brown 22 McK – Bryant 57 pass from Pukansy (McDaniels kick) MAS – FG Brown 24 McK – Harris 16 run (McDaniels kick)
When the final gun sounded, it seemed as if Steve Studer was shot out of it.
Within seconds of the finish of Saturday’s 42‑13 Massillon victory over McKinley, Studer, the Tigers’ strength coach had sprinted across the field and seized the victory bell that goes to the winner.
He and a pack of cheerleaders wheeled the bell across the Fawcett Stadium grass, to the Massillon side. It took the cheerleaders about 30 seconds to paint the bell orange and black.
“Let’s haul that baby home,” exclaimed Jeff Thornberry, president of the Tiger Sideliners amid general approval of a celebrating Massillon mob.
Thornberry had been in charge of the “Beat McKinley” parade Friday night. He said it drew a record number of entries. He heaved a sigh of relief after the parade was over. It had taken a lot of work.
Beating McKinley and making the state playoffs pumped a big second wind into him.
“I’ll have another parade,” he said.
The Tigers rained down a parade of points on the Bulldogs.
It was the biggest point spread in the classic battle in 31 years, dating to Massillon’s 42‑0 victory in 1960.
Even Paul Brown’s six Massillon teams that beat McKinley never did so by as many as the 29 points that separated the Tigers and Bulldogs Saturday.
Saturday’s game was a page out of the Chuck Mather playbook. Mather, who attended Saturday’s game, was head coach of the Tigers when they beat McKinley 33‑0 in 1950, 40‑0 in 1951, 41‑8 in 1952 and 48‑7 in 1953.
The effort of Massillon’s offensive line and running back Travis McGuire was second to none.
McGuire scored five touchdowns and rushed for a school record 302 yards. Tiger statistician Richie Cunningham turned in the figure at 299 yards at the end of the game, then went home to review the videotape. He found three more yards and adjusted the figure. It is 302 that will go into the official record books, surpassing the previous record of 263 by Homer Floyd in 1954 ‑ against McKinley.
Tiger head coach Lee Owens improved his record against McKinley to 3‑1.
“Not as good as 4‑0,” he said.
But not too shabby, either.
McKinley’s Thom McDaniels now is 5‑5 against Massillon.
Massillon linebacker Eric Wright, in his third
year as a starter, is 2‑0 against McKinley at Fawcett Stadium. Afterward, he demonstrated a quality that has made him a team captain the last two years. He did not pat himself on the back for another smashing game. Asked to identify the turning point of the game, he credited a teammate.
“The two interceptions by that man right there,” he said, pointing to junior defensive
back Eric Woods, back in Massillon, in the Tiger locker room.
Season holders get first shot at tickets Akron Ellet will be the Massillon Tigers’ opponent in the first round of the Ohio high school football playoffs.
Ellet, 9‑1, will take on Massillon, 8‑2, at 7 p.m. Saturday in Fawcett Stadium, where the Tigers mauled McKinley 42‑13 two days ago.
Game manager Dan Brooks of Canton City Schools said Sunday that the only tickets sold early in the week will be reserved seats.
“Last year, when Massillon played Jackson (in a Division I playoff tilt at Fawcett), we gave both schools 11,000 tickets,” Brooks said. “I can’t imagine that Ellet will need that many.”
All tickets will be $5, Brooks said, adding there will be no discount for students.
Tickets will go on sale Tuesday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for season ticket holders who display their green card only. Hours will be 7:30 a.m. through 9 p.m.
Woods helped render McKinley’s passing game almost harmless.
“We were a little surprised by how little they passed,” he said. “We thought they would pass most of the time.”
Instead, McKinley’s junior quarterback Joe Pukansky completed just six of 13 passes for 40 yards.
“Give credit to our line” for putting some heat on Pukansky, Woods said.
Woods’ first interception stopped McKinley’s first possession of the third quarter and led to a Tiger touchdown that broke open a 21‑13 game. Woods made the pickoff after teammate Jason Woullard tipped a Pukansky pass headed for tight end Paul Popko.
McKinley had looked like a serious threat to the Tigers early in the game, scoring on its first possession.
“We were too aggressive on their first series,” Woullard said. “We were over‑running the tackles.”
The Bulldogs gained 80 yards on their first possession. They picked up just 87 more yards the rest‑of the game.
“We played our base coverages most of the game,” Woullard said. “We just played it well.”
Woullard played a full game at “Rob” defensive end after missing most of the previous week’s contest with a bruised shoulder.
“Beating McKinley beats a little pain any time,” he said.
Massillon’s offensive line gave the Bulldogs a beating.
“I think everyone on the line had his best game today,” said Ryan Orr, a card‑carrying member of “The Wrecking Crew,” as the line calls itself. “We stayed low and did a good job executing.”
Orr hopes the Tigers can blow a few more teams out of the water.
“It’s just one game at a time, and everybody pulling together, trying for a four‑game winning streak,” he said.
Four more wins would make the Tigers state champions.
The Tiger Booster Club will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Washington High gym, and not in the school auditorium where the meetings usually are held.
Studer boys give line a lift, get kick out of pounding of McKinley
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
Nobody enjoyed Saturday’s 42‑13 Massillon victory over McKinley more than Joe Studer.
“It was as great a win as any I’ve ever been a part of as a coach,” said Studer, who gave up the head coaching job at Triway High after the 1990 season to become offensive line coach of the Massillon Tigers.
Triway was 8‑2 in Studer’s last year there, but trading in status as a successful boss for a job as an assistant made sense to him. He was a senior on the 1974 Massillon team and he bleeds Tiger orange.
Now he knows what it’s like to beat McKinley as a Tiger player, and as a Tiger coach. What’s more fun?
“That’s a tough one,” Studer said. “My senior year McKinley was 9‑0 and we beat them on a last‑second pass from Greg Wood to Eddie Bell. That was the McKinley team with Jap Jeter and Jonathon Moore. That’s a good memory.”
Outstanding play by the Massillon offensive line will be a memory that will last for many who saw the 1991 win over McKinley.
“It was a nice game for the line,” Studer allowed. “We came off the ball well and we were able to move their line. My hat is off to the young men.
“Of course, there’s always room for improvement.”
In what areas?
“There was one play for minus yardage against McKinley,” Studer said.
Another good game by the line would come in handy Saturday when the Tigers face Akron Ellet in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.
Ellet has one of the best defensive fronts the Tigers will have seen.
“Their tackles are real big so we have to make sure we play low and come off the ball low and gets under their pads,” Studer said.
How does Ellet’s defensive front wall stack up to the best the Tigers have seen?
“In terms of overall scheme, talent and quickness, Moeller was the best,” Studer said. “For flat‑out physical size, Walsh was No. 1. Of course, Akron St V was real strong, too.”
Studer took a quick look at the Massillon unit that calls itself “The Wrecking Crew.”
Center Scott Chariton (5‑10 215, Sr.) ‑ “His biggest asset is balance. He keeps a low center of gravity.”
Strong guard Ryan Orr (S‑10, 250, Sr.) ‑ “A great down blocker, and very consistent … a lot of hip strength.”
