Tag: <span>Tim Manion</span>


1981: Massillon 6, Canton McKinley 9

Massillon outplays McKinley, but losses 9‑7
Pups’ big plays waste fine Tiger effort

Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tiger lockerroom was ripe with the stunned silence of a team that had just played its heart out, outplayed its opponent and lost.

Amid the hanging heads and wet eyes stood Tiger coach Mike Currence. The hurt he felt in his heart for his team showed on his face. “They’re all different,” he said.

Program Cover

True to form, Saturday’s 87th Massillon‑McKinley game was different from all the rest. The Bulldogs’ 9‑6 victory before 22,828 fans in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium gave them their first perfect season since 1956 and puts them into the computer playoffs‑for the second year in a row.

Yet, except for one play, it was a game that seemed to belong to the Massillon Tigers.

That one play, however, was a big one. An 81‑yard pass from Bulldog quarterback Rick Worstell to end Nick Faulkner that wiped out a 6‑3 Tiger lead and proved to be the margin of victory.

It was just about the only defensive mistake the Tigers made all day. However, several offensive mistakes left the Bulldogs off the hook.

The Tigers won a decisive victory in the battle of the statistics, but the only stat that really counts is the one in lights on the scoreboard.

Massillon had 14 first downs to five for McKinley, and held the Pups to 55 yards rushing in 31 carries. McKinley gained only six yards rushing the first half, and didn’t get a first down rushing until just before the end of the third period.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1981

The Tigers piled up 265 yards to 163 for McKinley. Take away the one pass play, and the Bulldogs had only 82 yards total offense.

“It’s a tough one to lose, especially when you play as well as we played and control the ball the way we did,” Currence said.

“But we had some turnovers that caused us bad field position. That stopped us from working our whole offense, which stopped us from scoring more.

“I thought we moved the ball real well and I was never worried when our defense was on the field. I thought we would score in the second half,” he added.

But two fumbles and an interception haunted the Tigers in the second half, and the superior McKinley kicking game probably was the overall difference.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1981

Nick Xides had a school record 44‑yard field goal in the first half. The boot was a low line drive that was literally carried just over the crossbar by a strong wind.

However, Massillon’s Tim Manion had the wind at his “back when he got too far under a 30‑yard attempt and it fell short with 4:28 to go in the third quarter.

A short punt by Manion into the wind also helped set up field goal.

While Manion had his problems kicking, he played an outstanding defensive game, moving from linebacker to end and causing the Pup offense trouble all day.

He helped stop McKinley’s only – other serious – scoring threat late in the third quarter when he tipped a pass at the goal line that was intercepted in the end zone by Matt Hickey.

Perhaps the most crucial event of the game came with 1:53 left to play and the Tigers driving for what their fans hoped would be the winning score.

Starting at their own 15 after a clipping penalty on a punt return, the Tigers were grinding it out on the ground.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1981

Greg Grimsley gained four yards, George Roknich bolted for 10 and a first down, then Grimsley carried for 15 and another first down.

Roknich carried for five more, Larry Newman for two and Grimsley was stopped for a two‑yard gain on third-and‑three at the Bulldog 47.

On fourth‑and‑one, Tiger quarterback Rick Spielman lost control of the ball after the snap and McKinley middle guard Stan Jackson fell on it, ending the Tiger threat and insuring his team of a 10‑0 season.

Tiger tans were stunned. Their team had outplayed the Bulldogs all day and they were certain this drive would be the clincher.

It was ironic that Spielman would be victimized by the fumble. He had put the Tigers in the lead with a brilliant 21‑yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 1981

Facing a fourth‑and‑15 at the Pup 21, he dropped back to pass. He was almost; sacked in the pocket, but broke free and scrambled to the left. He broke another tackle and cut back across the middle of the field. He slipped through the grasp of another Bulldog tackler at the 15 and scooted around the right side all the way for a score. The Tiger offensive line also did a great job of blocking off the pursuit on the play.

The score, which came at 9:42 of the second quarter, gave the Tigers a 6‑0 lead.

But Xides booted his field goal at 3:45 and a Ross Rankin interception (his first of two for the day) stopped another Tiger drive at the Bulldog 19, and two plays later, Worstell and Faulkner hooked up on their game winning play.

“Faulkner came up with the key play,” Bulldog coach Terry Forbes said afterwards in a joyous McKinley lockerroom. “We went deep a couple of times and that was the only time we connected all day.”

Forbes said the Pups made some minor adjustments at halftime to counteract the Tiger air attack, which had accounted counted for 81 yards in the first half. Massillon didn’t complete a pass in the second half, with Rankin picking off Spielman’s only pass in the third period, and the Tiger senior quarterback going 0‑for‑4 in the final period.

But Currence said the Tigers hadn’t planned to pass much in the second half anyway. He and his coaches felt they could move the ball on the ground against the McKinley defense.

They were doing just that prior to the fumble on their final series.

Spielman ended the day with seven completions in 20 attempts for 81 yards while Worstell had five completions in 14 attempts for 108 yards.

Leading receivers for the Tigers were Roknich with two catches for 38 yards, Robert Oliver with three for 23 yards and Newman with three for 20 yards.

The Tigers totaled 184 yards rushing, with Grimsley gaining 80 yards on 14 carries and Roknich picking up 41 yards on six carries to lead the way.

Forbes had praise for the Tigers’ effort, though he wouldn’t say they were the best team his Bulldogs played all year.
“We’ve played some fine football teams and Massillon ranks right up there with the best.”

Except for a few plays on this sunny November Saturday, no comparisons would have been necessary.

Winter arrives early
for Tiger grid faithfull
Independent Sports Editor
The air was warm and the sun shone brightly as it set on the first day of winter Saturday afternoon in Massillon.

Forget the calendar, winter started with the sounding of the gun which ended the annual season finale between the Massillon Tigers and the McKinley Bulldogs in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.

You see, the score stood at nine points for the Bulldogs and but six for the Tigers.

So, for the first time since 1975, winter in Massillon has started a month and a half early.

And for the first time in his six seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, Mike Currence won’t have the glow of victory over McKinley to warm his football thoughts until spring.

For most of the early afternoon on Saturday it had appeared otherwise. The Tigers, undaunted by the Bulldogs’ 9‑0 record, had come to play.

And play they did. Even McKinley fans agreed afterwards that the Tigers had played the better game.

But luck was on the side of the Bulldogs this day, and they made the big plays the Tigers couldn’t.

Except for an 81‑yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rick Worstell to end Nick Faulkner, in which Tiger defensive backs Grady Robinson and Rodney Hill missed tackles, the Tigers controlled the game.
Even despite the pass, the Tigers could have won had they not turned the ball over four times.

Indeed, Currence played down the Bulldogs’ big play.

“Those things happen sometimes,” he said of the Tigers misreading the coverage and then missing the tackle. He said he felt the four turnovers were what hurt the most. That and bad field position. The Tigers were able to roll up a lot of yards, but produce only six points. They needed 10.

The game was hard fought, and the 22,828 fans in the stands received more than their money’s worth. It was anybody’s ball game right to the end, when the Bulldogs’ Stan Jackson recovered a fumble at his own 49 to kill the Tigers’ final threat.

It was sweet revenge for Bulldog fans. The Pups had lost four straight to Mike Currence coached teams until last season, when they won 16‑7. That didn’t last long, however, as the Tigers turned around and upset McKinley 14‑6 the following weekend in a quarter‑final playoff game. The Tigers went on to finish second in the state, the Bulldogs stayed home and prepared for the sudden winter.

There will be no rematch this time. The Bulldogs will play Parma Normandy Saturday night in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium in the playoff quarter‑final match.

After Saturday’s game had ended, McKinley coach Terry Forbes paid a visit to the Tiger lockerroom to congratulate Currence on the fine game his team played.

The coaches exchanged compliments and shook hands.

“Good luck in the playoffs,” Currence said. “Our people will be here next week rooting for you. Beat Moeller.”

And so ended the Tigers’ season. The 7‑3 record marks the first time the Tigers lost more‑than twice under Currence. It also means the Bulldogs, after four straight losses, have won two of the last three from the Tigers.

It was a disappointing season, but for awhile on Saturday afternoon it looked like it was going to have a happy ending.

As it turned out, Tiger fans found themselves muttering those four words they had almost forgotten: wait until next year.

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 40, Mansfield Senior 9

Senior QB passes for 316 yards in 40‑9 win
Spielman’s record night paces Tigers

Independent Sports Editor

“Did you get the gist of our offense tonight?” asked Massillon assistant coach Charles “Sonny” Spielman after the Tigers blitzed Mansfield Senior 40‑9 Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“Pass, pass, pass.”

Spielman was referring to the school levy which will be voted on Tuesday. Massillonians haven’t passed a school levy since 1969.

Program Cover

But if Tigertowners take their cue from senior quarter­back Rick Spielman, son of Sonny, the levy will be a cinch.

The younger Spielman became the first quarterback in the history of Massillon football to pass for more than 300 yards.

