Tag: <span>Tony Napolet</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1978: Massillon 27, Niles McKinley 7

Longshore leads Tigers 27-7 victory


The skies opened up early and so did the Massillon offense, but it took the defensive wizardry of Darren Longshore to dampen the upset hopes of winless Niles McKinley Saturday night.

Longshore stated on a 64-yard punt return, set up a Tiger touchdown with an interception and took a TD away from Niles as Massillon raised its record to 4-0 by downing the Red Dragons 27-7 at Niles.

Despite a storm that delayed the start of the game by 55 minutes, Tiger quarterback Brent Offenbecher ignored the weather and concentrated on what he does best – throwing the football.

Offenbecher came out firing and connected on his first three passes as the Tigers marched for a 7-0 lead on their first possession, but their offense disappeared in the second quarter and the Dragons were able to knot the score shortly after halftime.

That’s when Longshore took over.

“I can’t say enough about Darren,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said of his senior defensive halfback. “He made the play of the game.”

The play occurred late in the third period when, with the Tigers clinging to a precarious 1.3 7 lead, Longshore fielded Niles punter Mike ­Kopetsky’s kick on the Massillon 36 yard line, broke a tackle at the 40 and sped down the right sideline behind a wall of blockers for six points.

Longshore helped provide more breathing room in the fourth period by picking off a Dragon pass and dancing 16 yards to the Niles 37. Four minutes later the Tigers had the game on ice.

Earlier, the Tiger defender made a touchdown saving tackle on Dragon workhorse Dave Negro, who had shaken loose for 20 of the 120 yards he would ramble for on the night.

Negro lugged the ball 2 times as the Dragons plugged straight ahead with a ground game that didn’t befit the 0‑4 team they were to become.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Currence said after his Tigers had captured their second All-American Conference win. “They ran power at us as well as any team can. We had to wait for mistakes to hurt them.

“But you have to give credit to our defense,” he added. “They took the ball away from them.”

The first theft came after Niles had taken the opening kick‑off and driven into Massillon territory on burst of 10, 10 and 12 by Negro. Dragon fullback Rick Kelsh fumbled, however, and Longshore was on the spot, as usual, to pick it up.

“The fumble hurt us. We had the momentum,” Dragon coach Tony Napolet noted. “We played very well the first half and controlled the line of scrimmage.

“But Massillon is so quick off the ball. They’re the best team we’ve played up to now,” Napolet said. “I thought we could get back in it, but that punt return was the turning point.

Neither coach thought that rain as a critical factor in the outcome.
Massillon dumps Niles for fourth straight win
It fell on both sides of the line,” Napolet said. “It didn’t inhibit what we wanted to do, and it sure didn’t stop them from throwing the ball.”

Offenbecher who hit on five of his first six aerial attempts, finished the night at 10 for 17, good for 119 yards.

“A wet field always limits you. You can’t try the fancy things. Bill this field wasn’t bad,” Currence said, “They have nice drainage.”

Jeff Beitel, who spearheaded the Tigers 115-yard ground attack with 69 yards unofficially on 15 carries, gave Massillon its quick lead on a 7‑yard touchdown run after his brother Bill grabbed a 31-yard pass from Offenbecher to set the stage.

The Tigers fashioned another first‑quarter drive that featured romps of 16 and 10 yards by Beitel, but it fizzeled four yards from paydirt when Dragon defensive end Chris Skocik trapped Offenbecher on a rollout on a fourth down play.

Niles took it from that point to the Massillon 45 with the help of a first down on fourth and a foot by Bob Rufh. The Tiger rejected Rufh, though, when the same situation arose on their 45 for a key defensive stand.

After a second period in which the Tigers could muster only a dozen yards, the Dragons threw a scare into their visitors, scoring on the first play from scrimmage of the third period.

The Tigers received the second-half kick-off and started from their 11 after being assessed half the distance to the goal for a clipping penalty.

The ball squirted out of Offenbecher’s hands, then out from under a pack of would-be recoverers and into the Tiger end zone, where Niles’ Harry Nidel tracked it down for a touchdown.

“They never should have scored,” said Currence, who blamed himself for the turn of events. “I made a mistake. We should have kicked off the second half, too. On a night like this, field position is more important than the ball. Let this be a lesson to me.”

The Tiger bounce back from the sudden tie for a sustained drive of 69 yard, keeping the ball for 6:24 before Bill Beitel knifed into the end zone from nine yards out for a 13‑7 lead.

Then came Longshore’s key punt return to increase the margin to 19‑7 and his in interception that set up a 37‑yard Tiger scoring drive which ended with a 3-yard keeper by Offenbecher.