Strong tackles Brandon Jackson (6‑4, 300, Jr.) and Mark Miller (6‑0, 245, Jr.) ‑ “Both of them have come a long way since having to step in for Chris (Dottavio). It left us with a big hole when Chris got hurt and these guys have done the job.”
Quick guard Matt Williams (6‑1, 215, Sr.) and quick tackle Steve Miller (6‑0, 215, Sr.) ‑”Both have overcome the fact they aren’t the size of someone you’d visualize as an offensive lineman. Both have come a long way. They have quick feet and they’re technicians with good football sense.”
Tight end Greg Paul (6‑3, 215, Sr.) ‑ “When Travis (McGuire) has run the counter Greg has been at the point of attack putting a good block on a guy who’s usually bigger than him.”
Senior Dan Sciury (6‑2, 250, Sr.), an all‑county performer on defense, started on the offensive line last year. Sciury still plays some on offense. He was in there against McKinley when the Tigers used an unusual three‑tackle set.
“Dan means so much to our defense that we’ve used him sparingly on offense,” Studer said. “He’s a great student of the game.”
Two other seniors have been part of the line’s success, behind the scenes.
“Seth Aegerter has backed up at tight end and he’s on the kickoff return team,” Studer said. “Jason Crites backs up at guard and he’s also on the kickoff return team. Both of them have put in a lot of hard work.”
Studer has received more than a little help from assistant coach Tim Daniels and strength coach Steve Studer.
The Studers, who are brothers, and Daniels all were offensive line starters in college. Steve and Joe hogged the starting center position at Bowling Green for six straight years during the 1970s. Daniels was a big tackle for the Tennessee Volunteers in the early 1980s.
“The strength program has been real important in what we’ve done on the line,” Joe Studer said. “Steve put these guys through a lot of hard work in the off‑season.”
“The training techniques I used at Triway I got from Steve,” Joe Studer said. “When I came back to Massillon to coach Steve and I were pretty much on the same page right from the start.
“One thing we’ve done this year that has helped has been maintain and even build our strength as this season has progressed. A lot of times, a football player will lose strength during the season.”
Studer said the key to his unit’s progress this year has been quite simple: hard work.
“The way these guys apply themselves as a group is impressive,” he said. “They’ve been so consistent in their effort. They also have a lot of football sense. You don’t have to tell them a lot of things twice.
MASSILLON 42 McKINLEY 13 MA Mc First downs rushing 22 6 First downs passing 0 2 First downs by penalty 0 0 Total first downs 22 8 Yards gained rushing 408 140 Yards lost rushing 4 13 Net yards rushing 404 127 Net yards passing 3 40 Total yards gained 407 167 Passes attempted 3 13 Passes completed 1 6 Passes int. by 2 0 Times kicked off 7 3 Kickoff average 41.3 48.0 Kickoff return yards 78 132 Punts 1 4 Punting average 32.0 26.0 Punt return yards 16 5 Fumbles 1 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 3 5 Yards penalized 11 40 Number of plays 63 43 Time of possession 23:17 24:43
MASSILLON 14 7 14 7 42 McKINLEY 7 6 0 0 13
SCORING SUMMARY M ‑ Eric Wright 18 run (Jason Brown kick) Mc ‑ Don Martin 1 run (Jack Vincenzio kick) M ‑ Travis McGuire 14 run (Brown kick) M ‑ McGuire 11 run (Brown kick) Mc ‑ Ron Burr 3 pass from Joe Pukansky (kick failed) M ‑ McGuire 6 run (Brown kick) M ‑ McGuire 1 run (Brown kick) W ‑ McGuire 79 run (Brown kick)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING (Massillon) McGuire 36‑302, Wright 6‑46, Mike Danzy 5‑18, Dan Seimetz 3‑10, Falando Ashcraft 3‑7, Nick Moasides 1‑6, Eugene Copeland 3‑5, Marc Stafford 1‑3; (McKinley) Pukansky 6‑45, Martin 7‑35, Che Bryant 6‑27, Bruce Richards 9‑24, Tremaine McElroy 1‑1.
Owens hopes ‘right Massillon team’ shows up after 20‑7 loss to McKinley
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
A great season may still await them.
But there is only one way to attain it, one of the Massillon Tiger football captains said after Saturday’s 20‑7 loss to McKinley.
“The only thing that can help us get over this,” senior cornerback Chad Buckland said, “is if we go all the way.”
“All the way” means a four‑game winning streak against competition that will get nastier each week.
The Tigers are one of 16 teams in the Division I playoffs. The one that wins the next four weekends will be state champ.
Right now, though, the Tigers are a 7‑3 team needing just one win to get over a loss to their arch‑rival.
Two months ago, the Tigers were a play away from beating mighty Cincinnati Moeller. Now they are a team that must prove itself all over again.
“Can we come back?” said Tiger coach Lee Owens, repeating a question put to him. “We didn’t do a good job of it the last time we were in a similar situation (losing in Austintown a week after falling to Moeller). I hope we do better than we did the last time.
Owens senses it will be easier to rebound this time. He noted the Tigers didn’t seem crushed by the McKinley loss the way they were after getting nipped by Moeller.
But the team needs a spark, he said.
“Some of the fans have been saying, , Which Massillon team will show up today?’ And I see their point,” Owens said. “There have been times when we’ve been good enough to play with any team in Ohio. There have been other times when we could be defeated by any one of the teams entering the playoffs.
“It will depend on which Tiger team shows up. I hope it’s the right one.”
Were the Tigers lacking fire in their bellies against McKinley because they knew a playoff spot was locked up?
“I don’t think so,” Tiger defensive tackle Ron Humphrey said. “I hardly even thought about the playoffs all week. I was just thinking about McKinley.
“There’s nothing you can say or do to change what happened today. We lost. It’s over.
“We’ve got to get our sulking out of the way in one day and get back to work.”
“We have to get this one behind us as soon as we can,” agreed senior wide receiver Steve Brown.
“We can’t hang our heads,” echoed tight end Chris Roth.
“We have to forget McKinley and regroup,” said junior linebacker Eric Wright. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to play hard in the playoffs and try to win all our games.”
“We’ve got to keep our heads up and not make a big deal out of the McKinley game,” said running back Falando Ashcraft.
Every Tiger interviewed gave the Bulldogs their due.
“I knew they were capable of playing like this,” Buckland said. “I thought all along they were going to explode. Unfortunately, they did … against us.
“On the positive side for us, McKinley has to sit home. It’s a lot better knowing you’re going to get to play again.”
Owens learned Sunday that his team will face Jackson in the first round of the playoffs Saturday at Fawcett Stadium. He had little to say on the matter, in keeping with the tight ship he says will be run this week.
“It does not matter who we play this week,” the coach said Sunday night at 8 from his office.
“We’re just glad to be in the playoffs.” His only comment on Jackson: They must be a good team, having won nine games. When a team loses only once you assume they’re a fine team.”
Owens had been through a busy Sunday already. He wasn’t finished.
“It’s going to be a long one,” he said.