He completed 15 of 24 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns, and got a standing ovation from the crowd of 7,863 when the feat was announced over the public address system.

The Tigers’ team total of 348 yards passing is also a record, and it was the first time in Tiger history that two players each gained over 100 yards in pass receptions.

Junior wide receiver Jim Geiser hauled in six passes for 111 yards and a TD and halfback George Roknich caught four passes for 108 yards and a TD.

Halfback Robert Oliver had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and also scored on a one‑yard run. Fullback Greg Grimsley tallied twice on two‑yard runs.

The Tigers, leading only 7‑3, blew the game open late in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns to take a 20‑3 halftime lead.

They then added three more scores in the third quarter en route to piling up a season‑high 466 yards in total of­fense.

“Well we said we’d throw, but we didn’t think we’d throw that much,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said afterwards.

“But they had seven guys on the line and they kept blitz­ing,” he explained.

And since the Tiger offensive line was able to pick up the blitz, Spielman had receivers open all over the field, though he did complete several key passes on the run.

Spielman took his feat in stride.

“If it wasn’t for my offensive linemen and receivers I wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

“I wanted 1,000 yards going into the McKinley game (he needed 148), but I didn’t expect to get as much as I did.

Asked why he went to Geiser so frequently, he said: “We made adjustments at halftime according to their defense, and he was the guy open.”

Geiser had only caught three passes for 50 yards and a TD going into the game. His effort helped him become the sixth Tiger this season to top the 100-yard mark in pass receiving.

Roknich, meanwhile, takes the team lead in receiving with 14 catches for 339 yards and four touchdowns.

Spielman’s stats on the season going into Saturday’s game in Canton against McKinley are: 62 completions in 127 attempts (49 percent) for 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns.

That would place him third on the all-time regular season list behind Brent Offenbecher’s yardage totals of 1369 in 1977 and 1,322 in 1978.

We really wanted to get Rick over 1,000 yards so he wouldn’t have to worry about it next week,” Currence said, referring to the McKinley game.

“And if he gets 300 yards next week and we get 400 on the ground we’ll be alright,” Sonny Spielman pitched in.

“The most exciting week of the season is here,” Currence said. “We’ve got to start out by passing the levy on Tuesday, then we’ll have the parade on Friday and we have to beat McKinley on Saturday.

“We have to continue to think pass,” he added, getting back to the levy, which has already been turned down twice by voters in the past year.

“If we don’t get the levy, they’ll probably cut our supplemental contracts. People think I can do the job with five or six assistant coaches. Most people don’t know the Booster Club raised $8,000 to pay for six junior high and three varsity coaches,” he said.

He admitted passage of the levy would be a real boost to his team going into Saturday’s game against the undefeated Bulldogs, ranked first in the Division 1, Region 3 computer poll.

Spielman’s passing is also a boost, since it will give the Tiger offense some confidence. Of course, it will need more than confidence against the McKinley defense, which yielded its first two touchdowns of the season last week in a 23‑14 win over Warren Harding.

“I was pleased with the way we threw the football,” Currence said, “but that was all they left us. A lot of our game tonight was not sharp. I don’t think a game like this is really good for you. We’ve got to realize it’s not going to be as much of an offensive game next week.”

Actually, Friday night’s game didn’t start out as much of an offensive game either.

The Tigers drove 73 yards to a touchdown the first time they had the ball, with Grimsley scoring. Tim Manion’s kick made it 7‑0 with 6:30 left in the first quarter.

However, the next three times the Tigers had the ball they fumbled, punted and lost it on downs.

Following a 32‑yard field goal by Mansfield quarterback Jim Bishop with 4:34 left in the half, Spielman passed the Tigers 71 yards to another Grimsley touchdown.

Spielman hit three‑of‑four passes in the drive, moving the ball from his own 34 to the Tyger two on passes of 12 yards to Geiser, 31 yards to Roknich and 21 yards to Geiser, who made a great diving catch on the right sideline. Manion added the point after and Massillon led 14‑3 with 2:46 on the clock.

Bishop went to the air on second down, and linebacker Mark Haubert tipped the ball and halfback Dave Spuhler intercepted it at the Mansfield 24.

Spielman wasted no time getting another six points as he hit Oliver In the end zone with his first TD pass of the night. The kick failed and the Tigers led 20‑3 with 1:33 left in the half.

The Tigers took the kickoff to open the second half and went 66 yards in three plays with Oliver scoring from a yard out with 10:50 still on the clock.

How did they get to the one yard line so fast – Spielman’s right arm, of course. He hit Roknich over the middle with a pass and the senior halfback made a great run, turning it into a 37‑yard gain.

His next pass to Oliver covered 28 yards to the one. After the touchdown, Manion’s kick made it 27‑3.

It took the Tigers a whole five plays to score the next time they got the ball, with Spielman finding Geiser wide open in the right corner of the end zone.

The 78‑yard drive started out with Roknich ripping off 35 yards (he totaled 38 on three carries to lead the team).

On a third‑and‑six play, Spielman connected with Roknich on an 18‑yard completion to set up the TD toss to Geiser. The kick failed but the Tigers were out front 33‑3 with 6:33 left in the third period.

Mansfield scored its only TD of the night when Bishop hit wide receiver Chris Elswick with a 22‑yard scoring pass, capping a 65‑yard drive. A pass for the extra points failed.

Bishop completed 15 of 30 aerials for 158 yards, and almost all of that went to Elswick, who led all receivers with 10 catches for 116 yards.

The Tigers then finished off the scoring for the evening by traveling 60 yards in five plays. Spielman’s third completion of the drive, 23 yards to Roknich, produced the TD. Greg Radtka booted the point after for a 40‑9 lead with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

That was Spielman’s last action of the night, and when it was announced he had gone over 300 yards, Roknich and center George Nikitanko hoisted him into the air to acknowledge the standing ovation from the Tiger partisans.

So the Tigers finish the first season 7‑2. The second season ‑ McKinley Week ‑ is now underway,

A school levy and the Bulldogs in the same week is a tough schedule. And it’s going to take a heck of a lot of passing to pull through those two successfully.

mas man
First downs rushing 5 4
First downs passing 15 6
First downs by penalty 1 4
Total first downs 21 14
Yards gained rushing 147 75
Yards lost rushing 29 24
Net yards rushing 119 51
Net yards passing 340 158
Total yards gained 466 209
Passes attempted 27 30
Passes completed 17 15
Passes int. by 1 0
Yardage on pass int. 4 0
Times kicked off 7 3
Kickoff average 45.7 36.3
Kickoff return yardage 31 81
Punts 2 8
Punting average 37.0 34.8
Punt return yardage 41 0
Fumbles 5 2
Fumbles lost 3 2
Penalties 5 4
Yards penalized 75 41
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 3 1
Number of plays 52 60
Time of possession 20:37 27:23
Attendance 7,863

Mansfield 0 3 6 0 6
Massillon 7 13 20 0 40

MASS ‑ Greg Grimsley 2 run (Tim Manion kick)
MANS ‑ Jim Bishop 32 FG
MASS ‑ Grimsley 2 run (Manion kick)
MASS ‑ Robert Oliver 24 pass from Rick Spielman (kick failed)
MASS ‑ Oliver 1 run (Manion kick)
MASS Jim Geiser 21 pass from Spielman (kick failed)
MANS ‑ Chris Elswick 22 pass from Jim Bishop (Bishop kick)
MASS ‑ George Roknich 23 pass from Spielman (Greg Radtka kick)

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 25, Niles McKinley 12

Massillon defeats Niles McKinley 25‑12
Tigers cash in on Dragon’s turnovers

Independent Sports Editor

“We’re just glad that one’s over with,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said after his team’s 25‑12 win over Niles McKinley before 8,919 fans Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“That certainly wasn’t our regular crew out there,” he added.

The Tigers, going with a patchwork lineup due to numerous injuries on defense, converted three of five Red Dragon turnovers into touchdowns as they raced to a 25‑0 lead.

The Red Dragons refused to fold, however, and rallied for a pair of touchdowns before it was over.

Program Cover

“We’re proud of our kids,” said Niles coach Jack Pierson. “If it weren’t for the dog‑gone mistakes we’d have been in the ball game.

As it was, a couple of mistakes by the Tigers allowed the Dragons to get back in the ball game in the second half.

A blocked punt set up Niles’ first score, and a failure to convert on a fourth‑and‑one play from their own 39 cost the Tigers another score.

But the Tigers’ last three touchdowns were set up by Dragon mistakes ‑ one fumble and two interceptions.

“We were playing with a lot of different people in there,” Currence noted. “For the most part they did a good job. It was our decisions on some of those plays that hurt us.”

One was going for the first down on fourth‑and‑one at their own 39.

“We should have punted the ball. But we had it and we wanted to control it. We just overestimated our ability. When you get a big lead, sometimes your willing to take a risk. We should have been more conservative.

Currence said one good thing about the game was he was able to rest many of his injured regulars.

