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Family Dentistry in Massillon - J. Douglas Paulus D.D.S. 330-833-CARE(2273)

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 Monday, September 23, 2002 

Booster Club Report – Week 5

by Tiger Don  9/23/02

With last week’s 24-14 victory over Austintown Fitch, the Tigers finish the first third of the season with a record of 4-1. Through the five games Massillon has outscored the opposition by an average of 45-11. For comparison, last year’s record was the same and the point differential was 47-16.

Coach Rick Shepas addressed the club members for a while on the philosophies of character and attitude and then showed the film of the Fitch game. “I thought our kids did a decent job,” he said. “But we were a little sloppy. I think we were a little flat.” But he also believed that the Falcons were a decent team, one that will win a few more game before the season is over.

The offensive skill player of the game was Terrence Roddy for rushing 140 in 11 carries, an average of 12.7 yards per tote. He also scored a touchdown. The offensive lineman of the game was Vince Volpe, who graded out at 87% and really showed his versatility in the game film.

The defensive players of the game were Markeys Scott, who had ten first-hit tackles, and Keith Wade, who graded out at 90%. The special team award went to the entire punt team, particularly for the blocked punt that put the Tigers in position to seal the contest.

Shepas intends to shake up the lineup a little this week for a couple reasons. First, he wants to create some competition among the players so they don’t get complacent in their positions. He emphasized that they need to push themselves on the practice field in order to get rid of sloppy performances and penalties. Second, he is working toward having the best players on the field at all times as we get to the latter parts of the season, which necessitates settling on the right 2-way performers.

The coach likes the play of the defense. It lets the offense work on a short field. At the same time, he emphasized that the offense needs to increase its intensity, citing numerous examples of lax play on the game film. Nevertheless, he did single out the play of quarterback Matt Martin, who called the majority of the plays against Fitch. “He’s doing a great job,” he said.

This Friday Massillon will return home to face Mansfield Senior, currently sporting a 4-1 record. Their lone loss was to Austintown Fitch, 37-14, one in which Fitch returned several kicks for scores or near scores. Just as in previous years, they sport good athleticism, size and speed. Last year the Tygers finished 8-2, with losses to Massillon (17-14) and Marion Harding (12-6). But they did qualify for the playoffs, where they lost to North Canton, 38-7.

“We want to come out after a good week of practice and play a hard game of football,” noted Shepas. “We do that and we’ll be OK. I would like to just go after this team. Chop a tree down. Just whack them.”


A tailgate rally will be held in Stadium Park prior to the Mansfield game beginning at 7:15. There will be food and music by the Tiger Swing Band.

The bus to Warren will cost $20.00. Tickets can be purchased at the WHS ticket office.

The Booster Club will be conducting a house raffle again this year. Four thousand tickets will be available with the drawing held during the last week of November. The early bird drawing is scheduled for the second week of October.

Club members have an opportunity to win raffle prizes at the meeting donated by SportsStuf, Express Lube, Howard’s Tiger Rags, and Home Appliance.

Wilbur Arnold addressed the audience on the topic of the PETA annoyance. “We find the tigers from a good reputable source,” he said. “We take care of it. We can’t solve the world’s problems with respect to how tigers are handled. But we use ours as a symbol and a teaching aid. And we keep it for just a few months.”

 Sunday, September 22, 2002 

Week Five Top Ten

by Tiger Don  9/22/02

The biggest move belonged to Cincinnati Elder, a 45-35 winner over Cleveland St. Ignatius. Also, Cincinnati St. Xavier and Findlay move into the Top Ten for the first time this year.

1. Warren (5-0) (1) - The Raiders rolled all over Toledo Whitmer (2-3), 71-0. So devastating was it that the clock was not stopped in the second half. Up to now Warren has outscored its opponents 229-29. The test will be better this week when they hook up with Youngstown Ursuline (3-2) at YSU’s Stambaugh stadium.

2. Cincinnati Elder (4-1) (7) - The Panthers traveled to Cleveland and beat St. Ignatius (3-1), 45-35, in a surprisingly easy way. They even led at halftime, 35-14. Elder is undefeated in Ohio, with a loss coming on the road to nationally-ranked Louisville, Kentucky Trinity. This week is a big one for Elder as they host Number 8 Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-1), a game which may decide the Queen City’s Greater Catholic League.

3. Cleveland St. Ignatius (3-2) (2) - The Wildcats ran into a well-balanced offensive attack and lost to Cincinnati Elder (4-1), 45-35. But they remain high in the poll on the strength of their victory over Massillon. This week then can rest since they have a home date with Fremont Ross (0-5), a team Massillon beat 76-6.

4. Lakewood St. Edward (5-0) (3) - The Eagles trounced Toronto De La Salle, 63-0, to remain unbeaten. It should be a decent matchup this week at home against Walsh Jesuit (4-1). The Warriors lone loss was to Solon, 35-21.

5. Solon (5-0) (5) - As expected, the Comets blew out Stow (1-4), 50-7. The next “Sisters of the Poor” foe is Division II Kenston (4-1).

6. Massillon (4-1) (6) - The Tigers needed a win badly after losing a 21-3 lead to Cleveland St. Ignatius and they took out their frustrations on Austintown Fitch (3-2), 24-14. Terrence Roddy rushed for 140 yards in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Massillon returns home this week to face Mansfield (4-1), a previous 37-14 loser to Fitch.

7. Dublin Coffman (5-0) (9) - The Shamrocks rested up for the grueling conference schedule with a 41-7 win over newcomer Grove City Central Crossing (0-5). Coffman averages 35 points a game, but they also give up 19.

8. Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-1) (unranked) - Last year’s state runnerup makes its first appearance in the Top Ten following a 35-21 win over Cincinnati Moeller (3-2). Moeller’s not quite back yet, and St. X is not necessarily a top performer either, owning a previous 21-0 loss to Columbus DeSales, a game in which they gained just 100 yards. But they are good enough to hold down the 8th position. Nevertheless, if they want to stay there they must first get by Cincinnati Elder (4-1).

9. Cincinnati Colerain (4-1) (10) - The Cardinals handed Lakota East (3-2) their worst loss of the season, 31-6. Next up is Hamilton (0-5).

10. Findlay (4-1) (unranked) - The Trojans crack the Top Ten for the first time following a 42-13 win over Worthington Kilbourne (2-3). Boasting of a fine passing attack they average 38 points a game and victories over Upper Arlington (25-15), Toledo St. John’s (30-7), and Fremont Ross (56-0). The loss was to Dublin Coffman, 42-26. This week Findlay plays Toledo Whitmer (2-3) in a league game.

Dropping out was Boardman and Dublin Scioto.

Other teams in the hunt include Gahanna Lincoln (5-0), Brunswick (5-0), Xenia (4-1), Dublin Scioto (5-0), Springfield South (4-1), and Boardman (4-1).

Here are the big games for this week:

Massillon vs. Mansfield
Warren vs. Youngstown Ursuline
Dublin Scioto vs. Columbus Westland
Dublin Coffman vs. Hilliard Darby
Cincinnati Elder vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
Lakewood St. Edward vs. Walsh Jesuit

 Saturday, September 21, 2002 

Tigers “Hatch” plan against Falcons.

by Zoner  9/21/02

The Black Swarm came to the rescue in the second half as the offensive attack stumbled through a mistake filled first half.


I never in my life thought I’d go to a game at Fitch, and stay dry while it rained cats and dogs in Tigertown.
It was a strange feeling night all the way around. Very quiet and laid back on both sides of the stadium. Only after talking to several people did I find out why there seemed to be so few Tiger fans in attendance. Apparently there was a huge crash on Rt. 76 near Gilchrist. A few buss loads missed the first 6 or 8 minutes of the game.

It was a bit surprising to see the small amount of folks on the home side. With Fitch coming in with a 3-1 record this author expected to see a large contingent of Falcon fans on their side, but this was not the case. There were quite a few empty seats on the far side of the field. Maybe it was the severe thunderstorm warnings flying around.

Speaking of Fitch Stadium. Granted its not going to hold 15,000 people, but it is still a nice venue. Very clean and well maintained. The sound system is really good too. Is this new this year? I can’t recall. The field to my surprise looked recently cut and it pretty good shape considering the harsh summer on grass.
This goes for the entire complex. The school and surrounding sports fields all looked very nice.
Props to the Austintown Fitch schools for a very nice facility!

One thing did bother me on this trip and I’ve been meaning to ask about this for quite a while. Is there a protocol as to which song gets played first? I find it to be a bit disrespectful to play the schools Alma Mater BEFORE the National Anthem. I know other schools do this. McKinley to mention one.
I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I just think the Anthem should come first. Again, are there any set rules?



The Tigers looked to be ready to rock and roll from the moment they got the ball. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Although the opening drive looked good through the first few plays, mistakes and penalties reared their ugly head and seemed to last the whole first half.

It was good to see the Offense get it together the second half and put some points up on the board.
This is where I get a little hazy. I’m sure Tiger Don would agree with this too. Those white jerseys suck!
With the orange numerals on them they are near impossible to read.
Terrance Roddy (11-140 1TD) had a great game picking up for the hobbled Ricky Johnson (16-91 2TDs)
The best part of Ricky’s game though was his blocking. On several plays he threw the key block to spring Roddy. This just shows the unselfishness he plays with, and 91 yards on a sore wheel isn’t to shabby.

The offensive line really deserves alot of credit here. Fitch stacked the line with 7 and 8 defenders and dared the Tigers to beat them with the pass. Woody Hayes would have been proud. 3 and 4 yards a crack helped to wear down the Falcons front line allowing for Johnson and Roddy to break a big run every now and again.


A total effort is what we needed, and that’s just what we got. The defense was able to keep the score close through the problem filled first half and allow the “O” to regroup and make adjustments.
Fitch DID move the ball in the first session, but our boys kept them out of the end zone on all but one occasion with that drive starting on our 26.

The second half is where the unit really turned it up. We seemed to go to a more of a read type defense because the Falcons were using our aggressiveness against us to some success with an inside option play.
The line looked to hold at the line rather than go with reckless abandon into the backfield, and this was the ticket in stopping those plays


Max Shafer did an excellent job punting the ball for the Tigers last night. He averaged 38 yards a kick but the placement and timing of his longer kicks is what was crucial.
He had to kick against a very stiff wind in the third quarter and twice hit very long punts with good rolls.
Also to his credit was a very fine “placement punt” in the forth quarter. From about the Fitch 40 he aimed for the sidelines and put it out of bounds on the six. Great job by Max!


Tiger Offense: Easy pick here, Terrance Roddy with 140 yards on just 11 carries makes it that way.
Honorable mention: entire offensive line
Tiger Defense: Brandon Fogle - I have him with 7 tackles and a fumble recovery. Great night for the Jr.

Fitch Player of the Game: QB Jason Aikens 20 carries for 66 yards, and a heck of an athlete.

Markeys Scott - his hit on kick-off coverage was a blast you could feel as well as hear.


Anytime you can go into Austintown and come out on top it’s a good night, no matter how you did it. As all loyal Tiger fans know it’s a just plain hard place to play. The defense held on while the offense got rolling and we got out of there with some much needed computer help.
Fitch is a well coached team with some good athletes.
Props to the Falcon staff and players!
No noticeable injuries to For the Tigers either. That’s always good news!
By the way...The Tiger Swing Band again kicked some serious a$$!