MASSILLON 7 McKINLEY 20 Ma Mc First downs rushing 3 10 First downs passing 4 7 First downs by penalty 1 1 Totals first downs 8 18 Yards gained rushing 68 183 Yards lost rushing 20 19 Net yards rushing 48 164 Net yards passing 113 143 Total yards gained 161 307 Passes attempted 22 22 Passes completed 8 14 Passes int. by 1 3 Times kicked off 2 4 Kickoff average 57.5 47.3 Kickoff return yards 42 16 Punts 6 2 Punting average 30.2 42.5 Punt return yards 2 13 Fumbles 3 3 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 3 7 Yards penalized 45 70 Number of plays 46 70 Time of possession 17.21 30.39 Attendance 16,741
McKINLEY 0 7 7 6 20 MASSILLON 0 0 7 0 7
McK ‑ Martin 28 pass from Henry (Curtis kick) Mas ‑ Roth 38 pass from Burick (John kick) McK ‑ Curtis 1 run (Curtis kick) McK ‑ Kaiusin 3 run (kick failed)
Most of the pre game know‑it‑alls had Saturday’s 95th McKinley‑Massillon high school football game figured out before the 21,000 fans filed into Fawcett Stadium.
They said McKinley’s ground game was too quick for Massillon’s defense. They also said Massillon’s offense was good, but not good enough to outplay McKinley’s quick defenders.
Boy, were they wrong.
Final score: Massillon 24, McKinley 7.
The victory gives Massillon an 8‑2 record, a 52‑38‑5 advantage in the McKinley‑Massillon series and a berth in the state playoffs for the first time since 1982. Massillon held its top spot in Region 3, while McKinley (7‑3) fell from the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Tigers, by virtue of their top spot in Region 3, most likely will host either Akron Garfield or Walsh Jesuit in Saturday’s opening round of the Division I playoffs. The final computer standings and the opening round pairings will be released by the Ohio High School Athletic Association tonight.
Massillon proved the know‑it‑alls wrong by doing what few thought they could. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 45 yards rushing and 179 total yards.
The McKinley running game, which has featured 13 backs this season, was field to a 2.3‑yards‑per‑carry average on 20 carries and four first downs. The Bulldogs’ leading ground‑gainer on the season, Darnell Clark, had nine yards on 10 carries.
“This is the best defense we’ve played all season, especially against the run,” said Massillon defensive coordinator Dan Boarman. ‘We didn’t do anything difference as far as design. We just played a lot harder and were able to shut down their running game.”
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Massillon led 14‑0 before McKinley’s offense was brought onto the field.
After kick returner Donnie Blake returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to the McKinley 47, the Tigers drove the rest of the way on seven plays and scored on a six‑yard run by Ryan Sparkman. Gary Miller added the first of three extra‑point kicks to give Massillon a 7‑0 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter.
McKinley’s offense had to stay on the sideline when kick returner Kirk Moore fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Massillon’s David Whitfield recovered at the McKinley 18. The turnover was the first of four for McKinley.
Six plays later, Sparkman followed tackles Torn Menches and Ray Kovacsiss over the right side of the line for a two‑yard TD to put Massillon two TDs ahead with 7:20 left in tire first quarter.
When McKinley finally got the ball, the Bulldogs seemed to abandon the run, calling four straight pass plays and six in their first seven snaps.
“I think our offense took a lot of heat off our defense by scoring those two quick touchdowns,” Boarman said. “I think maybe we changed their game plan somewhat.”
McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels insisted the Bulldogs didn’t stray from their original game plan.
“We planned to come out and throw like we did,” McDaniels said. “(The touchdowns) did not change that. The situation was not out of hand at that point, by any means.”
McKinley climbed back into the game following a 29‑yard punt to the Massillon 49. The Bulldogs, with the help of a pass interference call on third‑and‑10 that put the ball on the Massillon 32, scored with 1:30 left in the quarter.
Three plays after the interference, junior quarterback Ryan Henry (9‑of‑23, 134 yards) fooled the entire Massillon defense into thinking he was going to run after scrambling away from Mike Martin’s rush. Instead, Henry threw a 32‑yard TD pass to Ron Szerokman who was wide open in the end zone.
Massillon, however, put McKinley in a huge hole when quarterback Lee Hurst lofted a perfectly thrown 12‑yard TD pass to senior Rameir Martin with four seconds left in the half. Martin used every inch of his 6‑4 frame as he leaped between two defenders, bobbled the ball and tucked it away before falling just inbounds.
“That probably was the play of the game,” said Massillon head coach Lee Owens. “Rameir is such a talented kid. And Lee is a gutsy kid for tossing the ball in there like he did.”
Hurst became Massillon’s record‑holder in single‑season pass completions and passing yards with a first half that saw him complete 12‑of‑20 passes for 166 yards. With his final statistics reading 12‑of‑ 22 for 166 yards, Hurst finished the regular season with 111 completions in 208 attempts for 1,485 yards and 10 TDs.
Martin caught all nine of his passes in the first half for 110 yards.
With the lead in hand, Massillon turned the ball over to senior running backs Ryan Sparkman and. Lamonte Dixon. The two combined for 117 yards rushing in the second half, and set up a 27‑yard field goal by Miller late in the third quarter.
Sparkman ended with a game high 105 yards on 25 carries.
Overall, Massillon rolled up 335 total yards and 20 first downs. The Tigers’ offense also didn’t turn the ball over.
“It was a case of its playing good defense and errorless football in the first half, and then wearing out McKinley in the second half,” Owens said. “I think it’s safe to say we pretty much controlled the game the entire way.”
Which is something the know‑it‑alls never would have guessed. ***** Massillon offensive line coach Nick Vrotsos was coaching in his 33rd McKinley‑Massillon game, not his 31st as was reported Thursday.
Overlooked were the 14‑6 victory over McKinley in the 1980 playoffs and the Tigers’ first victory over McKinley in 1963 (the teams played twice that year because McKinley was suspended from play in 1962). Vrotsos is 22‑11 vs. McKinley.
Massillon 14 7 3 0 24 McKinley 7 0 0 0 7
Mass ‑ Sparkman 6 run (G Miller kick) Mass ‑ Sparkman 2 run (G. Miller kick) McK ‑ Szerokman 32 as, iron, Her,, (Woj kick) Mass ‑ Martin 12 pass from Hurst (G. Miller kick) Mass ‑ FG G. Miller 27
‘Dogs down; Tigers stalk Walsh Owens: Massillon’s back, you can’t keep us down
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
It’s a something old, something new, something borrowed kind of Monday for the Massillon Tigers.
* The old (even ancient) ‑ The Tigers beat up the McKinley Bulldogs 24‑7 Saturday at Fawcett Stadium to take a 52‑38‑5 lead in a series that started six years before the Canton school’s namesake became a U.S. president in 1900.
* The new ‑ Massillon and Walsh Jesuit have never played each other. They will collide at 7 p.m. Saturday in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in a first‑round Division I playoff game.
* The borrowed ‑ Sonny Spielman, whose son Chris was a junior the last time the Tigers made the playoffs, in 1982, declared, “The title will ride on Tiger pride.” Didn’t somebody say that somewhere along the line?
It all adds up to this: Sun’s up in Tigertown after a second straight victory over the Dastardly ‘Dogs.
What’s it all mean?
“The focus,” said 33‑year‑old Massillon head coach Lee Owens, who is 2‑0 against McKinley and 15-5 as the top Tiger, “is Massillon.