“In a way I’m happy (getting to rest some players), but I’m not pleased with our mental discipline in the second half. Hopefully next week we’ll be healthy.

“We’ve got to start putting it together,” he added, referring not to next Friday’s game against Mansfield Senior but the Nov. 7 clash with 8‑0 Canton McKinley.

The Tigers are now 6‑2 and Niles falls to 3‑4‑1.

Massillon had control of the game from the opening kickoff when it drove 73 yards in 14 plays with fullback Greg Grimsley bulling over from a yard out. Greg Radtka’s kick made it 7‑0 with 5:36 left in the initial quarter.

Grimsley gained 23 yards in eight carries in the drive and quarterback Rick Spielman gained 23 in three carries and also completed a 19‑yard pass to Robert Oliver on a third‑and‑six play.

After an exchange of punts, Tiger junior tackle Sam Clark ‑ starting in place of the injured Joe Peters – recovered a fumble at the Niles eight yard line following a bungled handoff.

Oliver swept left end on the next play for a 13‑0 lead. Radtka’s kick was wide right.

Rodney Hill, a senior defensive halfback, set up the next Tiger score when he intercepted an Ed Kurowski pass at his own 15 and returned it 11 yards.

The Tigers then drove 74 yards in five plays as Spielman found Gary Conley wide open in the end‑zone with a 32‑yard TD pass. Spielman’s run for the extra points failed and the Tigers led 19‑0 with 6:33 to play in the half.

Key plays in the drive were a 27‑yard pass from Spielman to senior wide receiver Dan Ricker and a 24‑yard run by senior halfback George Roknich.

It took the Tigers only three plays to come up with another turnover at the start of the third quarter. On a third‑and‑five play at their own 46, Chris Spielman intercepted Pat Holmes’ pass at the Niles 48 and returned it 27 yards.

Five plays and a pass interference penalty later the Tigers had a 25‑0 lead on Grimsley’s one‑yard run. A pass for the extra points failed, and with 7:51 to play in the third quarter it looked like the route was on.

But somebody forgot to tell the Red Dragons they were out of it, and they used some inspired play to get back in the game.

Chuck Canann blocked a punt by Massillon’s Scott Zupp, and the ball rolled out of bounds at the Tiger 16.

Following an incomplete pass, Jeff Wrataric rambled 12 yards and speedy little Tim Trifilette (5‑4, 130) covered the final four for the tally with :09 left in the third quarter.

Senior George Nikitenko, the Tigers’ offensive center, was in on defense to help fill a hole caused by injuries, and he intercepted Holmes’ pass on the extra points try.

The Tigers then decided to grind it out and get the game over with, but the charged up Niles’ defense stopped Grimsley on third‑and‑one and Spielman was sacked back at his own 31 on fourth down.

Facing a third‑and‑one at the Tiger 22, Trifilette scooted 21 yards around right end to the one yard line, and Carmen Cicero took it in on the next play with 9:05 to play in the game. A run for the points after failed, and it was 25-12.

The Tiger defense stiffened thereafter, however, and Mark Haubert ended the game with an interception at his own 20 as time expired.

The Dragons had one other turnover, a fumble recovered by defensive end Tony Morelli.

Niles lost its top two quarterbacks to injury as Floyd Davis injured his knee and Kurowski reinjured his collar‑bone.

The statistics were fairly even except for two categories: turnovers and points, Massillon never turned the ball over while Niles did it five times.

The Tigers had 140 yards rushing and 91 passing and Niles had 105 rushing and 86 passing. Massillon had 13 first downs and Niles had 11.

Individually, Spielman completed four of nine passes (he threw only one in the second half) for 91 yards and a touchdown, his eighth of the season.

Grimsley gained 63 yards in 20 carries. Spielman, despite two sacks for 16 yards in losses, gained 31 yards in eight carries. He had 137 yards In total offense in the first half.

The Tigers will host the Mansfield Senior Tygers Friday at 8 p.m.

Fans are reminded that tickets for the McKinley game will go on sale at the Stadium’s west ticket window Monday at 8 a.m. There are 1,000 end zone seats remaining and there will be a limit of two per person.

Season ticket holders who have purchased McKinley tickets, but did not pay postage, can pick up their tickets at the ticket office at Washington High School.

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 9, Akron St. Vincent 7

Tigers hang on to nip St. Vincent 9‑7

Independent Sports Editor

As Massillon coach Mike Currence watched Akron St. Vincent’s Dave Bittner line up to try a game‑winning field goal Friday night, he refused to ask for help.

“I’ll thank the Lord if he misses, but I’m not praying that he does,” Currence said later about what he was thinking just before Bittner barely missed a 30-yard attempt with 24 seconds left that preserved Massillon’s 9‑7 victory before 12,069 In Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“Somebody upstairs likes me,” Currence added. To which junior high coach Dave Slinger pitched in: “He owed us that one.”

Program Cover

Whatever the forces and reasons were that determined the outcome of this well‑played game, it was certainly the Tigers’ biggest victory of the season as they handed the previously undefeated Irish their first loss.

And while it was a game that St. Vincent could just as easily won, Massillon outplayed the Irish. They outgained them in yardage 333‑169 and only the Tigers chronic failure to score from inside the five yard line (twice) kept them from having an easier time of it.

Most of the Tigers’ yardage came on the arm of senior quarterback Rick Spielman, who played perhaps his finest game of the season. Spielman hit 9 of 16 passes for 202 yards and the Tigers’ only touchdown.

He admitted afterwards to being emotionally pumped up for the game.

“They came in here undefeated and we were coming off a really discouraging loss,” he related. “We had to prove to the people we wouldn’t die; that the Massillon Tigers never die.”

Spielman was also the Tigers second leading rusher with 39 yards, and he said his running helped open up the passing game.

“I ran more to bring the halfback up. When I run the ball it helps the passing game. We worked a lot on our passing game this week to give me some confidence in throwing the ball and my receivers confidence in catching it,” Spielman explained.

The extra practice paid off, as the Tigers’ run‑and‑shoot offense had plenty of shoot for the first time in five games.
“Rick’s starting to come around a little bit,” Currence noted “He had a hell of a night. That’s what we expect out of the run-and-shoot.”

Outside of the missed field goal by Bittner (who also missed an earlier attempt from 35 yards), the key plays of the game were a 64‑yard touchdown pass from Spielman to George Roknlch and a 20‑yard field goal by Greg Radtka.

Roknich’s TD came at the 5:44 mark of the second quarter. He broke a tackle at the Irish 39 and scooted down‑the‑right‑sideline‑to‑give‑Massillon a 6‑0 lead (Tim Manion’s kick was wide right).

Massillon fumbled on its first play of the third quarter and Dan Donovan recovered for the Irish at the Tiger 21. Six plays later quarterback Steve Stams sneaked over from the one and Bittner’s boot gave the Irish a 7‑6 lead with 8:57 on the third‑quarter

The Tigers then drove from their own 27 to the Irish three, and Radtka booted what proved to be the winning field goal with 4:57 to go In the third quarter.

A key play in that drive, was a 43‑yard pass from Spielman to junior wide receiver Gary Conley that carried to the Irish 30. On fourth‑and‑10 from the 30 Spielman hit ‑ Larry Newman with a 12‑yard pass for a first down at the 18. A pass to Conley picked up 14 more to the four. The Tigers settled for a field goal, but two potential TD passes were dropped in the end zone.

St. Vincent mounted its final drive late in the fourth quarter when it drove from its own 30 to the Tigers’ 13 in eight plays. With no time outs left, the Irish went for the field goal on second down and Bittner’s kick was barely wide left.

“Our defense did a great job,” Currence said, “They are a great team running the ball, and we made them look average. But when it comes right down to it, we had some luck.”

Perhaps some of that luck came with a former Tiger star who was at the game and gave the Tigers a little pep talk during halftime.

Steve Luke, who starred on the Tigers last state championship team, in 1970 before going on to a fine college career at Ohio State and a six‑year stint with the Green Bay Packers, “gave ’em some words” before the 71 Tigers came out for the second half.

The Tigers certainly gave an all‑out effort, and the win keeps alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the computer playoffs for the third straight year.

Currence gave a lot of credit to the defense, and defensive coordinator Jim Letcavits and linebacker coach Dale Walterhouse both said a switch the Tigers made to counteract St. V’s unbalanced line was the key.

With middle guard William Askew out, Charles Calhoun and Brian Schodorf alternated in the middle, while linebacker Tim Manion and Gary Wells joined Rick Heather opposite the Irish’s wide side of the line.

Manion was basically playing as a monster back at the end position, while Wells was inserted between the hose guard and Heather. Mark Haubert played Manion’s linebacker position.

“They had two big tackles on one side so we thought we’d put our big kids on their big kids,” Letcavits said, “It worked great.”

Heather is 6‑3, 230, and Wells, a backup offensive lineman, is 6‑1, 270.

“Haubert came off the bench and did a whale of a job,” Walterhouse added.

Irish coach John Cistone said he expected the Tigers would go with that kind of defense.