Time to get down to business with the Tygers from Mansfield invading PBTS next week
I’m sure The Agent will want to see the Tigers run it up a little against his favorite coach.
I’ll see YOU in the Zone!

Defense Rises Up to Stop Fitch

by Tiger Don  9/21/02

#32 Ricky Johnson scores on a TD run.The offense wasn’t getting the job done on the scoreboard in the first half, so the defense took over the game and spurred the Tigers to a 24-14 victory over Austintown Fitch. It was a timely victory over a tough opponent, one that is much improved from the last few years. Unfortunately, it was the last game in a series dating back to 1985 with the Falcons entering the Federal League in 2003. Massillon wound up winning the final ten games to finish the series with 15 wins against just three defeats.

Coming off a home loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius the Tigers were down and needed something good to go their way on what was a difficult road trip. It came in the form of an outstanding defensive effort. Nursing a slim 10-7 lead going into the third quarter, the eleven guys on that side of the ball made up their minds that Fitch would move the down the field no more. They would shut down the vaunted Falcon option attack, one that had overwhelmed Jackson 28-7 just a couple weeks prior. And the stats showed they meant business. On six straight second half possessions, Austintown failed to move the ball against the Tiger wall and was forced to punt. Only once did they even manage to get a first down. And along the way the Tigers blocked punt and recovered it deep in Fitch territory to set up the touchdown that put the game away. By the end of the game the Falcons had gained just 74 yards on the ground and completed a few meaningless pass in the final minute of play.

The contest started off in good fashion when Ricky Johnson broke loose for a 44-yard gain, moving the ball to the Fitch 33. But a fumbled shotgun snap was picked up by a Falcon lineman and carried to the Massillon 41. Tack on the first of many penalties this night and Austintown was in business at the 26. Eventually they would score from one yard out on a fourth down play to take an early 7-0 lead.

The On their next possession the Tigers moved the ball down to the Falcon 22, but an apparent converted fourth down play was negated by a penalty and Massillon was forced to punt. Then came Fitch’s first mistake of the night. They couldn’t move the ball and they were prepared to return the punt, but the snap sailed over the punter’s head and into the end zone, from where the punter simply kicked it over the back line to prevent a touchdown. The safety changed the score to 7-2.

Following a kick return to the Austintown 45, Massillon drove the ball in for a touchdown, keyed by a 21-yard gallop by the speedy Johnson. He also scored the TD off left tackle from three yards out to give the Tigers an 8-7 lead. Now, for a little change of pace, Coach Rick Shepas inserted Steve Hymes in place of quarterback Matt Martin, who executed a perfect naked boot around the left side for a 2-point conversion. It gave then a lead that would not be relinquished.

Each team would have just one more possession in the second quarter. Fitch fumbled theirs away at the Massillon 32 and the Tigers’ ended theirs on a missed 31-yard field goal. So, with limited times with the ball on both sides, the halftime score was just 10-7, but the Tigers were on top.

Fitch’s offense was designed around the elusive quarterback Jason Aikens, who had the first touch on the quarterback option play. Traditionally, the option pushes the ball to the perimeter, but Austintown preferred to run between the tackles. They did achieve decent success in the first half, but the scheme was completely negated in the second half.

That's Tiger-D Attitude!.The Fitch defense was geared to stop the run with their 4-4 alignment. And it worked fairly well, holding Johnson and Terrance Roddy in check enough to keep the score respectable. With the passing game having very limited success and Shepas appearing more comfortable staying on the ground, the formula was right for a low-scoring affair. This in spite of the Tigers putting up nearly 400 yards of offense.

In the third quarter Massillon would compete a 70-yard drive for a touchdown to take a 17-7 lead. The tally was by Roddy who beat the defense around the right side for a 5-yard score. On the previous play he had put the Tigers in position for the points on a nifty 62-yard jaunt along the right sideline to go along with his game-high 140 rushing yards. With a 17-7 lead and the defense dominating, the game was in control.

The final Massillon score came on a 3-yard plunge by Johnson that upped the margin to 24-7. It was the shortest drive of the night and came after the Tigers had blocked a Fitch punt deep in their own territory

Austintown score the last points of the night on a 33-yard drive with 28 seconds left in the game, making the final 24-14. It came after the Tigers mishandled a punt snap and had to fall on the ball.

With the win Massillon’s record improves to 4-1 as they await a visit by Mansfield next week. Fitch falls to 3-2.


Opponent____ 7___0___0___7___ 14

First Downs_________16______10
Yards Rushing______245______74
Yards Passing________91_____60
Total Yards_________336____134

Massillon Scoring

Safety, ball snapped over punter’s head
Johnson 3 run (S. Hymes run for 2 points)
Roddy 5 run (kick)
Johnson 3 run (kick)

Individual Statistics
Rushing: Roddy 11-140, 1 TD; Johnson 16-91, 1 2 TDs;
Passing: Martin 9-16-91-0, 0 TD
Receiving: Helscel 5-46

Photos by Obievision

 Wednesday, September 18, 2002 

Playoff Field Begins to Thin Out

by Tiger Don  9/18/02

With four weeks gone in the season there remain just four unbeatens from among the 30 teams in Region 3. They include Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto, Gahanna Lincoln, and Pickerington, all Columbus-areas teams and all members of the Ohio Capital Conference. Eight, including Massillon, have just a single loss.

Here’s a look at the entire region and my guess as to who will be there at the end.

The Federal League - This the toughest league to call with three Division 1 teams each having a shot to capture the league title and assure itself of a spot in the playoffs. Using my crystal ball here’s the call:

1. Perry (5-1), lost to North Canton
2. North Canton (5-1), lose to Lake
3. Lake (5-1), lose to Perry
4. Jackson (3-3)
5. Wooster (2-4)
6. GlenOak (1-5)
7. Alliance (0-6

Expect both North Canton and Jackson to lose to Boardman.

Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division - With one game to go prior to league play Upper Arlington and Dublin Scioto appear to be strength of the conference, with Columbus Westland as a dark horse. The big game will be in Week 2 when UA and Scioto meet. I’ll go with the Scioto, the home team, which looks better on paper anyway.

Ohio Capital Conference Central Division - These guys also play a 5-game league schedule. Grove City and Worthington Kilbourne look to be on top with the rest providing cannon fodder. Kilbourne has lost to Columbus DeSales and Dublin Scioto and should lose another to Findlay this week. Grove City has a 7-6 loss to Toledo St. Johns and plays Canton McKinley this week. I like Grove City to run the rest of the table.

Ohio Capital Conference Ohio Division - This conference has some good teams this year including Dublin Coffman, Gahanna Lincoln, Pickerington, and Hilliard Darby. Here’s how I see the race:

1. Dublin Coffman (7-0)
2. Pickerington (6-1)
3. Gahanna Lincoln (5-2)
4. Lancaster (4-3)
5. Hilliard Darby (3-4)
6. Westerville North (2-5)
7. Newark (1-6)
8. Grove City Central Crossing (0-7)

The best of the rest - The only other team with a legitimate shot is Massillon. Xenia might have been considered, but they are 3-1 and have yet to play Centerville, Huber Heights Wayne and Springfield South, all of whom can beat them.

I don’t want to get optimistic on Massillon’s chances so I took a very conservative approach. Woodrow Wilson and Lincoln West get zero wins, while Canton McKinley will find just one. However, they do have a modest shot at upsetting Grove City, which would help the Tigers in a couple ways. Here’s where I see the opponents finishing:

Westerville South (3-7)
Fremont Ross (0-10)
Akron Garfield (7-3)
Austintown Fitch (6-4)
Mansfield (8-2)
Youngstown Woodrow Wilson (0-10)
Cleveland Lincoln West (0-10)
Warren Harding (9-1)
Canton McKinley (2-8)

Now we get to add it up. Projecting the wins and losses and the opponent wins and losses, it stacks up pretty well up top. But there is a horse race below that.

1. Dublin Coffman (10-0) – 36.55
2. Dublin Scioto (10-0) – 31.55
3. Pickerington (9-1) – 25.85
4. Perry (9-1) – 24.90
5. ** Massillon (9-1) – 24.75
5 or 6. North Canton (7-3) – 20.80
6 or 7.Gahanna Lincoln (8-2) – 20.40
7 or 8. Grove City (9-1) – 19.80
8 or out. Upper Arlington (7-3) – 19.65
out. ** Massillon (8-2) – 19.05

The bottom line is that Massillon is OK provided they win the rest of their games. If they lose a second one they will most likely need some help. Check back each week for another look at the playoffs.

 Monday, September 16, 2002 

Booster Club Report – Week 4

by Tiger Don  9/16/02

Coach Shepas showed the film of Massillon’s 29-22 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius, noting that the outstanding play of Iggy’s Tony Gonzalez was the difference in the game’s outcome. Up until that time, however, it was clearly evident which team was playing better football. In fact, the coach noted that very few teams have ever put up the rushing numbers (282 yards) against the Wildcats as the Tigers did in this one. Defensively, Massillon took nearly everything away. All Ignatius had left was the 3-step drop pass.

Shepas felt the plan was sound in that he wanted to shorten the game by emphasizing the ground attack to keep the clock moving. To counter the run Ignatius moved into a bear front, which Shepas believes showed great respect for Massillon’s offense. “There shouldn’t be any doubt how well we can play against Ignatius. But we still have some things to correct,” noted the coach. In particular, he emphasized the need to work on eliminating stupid mistakes in the red zone. Those cost the Tigers possibly two first-half touchdowns. They also need to play four quarters of football, especially in blocking and hitting the holes. It was apparent that the mental focus was lost after Massillon went up 21-3 toward the end of the third quarter. That’s when Gonzalez gathered in a look-in pass and sped for Ignatius’ first touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the third. The momentum left at that point and never returned as Gonzalez would go on to score two more and give the Wildcats a lead they would never relinquish.

Shepas emphasized the need to fight for four quarters and not to let teams off the hook, unlike what happened against Ignatius. “Don’t feel sorry,” he said. “This is something we have to learn from. Accept the reality of it, understand it, and embrace it. Don’t make any excuses. It’s over. Let’s learn and move on. The mark of a true champion is to stand tall and live to fight another day.” Now the Tigers will have to play their way into the playoffs, beginning with two big games against Austintown Fitch and Mansfield Senior.

Fitch is 3-1 on the season with wins coming against Jackson (28-7), Mansfield (37-14) and GlenOak (28-14). The lone loss came during the opener against Youngstown Chaney (2-2) by a score of 19-13. The Falcons tried to establish the pass in that one and had little no success. So they have since abandoned the thought of putting the ball in the air and now rely exclusively on the quarterback option attack, utilizing several speedy backs. They can’t throw the ball at all according to Shepas, but they are winning nevertheless and they are better than the last few years.

Shepas likes the idea that Fitch runs plays very similar to what he did when he played ball at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, except they operate out of the straight-T or wishbone formation rather than the stack-I. None of that bothers the Massillon coach. “I like playing Fitch,” he said. “At Mooney we played some of our best football at Fitch.”

What’s tough now is getting kids back on track after a tough loss. “I want to see how our kids respond,” said the coach.

Shawn Crable had surgery on Monday to replace the bent screw in his foot with a larger one, one that will stand up to the riggers of athletics. He, along with his new orthopedic shoe, will be back in a couple weeks. After the season there will be some more medical work done.

