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 Tuesday, May 25, 2004 

The Monkey Won’t Go Away

by Tiger Don  5/25/04

Last Sunday, 240 athletes from the local area gathered at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium to participate in the first Stark County High School Football Coaches Association Scouting Combine. It was an event organized by Massillon football coach Rick Shepas and was met with resounding kudos by several coaches who brought players. Even Massillon Proud helped out.

But before the event got underway, there was an undertone of recruiting allegations from numerous posters on an Internet site to the east. It seems they believe Shepas had created the combine as a ploy to evaluate the talent and lure any athlete that appealed to his needs. No counter arguments by avid Massillon posters could sway their opinions. And so what if the coaches who participated didn’t feel that way at all, according to reports from The Independent. “All Rick is trying to do is promote the athletes in Stark County,” said Northwest headman Vic Whiting. “The rest of the head coaches agreed with what he is trying to do and appreciated the effort. This can only help us.”

But it seems the monkey is still on Massillon’s back and will probably stay that way for years to come. In 1984, the Tiger program was found in violation of OHSAA recruiting bylaws when Coach John Moronto had improper contact with some players from Timken. For that, a 3-year ban from post-season play was imposed.

Then in 1999 came the Jesse Scott incident, where former Perry coach Keith Wakefield accused Massillon of enticing his running back to transfer. In that one the courts overruled the decision of the OHSAA and found Massillon innocent. Thirdly, David Phillips tried to transfer to Massillon before last season. But the move was blocked by the Massillon administration, which then informed the OHSAA of the attempt and subsequent action.

Unfortunately, these three episodes plus numerous legal transfers seem to have labeled the Massillon program as one that actively recruits. Critics would even say all of the transfers were recruited. They point to Chris and Rick Spielman and Craig Johnson and Brent Offenbecher and Brian DeWitz and Justin Zwick and Devon Jordan and Steve Hymes as examples. But these players were not grabbed in the dead of night by well-meaning Tiger supporters never to be seen again until football season. They came to Tigertown of their own free will. Most likely it was for a better chance at a scholarship. For the majority, the move paid off. Do you think Jordan would have caught over 100 passes in a single season and grabbed the attention of Ohio State had he stayed at wing-T happy Perry? And Zwick looked at several schools before deciding on Massillon as the place he could further tone his skills and prepare for the Big 10.

Conversely, Massillon fans relish their homegrown players. Did you know that Coach Shepas received a standing ovation at the Spring Kickoff when he mentioned that this year’s team has the fewest transfers on it than any in the last dozen years or so? I guess the detractors missed that one.

So then there’s Coach Shepas, holding a combine to benefit all the players in the county. And the outsiders just bash him for it. The guest players know it’s good for them. Their coaches know it’s good for them. And a couple dozen colleges get to take a peak. So why do these outsiders use it as an excuse to cry foul? Is it because North Canton (sorry, I wasn’t supposed to “yap” off like that) just can’t find a way to beat the Tigers, let alone agree on a regular season match? Perhaps we’ll never know. But in the meantime, the monkey is still on Massillon’s back. And it will probably stay that way for a long time to come.

 Wednesday, April 28, 2004 

2004 Season Kicks Offs with Spring Event

by Tiger Don  4/28/04

Over 200 avid Tiger fans showed up at the Amvets to hear Massillon Head Coach Rick Shepas officially kick off the 2004 campaign. Uncharacteristically, he didn’t talk about the players or the Xs and Os. Rather he emphasized this year’s focus, which will be more on the team goals rather than individual accomplishments and what it will take for this year’s group to succeed.

Prior to that former NFL player and current CBS announcer Todd Blackledge addressed the crowd. He spoke at length about what it takes to be a champion, focusing on the characters of discipline, humility, accountability, and perseverance.

Then it was time for Coach Shepas. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“I think that where we’ve been and where we are going has everything to do with character. When I think of what we’re trying to accomplish, I don’t look at it as work, I don’t look at it as a job. In many cases it’s a struggle. But for the most part, I look at it as a journey. And when we’re sitting for two years straight, in ’01 and ’02, just right on the doorstep and it doesn’t work out, or when we have a season like we did, we all share in it. I hold myself responsible for it. I can definitely tell you I’m embarrassed by it. Because I don’t believe it’s about the size of the bodies. I never believed it was how fast you were. It’s always about the size of your heart and the work ethic.