“We knew they were strong, but we felt we had to establish the running game,” he said. St. Vincent had been averaging 27.5 points per game behind a strong running attack, but gained only 118 yards on the ground against the Tigers.

Massillon had 131 yards on the ground, with Newman getting 44 in seven carries. Roknich had 16 in seven carries and caught two passes for 81 yards. Newman caught three aerials for 44 yards and Conley had two for 57.

“It was a good football game, period,” Cistone said. “They’re a good team. Their 4‑2 record (5‑2 now) doesn’t indicate the kind of team they have.

“I don’t feel we have to be ashamed. We played a good football game. It was just as much ours as theirs,” he added.

Except for a few inches on Bittner’s field goal attempt, he was right. A few inches for which Currence and his Tigers are quite grateful.

First downs rushing 7 6
First downs passing 8 3
First downs by penalty 1 4
Total first downs 16 13
Yards gained rushing 147 128
Yards lost rushing 16 10
Net yards rushing 131 118
Net yards passing 202 51
Total yards gained 333 169
Passes attempted 16 17
Passes completed 9 6
Passes int. by 0 1
Yardage on pass int. 0 15
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 57.3 46.0
Kickoff return yardage 26 33
Punts 3 6
Punting average 38.0 34.5
Punt return yardage 12 5
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penatlties 6 3
Yards penalized 59 15
Touchdowns rushing 0 1
Touchdowns passing 1 0
Number of plays 58 59
Time of possession 22:08 25:52
Attendance 12,069

St. VINCENT 0 0 7 0 7
MASSILLON 0 6 3 0 9

MASS – George Roknich 64‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (kick failed)
St. V ‑ Steve Stams 1‑yard run (Dave Bittner kick)
MASS ‑ Greg Radtka 20 FG

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 24, Barberton 26

Magics’ Johnson, Breitenstein star
Mistakes hurt Tigers in 26‑24 defeat

Independent Sports Editor

“God bless Melvin Johnson,” said a Barberton football player in the jubilant Magic lockerroom after their 26‑24 win over the Massillon Tigers Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl.

Johnson had just erased a 24‑20 Massillon lead by returning a kickoff 75 yards for his third touchdown of the game with 2:48 remaining, sending the Tigers down to defeat for the second time in six games before approximately 15,000 fans. Barberton is now 5‑1.

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But Johnson wasn’t the only Barberton player who seemed blessed Saturday night. Quarterback Bryan Breitenstein hit 14 of 18 passes for 295 yards and three scores ‑ two to Johnson and one to Randy Usko.

Despite Barberton’s inspired play, the Tigers were their own worst enemy. Their numerous mistakes kept them from putting the game away early, and even aided Johnson on his kickoff return that won the game.

Twice the Tigers moved inside the Barberton five and failed to score, missing a field goal one time and losing the ball on downs the other time.

And a penalty on the Massillon bench for charging onto the field after Gary Conley caught a 56‑yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rick Spielman to put the Tigers ahead 24‑20 hurt plenty. It forced Tim Manion to kick off from his own 25, and that’s the kickoff Johnson turned into the game‑winner.

All in all, it was a wild and exciting game, with three touchdowns being scored within a 49‑second span late in the game. It was a game that left Barberton coach Rudy Sharkey ecstatic and Tiger coach Mike Currence numb and pale.

“It’s a fantastic win, a great effort,” Sharkey said. “It was a great ball game, I suppose the fans went nuts with that ball game.”

“I don’t know what to tell you guys,” Currence said to the reporters after the game. “We just got beat. That’s all I can comment on. I have no other comments I can make on this team.

“I thought if we had the ball with two minutes to go we could score again. But we put it in the air and it got picked off,” he said.

That was following Johnson’s TD when Barberton’s kickoff went out of bounds and the Tigers got the ball at their own 40 with 2:46 to play.

Spielman went back to pass, scrambled to the left and threw long down field where Scott Murphy intercepted the ball at the 21 yard line. Murphy is the player Conley had beaten on his game‑tying TD play.

“It was a hard game to lose, we had it won three or four times,” Currence said. “We could have won the game, let’s just leave it at that.”

When told by a reporter that it was an exciting game, Currence said: “We’re always a good show, unfortunately we didn’t win tonight. I hope I never see this place again until the playoffs,” he added.

With a 4‑2 record, the Tigers’ playoff hopes are almost nil. And with undefeated Akron St. Vincent coming to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Saturday, the Tigers stand a chance of losing two straight games for the first time since Currence’s first two games as Tiger coach in 1976.

It didn’t start out looking like the Tigers would lose this game, as they took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards in 17 plays ‑ all running plays ‑ and scored on a three‑yard run by fullback Greg Grimsley with 7:56 gone in the quarter. Manion’s extra point kick was wide right.

But the Magics struck back on the accurate arm of Breitenstein who kept finding wide open receivers all over the Rubber Bowl’s artificial surface.

The Magics traveled 62 yards in five plays with Breitenstein hitting Johnson with a 23‑yard scoring strike. Jeff Sharkey’s kick was wide left and it was 6‑6 with 1:48 to play in the quarter.

A key play in that drive was a 16‑yard pass from Breitenstein to Josh Ferguson. The Magic tailback had leaped high into the air to catch the pass and was hit hard by a Tiger defender from behind almost as soon as he caught the ball. He seemed to lose control of the ball on the way down, but the officials ruled it neither an incomplete pass or a fumble (a Massillon player recovered the ball). They called it a completion, and two plays later Barberton scored.

Massillon got a break when Johnson fumbled a Manion punt at his own 14 early in the second period. The Tigers drove to the Magic three yard when Spielman bootlegged for a first down on a fourth‑and‑two play.

But he was stopped for no gain on a keeper on the next play, and a high pitch to halfback George Roknich resulted in a fumble and an eight‑yard loss. The Tigers ended up trying for a 33‑yard field goal, but Greg Radtka’s kick was wide left with 7:28 on the clock.

Barberton then drove 80 yards in 12 plays with Breitenstein hitting Randy Usko with a two‑yard TD toss at 1:52, Johnson swept left end for two points and a 14‑6 Magic lead.

That drive was aided early on when Massillon’s Sam Clark was called for a personal foul on a dead ball penalty. It gave Barberton 15 yards following a 13‑yard pass completion game. Clark was ejected from the game.

Massillon put together a drive of its own before halftime, as Spielman came out throwing and found halfback Larry Newman for 18 yards and 19 yards. The Tigers had the ball first‑and‑10 at the Barberton 34 with one minute left.

A long pass down the middle to a wide‑open Bob Catlin was slightly underthrown. Catlin slid to make the catch but the ball bounced off his chest, incomplete at the three-yard line.

The Tigers finally settled for a 29‑yard field goal by Manion with 11 seconds on the clock, cutting Barberton’s lead to 14‑9.

Murphy got off a 19‑yard punt the first time the Magics got the ball in the second half, and the Tigers took over at Barberton’s 48.

This time the Tigers struck like lightning, as Roknich followed some great blocking around right end and hotfooted it all the way for the TD with 9:30 to play in the third quarter. Spielman bootlegged left for the conversion and a 17-14 Tiger lead.

Another Magic punt gave the Tigers the ball at the Barberton 45 and they drove to a first down at the Magic four with 4: 10 to play in the quarter.

Grimsley gained three yards to inside the one and it looked like the Tigers might be ready to apply the KO punch.

But Grimsley was stopped for no gain and Spielman got nothing on a third‑down carry. On fourth down, Spielman started moving before he got the snap, and his one‑yard sneak for a TD was negated by a five‑yard penalty.

On fourth‑and‑goal from the six, Newman was stopped after a two‑yard gain.

Following an exchange of punts, Johnson hauled in a 24 yard scoring pass from Breitenstein with 3:37 to play in the game. Sharkey’s PAT kick was short and Barberton led 20‑14.

Newman returned the kickoff 31 yards to his own 44 and Spielman hit Conley with a 56‑yard touchdown pass on the next play with 3:00 remaining. That’s when the Massillon players illegally ran onto the field. After Jim Bushe booted the conversion, the Tigers had to kick off from their own 25.

That’s when Johnson did his thing.

Following Spielman’s interception, the Tigers looked as though they would get the ball back one last time, albeit with 18 seconds remaining and no timeouts left.

In an effort to block the Barberton punt, the Tigers sent in all their fastest players. However, they sent in one player too many, and Newman’s return to the Tiger 40 was negated by a penalty that gave Barberton the ball back and a first down and insured their second upset of the Tigers in four years. They defeated Massillon 9‑7 in the season opener in 1977 in the Rubber Bowl.

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 14, Warren Harding 7

Tiger ground game key to 14‑7 victory
Grimsley, Moore, Newman do in Harding

Independent Sports Editor

Warren Harding had the right defense, but Massillon finally came up with the right combination of running backs as the Tigers rallied to a 14‑7 win over the Panthers before 10,223 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.

Abandoning its passing game in the face of a blitzing Panther defense, the Tigers took to the ground with a trio of rushers who proved too versatile and too much for Harding to handle.