There are still about 40 seats left on the bus to Fitch. Tickets can be obtained from the WHS ticket office at a cost of $15.00 (not including game ticket). The bus will leave from the high school parking lot at 5:00 pm.

$4,068 was collected during Help Feed Obie Night, the most ever. I wonder why?

There are still bricks available for the entrance way to the stadium.

A tailgate rally will be held in Stadium Park prior to the Mansfield game.

The Booster Club will be conducting a house raffle again this year. Four thousand tickets will be available with the drawing held during the last week of November. The early bird drawing is scheduled for the second week of October.

 Sunday, September 15, 2002 

Week Four Top Ten

by Tiger Don  9/15/02

I’ve probably agonized over this week’s Top Ten more than any other, since there are at least a half dozen teams worthy of the top spot. To make matters worse, everyone seems to be finding a way to lose a game they might have won. Cleveland St. Ignatius lost to Boardman in Week 2 and, based on the way they played against Massillon in the second half, would probably beat Boardman today. If they can keep it up, don’t be surprised to finding them still standing at the end. St. Edward is undefeated and beat Erie Cathedral Prep last weekend, but not as bad as Ignatius. Moeller had eight turnovers and got beat by Toledo St. Francis, 20-6. The Knights had earlier lost to Huber Heights Wayne, who lost to Lakota East, who lost to Farifield, who lost to Cincinnati Colerain, who lost to Moeller. Whew! Full circle.

Warren is still unbeaten in spite of a close call with Strongsville in Week 3. Boardman is 4-0 and will sort out the Steel Valley Conference with Warren in about three weeks. And don’t forget Austintown Fitch, who is 3-1 with a close loss in Week 1. I’d like to give Solon a nod, but they really don’t play much of a schedule and I just can’t justify rewarding a team for not playing any heavyweights.

Anyway, here’s the complete Top Ten (numbers in parentheses are last week’s ranking). I’m sure you won’t agree, but that’s where the fun comes in.

1. Warren (4-0) (3) - The Raiders are the new Number 1 team for no other reason than to paint a bulls-eye on their backs. Last week Warren disposed of 2-2 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 42-0, in an impressive defensive performance. This week they have another easy one in Toledo Whitmer (2-2).

2. Cleveland St. Ignatius (3-1) (8) - The youthful players of the Wildcats are now experienced and ready to defend their state title. Last week they came from 18 points down against Massillon (3-1) to pull out a 29-21 stunner. That’s the mark of a good team. If not for the mistakes they made against Boardman, Ignatius would be No. 1. Last week’s win should help prepare for this week’s invasion of Cincinnati Elder (3-1).

3. Lakewood St. Edward (4-0) (1) - The Eagles held off Erie Cathedral Prep (1-2) last weekend, 23-13. Prep lost to St. Ignatius the week before, 28-0. Now it’s a home match against Toronto De La Salle, one of those teams that has to learn how to play American style ball.

4. Boardman 43-0) (4) - The Spartans upended a good Youngstown Ursuline (2-1) team, 35-25, setting up their showdown with Warren just a few weeks away. But first they must tackle an emerging Jackson (3-1) team, a 22-14 winner over Canton McKinley.

5. Solon (4-0) (2) - The Comets began a string of seven consecutive ho-hummers with a 41-13 blowout of Stow (1-3). Next up is Cleveland Brush (1-3).

6. Massillon (3-1) (5) - The Tigers opened up a 21-3 lead over Cleveland St. Ignatius (3-1), but couldn’t hold on and lost 29-21. Rick Johnson rushed for a game-high 209 yards and scored twice, but Ignatius was able to shut down the aerial attack. Total yards in the game were even. Massillon will next travel to option-happy Austintown Fitch (3-1), which is enjoying their best season since 1994.

7. Cincinnati Elder (3-1) (7) - The Panthers cruised to a 45-7 win over winless Indianapolis Rincalli High. But it will get tougher this week when they travel to Cleveland to face St. Ignatius (3-1).

8. Dublin Coffman (4-0) (10) - The Shamrocks moved up a couple spots this week with a 37-16 victory over Newark (2-2). This week they can rest the starters when they play Grove City Central Crossing (0-4), who is in its first season ever, sans seniors. So far they’ve been outscored 202-14. Who schedules this stuff?

9. Dublin Scioto (4-0) (9) - Scioto cracks the Top Ten for the first time with a 55-6 win over Delaware (1-3). Scioto is averaging 40 points a game, second best in the state. This week non-league action continues with a match against Reynoldsburg (1-3).

10. Cincinnati Colerain (4-0) (6) - The Cardinals return to the Top Ten this week with a 49-7 rout of Lakota West (0-4). Colerain has surrendered just 35 points this year. This week’s opponent is the other side of Lakota, Lakota East (3-1). Should be a better game.

Dropping out was Cincinnati Moeller and Perry.

Other teams in the hunt include Gahanna Lincoln (4-0), Pickerington (4-0), Brunswick (4-0), Findlay (3-1), Cincinnati Moeller, and Austintown Fitch (3-1).

Here are the big games for this week:

Massillon vs. Austintown Fitch
Jackson vs. Boardman
Hilliard Darby vs. Pickerington
Cincinnati Moeller vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
Cincinnati Elder vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius
Cincinnati Colerain vs. Lakota East
Huber Heights Wayne vs. Springfield South

Also, thanks to all the posters for the good comments on my stories.

 Saturday, September 14, 2002 

Ignatius Does It to Tigers Again

by Tiger Don  9/14/02

Coulda, woulda, shoulda! For almost three quarters Massillon dominated defending state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius in building a 21-3 lead only to see it slip away in the fourth. In the end it was Ignatius winning 29-21, their sixth victory in a row over the Tigers. Ironically, Massillon has just three losses over the past two seasons, all at the hands of Iggy.