“The great thing is that we have a chance to do something about it. What has got me excited and what’s got all of us excited all winter long is the way these players have attacked the off season. We saw a work ethic on our kids you wouldn’t believe. It’s one of the best work ethics I’ve been associated with. And that’s why our coaching staff is excited right now.

“At 5:30 in the morning we hit the field running. And the coaches and players are busting their tails. We’ll take the guys that want to be there, that show the most character, that show integrity by being there.

“I don’t know if we have a true Division 1 recruit in the bunch coming out next year as a senior. But the bottom line is this: the best people are going to play. The guys that should be on the field by position will be there. The guys that show the character will be on the field.

“I think our guys are really starting to get it. We have had teams that understood and we’ve had teams that didn’t. I think this particular football team coming out in ’04 and the next couple of football teams that we will have are going to be teams that understand more of what it takes to be successful.

“Do I believe a state championship is possible? Absolutely. I know we have a formula. I look forward to it. I think it’s going to be an exciting year. I think we have an exciting schedule. We haven’t shied away from any opponents. I think we have a playoff caliber team and after that it’s where the guys want to take it.”

Here are some key dates coming up:

June 23-26 - team camp in West Virginia, which will involve 7-on-7s
Aug. 7 – golf outing
Aug. 8 – Media day at 4:00 pm
Aug. 9 - two-a-days begin
Aug. 17 – evening home scrimmage against Perry
Aug. 20 – evening road scrimmage against Mentor
Aug. 27 – Steve Studer Day in Massillon
Aug. 27 – opening game against Akron Buchtel

 Tuesday, April 20, 2004 

Massillon Blasts Summit County Power

by Tiger Don  4/20/04

Akron Coventry rolled into Tigertown on the strength of a 12-2 record, but left with the kind of black eye usually delivered in nearby Tiger Stadium. With a football-type score, Massillon simply rolled over the Comets, winning 20-2 in 4-1/2 innings.

“We came out nice and loose and swung the bat well, hit the ball hard all day,” said Coach Mike Dobran, whose team improves to 6-7. “They threw their One and Two pitchers in the league games. That was their No. Three pitcher. And we came out and hit the ball. It wasn’t like they were walking us. We hit the ball and had five home runs.”

Brock Hymes went the distance on the mound, surrendering just five hits, although two of them were home runs. “Brock’s been consistent all year and we expect that out of him,” said Dobran. “He’s pitching like he’s supposed to, like a competitor.”

The Tigers jumped on Coventry early, scoring seven runs in the first and ten in the second. Included in that barrage were five round trippers, two by Eric Smith (six for the season), two by Seth Sibert, and one by Hymes. After that Massillon substituted freely and cruised home with the win.

For the switch-hitting Sibert, it was his first two of the season. “He has more power from the right side,” said the coach. “But he’s a better hitter all around, I think, left handed. But as a rightee, he has the ability to hit a home run anytime.”

“I haven’t been hitting right handed much and I took a few swings on the tee today,” said Sibert. “I was feeling pretty good. He (the Coventry pitcher) wasn’t throwing that hard, but he missed his spots a few times and we made him pay for it.”

So was Seth looking for another one in the second inning? “I was. They were giving me stuff in the dugout. We were just hitting them all day. It was like a home run derby, we were saying. And I was looking for it. It was fun. It was a good game for us. We needed that.”

Hymes and Sibert each scored four times in the 19-hit attack, which comes on the heels of a 5-game road trip to Columbus where the Tigers seemed to find their bats. “It was obvious that (the trip) helped us out hitting wise. But it’s only one game. And we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.”

Massillon will be back in action Wednesday as they travel to once-beaten Louisville.


B. Hymes and Sibert

 Friday, April 02, 2004 

Scrimmage With Perry Can Heal Some Wounds

by Tiger Don  4/02/04

The on-again, off-again series with Perry is on again, albeit with a scrimmage rather with a regular season game. But regardless, it’s a chance for these two local rivals to mend some ill will and get back to the basics of playing the game of football. It should also be a good spectacle for fans.

Teams are permitted two scrimmages before the season starts. Massillon and Perry elected to lock horns in the first one, which will be held on a Tuesday at an undetermined location. But you can expect the visitor to host the match the following year, hopefully later in the week in game-like conditions.