Jeff Brief tossed a halfback pass to Ron Wright for the two point conversion to complete the scoring. Wright also accounted for the only other Tiger extra point with his boot after the first TD.

Niles air game wasn’t nearly as successful as its ground attack. Quarterback Dean Clark, who entered the game second to Offenbecher in AAC passing statistics, completed only 3 of 12 aerials for 20 yard.

Tiger defensive end Bruce Solinger found Clark as many times as the Dragon QB found his receivers. Solinger accounted for three sacks that set the Dragons back a total of 32 yard.

MASSILLON 7 0 12 6 27
NILES 0 0 7 0 7

M ‑ Jeff Beitel 7 run (Ron Wright kick);
N ‑ Harry Nicer recovered fumble in end zone (Rick Phillips kick);
M ‑Bill Beitel 9 run (kick felt);
M – Darren Longshore 64 punt return (kick fail);
M ‑ Brant Offenbecher 3 run (Wright pass from J. Beitel).

First downs rushing 7 7
First downs passing 6 0
First downs penalties 0 1
Total first downs 13 8
Yards gained rushing 132 126
Yards lost rushing 17 30
Net yards gained rushing 115 96
Net yards gained passing 127 20
Total yards gained 242 116
Passes attempted 21 12
Passes completed 12 3
Passes intercepted by 2 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 10 0
Times kicked off 5 2
Kickoff average (yards) 48.6 47.5
Kickoff returns (yards) 22 89
Times punted 2 4
Punt average (yard) 31.5 33.7
Punt returns (yard) 111 11
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 1 3
Lost fumbled ball 1 2
Penalties 9 3
Yards penalized 61 15
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Touchdowns by interceptions 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 1 1
Total number of plays 54 52
Total time of possession 25:22 22:38

Massillon gambols pat Niles by 27-7

NILES ‑ Darren Longshore scored on a 62‑yard punt return and intercepted a pass that set up another touchdown Saturday in leading Massillon to a 27‑7 All‑American Conference football victory here Saturday night.

The win pushed the Tigers to 4‑0 overall and 2‑0 in the AAC. Niles’ record is just the opposite: site; 0‑4, 0‑2. The game was delayed more than 30 minutes because of lightning.

Longshore’s punt return broke open what had been a close game, giving the Tigers a 19‑7 edge midway through the final period.

On Niles next possession, Longshore picked off a Dean Clark pass and returned it 11 yards to the Niles 37. Eight plays later, quarterback Brent Offenbecher scored on a 3‑yard sneak.

Curtis Strawder
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1977: Massillon 34, Niles McKinley 7

Offenbecher passes, defense beat Niles

Independent Sports Editor

Tony Napolet couldn’t find the right words in English to describe his team’s 34-7 loss to Massillon Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“Buona Serra momentum, buona serra ball game.” Napolet said as he threw up his hands in the visitor’s lockeroom following the game.

Translation: good night momentum, good night ball game.

Program Cover

The Niles McKinley head coach couldn’t have picked a better phrase to describe a game that was closer than the score indicated – or rather COULD have been closer than the score indicated.

Tiger head coach Mike Currence put it this way:

“Neither team beat the other up, it was just a matter of breaks. And we got most of them.”

It was also a matter of junior quarterback Brent Offenbecher riddling the Niles’ defense for 12 completions in 18 attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

The 12 completions is a new post 1958 record, and his four game total of 40 out of 67 for 654 yards already ranks him third on the all-time (post-1958).

Getting back to Napolet, he referred to Niles’ pass interception by Dan Giangardella that was run back for a touchdown, but nullified by a clipping penalty, as the turning point in the ball game.

“We had the momentum when we scored the second touchdown (on the interception.” Napolet said. “We had in the momentum and they have to take it away.”

The play occurred with 5:34 to go in the third quarter with Massillon holding a comfortable 21-7 lead. Offenbecher dropped back to pass and was rushed hard.

He tried to loft the ball over the Niles’ defenders but Giangardella grabbed the ball at the Tigers 48 and rambled un untouched to the end zone. A clipping penalty against the Red Dragons called the play back, however, and Niles took over on the Massillon 45.

Two plays latter, Massillon’s Tony Matie recovered a Red Dragon fumble at his own 48, killing the Niles’ threat.

“With a couple more breaks, it could have gone the other way.” Currence said. “A couple more bad breaks. I think the penalties were there, they’ll see them on the films,” he added.

While Niles committed the most costly penalty of the game, the Tigers were whistled for a lot of infractions themselves. Fourteen for 77 yards to he exact.