“I was proud of our school. I was proud of our city. I was proud of our players. I was proud of our coaches.
“Massillon is back. You can’t keep us down. The first year we were eligible to be back in the playoffs, we made it back.
“We aren’t satisfied with just being back in the playoffs, either. As hard as it is to get emotionally up for another game after beating McKinley, we will find a way to do that. We will find a way to establish the consistency needed to advance in the playoffs.”
Who’s going to argue with the man?
His team founds way to dominate potent Austintown‑Fitch a week after losing 41‑7 to Cincinnati Moeller (which, incidentally, will take on unbeaten Cincinnati Elder in another Saturday playoff battle). It found a way to dominate favored – just ask 90 percent of the out‑of‑town media – McKinley a week after a stunning defeat to Cleveland St. Joseph.
Saturday’s game, played on an August‑meets‑October afternoon with temperatures in the 70s, came at the end of a hair‑raising week.
Lose and the Tigers’ season would end bitterly. Win and they would make the playoffs.
The Tigers struck early and let their thousands of followers let their hair bang down.
Massillon led 14‑0 with less than five minutes gone in the game. They stormed into the fourth quarter on top by the 24‑7 final score.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with half the Massillon crowd chanting “T‑I‑G” and the other half roaring back “E‑R‑S,” red rivers of Bulldog boosters streamed toward the exits.
Massillon got it done with a complete package: offense, defense, special teams and crowd support.
The offense scored on the game’s first series and amassed 335 yards against a ballyhooed defense.
The defense was both lucky (McKinley dropped several passes) and good, making numerous crunching hits and keeping the Bulldogs from getting outside. McKinley finished with just 179 total yards.
The special teams got along kick return from Donnie Blake to start the game and a big fumble recovery by David Whitfield minutes later.
The coaching staff came up with an offensive blocking scheme that took McKinley by surprise.
The crowd was large enough and loud enough to negate McKinley’s home‑field advantage ‑ an estimated 8,000 of the crowd of 20,000 ‑ official figure remained unavailable this morning ‑ rooted for the Tigers.
The offense used an unbalanced line in which the two biggest Tigers, Tom Menches and Ray Kovacsiss, lined up side by side.
”We recognized it as coaches,” said McKinley mentor Thom McDaniels. “But coaches recognizing it and adjusting to it and players doing so can be two different things.
They hadn’t done that in anything we’d seen in scouting them.”
Owens said his staff agreed the unbalanced look would throw McKinley’s angle defense off stride.
“We’ve used it during the season in goal‑line situations, but not all over the field as we did today,” he said.
Added Tiger tackle Tom Menches, “I think we had McKinley fooled.”
Senior running back Ryan Sparkman benefited from the well executed plan. He scored two touchdowns and rushed 25 times for 105 yards.
Quarterback Lee Hurst and split end Rameir Martin also had particularly outstanding games.
Hurst completed 12 of 22 passes for 166 yards. Martin caught six passes for 110 yards, including a leaping 12-yard touchdown catch with four seconds left in the first half in which he outwrestled three McKinley defenders for position and landed on his back clutching the ball.
The hard‑hitting contest left the physical status of a few Tigers in doubt heading into the Walsh Jesuit game.
Senior lineman Tom Menches suffered a badly sprained left ankle during a third‑quarter drive in which the Tigers scored the only points of the second half on a field goal.
Senior defensive back Eddie Williams suffered a knee injury in the first half. Stacy said the injury probably won’t require immediate surgery but that Williams won’t play Saturday.
Sparkman aggravated a hamstring injury that has cost him playing time this season but he probably will play Saturday, Stacy said.
Defensive lineman Mark McGeorge, bothered by nagging injuries late in the year, had to be helped off the field during the McKinley game. His status is uncertain.
MASSILLON 24 McKINLEY 7
Me Mc HALFTIME TOTALS First downs rushing 3 2 First downs passing 7 2 First downs penalty 1 1 Total first down 11 5 Net Yards rushing 39 30 Net Yards Passing 166 52 Total net Yards 205 82 Passes attempted 21 12 Passes completed 12 3 Passes intercepted 0 0 Fumbles/lost 0‑0 1‑1 Punts 3 4 Punting average 30.7 36.3 Penalties 3 3 Yards penalized 31 22
FINAL TOTALS First downs rushing 12 4 First downs passing 7 6 First downs penalty 1 1 Total first 20 11 Net Yards rushing 169 45 Net Yards passing 166 134 Total net yards 335 179 Passes attempted 23 23 Passes completed 72 9 Passes intercepted 0 2 Fumbles/lost 1‑0 3‑2 Punts 5 6 Punting average 31.0 36.7 Penalties 3 3 Yards penalized 31 22
Ma ‑ Sparkman 6 run. Miller kick Ma ‑ Sparkman 2 run. Miller kick Mc ‑ Szerokman 32 pass from Henry. Wojcik kick Ma ‑ Martin 12 pass from Hurst. Miller kick Ma ‑ Miller 27 field goal.
Here is a drive‑by‑drive account of Saturday’s Massillon-McKinley game, won 24‑7 by the Tigers. MAS ‑ Donnie Blake returns opening kickoff 37 yards to McKinley 47 Ryan Sparkman scores on 7‑yard run on seventh play, Key play: 16‑yard Lee Hurst to Troy Manion completion to 32 on first down. Gary Miller’s P.A.T. kick good at 9:39 of first quarter. Tigers 7, McKinley *** McK ‑ Kirk Moore fumbles during kickoff return. David Whitfield, recovers for Massillon. MAS ‑ Start on McKinley 18. Score in six plays on 2‑yard run by Sparkman. Key play: 7‑yard Hurst to Rameir Martin pass to 11 on first down. Miller P.A.T. kick good at 7:20 of first quarter. Tigers 14, McKinley 0 *** McK ‑ Start on own 20 after touchback. Drive to Tiger 49. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 16. Three plays. Punt. McK ‑ Start on Tiger 49. Score on third play, a 32‑yard pass from Ryan Henry to Ron Szerokman. Wojcik kick good at 1:38 of first quarter. Tigers 14, McKinley 7 *** MAS ‑ Start on own 23 after kickoff. Drive nine plays to 20 Hurst’s 38‑yard field goal attempt wide right at 9:42 of second quarter. Key play: 36‑yard Hurst to Martin sideline pass. McK ‑ Start on own 20. Four plays to 37. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 11. Six plays to own 48, including 30‑yard sideline pass to Doug Harig. Punt. Mck ‑Start on own 25 with 3:13 left in first half. Three plays. Punt., MAS ‑ Start on own 36 with 2:00 left in half. Drive 64 yards in 10 plays for TD, 12‑yard pass from Hurst to Martin in left corner of end zone. Key plays: 9‑yard run to 45 by Sparkman on first down; 8‑yard reception by Martin followed by late hit penalty to 12. Miller’s P.A.T. kick good at 0:04 of first half. First half expires on ensuing kickoff return. Tigers 21, McKinley 7 *** McK ‑ Start on own 6 after bobble of kickoff return. Three plays. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on McKinley 40. Six plays to 12. Hurst’s 38‑yard field goal attempt wide right at 6:36 of third quarter. McK ‑ Start on own 20, Three plays. Punt. MAS ‑ Start on own 47. Seven plays to 8‑yard line. 27‑yard field goal by Miller good at 1:27 of third quarter. Tigers 24, McKinley 7
McK ‑ Start on own 45 after kickoff return. Seven plays to Tiger 3. Keith Rabbitt rips ball away from Bulldog pass receiver Dorey Irven MAS ‑ Start on own 3. Seven plays to 43. Punt. McK‑ Start on own 25 with 5:53 left in game. Drive inside Massillon territory but lose ball on interception by Chad Buckland that virtually ends game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
MASSILLON 10 McKINLEY 7 MAS MCK 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
Rushing (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.