Massillon and Perry initially faced off in the 1978 opener, with the Tigers prevailing 27-6, enroute to a 9-0-1 mark. They met again in each of the next seven years, all at Paul Brown Stadium, and all wins by Massillon. Five were openers and the Tigers had their way in each one. But the final two were in Week Nine and those were much closer. In 1984 Perry entered the game with an 8-1 record and lost 10-0. Then in 1985 the Tigers edged the Panthers 13-3.

But bad blood was beginning to stir. Some Perry fans showed up at Wendy’s one night and painted the statuesque striped Tiger black to make it look like a Panther. So after the Friday night game, a few Tiger followers spray-painted the back of Perry High School, thanking the Panthers for the computer points. At that point the administrators at both schools agreed it was time for the series to end and both teams went their separate ways.

For 13 years they stayed apart. But in 1999 Massillon Coach Rick Shepas and Perry Coach Keith Wakefield, a former Tiger assistant, decided it was time to get back together. It might have worked out well, except there was an incident in which Wakefield accused Massillon of illegal recruiting when Jesse Scott transferred in.

The OHSAA sided with Wakefield, who was President of the Ohio Football Coaches Association at the time, and ruled against Massillon. But the Massillon administration took the OHSAA to court and won a verdict, which reduced the probationary and monetary penalties.

What was lost in all of this was the real reason Scott transferred, an event that occurred at the midpoint of the year. The day after the story broke a Perry source informed this writer that the state-qualifying track star didn’t transfer to play football for Massillon. Why would Scott leave the Perry basketball team in mid-season in order to play football eight months later? According to the source, he had lost his academic eligibility and would not have been able to participate in the upcoming track season. But Massillon, which determines eligibility by a different method, would have provided Scott an opportunity to regain good academic standing and participate in his chosen sport of track.

Nevertheless, It was a difficult night when the two teams hooked up that fall, with Wakefield prowling the Perry sidelines and Scott playing tailback for the Tigers. After a spirited first half in which the two teams battled to a 7-all tie, the Tigers erupted for 28 second-half points in winning 35-14. Scott did gain 55 yards in 11 carries, but it was quarterback Dave Irwin that lit up the scoreboard, connecting on 18 of 25 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. After the contest Wakefield refused to shake hands with Coach Shepas.

Ironically, the two teams would meet again in the first round of the playoffs. Only this time it was Perry that had the upper hand, winning 23-6. The Panthers would go on to defeat Canton McKinley, 7-0, before falling to Pickerington in the regional finals, 16-14.

In 2000, Perry finally hosted the contest, except that it was at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium. Massillon was coming off a disappointing 36-21 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius, while Perry was sitting on six consecutive wins. When the game was over the Panthers were still undefeated, in spite of a gallant fourth quarter effort by Tiger quarterback Justin Zwick. Perry captured the regional title that year with wins over Toledo Whitmer, North Canton, and Marion Harding. But they lost to Solon on a rainy night in the state semis.

In 2002, Massillon and Perry met once more. It was a second round playoff encounter and fortunately the focus was more on football and less on other matters. It was also the most entertaining game of the series. After three quarters the Tigers led 20-7, only to watch the Panthers mount a comeback and go on top 21-20 with just 1:17 left in the game. But Massillon pulled it out when Devin Jordan caught a big pass from Matt Martin and Max Shafer booted a 35-yard field goal as time expired.

Now the two will meet again, even though it will be more of a practice and less of a game. For both teams, it will help reduce travel costs as Massillon had been slated to go to Middletown. The Tigers will also be able to get some work in against the wing-T, something favored recently by Canton McKinley. But that’s assuming Keith Wakefield is still the coach. Chances are he won’t be. The Perry administration has been unable to put together an attractive enough teaching package to keep him there. And he’s also a finalist for the Akron St. Vincent position.

 Tuesday, March 23, 2004 

The Massillon Bengals

by Obiefan  3/23/04

The Massillon Bengals Football TeamThe City of Massillon is still reeling from the SPORTS ARENA PROJECT which took millions from the city, in order to research, develop and build an appropriate venue for new sports franchises to come into the city, and returned nothing more than an empty lot with left over rebar lying in the weeds, directly adjacent to arguably, Massillon’s most visible acreage.

Gone are the possibilities of a semiprofessional hockey team and an arena league football team that the cities sports fans had been promised and were anxiously waiting for. Cite thousands of internet discussion items directed exclusively to this massive project and the impact it would have had on the community of Stark County and Massillon, as well as newspaper pieces and television and radio talk shows and news stories. This was going to be huge. Then: Nothing but weeds and re-bar.