“I couldn’t believe we were those mistakes,” Currence said. “I thought it was going to be like the Gahanna game, when they came back. They throw well and the way we were making mistakes the they could have got two (touchdowns) real quick.”

Currence noted that the Tigers defensive line – led by tackle Jerry Shafrath and nose guard Carl Dorsey – put good pressure on Niles’ quarterback Joe Soda all night.

“We were gambling against them,” Currence said. “We set our defense against their strength and they did the same to us.”

Napolet admitted his Red Dragons had a lot of breakdowns.

“We didn’t block well up front. Their nose man, Dorsey, is a good football player,” he said.

“We have a fine quarterback, but how can he throw the ball when he is running for his life?”

“Massillon has a good foot ball team, they’re tough to defense.” Napolet said.

And Offenbecher is fine quarterback. But I still say the turning point in this football game was when that touchdown was called back. God bless Currence, God bless Massillon, God bless everybody, but that was the turning point.”

The Tigers scored the first three touchdowns of the game, and added a safety, all in the second quarter.

With 1:29 to go in the first quarter, Tiger linebacker Steve Dottavio caught a fumble by Niles’ halfback Mike Sylvester in mid-air at the Red Dragon eight yard line and returned it to the five.

On the first play of the second quarter, Greg Carpenter crashed over from a yard out on a fourth and one play for the score. Mark Westover’s extra point kick was wide and Massillon led 6-0.

Niles took the ball and drove to a first down at their own 39 and on second and eight John Letcavits intercepted a Joe Soda pass at the Massillon 47.

Mike Grove gained three yards and Richard Cleveland rushed for a first down on a 14-yard trap play up the middle to the Niles 35.

Offenbecher then threw a beautiful pass down the right sideline to Mark Pringle who caught the ball as he stepped over the goal line. Pringle had his man beaten by two or three steps. Westover split the uprights this time and Massillon was out front 13-0.

Following a Soda punt, Offenbecher took the Tigers to the Niles’ five, hitting four straight passes Grove fumbled, however, and Niles recovered at the three.

However, Marc Longshore intercepted a Soda pass at the Niles’ 38 and ran it back to the three yard line with :26 left before the band show.

Offenbecher found Pringle open in the right corner of the end zone on the next play. Offenbecher was tackled attempting to pass for the extra points and the Tigers had a 19-0 lead.

Niles got the ball at their own 24 with 15 seconds left following the kickoff. Soda dropped back to pass and was chased all the way to his own end zone where here a host of Tigers led by Dorsey and Frank Sweterlitsch tackled him for a safety with three seconds left in the half. The Tigers took a 21 0 lead into the lockeroom at halftime.

Following the second-half kickoff. Soda punted on fourth down but Marc Longshore fumbled at his own 23 and it was recovered by Niles’ Jack Durig.

Five plays (one a penalty) later Soda hit Shawn Boyle in the end zone for the Red Dragons’ only score of the night – that counted. Carmen Butto booted the point after and Niles trailed 21-7.

Then came Giangardella’s interception and the ensuing clip which was followed shortly by Matie’s fumble recovery.

The Tigers then marched 52 yards with Offenbecher going the last one on a keeper for the touchdown. The big play in the drive was an Offenbecher pass to Curtis Strawder for 38 yards and a first down at the Niles 14. It was a big third and 11 play, and was also important because it was Offenbecher’s first pass after the interception He rolled left and hesitated slightly, but his throw was on the money.

The Tigers attempted to kick the point after, but the snap from center was high and Westover tried to pass to Letcavits but was unsuccessful.

Shafrath sacked Soda for a 16-yard loss on a third down play and Marc Longshore returned Soda’s fourth-down punt from his own 48 to the Niles 39.

The Tigers then took 13 plays, including six penalties, to march in for the final score.

Offenbecher went the last two yards himself for the score and Westover’s kick made it 34-7.

Included in the drive was a 42-yard touchdown pass from Grove to Strawder that was called back because Grove stepped across the line of scrimmage before he released the ball. It was a good pass nonetheless.

The Tigers also benefited from a roughing the kicker penalty, a 15-yard run Grove and a 14-yard pass from Offenbecher to Grove for a first down at the Niles’ four.

The Tigers intercepted four passes; with Marc Longshore getting his third of the season and Letcavits, Bill Dodd and Rod Caldwell (who wore number 36) each getting their first.

Pringle caught four passes for 55 yards and a pair of TDs (giving him three for the year), Strawder caught two for. 47 (and had a third catch nullified when the Tigers opted to take a penalty on the play), Carpenter caught two for 25 and Grove hauled in a pair for 25 yards.