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Fullbacks Greg Grimsley and Michael Moore and halfback Larry Newman combined for 127 yards rushing and all 14 Tiger points as Massillon raised its record to 4‑1.

Harding lost Its second straight game and falls to 3‑2.

They’ve got a good defense,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said after the game. “We did not plan on running as much as we did.”

Harding coach Bob Wolfe said he didn’t expect the Tigers to be able to run the ball the way they did.

“Teams don’t run on us the way they did,” he said. “The toss sweep to the sideline, we couldn’t stop it,” he said of the play that worked so well for the Tigers.

“We thought we had a very good defensive package to stop the run‑and‑shoot,” Wolfe said. He explained, that they changed their basic “40” defense, which worked well in a scrimmage against Lakewood St. Edward’s run‑and‑shoot offense, because he knew Massillon would have films of that scrimmage.

“We put in another defense, like the one Moeller used.

It’s a seven‑diamond effect with man‑to‑man coverage,” Wolfe explained

“It worked for two and a half quarters, but then they got moving,” be said.

“They were very good at the fire game,” Currence said, referring to the Panthers’ blitzing tactics. “We’d move the ball, but own they’d throw us for a big loss.

“We thought we’d be able to read It and hurt them, but they disguised it better than we thought. We’d make the wrong call right into their blitzing defense. They were playing man‑to‑man and firing like hell. Sometimes you get away with it,” Currence explained.

The defense worked for the Panthers through the first half, which ended in a scoreless tie. The Tigers had two drives into Panther territory stall in the second quarter, and both ended in missed field goals by Tim Manion, the first of 45 yards at 5:06 and the second of 48 yards with :27.

After a Massillon punt early in the third quarter, the Panthers got a break.

On third‑and‑10 from their own 25, flanker Darnell Robertson hit wide receiver Gary Hughley with a pass that covered 60 yards to the Tiger 16. Hughley was wide open down the middle, caught the ball at his own 45 and was finally hauled down from behind by linebacker Chris Spielman.

“That was a prayer, a miracle,” said Wolfe of the play.

“It was supposed to go to the tight end, but he didn’t go out.”

On the next play, quarterback Mike Surin hit Marcus Elkins for 16 yards and the touchdown with 7:58 to play in the third quarter, Greg Bumbu’s kick made it 7‑0.

That score seemed to pull the Tigers together, however, and Grimsley gave them the spark they needed.
on third‑and‑eight at their own 29, he went left on a sweep and fired a pass to Dan Ricker for 16 yards and a first down at the 45.

“That was a big play,” Currence said. “We were having trouble. We had to come out and get a first down to get something going. These kids have had trouble all year doing that.”

That proved to be the turning point for the Tigers, as they stayed on the ground the rest of the way and Grimsley bulled over from two yards out with 1:38 to play in the quarter.

Grimsley was the key man in the drive, gaining 25 yards in seven carries, and three times rushing for first downs. He finished the night as the game’s leading ball carrier with 56 yards in 16 carries.

Manion’s kick to tie the game was wide left, and the Tigers trailed 7‑6. Currence said Manion has had trouble kicking because of a sore left knee, which also limited his playing time at linebacker to only a few plays.

Harding couldn’t move the ball, and had to punt. Pressure on Dave Gantz by Bob Yoder and Charles Calhoun caused him to get off only a 13‑yard punt.

Massillon took over at its own 42 and drove to a touchdown in 10 plays, with Moore getting 21 yards in four carries, including the final four yards for a TD with 8:35 to play.

Newman had a key run for a first down, taking the ball from the 15 down to the eight. Grimsley gained four yards and then Moore swept right for the score.

On the run for the extra points, Newman took a pitch right and Bumbu blitzed through the line to stop him.
Newman made a sharp cut to elude him at the seven, ran up to the three and literally dove the rest of the way into the end zone.

“I didn’t know if it was a good play,” Currence said, “but I just wanted to get the ball to Newman. He came of age tonight, He probably hasn’t been playing as much as he should. But he’s our specialist. He returns kicks and we were working him at halfback and receiver. He said to let him try concentrating on one position, halfback, and we did.

That move paid big dividends as Newman gained 35 yards in seven carries. Moore finished with 36 yards In 10 carries.

Of course, Harding didn’t give up, and came back several times, but the Tiger defense held strong.

Tony Morelli, who came In at defensive end when Scott Zupp injured his ankle, sacked Surin for a nine‑yard loss on a third‑down play and Chris Spielman killed another threat with an interception, a leaping grab in which he took the bail away from Robertson.

The Panthers got one last shot when defensive tackle Nick Frankos blitzed through and hit quarterback Rick Spielman just as he was about to hand off to Newman. He caused a fumble which end Scott Wilson recovered for Harding at the Tiger 46. However, four straight passes fell Incomplete, and the Tigers took over with 2:54 left and ran out the clock.

The Tiger defense drew praise from Currence and defensive coordinator Jim Letcavits. With Manion, middie‑guard William Askew and tackle Rick Heather out with injuries, the Tiger backups did a fine job.

Charles Calhoun and Sam Clark started at the tackles’ Brian Schodorf played middle guard and Mark Haubert played linebacker.

“When we had to do it, we obviously did it,” Currence said. “We came together as a team tonight. I’m proud of the offensive line and of the defense. But we still have to improve. We have a long way to go. Barberton (Massillon’s opponent Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl) is a good team.”

But with a gritty comeback, and their suddenly potent ground attack, the Tigers proved Friday night that they too are a tough team.

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 13, Akron Garfield 0

Tigers turn lights out on Garfield 13-0
Defense, Manion’s kicking leave Rams in dark

Independent Sports Editor

Just when things were looking dark for the Massillon Tigers, the lights went out altogether.

Good thing.

Under cover of near darkness, the Tigers got their act together and went on to a 13‑0 victory over an Akron Garfield team that is undoubtedly the best 0‑3 team in the state. The win raised the Tigers record to 3‑1.

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The near darkness was caused when the mercury vapor lights on the west side of Paul Brown Tiger Stadium went out. It happened twice, once during halftime and again near the end of the third quarter.

Apparently, a temporary outage from somewhere outside the stadium was the problem. Once the lights go out they take almost 20 minutes to reach peak power again.

The lights weren’t the only thing that had trouble getting going again.

The Tigers, after an emotional 24‑6 loss to Cincinnati Moeller last weekend, had trouble putting their act together.

“I think we were a little flat,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said after the victory. “Losing to Moeller emotionally drained us a little bit. We just weren’t sharp.”

The Tigers won the game despite failing to convert on a single third‑down situation and amassing 75 yards in penalties, mostly on offense.

However, a defense that rose to the occasion when necessary ‑ by stopping the Golden Rams on a fourth down inside the Tiger 10, intercepting three passes and recovering one fumble ‑ and the foot of senior Tim Manion were the bright spots for the Tigers.

Manion booted a pair of field goals, including a school record 48‑yarder, and added the extra point kick following Greg Grimsley’s one‑yard touchdown run to give the Tigers all the offense they needed.

Manion’s 27‑yard field goal with 9:06 left in the first half had spotted the Tigers a 3‑0 lead.

Manion’s punting in the first half also kept the Rams in the hole, as he twice angled kicks which were downed inside the Garfield 20.

But the Rams came out in the third quarter thinking upset. Taking the second half kickoff, they drove from their own 20 to the Tiger 12, where they faced a fourth-and‑five situation.

The Tiger defense stopped quarterback Willie Davis at the eight, and Manion boomed a high 47‑yard punt to give Massillon some breathing room.

The Rams helped out with an illegal use of hands, penalty, and middle guard Sam Clark sacked Davis for a 17‑yard loss. But Davis lofted a long pass right into the hands of halfback Don White who couldn’t hang on in a crowd of Massillon defenders at the Tiger 35.

That’s when the lights went out. The game continued, and the Tigers made the most of the situation by driving 48 yards in seven plays, with Grimsley scoring at the 10:07 mark of the final period.

When the lights finally came on again. Clark sacked Davis for a 16‑yard loss, and Garfield turned the ball over on fourth down when punter Mark Thomas had to scramble to bring down a high snap for center.

The Tigers took over at the Garfield 39, and despite an offensive pass interference penalty, managed to get to the Ram 30 on an 11‑yard, third‑down pass from quarterback Rick Spielman to halfback Robert Oliver.

That’s when Manion came back on and booted his record three‑pointer with 5:29 to play, and the Tigers were out of trouble.

The kick eclipsed the record of 47 yards held by Keith Harmon, who did it against Warren Harding in 1975 in a 17‑0 victory.

Garfield coach Bill McGee said the near darkness didn’t bother his team at all. At least not as much as the Massillon defense.

“They did a nice job pressuring us with their pass rush,” McGee said. “I thought their defense came of age last week against Moeller. They held them to 17 points,” he said, noting he didn’t consider Moeller’s one‑yard TD drive in the fourth quarter the defense’s fault.