The City of Massillon and the fans that have lived here have been waiting and hoping for a semi professional or arena league sports franchise for years. They were frustrated and angry at the lack of results from the arena project.

Scott Seams, as owner of the Ohio Eagles of the OVFL and Misty Brown, from the Akron Jaguars , Champions of the OVFL for three of the last eight seasons, out of a desire to form a truly unique and community friendly football team, came together to form a new team. This non-profit organization would have a specific mission to not only play championship level football and provide a quality sports entertainment package to the community, it would be in a way that will directly benefit the community by working with its schools and athletic teams to promote student athletes.

The Massillon Bengals were born of this perspective and have made solid and rapid inroads to the community of Stark County and Massillon. There have been many private individuals and corporate entities that have approached us to support The Bengals. From Dr Paulus, our team dentist for specialized mouth gear and Dr Goff, our team physician who is handling our sports injuries, individuals asking about sponsorship and advertising on our TV broadcasts on Channel 50 Massillon Cable in association with Tele-Pro at Washington High School, we continue to field calls and solicit key people for their involvement. There have been radio interviews on ESPN 990 AM and recent press releases on our website at

The response to this team and the long term goals they have with and for the City of Massillon has been incredible. Mayor Ciccinelli has given his support and provided us with a rich history of semi professional football in and around Massillon and Stark County. Coach Brian Cross at Canton McKinley has made the arrangements for practice jerseys and pants for the team. Coach Shepas and Massillon have given us a home field of which there is no comparison to any other in the league: MASSILLON'S PAUL BROWN TIGER STADIUM!

Many high schools from Stark and Summit Counties are providing senior players that are still looking for college scholarship opportunities. These players come to The Bengals for one more year of seasoning and preparation.

Last year, our kicker Ben Hirschman of Jackson High School, was able to showcase his skills with our team and found a position at Walsh College for the coming season as their place kicker and is receiving grants and other funding to get him a college education. This one example of helping a young person to achieve his goal of college placement is without a doubt our HIGHEST CALLING and firmest mission: To promote aspiring athletes into college so they can enjoy the benefits of a better life.

Our professional style cheer and dance team is forming and rehearsing almost daily. Their aim is to showcase themselves and the team at parades and appearances benefiting various charities throughout the area. This group, along with the progressive and fast moving “1/2 Time Live Show,” a 15 minute sponsored and hosted entertainment program, performed during half times with entertainment and music groups from this area, will be half time shows that people will want to skip the restroom break for.

The Cheer and Dance Team is also currently booking fund raising events that will benefit not only the team and community but will benefit some of our favorite charities, such as The Aultman Hospital Women’s Board, various scholarship funds for youth and various football and youth cheer camps in the summer.

One important improvement to the organization this year was to form a Board of Directors that would be able to move ahead toward long term goals, as well as accomplishing shorter range objectives. This Board is comprised of Scott Seams and Misty Brown, the owners, Bill Shafer the General Manager, Lisa Brendel as, Technical and Entertainment Director, and Brent Mason, The Head Coach. This paid board of directors has given stability, structure and continued forward motion to the objectives of this organization.

Our alliance with the Western Stark County YMCA where our head quarters are located on the fourth floor, with the Massillon Washington High School Athletic Department and Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, has made this venture to be a solid part of this community, already, even before playing one single game.

Our website,, in association with, two of Massillon’s premier internet based sports websites, has generated an interactive information stream about this team and this town that is getting thousands of hits already. The exciting nature of these websites and informational and graphic approach is generating community excitement that is measurable.

Story Submitted by:
Bill Shafer-
General Manager
The Massillon Bengals

 Wednesday, March 17, 2004 

Local Big Schools are Bottom Feeders in the Big Picture

by Tiger Don  3/17/04

Major high school sports in Ohio are divided into various divisions based on enrollment in order to give smaller schools a chance to compete against counterparts of similar size for state titles. This is particularly important in football, where a considerable number of athletes are required to field a competitive team. No way does a small school like Dalton compete with a large one like Jackson or Perry. So the OHSAA decided to remedy the inequity.