A pre-game favorite, the Tigers came out in the first half and just handed it to the Wildcats, using good execution and physical play to take a 14-3 lead into the locker room. In fact, Massillon led in first downs 10-5, yards rushing 228-48 and total yards 236-74. Ricky Johnson, the Tigers’ big playmaker, rushed for a spectacular 197 yards and two touchdowns. TheTigers added to the lead in the third quarter on an 81-yard pass interception return by Billy Relford, but then the house came crashing down.

Massillon received the opening kickoff and moved immediately to the Ignatius 30 on a 41-yard run by Johnson, only to be stopped on downs. On their third possession Johnson again came up big with a 41-yard run to the three yard line. But, the Tigers failed to get the ball into the end zone and had to settle for a 26-yard field attempt, which was blocked. At that point it looked like this one was going to be a low-scoring affair.

Ignatius, sensing the same after finding little success running the ball, elected to go to the air. Only Craig McConnell had other ideas, intercepting a pass at the 27 and returning it to the Wildcat 48. From there Johnson went off the left side and used a burst of speed to carry the ball all the way to the 14. He capped the 3-play drive going in untouched around the left side for the touchdown. Max Shafer’s extra point gave the Tigers a second quarter lead of 7-0.

Massillon was set up again when Billy Relford got position on Ignatius’ Tony Gonzalez and went high into the air to intercept the ball at the Tiger 48. On the fourth play of the series, Johnson burst through the center of the line, broke one tackle and took it to the house. Shafer’s PAT increased the lead to 14-0. Ignatius added a 37-yard field goal with just over four minutes remaining in the half, which made the score 14-3 at the break.

The Tigers had great success running the ball, especially between the tackles. In an attempt to counter the attack Ignatius lined up in a 5-man front with two linebackers, a bear look that they don’t use too often. On each play they would send the linebackers hard toward the line to congest the center. But the Massillon line was blocking well, which enabled Johnson to spring for several long runs. The secondary was in a cover-2 look with the corners 5-yards off the receivers in an attempt to take away the short passing game. That tactic look proved to be very effective in the second half when Massillon had lost the lead and was trying to pass their way back. But it didn’t matter in the first half when the Tigers were moving so well on the ground.

Offensively, the Wildcats attempted to establish the run with their fine tailback, Carter Welo. Aside from a good gain on his first carry, he was pretty much ineffective in the first half. He eventually picked up 83 yards on 16 carries. The passing game was concentrated on Gonzalez, their fine receiver who is headed for Ohio State.

The two teams exchanged punts in the third quarter and then Ignatius started to mount an effective drive. Success came from first passing short and then running for the first down. Massillon had seven defenders in the box and went with man coverage in the secondary, with the corners ten yards off the ball. That was designed to give up the short pass, while using the athleticism of the DBs to prevent anything long. In fact, the alignment was most effective in producing four interceptions on the night.

Ignatius eventually drove to Massillon 25 and went for the short pass once again. Only Billy Relford read the play and broke on the ball. With a clean pick he raced 81 yards for a TD using a good cutback at the 35 to avoid the lone potential tackler. The PAT made the score 21-3 and all was well in Tigertown. But then the nightmare began.

Ignatius came back to that short pass, except they modified the route a bit and completely fooled the DB into missing the coverage. The result was a 36-yard pass reception by Gonzalez for a TD. With 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter the score was now 21-9.

The Tigers needed to answer, but Iggy’s coach Chuck Kyle, the master of the second half adjustment, decided it was time to take away the only thing that was working, the running game. He did it by changing the defensive look to a 4-3 with two linebackers blitzing cautiously. The tactic worked and Massillon gained just 46 yards in the second half.

Ignatius got the ball back after a Massillon punt and drove 69 yards in just four plays. Gonzalez again scored the touchdown, the ball sailing just over the head of the Massillon defender in the end zone. Now it was 21-16.

It couldn’t get any worse for the Tigers. After returning the kickoff back to just the 20, they were flagged for three 5-yard penalties before they could get a play off. On third down, Matt Martin rolled to his right and tried to connect for first down. But the pass was picked off by Gonzalez, who sped untouched 20 yards to pay dirt. The try for two was knocked down and Ignatius had taken over the lead 22-21. Following a Massillon fumble at the 48, the Wildcats struck again, this time from two yards out making the final score 29-21. The Tigers did move the ball to the Ignatius 30 with a minute remaining, but four incomplete passes later spelled the end.

With the loss Massillon’s record falls to 3-1. St. Ignatius is also 3-1. Save for some costly mistakes in their game against Boardman, the Wildcats would be 4-0. For the Tigers, they are no less of a team than they were entering the game and will still have a very successful season. However, this was their first real test and it exposed a couple of weaknesses. First off, the lack of an effective passing game against a good defensive secondary. The message here is for the Tigers to never get behind in a game until that can be fixed. The second was the need to play four quarters of football. It was evident that they either tired in the fourth quarter or were just mentally not there. Things for the players and coaching staff to work out over the next few weeks.

As far as Ignatius is concerned, the message is that if you want to beat them, play them early. By mid-season they become a much improved football team. In fact, vast improvement was evident even from the first half of this game to the second half. This will be a difficult team to beat as their quarterback gets better throughout the rest of the season and will very formidable one come playoff time.

Next week Massillon travels to Austintown Fitch. Ignatius is home to Cincinnati Elder.