Receiving (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
By STEVE DOERSCHUK 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
By MIKE KEATING 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.
Hurst’s winning field goal puts finishing touch on Tigers’ year
By CHRIS TOMASSON 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.
On paper, call it even Tigers have better offense, Dogs have the ‘D
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
You want to play the Massillon McKinley football game on paper?
Since we have to wait until 2 p.m. Saturday to see it on the field, why not ?
On paper, Massillon has a slight edge on offense. McKinley has a clear edge on defense.
Between the lines, Massillon’s edge on offense might be greater and McKinley’s advantage on defense might be slighter since the Tigers have played a tougher schedule.
Massillon’s offense has amassed 2,570 yards in 418 plays for an average of 6.15 yards a play. McKinley’s offense has netted 2,309 yards in 414 plays for a 5.6 average.
The teams have comparable rushing numbers: Massillon’s 1,630 Yards at 5.7 a carry versus McKinley’s 1,766 at 5.6 a pop.
Massillon has a whopping advantage in the passing game. The Tigers have completed 61 of 127 passes for 940 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, while the Bulldogs have connected on 38 of 95 for 543 yards, two touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Massillon quarterback Erik White has completed 60 of 122 passes for 883 yards, seven TDs and six interceptions. McKinley quarterback Pat Lyon, who has started all but two games, has completed 26 of 71 for 384 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Six Tiger receivers ‑ Myricks (10 for 228), Wrentie Martin (12 for 223), Mark Kester (11 for 153), Jason Stafford (9 for 127), Craig York (9 for 87) and Gerald Pope (5 for 64) ‑ have caught at least five passes.
Keith Smith (7 for 177) and Mike Hedrick (7 for 96) are the only Bulldogs with more than five receptions.
So that’s the offense.
What about the defense?
McKinley’s has been better.
The Tiger defense has allowed 2,121 yards against its nine opponents. McKinley foes have gained only 1,399 yards.
Massillon’s running defense has surrendered 1,409 yards at 4.3 a carry. McKinley’s rushing defense has yielded 862 yards at under 3.5 a tote.
Opponents have passed for 712 yards against Massillon and 537 yards against McKinley.
Elsewhere on the statistical charts, there are some uncanny similarities between the teams.
Both squads have fumbled 27 times. The Tigers have lost 14 of the bobbles. The Bulldogs have lost 11.
Both teams have intercepted 12 passes. McKinley’s Mark Hedrick has picked off four errant throws. Massillon’s Mark Kester has made three interceptions.
The Tigers’ top ground gainer is Jerome Myricks with 989 yards in 155 carries at 6.4 a carry. The Bulldogs’ top rusher is Jeff Richardson with 145 carries for 970 yards at 6.7 a pop.
Massillon’s No. 2 ground gainer Jason Stafford with 357 yards at 6.6 a carry, has out rushed McKinley’s No. 2 man, Derrick Gordon with 259, yards at 6.8 per attempt.
But Massillon has no one else over 100 yards, while McKinley has DeVon Torrence with 156 yards in 17 carries, Kevin Campbell with 132 yards in 26 carries, and Lamuel Flowers with 116 yards in 28 carries.
Other Massillon rushers have included Shawn Ashcraft (8 for 57), David Ledwell (12 for 56), John Miller (11 for 55) and Vernon Riley (14 for 47).
Myricks leads the Tigers in scoring with 108 points. Richardson is McKinley’s top dog with 68 points. Richardson is behind the pace of his junior season in rushing yards. He needs 200 yards on the nose Saturday to match his 1986 total of 1,170 rushing yards for 10 games.
Those are the numbers. That’s how it looks on paper.
Add it all up and this looks like a dead‑even match up.
Pups edge Tigers Key play in first half ‘was about an inch short of the goal line…
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
It still means everything to the McKinley Bulldogs to play the Massillon Tigers.
There’s some solace in that for the Massillon team that got beat 18‑15 by McKinley Saturday.
It was true that McKinley fans were rubbing it in that their Bulldogs had beaten the Tigers four straight times for the first time since before radio was invented.
It was true that many Massillon fans were wondering when their beloved men of orange will ever defeat the crimson‑clad team from Canton again.
It was also true that the McKinley coach, Thom McDaniels, had cried with his team after what had been a brutal slugfest was over.
You don’t look like McDaniels looked ‑ like a man whose emotions had spent a week in a ringer washer unless the game means everything.
That is what Saturday’s game meant to him. As such, it meant that Massillon still has McKinley’s complete respect, if not its number.
‘We experienced a lot of things this year,” said McDaniels, talking about the tumultuous things that accompany a less‑than‑perfect season in either the Canton or Massillon football communities.
McDaniels has been McKinley’s head coach since 1982, the year after Terry Forbes steered the Bulldogs to the only big‑school state championship a Stark County team has ever won since the advent of the playoff era.
Such was the tumult of 1987 that his status at McKinley for 1988 is clouded.
McDaniels’ team finished ’87 with a 7‑3 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since his ’84 team went 7‑3.
Saturday’s setback gave Massillon a 1987 record of 6‑4, A pattern that has haunted John Maronto in his three years as Massillon’s head coach ‑ playing tough, but failing just short against the elite teams ‑ held true again.
Both Maronto and McDaniels are saying their futures at their respective schools are up in the air.
The Tigers stunned McKinley on the ground. After the Bulldogs stalled in three plays following the opening kickoff, Massillon set up at midfield. From time to time under Maronto, the Tigers’ first play has been a bomb. McKinley knows that and may have been sucked in when Tiger quarterback Erik White dropped back for an apparent pass. However, the was a sprint draw, with Myricks taking a handoff and going through a gaping hole up the middle.
“We wanted to get Jerome one‑on‑one with a defensive back on that play,” Maronto said. “It was very well blocked by our players.”
Myricks is a hard man to catch in the open field. This time, nobody caught him. He shifted smoothly to the left sideline and out ran McKinley’s defense into the end zone for a 50‑yard touchdown run.
“We ran that play successfully the whole game,” Maronto said. “Most of our blocking schemes were effective, especially behind John Woodlock and John Schilling. There were a lot of exciting plays and Jerome came very close to breaking the long one on several others.”
But while the Tigers were coming close to the big play, McKinley was making it. The Bulldogs used a running attack that netted 283 yards to score the game’s next three touchdowns.
A 93‑yard drive capped by Bulldog quarterback Pat Lyon’s 8‑yard pass to a wide‑open tight end, 6‑1 senior Dan Roshong, cut Massillon’s lead to 7‑6 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. The extra‑point kick was wide left.