Forty years ago there were just two football divisions in the state: AA and A. The larger schools, like Massillon, fell into the AA category. Then AAA was added before going to five and then six divisions as the playoffs developed. The current makeup is as follows:

Div. I – 514 or more
Div. II – 353 to 513
Div. III – 262 to 352
Div. IV – 184 to 261
Div. V – 131 to 183
Div. VI – 130 or less

The system seems to work well, particularly in the lower divisions, where the larger ones in each division are not that much bigger than the smaller ones. But there is a huge range in Division 1. Mentor tops the chart with 1,221 boys, while the smallest school has 514 boys, 707 less. In fact the total range of Division I nearly doubles that of Divisions II through VI combined.

So where do the six Stark County Division I schools fit in all of this? Four (Massillon, Perry, North Canton, and Jackson) are near the bottom. And the other two (McKinley and GlenOak) are not quite to the middle. All of these schools enjoy success at times, but none is consistent enough to qualify for the playoffs and be competitive each and every year. The same holds true for other schools this size across the state.

The range is even larger for basketball and baseball, at 813. In these, the largest are three times the size of the smallest. That’s a tough environment to compete in. City schools might enjoy a few more athletes, but for the normal suburban school, it’s nearly impossible.

Is it time for the OHSAA to rethink the divisional classifications? Or should these smaller schools just be quiet and accept the challenge?

 Wednesday, March 10, 2004 

Five Senior Basketball Players Bid Farewell

by Tiger Don  3/10/04

Five seniors played their final basketball game for Massillon last Saturday when they lost to Warren in the district tournament. It’s hard to say goodbye to these classy guys, but it’s hoped they’ll be a little bit better in life because of the experience.

Massillon opened the season by winning five of their first six games, include big ones against Wooster and Cleveland Benedictine. But then the inexperience set in and they went on to finish 10-12. You see, the only returning player off last season’s 22-4 regional finalist was point guard Billy Relford. Nevertheless, this year’s Tigers were exciting to watch and they found a way to grab some big wins down the stretch against one of the better schedules in the area.

Who can forget the 71-70 overtime victory over Cleveland St. Joseph, with Relford putting up a season-high 29 points. You think that was a good one? How about the 77-73 triple-overtime win over Hudson, who was 11-4 at the time. It was a total team effort in that all five starters finished in double figures.

The regular season ended on a high note when the Tigers came from 12 points down to defeat 13-5 Mansfield, the top seeded team in its district. Cyrus Harper was tops in this one with 21 points. Even the tournament got off on a good foot when Massillon upended Perry 57-49, in a game they controlled from start to finish, duplicating their regular season result.

But these seniors are gone and it will be a different kind of team next year.

Billy Relford worked his way into a starting position last year and was the cog to the offense this time around. The 5’-8” point guard averaged 18.4 points a game, making him one of the top scorers in the county. The Toledo bound football cornerback used his upper body strength to the max in fending off defenders on his way to the basket. He was always one of the quickest player on the floor, an asset he used to steal many balls throughout the season.

Cyrus Harper played JV ball last year on account of the senior depth on varsity. With one year remaining, he made the most of his opportunity. With a scoring average of 13.3 points a game, he was probably the purest shooter on the team. He was also quick to enter the paint for the high percentage shot.. Cyrus was deadly with the 3-ball and his high-arcing foul shots were things of beauty.

Seth Sibert was a newcomer to the program, but the 6’-3” post player was the surprise of the year. Coach Creamer couldn’t have been happier with the progress Seth made during the season, particularly with his physical play and rebounding capability. Only 6’-8” Josh Yanke of Jackson outrebounded him among the county’s Division 1 teams. A thunderous shot blocker, he also won nearly every opening tip.

Zach Frailly was one of two returning varsity players this year, joining Relford. He was hampered by an arm injury in the latter half the 2003 season and fought through a knee injury this time around. But when he could play, he was more than capable when spelling starters Seth Sibert and Adam Gerber.

Nate Duplain didn’t see much action early in the year, but his time on the floor increased as the season went along. Anytime one of the three starting guards was in foul trouble or needed a break, Nate was there to answer the challenge. Although only 5’-11”, he wasn’t one to back down against the taller players.

These five seniors might have departed the program, but there is a wealth of talent waiting in the wings. Start with 6’-1” sophomore Mario Edwards, who averaged 11.8 points a game this year. He may just surpass his brother Angelo (Ashland) in proficiency by the time he graduates. In the paint will be 6’-4” returning starter Adam Gerber. He’ll also be around the arc draining threes.