Cleveland led all rushers with 46 yards in 10 carries. Grove added 25 in five rushes and Carpenter had 25 in 10 carries.

The Tigers will entertain Cleveland Benedictine Friday night at 8 p.m. at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Tickets are now on sale at the WHS ticket office, all Demmer Hardware stores and Hal’s Sport Shop.

The win was the Tigers third in a now. They are now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the All-American Conference (it was the AAC opener for both teams). Niles is now 2-2 (0-1).

First downs rushing 9 4
First downs passing 6 2
First downs penalties 1 1
Total first downs 16 7
Yards gained rushing 156 77
Yards lost rushing 16 86
Net yards gained rushing 140 9
Net yards gained passing 166 72
Total yards gained 306 63
Passes attempted 19 24
Passes completed 12 8
Passes intercepted by 4 2
Yardage on passes intercepted 36 0
Times kicked off 6 3
Kickoff average (yards) 50.7 50.0
Kickoff returns (yards) 80 106
Times punted 3 5
Punt average (yards) 38.0 47.0
Punt returns (yards) 45 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 2 5
Lost fumbled ball 2 2
Penalties 14 6
Yards penalized 77 67
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 2 1
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Total number of plays 56 52
Total time of possession 26:46 21:14

Niles 0 0 7 0 7
Massillon 0 21 6 7 34

M – Greg Carpenter 1 run (Rick fall);
M – Mark Pringle 35 pass from Brent Offenbecher (Mark Westover kick);
M – Pringle 3 pasa from Offenbecher (run fail);
M – safety;
N – Shawn Boyle 9 pass from Joe Soda (Carmen Butto kick);
M – Offenbecher 1 run (pass fail);
M – Offenbecher 2 run (Westover kick)

Attendance: 10,965.

Offenbecher makes up
for interception

Independent Sports Editor

“At first I thought ‘on, no,’ then I saw the flag and felt relief.”

That was how Tiger junior quarterback Brent Offenbecher said he felt after he saw his wobbly pass intercepted and run back for a touchdown by Niles’ Dan Giangardella in the third quarter.

FORTUNATELY for the Tigers, a clipping penalty brought the play back and Tony Matie recovered a Red Dragon fumble two plays later.

“It was just a bad pass,” Offenbecher said. “I got a lot of pressure and tried to throw it over their heads and it didn’t make it. We got a lucky break,” he added, referring to the clip.

“I knew when I went to the sidelines my dad (quarterback and receiver coach Bill Offenbecher) would yell at me.”

As it turned out, Brent more than made up for his mistake as he set a Tiger record of 12 completions in one game, hitting 12 of 18 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

That broke the mark of 11 completions he set two weeks ago against Gahanna Lincoln.

IT ALSO moves him into fourth place on the all-time completions list for a season, with six games left to play.

How does be take his record‑breaking success?

“My dad told me about it first, but I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. Then I read it in the paper,” Brent explained.

“Massillon has just never been known for its passing. Then coach Currence brought it in,” is how he passed off his records.

“I also have super receivers (Mark Pringle, Curtis Strawder, Bobby Grizzard, Mike Grove and Eric Clendening).”

Brent said he missed having Pringle to throw to in the first two games. “We missed him a lot, He’s a big, fast target – he’s just super.”

Tim Daniels
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1976: Massillon 13, Niles McKinley 8

Tiger hopes hinge on game at Niles

Independent Sports Editor

If the Tigers don’t win this week it could be all over in 1976.

That was the word head Coach Mike Currence had for the Tiger Touchdown Club at its weekly luncheon Monday at the Massillon Club.

AFTER Currence had finished it was announced that senior monster back and Co-Captain Anthony Grizzard had been selected by club members as their Hardnose of the Week. At the end of the season the player with the most votes becomes the Hardnose of the Year.

Program Cover

“If we lose Saturday night at Niles we’ll be out of things as far as the computer is concerned and maybe in the All-American Conference race,” Currence said. “If we lose we won’t have a chance of someone else knocking off Niles.

Currence asked for more noise from the fans at Niles to which President Gene Boerner replied, “We’ll make all the noise we can. You’ll hear Massillon fans yelling louder than the hometown fans.”

But club members agreed they didn’t need noise such as came from the student section last Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium when Brown was speaking at half time. One member suggested that a delay in the start of half time festivities had gotten the students restless.

“Nobody has run up the middle on Niles,” Currence said, but that doesn’t bother us because our offense is designed to attack the perimeters.”

CURRENCE is not sure what the problem is with the quarterbacks. He does know they are not getting the pass protection they should be getting. He asked members not to evaluate Bret Traylor’s performance to date for that reason, explaining Bret hasn’t been that far off in practice.