McKinley got great field position on its next possession following a 19‑yard loss on which Tiger fullback Jason Stafford was caught on a reverse. A short punt enabled the Bulldogs to set up on the Tiger 38, and they scored three plays later when tailback Jeff Richardson took a pitch left and motored 24 yards for a touchdown.
McKinley pulled out to an 18‑7 lead by driving 63 yards for a TD on its first possession of the second half. Richardson went over the right side to score from four yards out.
The Tigers turned it into a thriller when White got hot late in the third quarter, launching a mostly passing, 72‑yard drive capped by Myricks’ 6‑yard blast up the middle with 8:36 left in the game.
Since McKinley had failed on all three of its extra point tries, the Tigers had a chance to pull within a field goal of a tie by making a two‑point conversion. Jerome got the job done by running over Schilling and Woodlock on the right side, and it was 18‑15.
The Tigers, however, got the ball only once more, setting up on their own 18 after a punt and moving to the 30 on a diving 12‑yard reception by senior split end Craig York. Bulldog linebacker Scott Herrington sacked White for an 11‑yard loss to set up a punt, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock.
Save for a few inches, perhaps less, the game might have been drastically different.
The Tigers came up just short of the end zone when fullback John Miller, a secret weapon who had played the season primarily at inside linebacker, was stopped on fourth and goal from the 3 with 1:38 left in the first half.
Miller was so close to the goal line that White, the quarterback, signaled a touchdown.
“I was about an inch, maybe two, short of the goal line,” Miller said.
“The films show it couldn’t have been more than a couple inches,” Maronto said. “The play was blocked successfully at the point of attack. (Defensive tackle) Robert Copenny came from nowhere to get just enough of John’s legs to slow him down.”
The drive had begun at the McKinley 31 on the kickoff following McKinley’s go‑ahead touchdown. In fact, is was one of the more dramatic marches of the season.
McKINLEY 18 MASSILLON 15
MAS McK First downs rushing 7 12 First downs passing 7 5 First downs by penalty 0 1 Totals first downs 14 18 Yards gained rushing 190 306 Yards lost rushing 52 23 Net yards rushing 138 283 Net yards passing 90 67 Total yards gained 228 350 Passes attempted 14 8 Passes completed 9 5 Passes int. by 0 0 Times kicked off 3 4 Kickoff average 49.0 41.8 Kickoff return yards 63 46 Punts 5 3 Punting average 26.4 32.3 Punt return yards 0 13 Fumbles 0 2 Fumbles lost 0 0 Penalties 3 5 Yards penalized 26 25 Number of plays 60 51 Time of possession 22:54 25:06 Attendance 17,500
MASSILLON 7 0 0 8 15 McKINLEY 6 6 6 0 18
Grid war lives up to reputation Tigers fall short against Bulldogs
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
The good fight has been fought. And now the war between the cities is over.
“I did a lot of thinking about the game today,” Massillon Tiger co-captain John Miller said Sunday night, more than 24 hours after his football team fell 18‑15 to the McKinley Bulldogs. “Now I’ll just try to forget about it. It’s time to move on.”
The Tigers scored on their first play from scrimmage Saturday when Jerome Myricks cut loose for a 50‑yard touchdown run. McKinley, however, used a ground assault that netted 283 yards to score a touchdown in each of the first three periods on their way to the win.
“It’s a very tough loss for our football team and our program,” Tiger head coach John Maronto said. “A lot of energy was expended to come up a couple of inches short. But the thing you have to understand is that our young men gave everything they had … and a little bit more. It was one of the best high school football games I’ve ever been involved in … certainly one of the hardest hitting.”
Maronto, who has been under fire since last year’s 23‑6 loss to McKinley, has a 20‑10 record in his three years at the Massillon helm. He has been haunted by a series of close defeats against powerful teams. The coach’s three‑year contract expires at the end of this school year, and there has been speculation he will not be offered a new pact.
As to his future in Massillon, Maronto said, “That remains to be seen.” He said his thoughts are focused on other areas right now. “I’m more concerned with looking out for the best interests of the graduating seniors,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone has things in the right perspective in terms of next season. I’m most concerned with dealing with the team.
“This is the most successful 6‑4 team you could ever be involved with,” Maronto added. “People have to agree that these players played the toughest Massillon schedule possible ever. They weren’t more than an inch here or an inch there from being 9‑1. I’m pretty proud of the way this team played, the class they showed and the adversity it fought to overcome.”
Miller, a surprise starter at fullback Saturday, and fellow co-captain Erik Moledor wound down Sunday by going to the movie “Hellraiser” at Lincoln Theater.
“It was kind of dumb,” Miller admitted. Saturday’s game had been kind of sensational. But in the Tigers’ eyes, it had a “dumb ending,” what with McKinley on top.
“There was some serious hitting going on,” said Miller, who played inside linebacker in addition to fullback. “I mean serious. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’m a little sore today, but nothing major.”
The Tigers finished their 1987 grid campaign with a 6‑4 record. It was only the sixth time since Paul Brown left town in 1940 that the team has endured as many as four losses in a season.
It also was the fourth straight setback to McKinley, marking the second longest losing streak in the history of the series, which Massillon still leads 50‑38‑5. The Canton team won the first 11 games in the series, which began in 1894.
“We didn’t have as good a season as we thought we would,” Miller said. “We expected to go pretty far. I’m still glad I played on this team. I liked everybody on the squad. It was a great bunch.”
Moledor, a senior defensive back, was keeping a stiff upper lip Sunday but remained in obvious disappointment.
“I thought we gave it everything we had,” said Moledor. “McKinley was pretty tough. Give ’em credit.” “We really worked hard together this year. I think that’s the best thing we did … worked hard. Saturday was tough. But I don’t think there are any regrets.”
Tigers come up ‘half empty’ Massillon rules early but’ Bulldogs shift gears late
By STEVE DOERSCHUK Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ They could have opened a Burger King in McKinley territory at halftime. The Massillon Tigers were having it their way.
But the second half was one big McDLT ‑McKinley’s defense led to touchdowns.
In the end, the McKinley players were saying, “Hot Dog!” and hoping for extra mustard in the playoffs. The Tigers were left holding an empty bun.
A 6‑0 Tiger lead at halftime dissolved into a 23‑6 McKinley win Saturday before 18,091 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
In the history of the series that started in 1894, there may never have been two halves so distinctly different.
So what happened?
“It wasn’t a matter of making a lot of changes,” McKinley head coach Thom McDaniels said. “Basically, we just played better football.”
Maybe there were a few changes.
“In the first half, they were basically trying to power us out of there,” said Massillon senior Lance Hostetler, who played linebacker for the first time since junior high because Jerrod Vance was out with a knee injury.
“In the second half, they were giving our linebackers fake keys, trying to mess us up.”
A McKinley offense that was stuffed by the Tigers for zilch in the first half had to be photographed with a zoom lens in the second.
In that first half, the Bulldogs gained 28 yards. On the first offensive series of the second half, McKinley gained 40 yards in its first six plays.
That drive ended when C.J. Harris recovered a fumble for the Tigers. But the mood had changed.