Dirk Dickerhoof brings the physical presence. Just a sophomore, the 6’-2” forward will only get better as he gains experience. Guard Lanale Robinson could not play because of a knee injury, but he will be a factor with his 4.5 sec. 40 speed and shooting capability. A number of JV players will also compete for positions, including freshman Michael Porrini, who led the team in scoring and also saw valuable minutes in the varsity games as the season wound down.

 Saturday, February 21, 2004 

Weight Room was the Home Away From Home for Steve Studer

by Tiger Don  2/21/04

Steve Studer may no longer be with us in person, but his legacy as a sports fixture at WHS and the Massillon community will not be forgotten. Very much a family man, he was also devoted to students of the school, motivating them to succeed in life through weight training and inspiration. What made the program a success was his high energy level and passion to succeed, attributes that will not soon be replaced. In 2001 I had the pleasure of spending some time with Coach Stu talking about the Massillon High School weight program. Here is that interview.

A 2-year varsity football player for Massillon, Studer was the starting center on the 1970 state title team that also featured Tiger greats Dennis Franklin, Steve Luke, Mike Mauger, Larry Harper, Tim Ridgley, Willie Spencer, and Tom Hannon. He also played in 1971, before becoming the starting center for the Bowling Green Falcons. After college he had a couple tryouts with professional football teams and eventually landed a position as strength and conditioning coach/phys-ed teacher at Massillon High School.

Talk about the weight room and how it is used.

Our weight room is 55’ by 70’. It’s the same size as the weight room we had at the old high school. When we built the new high school we patterned it after the old one. It pretty much consists of free weights.

Our core lifts are the squat, the clean, the bench press, and the dead lift. The machines that we have in the weight room are pretty much hammer-strength machines and it’s all top of the line equipment. It’s the same equipment that they use at Michigan, Notre Dame, and a lot of the NFL teams.

We really compare the weight room to a lot of Division 1 colleges. There’s going to be your Tennessees, your Nebraskas, and your Michigan States where they have a better facility than this. I would compare this to any MAC school.

We get a lot done in here and every year I work with a good 200 kids that pass through this weight room, at least four days a week. We’re pretty proud of it and right now as you take the pictures it looks very clean and we keep it that way because we take good care of it.

But, believe me, we use it, and in the evenings it’s a pretty gross picture in here as far as the way it smells and when I’m carrying buckets out of here. It reminds you of a Rocky movie when you see the kids in here training.

If I recall, you won the Mr. Ohio contest a couple of times.

When I was in college in the 70s is really when weight training took off and it got started in Nebraska and everybody was trying to emulate as much as possible what they were doing. And I know that’s what we did at Bowling Green.

After college football and after trying out with the Chicago Bears and trying out with the USFL, I wasn’t ready to stop my competitive juices. I got into powerlifting for about five years and competed at that level and then got into some body buildings and physique for about five years and then it was after that I started coaching.

I had my own private gym where I had about 10-12 kids here from Massillon: the Spielman brothers, Johnny Miller, Jared Vance, Darrell Strickland. A really nice group of guys. We trained in my own private place. I didn’t make a penny doing it. I did it for the love of doing it. And that’s kind of when John Moronto had taken me in here.

Tell me a little bit about your background as coach of the strength program.

Actually I started here under (1985-87 football coach) John Moronto at the old high school. As I started it was an after school thing. I actually worked for my father as a sign painter. At 3:00 when the school let out I would go to the old high school and the weight room down there and work out the team. I did that four days per week.

Then when (1988-91 football coach) Lee Owens came here we actually started this as a class. I was hired here at the high school full time and left my father at the sign shop to come up here. It’s really my first love. I love being here because I love working with the kids and it’s not just football here with me.

I train every sport. And a lot of our football players do play other sports. It adds up to about 200 kids a year that I train. I enjoy it because it’s my alma mater and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t think I’d like to be anywhere else. I’m happy. I enjoy coming to work and when you look forward to coming to work each morning it’s pretty good.

Each sport I’m sure has a different weight training program. How do you address that?

There are some things that we do. For instance, there are some things that we do differently for a baseball player than you would for a wrestler. But, pretty much the lifts that we do in this room are specifically to make kids stronger on the basketball court, like make them jump higher or enable them to shoot for a takedown in wrestling. And you come off the ball as an offensive lineman or make a big hit as a linebacker. And all the things we do are predicated to make kids jump higher, ran faster, be more explosive.