Opponent____ 0___3___6__20___29

First Downs_________14______19
Yards Rushing______250_____103
Yards Passing_______54_____203
Total Yards_________304____306

Massillon Scoring
Johnson 14 run (Shafer kick)
Johnson 41 run (Shafer kick)
Relford 81 interception return (Shafer kick)

Individual Statistics
Rushing: Johnson 23-209, 2 TDs; Roddy 9-44
Passing: Martin 5-21-54-3, 0 TD
Receiving: Jordan 3-40

Photos by Obievision

 Wednesday, September 11, 2002 

Some Thoughts Prior to the Big Game

by Tiger Don  9/11/02

I couldn’t let this week go by with adding some of my own thoughts to the upcoming matchup between Massillon and Cleveland St. Ignatius. It’s the new tradition vs. the old tradition. It’s a little like Massillon vs. McKinley, except there are still many more games left after this one. It’s probably more like the old All-American Conference; a Massillon-Warren game or a Massillon-Niles game.

Then again, it’s different from those old AAC games, because Massillon has never beaten Ignatius. Come close a few times, but never gone over the top. Could this be the year that the torch passes? Others have done it; why not Massillon? It would be big. It would be huge. Not as big as winning the state title, but still large in its own way. Although it won’t be the end of the world for the loser, it will surely establish some bragging rights.

A Little on Ignatius

The Wildcats have been playing football for a long time, but didn’t really emerge as a state power until 1988. That’s the year they ran the table and captured their first state title with a 10-7 win over Cincinnati Princeton. Since then they’ve won eight more playoff championships and are perennially considered the favorite.

Their dominance is particularly evident among public schools. From 1988 on they have won 103 games against their counterparts vs. just 11 losses; 61-6 in regular season and 42-5 in playoff action. Six different teams boast of wins over Ignatius: Boardman (3), Canton McKinley (2), Austintown Fitch, Lima Senior, Solon, and Berwick of Pennsylvania. Nearly all of the games were close with just one team winning by more than a touchdown, that being Solon, a 31-13 winner in the 2000 playoffs.

Massillon is 0-5 against the Wildcats, three of the contests having been in the playoffs. Aside from those, the Tigers are 23-9 against the private types in that same period, including a couple of wins over Cincinnati Moeller.

Ignatius enters the game with an uncharacteristic 2-1 record. The opener was played over the course of two days on account of the bad weather. Down 10-0 against Westerville North, the Wildcats came back the next day to win 28-18. North has since split their next two contests, losing to a good Columbus Brookhaven team, 18-13, and beating Westerville South, 26-19.

The second week spelled disaster when five turnovers led to a 29-23 victory by Boardman. Carter Welo gained over 200 yards on the ground, but the Wildcat passing game sputtered. Boardman followed up the next week with a 42-27 win over Youngstown Chaney.

Last Saturday Ignatius rebounded with a solid 28-0 win over Erie Cathedral Prep. That was Prep’s second game of the season after defeating Waterdown, Canada, 52-0. A traditional Pennsylvania power, Prep is in the midst of rebuilding after an outstanding season last year.

A Little on Massillon

Tigers are scoring points like there’s no tomorrow, with marks of 43-7, 76-6 and 60-0. In fact, after last week’s blowout of Akron Garfield, they were three just shy of the 1935 Massillon record for total points scored in the first three games of the season. Is this year’s edition better than last year’s, or is it just the same package in a different wrapper?

Last year Massillon downed Westerville North, Fremont Ross and Akron Garfield by a combined score of 157-13. This year the Tiger advantage was 179-12, with the competition being slightly ahead of last year. You can only score so many points in a game so we’ll call this one even.

Offensively, the formations are the same but the complexion has changed. Last year’s team favored the pass (54%) featuring quarterback Justin Zwick, while this year’s likes the run (71%), putting the ball in the hands of Ricky Johnson. That doesn’t mean the 2002 team can’t put the ball in the air effectively. In fact, the average gain per reception is 14.3 yards vs. 12.7 a year ago. That’s because Massillon has a pair of outstanding receivers this year in Devin Jordon and Stephan Ashcraft.

The leading ball carrier in 2001 was Robert Oliver, who had 38 carries for 303 yards and an 8.0 per carry average. Johnson this year has gained 392 yards on 43 carries at 9.1 yards a clip. This year’s team leads in total yards per game, 487-413, and yards per play, 8.9-7.1. In spite of being ground-oriented, this year’s team scores from an average of 24 yards out against 12 from last year’s team.

Defensively, the statistics are about the same between the two teams. Both have surrendered around 3.5 yards per play. The opponents don’t complete as many passes, but they seem to go for a few more yards. But there are two statistics that stands out. The first is that the 2002 team seems to put opponents away earlier in the game, using a physical ferocity that does not let up regardless of the score. The second is turnover ratio. In 2001, Massillon’s takeaway-giveaway difference was just two, whereas this year’s difference is nine. And that doesn’t include three blocked punts. Offensively, the Tigers have lost just one fumble and thrown just a single interception.

So which team is better? Of course it’s hard to tell given the differences in offensive philosophy and the mediocre competition. But this year’s edition is bigger, quicker and more experienced, especially on defense, factors that will come into play more against the top foes like Ignatius and Warren.

The Matchup

This will be Coach Rick Shepas’ fourth try against the Wildcats. Here’s a look at the previous three.

2000 regular season: Ignatius 36-21 – The Wildcats opened a 10-0 lead before Justin Zwick threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 10-7 at the half. In the third quarter Massillon scored first and the two teams traded the lead four times with Ignatius finishing on top 24-21. But a pair of van der Ord touchdown runs late in the game put it out of reach. Although the offensive yards were even, Massillon had absolutely no running game, finishing with just 5 yards on 16 carries. Zwick connected on 27 of 60 for 360 yards and three TDs.