Members suggested various ways to cut down on fumbles such as having players tape thumbtacks to their fingers or wear rubber thumb grips or just toss the ball into the water bucket during practice. The first two suggestions are illegal and the third is out because you can’t get a true grip on a wet ball, according to Currence.

Massillon is
13-8 victor over Niles

Repository Sports Writer

NILES – Massillon’s heralded “run and shoot” offense finally gunned down a noteworthy foe Saturday night, dropping the state’s sixth-ranked Niles McKinley Red Dragons 13-8 before 13,000 noisy onlookers at Riverside Stadium.

Tigers’ Coach Mike Currence will have an awful lot of “player of the week” awards to hand out Monday as Massillon came up with the big play both offensively and defensively.

Niles, trailing 13-0 going into the final period, forced three Tiger turnovers in the final 12 minutes to make it a ball game.

The loss was the first in four games for Niles and Massillon evened its record at 2-2 in winning its second in a row. The game was a mutual opener in the All-American Conference.

Red Dragons quarterback Curtis Rein threw a 28-yard pass to end Mike Pizzano to get his club on the board with 8:56 left in the game.

Rein then snaked around left end for the two-point conversion that put Niles back in the contest.

Pizzano intercepted a Bret Traylor aerial at the 5:50 mark and teammate Joe Connel ran 30 yards with 1:46 remaining to give the Red Dragons two good chances at pulling off a comeback win.

But the Tigers’ defense held on both occasions, stopped Niles at the 26 and 24 yard lines in the final half of the last period.

Paced by Richard Cleveland’s 122 yards in 17 carries, Massillon held a 257-54 rushing advantage.

Niles was led by Phil Chelsea who ran 8 times for 23 yards, despite being hampered by an ankle injury. He was injured when he slammed his right foot in a car door 40 minutes before the game.

The Tigers totaled 11 first downs to 10 for Niles and the Red Dragons had an edge in passing, completing 12 of 21 for 141 yards. Massillon hit on one of three for 13 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers were forced to punt on their first possession of the second stanza.

Niles Ken Wiencek fielded the ball at the Red Dragons’ 10-yard line, was smacked to the ground by a Tiger tackler and coughed up the ball.

Massillon’s John Letcavits scooped up the ball at the four and sailed into the end zone with 7:11 left in the half. Mike Hardwick’s conversion made it 7-0. Niles punted after the ensuing kickoff and the Tigers took over on their own 16.

Then the Massillon offense moved down the field like a runaway steamroller, 84 yards in 10 plays, with Bret Traylor completing his only pass of the night, a 13-yard TD toss to Rick Chovan just 1:05 before the band show.

Currence called the win “a great team victory”. “No other team in the state could have come into Niles and beaten the type of team Coach Tony Napolet has here.

“But the community of Massillon backed us all the way,” Currence said.

The Tiger fans unleashed a roar upon the Tigers’ initial appearance on the field and didn’t let up until the final whistle, as there were several thousand from Massillon who made the pilgrimage here.

On the Tigers performance, Currence said, “We just made less mistakes tonight. We moved the ball against everyone we played but mistakes have been hurting us until tonight. If Bret (Traylor) ever comes around to being the type of quarterback we think he is capable of being, we’ll win some more ball games,” Currence said.

Tiger – Niles lineups

ENDS – Sam George (5-11, 165, Sr.); Rick Chovan (5-11, 171, Sr.).
TACKLES – Tim Tournay (6-2, 270, Sr.); Tim Daniels (6-7, 230, Jr).
GUARDS – John Hauser (5-11, 211, Sr.); Mark Lauber (6-1, 212, Sr.).
CENTER – Mike Ramsey (5-8, 180, Sr.).
QUARTERBACK – Bret Traylor (5-10, 159, Sr.).
HALFBACKS – Jay Harper (5-5, 160, Sr.). Greg Carpenter (6-1, 188, Jr.).
FULLBACK — Rich Cleveland (6-1, 180, Soph.).
ENDS – Frank Sweterlitsch (6-1, 180, Jr.); Dave Engler (5-9, 180, Jr.).
TACKLES – Randy Laase (6-5, 211, Sr.); Jesse Toles (6-0, 190, Sr.).
MIDDLE GUARD – Carl Dorsey (5-9, 185, Jr.).
LINEBACKERS – Kurt Walterhouse (6-0, 170, Jr.); Gary Border (6-0, 203, Sr.).
SECONDARY – Anthony Grizzard (5-9, 168, Sr.); Randy Lash (5-8, 165, Sr.); Bill Henderson (5-9, 160, Sr.); Van Jones (5-11, 155, Sr.).