And a lot of things we do are things that are on our feet, like squatting and cleaning and dead lifting and lunging. Those things develop the center of the body, the hips, thighs, and lower back and we do a lot of work on our stomachs. And those are all the areas that make you faster and make you more athletic.

The days of having a lot of guys out there on the football field with big bellies are gone. It’s not what we’re looking for now. We want the kids to be able to move. Speed is the name of the game, but you have to have the strength in there, too. And you have to do things that are going to help prevent injury. You want to work the joints, especially the whole knee capsule. If a kid does get hurt and he would have to have surgery, he comes back from that surgery because he’s built that area up. Maybe, a lot of times, you’ll see kids that get hurt and because they’ve built those areas up they don’t need the surgery. And that’s what it’s all about there.

How are the kids’ mental approaches to lifting?

We like to see that they all have the same approach and that approach would be to come in here and improve every time you walk in the place. That’s the attitude. And it’s one of the reasons why right now in the wintertime we try to get every football player.

Right now we have every football player not involved in a winter sport lifting together in this room as a team. The leadership kind of spreads throughout it because it’s a tough thing to do, and we want it to be tough, but we want that team unity to be formed out of it. That’s really the thing we are trying to accomplish right now.

Do you get many girls involved in the program?

We have two girls’ classes that I don’t teach. Barb Heigl is the phys-ed teacher who runs the two girls classes. As far as the classes go, I have six classes throughout the day with 25 kids in each class and then I’ve got the group that works out here after school. It depends on what time of the year and what phase we’re in, but this room gets used all year round. I take two weeks off in the summer and I’m still here in the summer keeping the place open for the guys.

That’s kind of my little pet peeve. Because, if you would have seen it last night when I was carrying the puke buckets out of here and the floor was full of sweat. Then what happens is I come in here at 5:00 am and I take an hour and a half or two hours scrubbing this place down. I’ve been doing it for ten years since this building was built. I don’t let the janitors in the room. I take care of it myself because I’m proud of it and the way I look at it is this is my classroom. I think when people come around and they look at the school and they walk in the weight room and see that it’s well kept, it’s just a pride thing.

The Lift-a-thon is coming up this Saturday at 10:00 am, so tell me a little about that event.

We always raise money every year and the kids vote on what they want to buy new and we always get a new piece of equipment or maybe some new rubber to put down on the floor or some more bars, whatever we need. It’s taken us 15 years to build this place up to what you see right now and I’m a big stickler of taking care of it.

We’ve raised all this money, not one tax dollar. Down to the lightest plate in here, it’s all raised through lift-a-thons since I’ve been here through John Moronto. Some people might think I’m crazy. ‘There’s Stu at 5:00 in the morning sweeping and mopping the weight room. And he takes better care of the weight room than he does his own house.’ I admit it, but that’s just the way it is.

The Lift-a-thon is how we end up the winter conditioning. Our off-season program this year has gone from January 4 to March 3. It’s a very intense time of the year. Just because we have the Lift-a-thon to close it up doesn’t mean we stop. It just means we go on to track season, maybe some different style of lifting during that time. The Lift-a-thon is a big test week. We’ll test on things during the week, especially speed. We’ll test on the 20, the 40, the pro-agility, the 60-yard shuttle; we’ll test on those things. And we’ll test on the clean and the squat at the Lift-a-thon. I kind of like to make it like a weight lifting meet, where I hand out medals, weigh them in. They all come in at different weight classes.

We have a record board up here on the wall and the kids try and break records. We started the record board in ’91, so the record board’s now ten years old. And it’s harder and harder to get up there on that board every year. We still have a couple ‘91s up there. But, they shoot for those kinds of goals at the Lift-a-thon. It gets intense and they all get to go out and raise a little money and at the end of it we add all the money up and figure out what we want to do for the weight room.

Thanks, Coach Stu.

 Wednesday, February 04, 2004 

Billy Relford Signs with Toledo

by Tiger Don  2/04/04

He’s not tall of stature, but he’s swift and has a head for the game, plus a big heart to boot. Those assets were enough for Billy Relford to land a full scholarship to the University of Toledo to play football next year.

Why did he choose Toledo? “I think the playing time,” he said. “I wanted to play earlier on the field. They wanted to gray shirt me at West Virginia. You don’t go to school the first six months. I wouldn’t start to school until the year 2005. I’d miss school for half a year. My grandma wouldn’t like that at all.”