It might have changed back had the Tigers moved after recovering the fumble. Mike Harris rushed for three yards, then Mike Norris bulled ahead for seven. But Jerome Myricks was stopped for losses on consecutive plays, and it was third and 15 from the Massillon 41.
Then came a pivotal play now hidden deep in the game films. Quarterback John Miller dropped back to pass. Under heavy pressure, he dumped a short pass toward the fullback Norris. First glance suggested ‑ and films confirmed ‑ that Norris was knocked away from the ball by an overeager defender who was guilty of pass ‘interference.
The pass fell incomplete (Norris would have had to run a long way for a first down, incidentally). No flag was thrown.
Instead of 15 yards and a Massillon first down on the McKinley 44, the Bulldogs got the ball back on a punt.
“That was a key point in the game,” Massillon head coach John Maronto said.
Nobody will ever know how things would have gone had the interference call been made. What is known is that McKinley played its best football of the season in the time that was left.
Ken Hawkins’ punt sailed to the McKinley 22. Junior tailback Jeff Richardson gained 11 yards on first down. On second down, he took a handoff, made a slight cut to a big hole on the left side of the line, shook loose from a diving Bart Letcavits 10 yards downfield and sprinted away from the pack for a 67‑yard touchdown run.
“We emphasized all week that we needed to stop Richardson from making the big play,” John Maronto said.
Talking about it is one thing. Doing it has been another, and not just for the Tigers. Richardson’s 141 yards in 19 carries Saturday gave him 960 yards on the season.
Richardson, a 5‑10, 183‑pounder, only needs a sliver of daylight. His presence left the Tigers in a jam, since their chemistry was thrown off by late‑season knee injuries to linebacker Jerrod Vance and defensive back Steve Siegenthaler.
Maronto emphatically didn’t want anybody knocking his team’s defensive effort.
“Lance Hostetler stepped in and looked like he’d been playing linebacker all his life,” Maronto said. “And it wasn’t like we were playing chopped liver. We were playing the best team in Ohio.”
Richardson’s long run and Mark Smith’s PAT kick still left the Tigers with just a 7‑6 deficit with 3:04 left in the third quarter.
But moments later, Tiger back Mike Harris ‑ another tough‑luck senior whose season was marred by a knee injury ‑ was stripped of the ball. McKinley’s Dave Kiesling recovered the fumble at the 14. Four plays later, Richardson scored easily from a yard out.
Even at that, the Tigers weren’t in bad shape. Smith missed the PAT kick, and McKinley’s lead was 13‑6 with one quarter and 44 seconds left to play.
But the Tigers needed to get back some of the offensive punch they had shown in pounding out a 134‑28 lead in first‑half yardage.
Smith’s kickoff left the Tigers with good field position at their own 41, but they stalled in three plays and had to punt.
McKinley took over on its own 28 and put the game away with an 11‑play 72‑yard scoring drive. The touchdown came on third and nine from the 12. Smith, the quarterback, rolled right off a good play‑action fake and found tight end Dan Grimsley wide open in the end zone.
Smith’s kick made it 20‑6 with 4:48 left.
Sophomore nose guard Lamuel Flowers set up a 35‑yard field goal by Smith with a subsequent interception.
All the suspense and much of the crowd was gone at that point.
The first half had been so different.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and started at their own 34. On second and seven, junior quarterback John Miller hooked up with senior split end Shannon Dryden on an 11‑yard completion. That seemed to ignite the offense, which then went on to complete an 11‑play, 66‑yard march that wound up on the McKinley 11 when Miller hit the tight end Hawkins on a nine‑yard completion.
That made it fourth and almost three. Maronto elected to send freshman Lee Hurst on for a 28‑yard field goal try. Hurst connected and it was 3‑0 with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the drive, Maronto called timeout after Miller scrambled to recover a mishandled snap, then took a blow to the head. Miller was clearly shaken up, and staggered as Maronto yelled to officials that a penalty should have been called.
But Miller kept playing, and moments later threw a pass which Letcavits turned into a 10‑yard reception.
The Massillon crowd got very loud after Norris boomed the ensuing kickoff to the back stripe of the end zone for a touchback. An incomplete pass, a run for no gain by Richardson, a nine‑yard completion and a punt gave Massillon the ball back on its own 32.
The next three series ended in punts, two of which were snapped over the punters’ heads. But both booters recovered and got off kicks that saved disaster for their teams.
McKinley punter Pat Lyons had to chase 10 yards after the ball snapped over his head. But he managed to kick it away to the Massillon 23 midway through the second quarter.
From there, the Tigers drove 77 yards in 10 plays, with Harris setting the tone on a nine‑yard gain. A 17‑yard pass from Miller to Myricks and a 12‑yard run by Miller put the ball on the 17 on first down. But Norris was stopped for no gain, and two passes fell incomplete. The call went again to Hurst. The freshman sent a picturesque boot into a slight breeze that sailed far over the uprights for a 33‑yard field goal.
It gave the Tigers a 6‑0 lead with 2:32 left in the half.
But the second half was another story.
It ended with McKinley’s record at 9‑1, good for first place in Region 2 of Division I. The Tigers came in at 7‑3.
The loss saddened the Tigers. But Hostetler, a three‑year starter and captain, advised his teammates to leave on an upbeat note.
“It’s been a great time for me at Massillon,” he said. “No other team plays under these great conditions. I have the greatest coaches in the world. They really helped prepare me for college. And the greatest teammates in the world.”
MCKINLEY 23 MASSILLON 7
M McK First downs rushing 6 8 First downs passing 4 3 First downs by penalty 1 0 Totals first downs 11 11 Yards gained rushing 112 205 Yards lost rushing 20 14 Net yards rushing 92 191 Net yards passing 59 57 Total yards gained 151 248 Passes attempted 18 10 Passes completed 8 6 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 3 5 Kickoff average 56.3 48.4 Kickoff return yards 87 27 Punts 4 4 Punting average 33.0 42.3 Punt return yards 7 0 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 2 1 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 0 3 Yards penalized 0 25 Touchdowns rushing 0 2 Touchdowns passing 0 1 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Number of plays 52 46 Time of possession 26:37 21:23 Attendance 18,091
MCKINLEY 0 0 13 10 23 MASSILLON 3 3 0 0 6
MAS ‑ Lee Hurst 28 FG MAS ‑ Hurst 33 FG McK ‑ Jeff Richardson 67 run (Mark Smith kick) McK ‑Richardson 1 run (kick failed) McK ‑ Dan Grimsley 4 pass from Smith (Smith kick) McK ‑ Smith 35 FG ***** Individual statistics RUSHING Massillon: Norris, 12‑39; Miller 9‑27; Harris 8‑26; Myriscks, 3‑0. McKinley: Richardson, 19‑141; Kendall 5‑12; Copenny, 1‑6; Gordon, 2‑ 15; Flowers 2‑15.
MASSILLON ‑ You could have won $20 million in the Lotto and not been able to buy a better autumn afternoon for Saturday’s Massillon‑McKinley football game.
The lovely leaves and the Indian summer breeze would have made Scrooge himself a cheery gent. The housewife sick to death of her old man’s sports would have gazed with childish wonder at the sight of the orange sea of spectators rolling against a red sea of the same.
