Saturday, May 24, 2014

COUNTDOWN: 96 Days until 2014 Massillon Tiger Football Season

I was not able to find any relevant stories regarding players who wore the #96.  My current program collection only goes back 25 years.  Please feel free to submit your players names of those who wore the #96

- Eric Smith

96 Years Ago in Massillon Football History

1918 (2-2-2)
New Philadelphia01
Cancelled - flu epidemic
Cancelled - flu epidemic
Toledo Scott735
Cancelled - flu epidemic
Youngstown Rayen77

The 1918 Season had a little bit of everything when you look back at the recaps of each game.  The 1918 season saw the highest scoring game in the Massillon Tigers short history (82 points), a forfeit in which the Tigers led during the game and eventually were pulled from the field by the head coach because of a perceived bias of the umpire of the game, a flu epidemic which cancelled 3 games, two tie games and no game against Canton.

1996 Massillon Tiger Football Season

1996 (9-2)
Mans. Madison336
Lima Senior2814
Akron Garfield366
Mans. Senior4228
Austin Fitch109
Walsh Jesuit3410
Naperville C. Ill.2113
Cin. Moeller2015
Ak. St. Vincent477
Can. McKinley021

The 1996 Massillon Tigers at one point during the season were the Number 1 ranked team in Division 1 in the State of Ohio.  However, as Massillonians know all to well a ranking like this is worth nothing more than the paper it is written on.  Below is a good recap of the 1996 season previously written by Keno Sultan.

A forgotten team: The 1996 Massillon Tigers were one of a kind until the 10th week
By Keno Sultan
MASSILLON—The 1996 Massillon Tigers team were one that former Cleveland Benedictine product and NFL Hall of Fame coach and four-time Super Bowl winner Chuck Noll will have loved to coach.

The Tigers bulldozed opponents with a feared rushing attack, boasted a massive offensive line, and a feral defense that victimized teams with every killer tackle or hit inflicted.
But on Saturday, November 2nd, a season that witnessed the Tigers being ranked #1 in the Ohio Division I poll and #2 in the nation met a jaded ending. Heavily favored against a Canton McKinley team needing a victory to qualify for the playoffs, the Tigers vaunted ground game was relegated under 100 yards for the first time all season and the team saw their case for a 10-0 season voraciously chewed up and spat out in front of their faithful votaries in a freakish 21-0 loss at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium that left the Tigers regular season at 9-1 in the 103rd renewal of the Canton McKinley-Massillon rivalry.

Before that game, Devin Williams Sr. was a youth who grew up with aspirations of wearing a Massillon jersey and scoring touchdowns for the Tigers and playing against Canton McKinley. The eighth grade head football coach at Massillon Jr. High School reminisced his days that made him become tingly all over when mentioned about his days as a Tigers wide receiver.

“It is a feeling that gets your hairs standing up when you know you're playing for Massillon and you run out of the tunnel and onto that field at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium,” Williams Sr. recalled. “But once I got to a junior college and there were like 200 people aside from the 10,000-11,000 that were inside Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, I remember asking myself 'what happened',” he said.
Williams Sr. did not hesitate when asked about his favorite contest against Canton McKinley. Look no further than Travis McGuire's slashing and thrashing of the Canton McKinley defense for 302 yards and five touchdowns in a pulsating performance that was shining as a jade stone as the Tigers mercilessly quenched Canton McKinley 42-13 inside the confines of Fawcett Stadium.

“I remember that game as a kid. Travis ripped Canton McKinley and that was my favorite game ever,” he said.

Going into his senior year, Massillon had finished the 1995 season 7-3 and may have had an eight-win season if it were not for a late turnover inside the Canton McKinley five-yard line that allowed the Bulldogs to escape with a 24-21 win.

In 1996, Massillon was ready to make an emphatic statement. And for the first nine games, the Tigers had their way with challengers. And then it all went to extinction against the Bulldogs. Williams Sr. recalled seeing his teammates breaking down, weeping, wailing, and hugging each other through flowing tears near the end of the game as Massillon fans filed out of Paul Brown Tiger Stadium with their heads lowered and eyes viewing nothing but asphalt.