ENDS – Mile Woodford (5-9, 160, Sr.); Duane Thomas (6-0, 175, Sr.).
TACKLES – John Slwinski (5-11, 185, Sr.); Mark Joseph (5-11, 197, Sr.).
GUARDS – Tom Golder (5-9, 170, Sr.); John Blakely (5-9, 180, Sr.).
CENTER – Brian Williams (5-10, 185, Sr.).
QUARTERBACK – Curtis Rein (6-0, 180, Sr.).
HALFBACKS – Phil Chelsea (5-9, 158, Sr.); John Virostko (6-0, 170, Sr.).
FULLBACK – Geoff Tabor (6-1, 205, Sr.).
ENDS – Joe Bezilla (5-10, 175, Sr.); Ray Rashilla (5-10, 180, Sr.).
TACKLES – Joe Connell (6-0, 250, Jr.); Bob Tenney (6-0, 225, Sr.).
MIDDLE GUARD – Marty Chance (5-8, 185, Sr.).
LINEBACKERS – Tabor; Sam Giangardella (6-1, 210, Sr.).
SECONDARY – Ken Masciangelo (5-9, 165, Jr.); Ken Weincek (5-9, 160, Sr.); Mike Pizzano (5-8, 160, Jr.); Virostko.

– offense (line 206, backfield 171, overall 193);
– defense (line 188, secondary 161, overall 179).
– offense (line 179, backfield 178, overall 179);
– defense (line 204, secondary 165, overall 190).

Tigers – 12-4.

Points Scored
Tigers 330;
Niles 133.

Points scored this year
Tigers 16;
Niles 56.

Points allowed this year:
Tigers 22;
Niles 6.

All-American Conference rules prohibit releasing
Officials’ names to the public before game time.

Currence warns:
beware Bennies

Independent Sports Editor

There’s one trouble with upset victories such as the Tigers’ effort at Niles last Saturday night. If a team savors the win too much, it might not taste victory the next time out.

“Cleveland Benedictine is tough,” said Tiger Skipper Mike Currence. “They won 48-0 over Painseville Harvey Friday. We must work hard to prepare for the Bennies. We made too many offensive mistakes at Niles. We’re lucky our defense did the job or we would have been beaten.

AUGIE BOSSU’S team (3-1) will face the 2-2 Tigers, who won their second consecutive game last Saturday night, at 8 p.m. Friday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Saturday’s 13-8 All-American Conference victory over Niles McKinley put Washington High into a tie with Steubenville and Alliance for first place. Niles dropped into a deadlock with Canton McKinley and Warren for fourth.

After the Orange and Black had scored twice in the second quarter to stun the Niles fans and elate the Tiger faithful in the sellout house of 13,000 at Riverside Stadium, the “Tiger Claw Defense” continued t6o throw a mighty roadblock – with one exception – in the way of the Red Dragons. Niles played some mighty fine iron curtain ball themselves, led by linebackers Sam Giangardella and Geoff Tabor and minus four defensive starters, injured in the first half.

The Tigers’ great defensive effort started after Tabor had picked up a John Traylor fumble in the first quarter. Linebacker Kurt Walterhouse threw quarterback Curtis Rein for an eight-yard loss to the Massillon 26.

Several Obiemen halted Rein at the Tigers’ 12-yard line on fourth down in the second stanza after Niles had taken control on the Tigers’ 35 when Mark Westover’s punt from the end zone was partially blocked.

Co-Captain and monster back Anthony Grizzard intercepted a pass at the Massillon 45 to halt the Red Dragon’s furthest advance in the third quarter.

Grizzard, used for the first time on runback teams, carried the pigskin 50 yards after a punt to the Niles 24 in the goodbye canto only to have Traylor and Rich Cleveland misfire on a handoff at the 18. Giangardella recovered at the 24 to set up Niles’ only touchdown drive.

TAILBACK PHIL Chelsea, after battling the flu during the week, tossed a pass to halfback Mike Pizzano for 11 yards, dashed for 13 and then the Dragons got the benefit of a disputed 15-yard late-hit penalty, for a first down on the Tigers’ 38. Two plays later Pizzano took Rein’s pass at the one and stepped in for the score with 8:56 left.

Rein ran the end for the conversion and the fans had visions of another Niles comeback win such as occurred in 1966, 1974 and almost occurred in 1975.

Pizzano intercepted a Traylor pass on the Massillon 41 in the fourth quarter, ran to the 30, but the Dragons were guilty of clipping. Eight plays later end Dwayne Thomas was hauled down short of a first down on the Massillon 26.