2001 regular season: Ignatius 40-26 – The Wildcats scored on their first possession and then recovered a Massillon fumble at the Tiger ten, which they converted into another score to lead 14-0. The Tigers came back on their next two possessions to close the gap to 14-12 by the end of the first quarter, but the Wildcats scored twice and went into the locker room up 28-12. Massillon came out hot in the third with a pair of Zwick touchdown passes cutting the lead to 28-26, but Ignatius scored one more TD, and added a field goal and safety in the fourth. Once again the Tigers lacked the running game, coming up with just 11 yards on 17 carries. Zwick was 16 of 27 for 281 yards, but also had three interceptions. Meanwhile, Ignatius’ quarterback had a career day, completing 24 of 37 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

2002 playoffs: Ignatius 49-20. This game was close until the fourth quarter, which began with a 28-20 Wildcat lead. The difference was a second quarter fumble that Ignatius recovered in the Massillon end zone to open a 14-point lead. The fourth quarter belonged to Ignatius, scoring three touchdowns against a tired Tiger defense. One positive was that Massillon finally found the ground game, grinding out 173 yards on 37 carries, 4.7 yards per carry. But again they were vulnerable through the air on defense, surrendering 13 completions in 25 attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez, their outstanding wide receiver, caught five balls for 152 yards.

Based on the outcomes of these three games, the key to victory for the Tigers is obvious: score more points. Aside from that, offensively they will have to establish the running game, one of their strengths this year. Expect Ignatius to push their 4-4 alignment up into a 6-2 to apply pressure on the ends. That will force the Tigers to run the ball between the tackles and keep the quarterback from setting up for mid and long-range passes. Their defensive backs will be utilized in man-to-man if their center linebackers blitz, zone if they don’t. That may favor the speedy Tiger receivers at times.

On the other side of the ball, Massillon must keep the Iggy passing game in check. They must use their speed at outside linebacker to hound Ignatius’ junior quarterback and their closing speed at linebacker and defensive back to contain Carter Welo, their primary runner. Finally, the Tigers must win the fourth quarter. All three of the previous games were within a touchdown going into the final frame and decided thereafter.

If they do all that, Massillon can come out a winner for the first time in this young rivalry. If not, then they will have to hope for a second chance in the playoffs. See you at the ball park.


 Monday, September 09, 2002 

Booster Club Report – Week 3

by Tiger Don  9/09/02

Coach Rick Shepas thought last week’s opponent, Akron Garfield, was a pretty good one, in spite of the 60-0 score. They had a lot of seniors returning to bolster what will probably be a 7-3 or 8-2 ballclub. Fans should not be deceived. The Tigers are just playing that hard, with a nastiness on both sides of the ball. Shepas noted that the coaching staff has a “very high level of expectation when these kids are on the field.” The JV team is playing hard as well, and that’s why Massillon is scoring all those points. “Our program is right where we want it to be,” said Shepas. “There’s no drop-off from practice to the game and the results show. It makes a difference.”

Stephan Ashcraft was named offensive skill player of the week for his 4 receptions that accounted for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Coach feels that the Garfield game was a breakout one for Stephan, one that should grab the attention of major college scouts. The offensive lineman of the week was Reggie McCollough, who blocked at 81% and gave up no sacks.

The defensive player of the week was Marquis Watkins, with four solo tackles and two for a loss. The defensive skill player of the week was A.J. Collins, who had five solos, two for a loss and caught a touchdown pass from his tight end position on offense. Greg Babcock was the special team player of the week for blocking a punt and making two tackles.

Last week the Tigers rolled up 427 yards of offense, 266 on the ground. The leading ball carrier again was Ricky Johnson, who had 113 yards on 18 attempts. He also scored twice. For the season, Johnson is averaging 9.1 yards per carry to go along with his 396 yards. Interestingly, backup quarterback Steve Hymes has rushed for 177 yards at 8.6 per clip, the second best on the team.

With a 12 for 15, five-touchdown effort last week, starter Matt Martin has a quarterback efficiency rating of 219. So far he has connected on 32 of 45 passes for 464 yards and nine touchdowns, with just one interception. His favorite target appears to be Stephon Ashcraft, who has caught 11 aerials for 217 yards and four TDs. OSU-bound Devon Jordan has eight for 138 yards and a pair of scores.

Cleveland St. Ignatius comes to Tiger Stadium on Friday with a 2-1 record. In their opener the Wildcats came from ten points behind to defeat Westerville North, 28-18. Incidentally, North beat Westerville South last week, 26-19. Game 2 for Iggy went to Boardman, 29-23. The Spartans returned a punt and an interception for scores and gathered in five fumbles to remain unbeaten on the season. Last Saturday Ignatius was impressive in handling Pennsylvania power Erie Cathedral Prep, 28-0. Prep failed to complete a pass in the first half as they fell behind 21-0.

Last year the Wildcats defeated Massillon 40-26 in the regular season and 49-20 in the playoffs. Ignatius qualified for postseason play in spite of finishing 6-4. But they were 3-0 when they played the Tigers and the physical play of that game had something to do with Ignatius dropping four of their next five. When the Wildcats were finally healthy again, they were the Ignatius we’ve grown accustomed to, winning the state title.

“I think we match up pretty good up front,” commented Shepas. But he did note that Carter Welo is a pretty good running back, especially between the tackles. The top receiver again this year is Tony Gonzalez, who Shepas describes as a playmaker. He was a key ingredient in the win over Erie Prep. Junior quarterback Brian Hoyer is improving and had a breakout game last week when he threw for a pair of scores.

Friday night will be Help Feed Obie Night.

Bricks can still be purchases for the plaza under construction on the west side of the stadium. Note that this is a high school project, not a Booster Club project.

There are still seats available on buses to the Austintown Fitch and Warren games. Stop by the ticket office to purchase a ride.

A comment to MassillonProud Forum posters: Please watch what you write and be sure not to give away any advantageous information that can be used by our opponents. Some of those coaches get on here too, so let’s not make it any easier for them. Thanks.

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