“We were ranked number one in Ohio and number two in the nation and we were riding high. We were playing a Canton McKinley team that was starting a lot of underclassmen and we thought we would roll all over them in our stadium and it didn't happen,” he said with an edge of disappointment in his voice. “That game humbled us and it will do that to you.”

“As a team, we were very close. We all grew up in the same neighborhood. We had no arguments, no trouble and we always hung together. We are still close and still talk about the football games to this day.”

Saturday afternoon will be an emotional one for the former receiver. His son, Devin Jr. will get his first chance to do what his father was able to do just once as a Massillon player, defeat Canton McKinley. Massillon enters Saturday's contest ranked number one in region 2 and are currently staring down the barrel of an undefeated home regular season as they are 6-0 facing a Canton McKinley team that is brandishing a 3-1 record on the road this year.

However, Williams Sr. does not want to see 25 seniors conclude their Massillon careers without turning back Canton McKinley in the regular season. Three times aside from a 2009 playoff win, Massillon has been on the losing end of the scoreboard in losses of 35-21, 40-17, and 23-20 and have been outscored 98-58 in those losses for an average of 32.6 to 19.3 over those contests.

That is an ignoble statistic Williams Sr. hopes reverses promptly not just for the salve of their senior years but also for upcoming Massillon teams and seeing the Victory Bell back in Massillon at 5 p.m.

“I just tell the seniors playing Saturday afternoon and others to leave it all out there on the field. In my three years of high school, I only tasted a win over Canton McKinley once and that was the 100th game. I lost in my junior and senior year. I know what they are going through and what they are feeling. To beat Canton McKinley, they just have to let it all hang out there and leave it all on the field and give it all they got,” he said. “I have spoken to my son Devin Jr. (an offensive lineman) and have told him to go out and get it done. Use the techniques that your coaches have taught you. This is your first game against Canton McKinley. Don't take it for granted, go out and get the job done.”

Recently, Williams Sr. saw his eighth-grade team complete a flawless season and the seventh grade team lost only one contest. Also having a humongous factor in the success of the junior high team also was Brian Pachis, who coached at the junior high before making the transition to assistant athletic director at Washington High School, which Williams Sr. has taken the reins and have become successful.

He wants youths and his players to attend every Massillon game and every game against Canton McKinley as possible. He wants them to be model citizens not just on the field but also in the classroom and set the tone for the foreseeable future.

“I tell my kids to watch the players playing the position they are playing. I want them to go to the games and to learn from them. We have a bright future coming up as our seventh grade team lost only once, the eighth grade team was undefeated and the Massillon freshman team (at press time) are going for an undefeated season,” Williams Sr. said.

There is not a single day that goes by Williams Sr. when he thinks about the tragedy that occurred at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in 1996. He attested that if he were to have that game back, things would have changed differently. He does not want the 2012 Tigers to go through what he went through and expects them to do everything they can to avert a Bulldog celebration at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for the second time in three years.

If Massillon has one thing going for them since 1998, they are 2-1 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium against first-year Canton McKinley coaches coaching their first Canton McKinley-Massillon game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. For Canton McKinley head coach Todd Filtz, it will be his first.

“If I could have that 1996 game back, we will have had a different mindset and we would have got the job done and rode the momentum to the Division I state championship game on our home field. But it didn't happen that way,” Williams Sr. said.

The 1996 Massillon Tigers team were the type of team Chuck Noll would have loved to coach. However, one loss asphyxiated the hopes of a team aiming for an undefeated regular season in the one game that mattered most.


Massillon never really recovered from their ghastly loss to Canton McKinley, who obtained the fourth and final playoff spot by virtue of their unlikely victory. The Tigers season ended in a 7-6 decision to Brunswick at the Akron Rubber Bowl as Christian Morgan's 89-yard touchdown run was the difference. Canton McKinley's season ended two weeks later in a 31-24 defeat in the Division I state semifinals in the same Rubber Bowl to Cleveland St. Ignatius, who lost their shot at a sixth straight Division I title the next week to Lima Senior 38-30 in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. To Williams Sr., the 21-0 loss still to this day is the most devastating loss in his Massillon career. His prep coach, Jack Rose ended his six year tenure at Massillon 1-6 against the Bulldogs with his lone victory coming in the 100th game, a 42-41 thriller at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.