“I was impressed with our defense, also. They did a nice job. Anytime you hold Massillon to one touchdown your doing a good job.”

Currence had praise for Garfield, and especially for McGee.

“I’ll tell you what, Bill McGee is one of the nicer coaches in the business,” Currence said. “Any other coach would have been mad (about the lights going out), but he just said let’s play it,”

Currence said he was getting worried because four of his defensive players had to leave the game with injuries. William Askew, who was playing middle guard, re‑injured his ankle, linebacker Tim Manion hurt his left knee, tackle Rick Heather hurt an ankle and tackle Joe Peters bruised his knee. Currence said he didn’t know how serious the injuries were, though several of the players did return to action, including Manion.

“Offensively, we were sporadic,” Currence said. “Tonight it seemed to be the penalties. But we got some breaks, and against a good team like Garfield you have to take advantage of them.

“We’re not satisfied at all with the way we played, but we played a very good ball club.

“They have a very good offense and they controlled the ball on us,” he noted. The Rams bad the ball for 27:36 compared to 20:24 for the Tigers. They also outgained Massillon 208 to 207 in total yards.

“Their running backs are as good as any team we’ll see,” Currence added.

Ram fullback Larry Gills gained 104 yards in 24 carries. He wore number 25 in the first half, and after having his Jersey torn came back in the second half wearing number 30.

Sophomore Charles Gladman gained 42 yards in 11 carries in his first start. In the Rams’ 21‑20 opening loss to Austintown Fitch, he ran a kickoff back 89 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball.

“It’s tough breaking in against Massillon, but he’s going to be a great running back,” McGee said.

The Rams played without regular halfback Gary Dix, who found out on Thursday he had a cracked bone in his hand. He apparently suffered the injury two weeks ago.

“We’re real proud of the way we played,” McGee added. And he didn’t mind the fact the lights went out. “This is a great place to play and we’re always treated extremely well.”

Except by the Tiger defense, of course. Grady Robinson, Matt Hickey and Gary Conley each intercepted a Ram pass and Askew recovered a fumble to keep the powerful Garfield offense at bay.

Offensively, Spielman was 5 of 12 passing for 54 yards, and he had completions of 16 yards to Dan Ricker and 18 yards to Robert Oliver during the Tigers’ TD drive.

Grimsley led Tiger rushers with 37 yards in six carries, Spielman had 26 in four carries, Oliver had 24 in four carries and Jim Bushe had 24 in five carries.

“That’s a game that very well could have ended up 0‑0, or that we could have lost 7‑3,” Currence said.

“But the defense came up with the big play.”

And while Tiger fans may have had a dim view of their team’s play, there were enough bright spots to keep them happy.


First downs rushing 7 11
First downs passing 3 2
First downs by penalty 3 0
Total first downs 13 13
Yards gained rushing 159 206
Yards lost rushing 6 49
Net yards rushing 153 157
Net yards passing 54 51
Total yards gained 307 201
Passes attempted 14 13
Passes completed 5 5
Passes int. by 3 0
Yardage on pass int. 39 0
Times kicked off 4 1
Kickoff average 39.5 33.0
Kickoff return yardage 0 29
Punts 4 3
Punting average 31.8 30.3
Punt return yardage 56 1
Fumbles 1 3
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 5 4
Yards penalized 75 57
Touchdowns rushing 1 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Number of plays 45 61
Time of possession 20:24 27:36
Attendance 10,129

GARFIELD 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 0 3 0 10 13

MASS ‑ Tim Manion 27 FG
MASS ‑ Greg Grimsley 1‑yard run (Manion kick)
MASS – Manion 48 FG

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 6, Cincinnati Moeller 24

Crusader defense keys 24‑6 victory
Moeller too much for Tigers to handle

Independent Sports Editor

AKRON ‑ For slightly more than three quarters Saturday night, the Massillon Tigers played almost as good as the best high school football team on earth.

Unfortunately, they were playing the team that is not only the best on our planet, but is out of this world: Cincinnati Moeller.

So to many it seemed like whistling past the graveyard for the Tigers to challenge this powerhouse loaded with big, strong, quick, highly skilled players. The Tigers not only challenged, they threatened.

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Even the 23,950 who packed the Akron Rubber Bowl to see Moeller win its 36th straight game, 24-6, saw a glimmer of hope when the Tigers trailed only 10-6 at the half.

They had about given up the ghost when Larry Newman, with his team trailing 17-6, returned a punt 39 yards to the Moeller 33. That was the first time the Tigers started a drive outside their own 29 all night.

With 8:34 to go in the game, the fans were on their feet. The Tigers came out in the shotgun formation. But alas, Moeller would have none of this. Quarterback Rick Spielman’s pass into the right flat for Jim Geiser, was intercepted by Moeller’s Mike Plummer.

The game Tiger defense held, but a punt by Moeller’s Ken Harper bounced down the artificial surface to the one yard line. Spielman tried to sneak the ball out for some running room, but the Crusaders’ tough defensive line jarred the ball loose and linebacker Mike Harmeyer ‑ who caused the Tigers trouble all night ‑ recovered at the one.

Hiawatha Francisco, who gained 123 yards in 22 carries, scored on the next play and Moeller had its second straight victory over Massillon.

While Gerry Faust had his Notre Dame football team stung by Michigan 25‑7 Saturday, the program he built carried on nicely under the guiding eye of his successor, Ted “Baci” Bacigalupo.

The jubilant Moeller players, long after the game was over, stole their coach from a group of reporters and carried him off to the showers, chanting “Baci, Baci, Baci!”

In the quiet Massillon lockerroom, Tiger coach Mike Currence was asked the inevitable question: did he think there was any other team around that could beat Moeller?

“I haven’t seen anybody that could beat them,” he said.

For not only does Moeller have a great defense and a rugged, ball‑control offense, it has Harper. He not only boomed three kickoffs into the end zone and averaged 47.7 yards per punt, he kicked a key 36‑yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the first half to boost Moeller’s lead from 7‑6 to 10-6.

As much as any of the Crusaders, he was responsible for doing in the Tigers. His foot kept the Tigers deep in their territory all night. And against an excellent defense like Moeller’s, you just don’t drive 80 yards for a touchdown every time.

“Every drive we started with. bad field position,” Currence said. “Then we finally got good field position and we made a mistake. We had one good drive and we had them worried a little, but field position hurt us. We have to get out there where we’re not afraid to use our whole offense. Our defense was on the field too long and they were able to wear us down. Our defense played well enough to win the ball game, but you’ve got, to give Moeller credit,” he said.

Though the score was similar to last year’s state title game (won by Moeller 30‑7), the Tigers were not blown out, nor were they embarrassed. They were just outmanned. Moeller was too big and too good.

But the Tigers took the game to them. A fierce hitting defense held the Crusaders at bay in the first quarter and into the second, stopping Moeller’s first four drives.

Massillon’s fine defensive play made Moeller gamble early in the second quarter. With the ball on the Tiger 19, Tim Manion dropped back to punt on fourth-and-nine Moeller decided it needed a big play and massed 10 players on the line to go for the block.

They didn’t get. it, and instead were called for roughing the kicker. However, Massillon was called for illegal procedure on the play, and instead of a first down, they just ran the play over.

Moeller took over at the Massillon 45 and six plays later halfback Jeff Clouse broke through the left side of the Tiger defensive line and scampered 19 yards for a touchdown. Harper’s kick made it 7‑0 with 5:36 left in the half.

The Tigers took over at their own 20, and were facing a third‑and‑10 after an incomplete pass a screen pass to Michael Moore (which gained nothing because Harmeyer smelled it out and made the tackle).

But Spielman found Dan Ricker open and hit him for 11 yards and a first down and the Tigers had some confidence. Robert Oliver took the next pass for 18 yards and first down at the 49.

On third and 14, Spielman threw down the middle and George Roknich made a fine catch, hanging onto the ball after a hard hit by Moeller’s Rob Brown. The fans came alive as Massillon had a first down at Moeller’s 31.

Spielman hit Bob Catlin for six yards to the 25, then passed to Roknich down the right side. Roknich broke two tackles and scored with 2:53 on the clock. Pandemonium reigned in the stands. Bob Larkin broke “through to block Manion’s extra point kick, and Moeller clung to a 7‑6 lead.

Spielman’s passing was almost all of Massillon’s offense, as he completed nine of 21 for 100 yards. The Tigers totaled only 19 yards rushing.

The Crusaders then started a drive at their own 25 and picked up two quick first downs, the second on a roughing the passer penalty that moved the bell to the Tiger 46.

Massillon’s defense stiffened, and Moeller faced a third‑and‑10 situation. Mike Willging, who completed only three of 12 passes in the game, hit Clouse for 23 yards and a first down at the Tiger 23.

Moeller pushed the ball down to the 19, and Harper split the uprights from 36 yards out with just 27 seconds on the clock.

“That field goal hurt,” Currence said. “And the interception that set up their score hurt. We lost a little confidence in our ability to win the game after that.”