On second down from the 34, assistant Coach Nick Vrotsos called a change in blocking assignments which enabled fullback Rich Cleveland, who carried for 100 yards plus for a third straight game, to roll for 56 yards to the Niles 10. But Traylor, while trying to consume time with a keeper run, fumbled. Tackle Joe Connell recovered and rambled to the 40 where Traylor knocked him out of bounds.

The Dragons took to the air, getting to the Massillon 31, thanks to a 15-yard Rein to end Bill Ifft pass. But middle guard Carl Dorsey sacked Rein and linebacker Kurt Walterhouse busted up two passes to end things.

THE MASSILLON offense out-performed the Niles version, 256 net yards to 54. Cleveland carried 18 times, netting 118 yards. Traylor lugged the swinehide 17 times, netting 61 yards, picking up important yardage several times.

He threw only three passes, but one was a 12-yarder to end Rick Chovan, who just eluded his defender in the end zone in the second quarter. Mike Hardwick was wide left on his conversion kick with the clock showing 1:05 left.

Jay Harper, Cleveland and Traylor had set the score up with 14, 26 and 12-yard runs.

The Tigers’ first touchdown came with 7:11 left in the same period. Ken Wiencek tried to field a Westover punt at the 12, but was hit an awful whack by Van Jones, the ball popped loose; John Letcavits scooped it up at the three and scored. Hardwick kicked the conversion.

Wiencek was lost for the remainder of the game with a concussion.

IN HIS post game comments Currence was happy with the Tigers’ perimeter attack but unhappy that they couldn’t run up the middle as they did before, that the fumbles continued and unhappy that the pressure on the opposing quarterback wasn’t greater.

“They were tough up the middle,” Currence said. “We kept trying and trying and finally Cleveland broke the big one up the middle. We’ve got to get some sticky glue for our fingers and we must not drop so many people back on passes.”

“Our defense had the composure our offense didn’t have. When its fourth and one you have to have it and if you don’t have it, you don’t have a great ball club.”

Currence was overwhelmed by the fan backing.

“I’ve never gone to an away game and had the kind of support we had,” said Currence. “The booster club outdid itself. I expect the same treatment every game.”

First downs rushing 11 4
First downs passing 1 7
First downs penalties 1 0
Total first downs 13 11
Yards gained rushing 285 82
Yards lost rushing 29 28
Net yards gained rushing 256 54
Net yards gained passing 12 98
Total yards gained 268 152
Passes completed 1-3 14-23
Passes intercepted by 1 1
Yards on passes Intercepted 0 4
Kickoff 3-42 2-58
Kickoff returns 42 35
Punts 4-32 4-44
Punt returns 50 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 3-3 5-2
Yards penalized 4-50 3-45
Touchdowns passing 1 1
Misc. touchdowns 1 0
Total number of plays 55 57
Total time of possession 26:41 21:19

John Hauser
Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1975: Massillon 3, Niles McKinley 0

Tiger field goal beats Red Dragons
Defense, fumble key to AAC win


Niles McKinley had the ball on Massillon’s six-yard line. It was fourth down and three yards to go for a first down, with 2:04 left in the game.

Massillon was ahead 3-0, a score that would have been unbelievable except for the somewhat bizarre results of the first three games of the Tigers’ 1975 season.

THERE WAS certainly noise in Tiger stadium at that moment, though it seemed as quiet as a museum at midnight.

Program Cover

Niles called time out to decide what to do. The Dragons started to lineup for the play and the Tigers called time out.

The young athletes finally lined up to attack and defend. The ball was snapped, but not on cue. When the pile in the center of the line cleared away, Massillon’s Dan Nagle had the ball.

And the Tigers won their first All-American Conference game of the season 3-0. The winning margin was a 27-yard field goal by Keith Harmon in the second quarter.

“What can a guy say?” Niles Coach Tony Napolet asked rhetorically after the game.

IT’S TOUGH to get beat 3-0, real tough. We’re proud of our kids…A break here and a break there and the outcome would have been different,” he said.

The fumble, which seemed an anticlimactic way for the Niles’ drive to be halted, was a break for the Tigers and a welcome one. After the loss to Upper Arlington last Friday night, many of the comments in the coaches’ locker room centered around the idea that if the Tigers’ didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any. The fumble may have saved the game, but the Tiger coaches’ feel Niles would have been stopped short of the first down.

“We didn’t hit like last week,” (against Arlington), Tiger Coach Chuck Shuff said, “But when it counted we did the job.”

Why the fumble? Napolet said he was told by the Niles center that a Massillon defensive lineman yelled “HIT” and the center snapped the ball – just a bit too early. “HIT” was one of Niles’ signals and on that particular play it signaled the snap.