Relford burst onto the scene his junior year when he intercepted 16 passes while lining up at cornerback. Five of those grabs came during a 31-0 victory over North Canton Hoover in the first round of the playoffs. He also found some time to play wide receiver and be the featured kick returner. By the end of his senior season, Billy had recorded some impressive statistics.

31 receptions for 664 yards (21.4 ave.) and 6 touchdowns.
16 interceptions for 349 yards (21.8 ave.) and 3 touchdowns
63 punt returns for 696 yards (11.0 ave.) and 1 touchdown
27 kick returns for 881 yards (24.5 ave.) with a long of 61 yards
Led the team in scoring his senior year with 56 points

After being named All-Northeast Inland District Honorable Mention following his junior season, Relford landed first Team All-Ohio honors the following year. The 5’-9”, 180 lb. muscle man runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and can bench press over 250 pounds.

When he isn’t play football, Billy finds time to play point guard for the basketball team. Last year he helped lead the Tigers to a 21-5 record and runner-up in the Akron Regional. This year he tops the team in scoring.

So what are Billy’s chances to suit up this coming season? “The coaches can’t tell me I’d play right now,” he said. “But they told me if I come and do what I know how, I could be on the field as a freshman. And I want to play. I don’t want to sit out a year and wait. I want to be on the college level. I talked to the position coach when I went up for my official visit. He really liked me. Saw a lot of my highlight films. He can’t wait until I get up there.”

Here’s the press op from the University of Toledo’s web site:

“Billy Relford (DB, 5-9, 180, Massillon, OH/Washington): Relford had 16 interceptions in his high school career, 12 as a junior and four as a senior. He earned all-district and all-state honors as a senior, and was named to's All-Ohio Division I team. Relford was named team MVP in both his junior and senior seasons, the first player to earn two MVP honors in the tradition-rich history of Massillon Washington High School. His senior stats included: 30 tackles, 19 catches for 417 yards and 6 TD's, 25 punt returns for 270 yards and 14 kick returns for 362 yards. Relford was chosen to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game and in the "Big 33" All-Star Game. He also runs track and is averaging 22 points per game on the baskeball team.”

Photos by Obiefan

 Tuesday, January 27, 2004 

One Stop Shopping for High School Football Fans

by Tiger Don  1/27/04

While digging around on the Internet the other day I came across a really interesting web site: What struck me is that the site focuses on high school football throughout the land. Ned Freeman and Eric Maddy run it, and if memory serves, it’s a holdover from the old that yours truly was involved with prior to joining up with Massillon Proud.

Anyway, all you have to do is click any state and you’re promptly sent to pages that provide that state’s playoff results, in addition to the standings for every league and records of each team in those leagues. Simply amazing!

For instance, Valdosta, GA, plays in the 1-AAAAA conference, where they finished 5-0 in league play 3-2 against non-league foes for a regular season mark of 8-2. Class AAAAA comprises 83 teams and 16 were invited to post season play, including Valdosta. In the playoffs the Wildcats went 3-1, losing to Camden County in the finals, 21-14.

De La Salle, the California power you read about in USA Today, went 10-0 in the regular season, outscoring its opposition 395-45. That included a 27-10 win over Evangel Christian from Louisiana. De La Salle subsequently rolled through three playoff foes to win the North Coast Championship, one of ten regions in the state. There’s no California state championship. Interestingly, De La Salle plays in the Bay Valley League, but their contests against other league members are not counted in the standings. I guess the other schools just don’t like the parochial-public advantage in football.

Speaking of Evangel, they compiled a record of 10-4 and finished second in the state in Class 5A, losing to Hahnville, 41-25.

And Warren Central won Indiana’s state championship with a 57-7 blowout of Penn. In case you don’t remember, Central was the team that handed Cincinnati Elder a 45-20 loss. But they did lose a couple of games along the way.

Do you remember Miami Southridge? They went 11-2 last year, but lost in the state quarterfinals.

How about Clovis West, Shepas’ first opponent as Tiger coach in 1998. They went 11-1-1. Participating in the California’s Central Region, West lost to Clovis East 15-9 in their version of a title game.

So you can see that for a statistics nut like me this site is a dream come true. But check it out for yourself and you’ll be amazed at the amount of info available at your fingertips.

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