The interception he was talking about came on the third play of the second half. On third‑and‑eight at his own 31, Spielman scrambled away from the Moeller rush and threw long down the left sideline. Brown intercepted the ball at his own 38 and returned it 26 yards to the Tiger 36. Nine straight running plays produced a touchdown as Dave Springmeier covered the last four yards. Harper’s kick made it 17‑6 with 6:21 on the third‑quarter clock.

Moeller got the ball back following a punt and drove deep into Tiger territory again. They made their only big mistake of the night when Clouse fumbled the ball and Grady Robinson recovered for Massillon at his own 12.

Manion got the Tigers out of a hole with a 70‑yard punt that rolled dead on the Moeller nine. The Crusaders punted, and Newman returned it to the Moeller 33. That’s when the shotgun misfired and Plummer intercepted on first down to knock the wind out of the Tigers.

The Crusader defense proved too much for Massillon in the second half, denying the Tigers a first down. Their fierce pass rush kept Spielman scrambling all night.

“In the second half, we just didn’t execute well and the kids lost a little confidence in winning the ball game,” Currence said.

I’m still proud of the way we played against them,” Currence said. “We played like Tigers. We just made some mistakes.”

And even a Tiger can’t afford mistakes when its playing the best high school team in the universe?

Moeller 24
Massillon 6
First downs rushing 0 13
First downs passing 5 2
First downs by penalty 0 1
Total first downs 5 16
Yards gained rushing 28 257
Yards lost rushing 9 14
Net yards rushing 19 243
Net yards passing 100 37
Total yards gained 119 280
Passes attempted 21 13
Passes completed 9 4
Passes intercepted by 0 2
Yardage on pass interference 0 27
Times kicked off 2 5
Kickoff average 51.0 56.0
Kickoff return yardage 32 32
Punts 7 6
Punting average 42.4 47.7
Punt return yardage 46 7
Fumbles 3 1
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 2 2
Yards penalized 30 10
Touchdowns rushing 0 3
Touchdowns passing 1 0
Number of plays 39 66
Time of possession 18:16 29:44
Attendance 23,950

MOELLER 0 10 7 7 – 24
MASSILLON 0 6 0 0 – 6

Mo ‑ Jeff Clouse 19‑yard run (Ken Harper kick)
Mass ‑ George Roknich 25‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (kick failed)
Mo ‑ Harper 36‑yard FG
Mo ‑ Dave Springmeier 4‑yard run (Harper kick)
Mo ‑ Hiawatha Francisco 1‑yard run (Harper kick)

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 42, Akron Buchtel 0

Tigers have easy time in 42-0 victory
And now it’s ‘on to Moeller’

Independent Sports Editor

“Forget tonight,” Massillon assistant coach Gary Wells said Friday night in the lockerroom after the Tigers had defeated hapless Akron Buchtel 42‑0.

“It’s on to Moeller,” head coach Mike Currence said. “We’re looking for a real good game in the Rubber Bowl.”

And they’re sure to get one from Cincinnati Moeller, the defending Division I champ which defeated Massillon 30‑7 last November in the state title game in Cincinnati.

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As for Buchtel, well, the game was over almost before it started as Massillon scored 21 points in the first quarter and had a 35‑0 lead by halftime, despite liberal substitutions.

“I don’t know if we’re ready or not,” Currence said, referring to Saturday’s game with Moeller. “It was a little too easy for us tonight. A game like this certainly doesn’t help you any, but we also had time to rest our injured players,” he added. No Tigers were hurt Friday, and all players should be ready for Moeller.

“I thought our execution wasn’t too bad,” he pointed out. “We didn’t make a lot of mental mistakes (the Tigers had only two penalties). It’s difficult to concentrate when it’s that easy. We’ll just have to put it together next week.”

The eight Moeller scouts watching the game didn’t get to see much, as the Tigers stuck to the basics. They didn’t need anything fancy.

Buchtel was held to minus‑two yards total offense in the first half, lost two of five fumbles and had a punt blocked by Tiger defensive tackle John Heather, who eventually recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Griffins took the opening kickoff and Terry Wright fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, with defensive halfback Dave Spuhler recovering the ball at the Buchtel 26.

Tiger quarterback Rick Spielman went straight to the air, hitting George Roknich in the end zone for a touchdown. Tim Manion booted the point after and Massillon led 7‑0 with only 51 seconds gone.

After a short punt by Buchtel, the Tigers went 40 yards in five plays on their next possession, with halfback Robert Oliver scoring from three yards out.

Manion’s kick made it 14‑0 with 7:18 on the first quarter clock.

Currence began substituting after that, but two series later the first‑team offense went back in after Heather recovered a Buchtel fumble (caused by defensive end Bob Yoder) on a punt attempt.

Starting from the Griffin 15, Roknich gained four yards on a run and Spielman hit Dan Ricker with an 11‑yard TD pass with 1:16 to play in the first quarter. Manion made it 21‑0 with his PAT kick.

Spielman passed only five times in the game, completing three for 46 yards and two touchdowns. He now has four TD passes on the season.

Massillon scored on the first play of the second quarter when Heather blocked Charles Moore’s punt at about the Griffin 10 yard line. After a mad scramble for the ball pushed it back into the end zone, Heather fell on for six points. Manion hit his fourth straight kick, for a 28‑0 lead.

On its next possession, Massillon put together an 81‑yard, 11‑play drive culminated by Michael Moore’s one‑yard TD plunge with 1:12 to play in the half. Jim Bushe kicked the extra point for a 35‑0 Tiger lead at halftime.

The Tigers kept the ball on the ground the rest of the game to eat up the clock, and a scoreless third quarter was highlighted by a pass interception by, Tiger safety Grady Robinson.

Defensive halfback Mike Geschwind intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter that set up the Tigers’ final TD, a two‑yard run by Greg Grimsley that climaxed a 47‑yard, nine‑play drive. Manion added his fifth PAT boot of the night to cap the scoring.

Bill Davis added a fumble recovery for the Tigers, later In the final period.

The Tigers only had 231 total yards in the game, but didn’t even need that many, with Buchtel losing three of seven fumbles and suffering two interceptions in addition to the blocked punt.

Unofficial statistics for the Tigers include 47 yards in six carries for Moore and 42 yards in seven carries for Grimsley. Larry Newman had 28 yards in five carries and Oliver gained 33 yards in five carries.

The 10,268 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium didn’t see much of a game Friday night, but the big one comes Saturday, when the Tiger’s and Moeller ‑ meet for the second time in two years at 8 p.m. in the Rubber Bowl.

Massillon 33
Buchtel 0
First downs rushing 10 5
First downs passing 2 0
First downs by penalty 0 1
Total first downs 12 6
Yards gained rushing 188 124
Yards lost rushing 3 39
Net yards rushing 186 85
Net yards passing 46 ‑8
Total yards gained 231 77
Passes attempted 7 11
Passes completed 3 4
Passes Intercepted by 2 0
Yardage on pass interceptions 50 0
Times kicked off 7 1
Kickoff average 50.3 54.0
Kickoff return yards 25 82
Punts 3 3
Punting average 40.0 24.3
Punt return yardage 0 4
Punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 0 7
Fumbles lost 0 3
Penalties 2 0
Yards penalized 20 0
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 2 0
Miscellaneous TDs 1 0
Number of plays 41 42
Time of possession 20.52 27.08
Attendance 10,268

BUCHTEL 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 21 14 0 7 42

MASS ‑ George Roknich 26‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (Tim Manion kick)
MASS ‑ Robert Oliver 3‑yard run (Manion kick)
MASS ‑ Dan Ricker 11‑yard pass from Spielman (Manion kick)
MASS ‑ John Heather recovered blocked punt in end zone (Manion kick)
MASS ‑ Michael Moore 1‑yard run (Jim Bushe kick)
MASS ‑ Greg Grimsley 2‑yard run (Manion kick)

Tim Manion
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1981: Massillon 33, Massillon Perry 0

Rick Spielman sparks big‑play offense
Tigers’ defense blanks Panthers 33-0

Independent Sports Editor
Tiger coach Mike Currence was counting on his defense to carry the team in the early part of this season.

Friday night it did just that.

What Currence hadn’t counted on was the big‑play capability his offense showed in beating the Perry Panthers 33‑0 before 14,653 fans in the season opener for both teams in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“The defense saved us tonight,” Currence said. “They kept us in the ball game while we were able to find out something we could do (on offense),” Currence said.

Program Cover

That something proved to be the screen pass, which the Tigers worked three times in the waning minutes of the first half to set up one touchdown and score another. The two scores came within 1:02 of each other and took the heat out of a fired‑up Panther defense which had stopped the Tigers cold with a pair of goal line stands on Massillon’s first two series, and a key quarterback sack on the third.

The Panthers even had field position at the Massillon 35 with just under six minutes left in the half ‑ and the score tied 0‑0 ‑ when the Tiger defense did its thing.

Linebacker Tim Manion intercepted a third‑down pass by Panther quarterback Rick Catazaro at the 29, and by halftime the Tigers had a 13‑0 lead and the momentum.