The play, Napolet said, would have been an option with quarterback Don Burlingham either keeping or pitching back to Phil Chelsea, a super tailback who gained 118 yards in the contest.

THE TIGER coaching staff was told the fumble resulted when a Tiger yelled “motion” to alert his defensive comrades that Niles’ fullback Chuck Gillespie had started to move and the center snapped the ball.

Harmon’s 27-yard field goal was kicked with 11:55 left in the second period. The Tigers started the drive on their own 23. One of the biggest plays of the drive came on a
third-and-10 at Massillon’s 47, when quarterback Todd Keller dropped back to pass.

Several Niles defenders slipped through the pass protection and as Keller scrambled for his life he threw a perfect strike to Keith Harmon who ran to the Niles’ 27 before being tackled.

Bill Harmon, who gained 79 yards in the game, ran the ball five times, getting just inside the five-yard line and putting the Tigers in a fourth-and-two situation as the first quarter ended.

An illegal procedure penalty put Massillon back on the nine and Keith Harmon came in and kicked the field goal, a perfect shot through the center of the uprights.

RED DRAGON Tailback Phil Russo ran the ensuing kickoff out to the Niles 42 and Chelsea ran six consecutive times, getting all the way to the Tiger 13. The defense stiffened and passes on third and fourth down for Niles fell incomplete.

With both defensive units giving outstanding performances, only two scoring threats were managed from that point on – the Dragon drive that went from the Niles 36-yard line and ended with the fumble and one by the Tigers in the third period.

The Tigers third-quarter drive was aided by a roughing-the-kicker penalty, which put the ball on Niles’ 45 and a 33-yard pass from Keller to Jay Harper on the next play. The drive was halted after a holding penalty was called on the Tigers and a 37-yard field goal attempt by Keith Harmon was a few feet wide.

Shuff was pleased with the performance of his team, especially in the improvement of the passing attack and the defensive secondary. Keller completed three of eight passes, all for long yardage and a couple of his aerials slipped away from the receivers. Keller was intercepted once.

The defensive secondary, which has been the subject of criticism in the past, played an outstanding game by shutting down the usually potent passing attack of Niles and making some bruising tackles.

THE DRAGONS completed three of 10 attempts and Don Stewart picked off a Burlingham pass in the first period.

Niles is now 3-1 and Massillon, after two weeks of frustration, is 2-1-1.

Looking to next week’s game against Cleveland Benedictine, Shuff said, “There’s no let-up. They were young last year, but have matured and are a very good football team.”

The Bennies were 2-1 before this weekend’s action.

Massillon 0 3 0 0 3
Niles 0 0 0 0 0

Ends – Arnrer, Conley, Chovan, Matie, Laase.
Tackles – Mark Lauber, Genet, Drobney, Easter, Mike Lauber, Tourney.
Guards – Brand, Schumacher, Chrsitoff, King, Hauser.
Centers – Nagle, Mitcheal.
Quarterback – Keller.
Running backs – Stewart, Warthen, Henderson, Jones, Harper, B. Harmon, A. Grizzard, Ellis, Parson, K. Harmon, Dorsey, T. Grizzard.

Ends – Salerno, Baiduc, M. Giangardella, DiEugenia, Bower, Bezilla, Blair, McClosky, Gatta, Ifft, Braun.
Tackles – Skiffey, Blair, Tenney, Crawford.
Guards – Blakely, Miller, Zubyk, Chance.
Centers – Vulanich, S. Giangardella.
Quarterbacks – Burlingham, Rein.
Running backs – Chelsea, Gillespie, Russo, Tabor, Weince.

ATTENDANCE – 12,314.

Referee – Steve Nagy.
Head Linesman – Tom Coleman.
Back Judge – Wade Lessig.
Umpire – Jim Keffer.
Field Judge – Fred Vicarel.

First downs-rushing 7 12
First downs-passing 3 1
First downs-penalties 1 0
Total first downs 11 13
Yards gained rushing 140 170
Yards lost rushing 21 6
Net yards gained rushing 119 164
Net yards gained passing 94 28
Total yards gained 213 192
Passes attempted 8 10
Passes completed 3 3
Passes intercepted by 1 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 20 0
Times kicked off 2 1
Kickoff average (yards) 50.5 55.0
Kickoff returns 9yards) 17 62
Times punted 3 4
Punt average (yards) 37.0 42.0
Punt returns (yards) 9 3
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 0 1
Lost fumbled ball 0 1
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 50 30
Touchdowns rushing 0 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Total number of plays 50 58
Total time of possession 24:08 23:52

Bill Harmon