One‑hundred yards of lime‑striped sod and 200 helmeted teen‑agers were washed with a delightful noise that made it all a merry mix, indeed, when Mark Smith of McKinley kicked off to Jerome Myricks of Massillon at a couple of minutes past 2.
Maybe there have been other opening scenes at other Massillon-McKinley games that were as wonderful. If so, they were merely as perfect.
The ending of the 92nd Massillon‑Canton battle was far from a perfect story for the hamlet of Massillon. The final score was McKinley 23, Tigers 6.
But the moral of the story, though stinging with the hurt of defeat to the arch‑rival, was that Massillon people still so desperately want a great team to cheer for.
They had their moments Saturday.
The Tigers charged out of their corner at the opening bell and won the early rounds in a one‑sided mugging.
In one half, junior quarterback John Miller threw twice as many passes as he had thrown in a typical game the previous nine weeks.
In that same half, the lumberjacks on the Massillon line muscled out places for fullback Mike Norris to punch out the yards.
The Massillon defense, despite missing a linebacker who is a candidate for Stark County player of the year, coldcocked the offense of their backyard rivals.
Freshman kicker Lee Hurst delivered like a grizzled veteran.
As the bands marched, Massillon stats man Tom Persell played a tune on his computer, and what came out was 134 yards for the home team, and just 28 yards ‑ and no first downs ‑ for the Canton club.
But the score was only 6‑0, Massillon, and you didn’t need a computer to know the game would be won in the second half.
McKinley won it in a hurry.
Flash: A 67‑yard sprint over the left side by Bulldog tailback Jeff Richardson.
Flash: A Massillon fumble seconds later, in the badlands, and a 14‑yard McKinley mini‑march for a second touchdown.
The second McKinley score, a one‑yard run by Richardson with 44 seconds left in the third quarter, was followed by Mark Smith’s missed PAT kick.
That kept the score at 13‑6. But the Tigers never threatened again. McKinley scored 10 points in the final five minutes, and Canton had a third straight win over Massillon for the first time since 1934, Paul Brown’s third year as the Tigers’ head coach.
The game, witnessed by 18,091 in the stadium named after Brown, closed McKinley’s deficit in the series to 50‑37‑5.
It also closed the Tigers’ season with a second consecutive 7‑3 record.
McKinley is 9‑1 and headed for a Division I playoff game. The Bulldogs will face 9‑1 Groveport Madison at 8 p.m. Saturday in Fawcett Stadium.
Among the many constants in the Massillon‑McKinley game seems to be the fact a Grimsley is always playing for McKinley. This year’s Grimsley, junior tight end Dan, says beating the Tigers reinforces the Bulldogs’ confidence.
“We went a little bit dead in our only loss (against Youngstown South),” said Grimsley, whose brother John plays for the Houston Oilers. “It was the middle of the season and we’d just won some big games. But we’re back up now. There’s no doubt in my mind we can win it all.”
Thirty‑three seniors on the Massillon team were in a different mood. Their time as Tiger players had run out.
“You can’t say too much,” Norris said as he walked away in street clothes. “We knew we could have beat ’em. We were playing our game for a while. But it got away.”
“There’s not much to say,” echoed senior co‑captain Bart Letcavits, who spent part of the season sick in the hospital but returned for Saturday’s game. “They’ve been a comeback team all year. They outplayed us in the second half. They deserved to win.”
“We played as hard as we could,” said senior co‑captain Lance Hostetler. “Nobody let up. Ever.”
John Maronto, the Tigers’ second‑year head coach, said Hostetler was right about the effort.
“I’m proud of our football team,” Maronto said. “We were almost able to come up with the victory. But it was not to be.”
Thom McDaniels is in his fifth year as the “tough‑act‑to‑follow” successor of Terry Forbes, the head coach of McKinley’s only playoff championship winner, the 1981 team. McDaniels praised his troops for having the guts to win another game with a comeback. The he praised the Tigers.
“They’re as good and as tough and as well coached ‑ and you can put that all in capital letters ‑ as any team we’ve played,” McDaniels said.
And you can put this in bold face:
No matter who wins, this is still America’s grandest high school football game.
Will Maronto come back?
We move now, to Lesson No. 2 in the Professor Commings School of Rumorintology.
Please sit erect in your chairs. Volunteers to dust the erasers will be taken later.
Lesson No. 1, on which the papers are being graded, was presented last week.
We learned then that the volume of a rumor often is not in direct proportion to the truth contained therein.
It was noted that a particular rumor ‑ “Bob Commings has forfeited his claim to the title The Bald Eagle, and resigned as GlenOak High’s football coach” was all over town and half way to Hawaii.
It was further noted that Commings emphatically stated he has not resigned.
Commings, as it happens, is believed to be the father of “rumorintology,” apparently having coined the word last month.
The subject of Lesson No., 2 is another football coach, John Maronto.
The fates of Commings and Maronto are indirectly intertwined, insofar as the former was a head football coach in Massillon, and the latter is.
Today’s theme actually is a question. How many people must wish a rumor to come true before it becomes a fact?
We have no answers. We can only offer present facts.
Fact is, Coach Maronto is not the most popular man in Massillon today.
His team went 7‑3, and we needn’t get into a long discussion of what that means in Tigertown. The team lost to the arch‑rival the other day. You know them. And, his offense was judged too conservative for the tastes of many of the paying customers.
It didn’t help that a loss to Commings’ GlenOak team was among the three losses, either.
People are talking. You know how it is.
They’re talking a lot about THE rumor.
“Did’ja hear? Maronto’s going to Michigan to be with Bo!”
Yes, that’s the big one. It’s all over town, and halfway to Hong Kong.
Refer, now, to lesson No. 1.
The volume of a rumor may not be in direct proportion to any truth therein.
“I’ve just never thought there were any two ways about it,” Maronto said this morning. “We’re already getting ready for next season. We’ll be in the weight room today. We have a team meeting schedule. We’re preparing for next season and beginning to take care of the seniors’ needs.”
Maronto has heard the rumors. He says he shrugs them off.
”I’ve never put any thought processes into rumors,” he said. “My energy is going into preparing for next season.”
Maronto, who has completed two years in the stormy wake of Mike Currence’s ouster, sounds optimistic.
“I really believe we’ll be back,” he said. “I believe we learned some great lessons. The younger players coming in may not be able to exceed the ability of this year’s seniors, but I believe they’ll have smoother roads ahead.
“It’ll be important to make the pieces fit in to form a chemistry. It’ll be real interesting to watch. I know everybody coming in is 100 percent completely aware of what our system is all about, what needs to be done to be a Massillon Tiger. There’ll be a lot of continuity.”
Sounds like John Maronto plans to fulfill the third year of his contract.
If he does, let’s give him some room.
Another buyout is the last thing the town needs now.
If he wants to stay, let him work in peace. Disagree all you want I think the coach needs to loosen up his offense, too.
But be aware he works as hard as anybody in Ohio to make his team win. Be aware he’s good with kids.
If it’s time for him to go after the contract runs out, so be it. And think about next week’s Lesson No. 3. Beating a rumor turns it ugly.