Quarterback Rick Spielman, scrambling against a fierce rush by the blitzing Panthers, came up with the big plays and the Tigers turned a close game into their first shutout of the season.

“The first of many, we hope,” Currence noted.

“It seems like people feel they can tee off and blitz us,” Currence said. “It seems to be in their game plans. It almost worked. We were lucky to get seven, and real lucky to get the last touchdown (of the first half). They didn’t blitz so much the second half because we hurt them with the big play,” he noted.

“Ricky (Spielman) came up with some big plays at least a half dozen of them. He’s a scrambler,” Currence added.

He had to be.

“We had the right defense,” Perry coach Joe Demaree said. “We flushed him (Spielman) out a lot of times. That’s what hurt us, the big play. He does a fine job; he’s got a lot of poise. We were doing a good job on defense most of the time but we couldn’t move the football. We couldn’t get field position and that hurt,” he added.

The Tigers’ win was forged in those last crucial minutes of the first half.

Manion’s interception gave the Tigers the ball at their own 34, but they faced a thrid‑and‑13 at the 31. Spielman beat a Panther blitz with a screen pass to fullback Michael Moore in the left flat, and he used a key block by Chuck York to scamper 27 yards for a first down at the Perry 42.

On a third‑and‑five at the 37, Spielman hit halfback Larry Newman for 12 yards and another first down at the 25. He then lofted a rainbow toward the right corner of the end zone and found a pot of gold at the end when wide receiver Jim Geiser made a leaping catch for a touchdown with 2:36 on the clock. Greg Radtka’s kick made it 7‑0.

Manion’s kickoff sailed to the eight yard line, and Spielman’s brother, sophomore Chris, smacked Perry’s Frank Falcone to the turf with a hard tackle at the 15.

Halfback McKinley Lancaster ran for a first down to the 30, but three Catazaro aerials fell incomplete and Massillon took over at its own 45 after a short punt. With 1:15 remaining in the half, Spielman went to work again. He hit Moore with another screen pass to the left for 23 yards and a first down at the Perry 32. Sticking with a good thing, he threw another screen pass ‑ this time to the right side to halfback Larry Newman ‑ and the speedster showed the Panthers some moves as he scampered all the way for the TD with :54 remaining. The kick failed, but the Tigers had a 13‑0 lead as the teams headed for the lockerroom.

The defense took over in the second half – as Chris Spielman and defensive back Mike Geschwind intercepted passes ‑and the first unit didn’t let the Panthers cross midfield.

On offense, Spielman connected with halfback George Roknich on a 33‑yard bomb on a third‑down play for a first down at the Perry 34 midway through the third quarter. He then hit halfback Mike Kozma with a 28‑yarder to the six, and two plays later Roknich ran it in from three yards out. Radtka’s kick was good for a 20‑0 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Chris Spielman’s interception gave the Tigers the ball at the Panther’ 16, and Newman needed only one play ‑ a trap ‑ to find the end zone with 9:52 to play. The kick failed and Massillon led 26‑0. Radtka who is also the backup quarterback, directed the second unit to the final touchdown as halfback Jim Bushe broke through for a six‑yard run with 6:01 remaining. Bushe, who had set up his own TD with a 21‑yard run, kicked the conversion to cap the scoring.

Spielman had the best opening game performance of any quarterback In Tiger history, hitting 12 of 21 passes for 224 yards (unofficially) and two TDs. Moore had two receptions for 51 yards, Newman had two for 44 yards and one of the TD passes and Geiser had two receptions for 36 yards and the other TD toss. Halfback Robert Oliver led the Tiger running attack with 46 yards in eight carries.

Currence had praise for his quarterback, saying: “We were in trouble many, many times tonight and he came through with the big play.”

Currence said his team was improved from the scrimmages, but added: “We’ve got a long way to go.”

As for Perry, he said: “They have some outstanding people, and I think they’ll do well in the Federal League.” The Panthers are the defending league champions.

Demaree admitted that having five players go both ways hurt his team, especially ‑ since Massillon is strictly a two‑platoon outfit.

Tiger defensive coach Jim Letcavits said he was pleased with the work of his defense, and singled out his two linebackers, Manion and Chris Spielman.

“Both of our linebackers played well, and Chris showed up a little better on kickoffs,” he said. Spielman streaked downfield and leveled the Perry return man on the Tigers first four kickoffs.

“I was pleased with our first unit, but I thought the kids that came in on the second unit also did a fine job,” Letcavits added.

First downs rushing 6 2
First downs passing 10 2
First downs by penalty 1 2
Total first downs 17 6
Yards gained rushing 183 91
Yards lost rushing 36 31
Net yards gained rushing 148 60
Net yards gained passing 231 30
Total yards gained 379 90
Passes attempted 24 12
Passes completed 13 2
Passes Intercepted by 3 0
Yardage on passes intercepted 18 0
Times kicked off 6 1
Kickoff average 54.3 52.0
Kickoff return yardage 33 87
Punts 2 8
Punting average 29.0 31.3
Punt return yardage 42 1
Fumbles 1 1
Fumbles lost 0 0
Penalties 7 4
Yards penalized 65 43
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 2 0
Total number of plays 65 41
Total time of possession 27.29 20.31
Attendance 14,653

PERRY 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 0 13 7 13 33

MASS ‑ Jim Geiser 25-yard pass from Rick Spielman (Greg Radtka kick)
MASS ‑ Larry Newman 32‑yard pass from Spielman (kick failed)
MASS ‑ George Roknich 3‑yard run (Radtka kick)
MASS – Newman 16-yard run (kick failed)
MASS – Jim Bushe 6-yard run (Bushe kick)

Spielmans too much for Perry to handle
Independent Sports Editor
The Spielman brothers sure made things tough on the Perry Panthers.

Rick Spielman, the Tigers senior quarterback, didn’t waste any time starting his assault on the Massillon record book. Younger brother Chris, a sophomore linebacker, wasted even less time assaulting Panther ball carriers.

The end result was a 33‑0 Massillon victory before 14,653 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday night.

According to records of team statistician Tom Persell, Rick had the best opening game performance of any Tiger quarterback as he completed 12 of 21 passes, for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage is the second best ever compiled by a Tiger quarterback, and the 12 completions is the seventh best performance by a Tiger QB.

Brent Offenbecher holds the yardage record of 231 in a 28‑22 win over Gahanna Lincoln in the second game of the 1977 season. Spielman eclipsed Dave Eberhart’s 1980 performance of 218 yards in the 14‑6 win over Parma Padua last Oct. 24.

“His father’s not a bad coach either,” reminded Tiger head coach Mike Currence after the game. Charles “Sonny” Spielman is the Tigers’ quarterback and wide receiver coach, and is therefore his son’s personal tutor on the finer arts of quarterbacking.

Chris’ performance was perhaps best summed up by Massillon field announcer Walt Bronczek following the Tigers’ fifth kickoff: “This time the tackle was NOT made by Chris Spielman.”

The first four times fellow linebacker Tim Manion boomed a kickoff, Chris streaked downfield and leveled the Panther return man ‑ each time inside the 20-yard line.

He was no slouch on the plays from scrimmage, either, setting up the Tigers fourth touchdown with a pass interception at the Perry 23 which he returned seven yards. He butted helmets with Manion in picking off the pass. Manion also had an interception, as did defensive back Mike Geschwind.

Another player Currence had praise for was senior halfback Larry Newman.

“Larry’s kind of our game breaker. We get him the ball and he scoots,” Currence said.

Newman did some scooting after taking a screen pass from Rick Spielman and showing off some moves on a 32‑yard jaunt for the Tigers’ second TD. Following Chris Spielman’s interception, he broke a trap play for 16 yards and his second touchdown.

“He’s really worked hard, and he deserves all the credit he gets,” Currence said of his 5‑8, 157‑pound speedster.

Paul Brown Tiger Stadium also looked good Friday night. The seats in both the west and east stands are brand new, as are the end zone bleachers. The field is also in the best shape it’s been in years.

Rain just before the start of the game put a damper on the crowd, which was the smallest of the four straight openers Massillon and Perry have played. Friday’s attendance of 14,653 was 1,680 less than last year’s crowd of 16,333. In the initial meeting of the two teams in 1978, 17,930 attended the game, followed by 16,454 in 1979. The Tigers have won all four games: 27‑6 in 1978, 21‑0 in 1979, 30‑13 in 1980 and 33‑0 this time.

Perry has already signed another two‑year agreement with the Tigers, and will open the season in Tiger Stadium in 1982 and 1983. Except for the annual Massillon‑McKinley game, this backyard rivalry has exceeded all others between Stark County schools in both attendance and gate receipts, according Persell.

The Panthers have rebounded well from their opening defeats the past two years, posting 8‑2 marks and winning the Federal League title last season.

Halfback McKinley Lancaster, a returning starter, led the Panthers in rushing Friday night with 48 yards in eight carries, including runs of 15 and 12 yards.

Tim Manion