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Old 11-25-17, 11:49 PM
DB135 DB135 is offline
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Commentary: 'Special' seniors raise the bar for Tigers

Nov 25, 2017 6:09 PM


The timeout had no strategic impact on the game's outcome. It's had all the impact in the world when it came to Massillon's football team.

Mere seconds remained in the Tigers' Division II state-semifinal loss to Cincinnati Winton Woods on Friday when Massillon coach Nate Moore asked for time. During that break, he had all of his team's seniors line up in a row facing their teammates and fans and walk to the sidelines together.

One final curtain call for a small but impactful collection of Tigers who had led the way to a 2017 season many never foresaw happening.

"They were a special group," Moore said outside the locker room after the game. "There weren't a lot of people who gave us a chance to do anything like this. I'm really proud of them for raising the bar this year for the guys we have coming back."

Much of the 2017 season was spent talking about the youth on Massillon's roster. It was why there were some fans, quietly, wondering coming into the season what the ceiling truly was for the Tigers.

The seniors, however, knew nothing about youth. The 2017 season was their time, their opportunity, and they were going to do what they had to do to make sure it was as special as possible.

They showed what the ceiling was for their group. A 10-win season for the first time since 2009, which was also the last time the program won a regional championship.

A group of those seniors were at a mid-season Touchdown Club meeting when one of the older members of the club offered up some public praise to them for how they had played to that point and how much he enjoyed watching them. He closed out his comments with, "I can't wait to see what next year holds."

It's took less time than it takes to flip a light switch for at least two of the seniors standing in front of the club to respond, almost in unison, "We're not done yet this year."

They weren't done yet. Not by a long shot.

In fact, they may have saved their very best for the very end, regardless of their final final score. They did so in the face of doubters who told them they weren't a very big group or that they were presiding over a rebuilding year.

For seniors, no two words mean less than the words "next year." There is no next year for a senior, which is why they did their best to set the tone for the Tigers to put off talk of "next year" for as long as possible.

They did so right up until the very last game. The fingerprints of the senior class were all over the start of the state semifinal game.

There was the senior, Anthony Ballard, giving his team the ball on the very first play with an interception. Then, later, giving it a 14-0 lead due to the head's-up play of picking up a blocked field goal and returning it for a touchdown.

There was the senior, Austin Kutscher, doing what he had done all season, which was make big catches and big plays on offense. He took a slip-screen on the game's third play and outran the Winton Woods defense - and he probably would've tried to outrun the entire city of Cincinnati if needed - to give his team a 7-0 lead.

Then, in a play which showed the present and the future for Massillon, Kutscher was on the receiving end of a 50-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-0. It was a play which started with a sophomore (Aidan Longwell) handing off to a junior (Tyree Broyles), who flipped it to freshman (Jayden Ballard) coming back the other way, who then threw a perfect pass into the senior's hands.

One play which epitomized both the talent of the 2017 Tigers and the potential going forward. That potential going forward, however, does so knowing full well what is departing has made the climb that much harder because of how high they set the target.

"The experience is important," said Moore of his returnees for next year, which includes 20 of 22 possible offensive or defensive starting spots potentially filled by individuals who have started multiple games previously. "I think, maybe, more important than that is the motivation to get back. To be so close, I hope that's a highly, highly motivating factor. for these guys."

That's what happens when the bar gets raised. Which is exactly what the Tiger seniors did as they took one final curtain call in front of teammates and fans in the state semifinals.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE
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Old 12-01-17, 02:31 PM
BigWorm BigWorm is offline
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Originally Posted by DB135 View Post
How's you team doing? Qualify for the playoffs?
3 peat baby
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Old 12-04-17, 11:50 AM
BigWorm BigWorm is offline
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Can Massilon take the next step next year?
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Old 12-26-17, 02:22 PM
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Tigers on ‘right trajectory’ after state-semifinal season

By Chris Easterling
IndeOnline.com Sports Editor

Posted at 6:47 AM

Nate Moore’s third season in Massillon brings with it the program’s first 10-win season, first regional title since 2009.

MASSILLON Nate Moore was sitting in his office days before his football team would play in the Division II state semifinals against Cincinnati Winton Woods.

The topic of conversation that day wasn’t just the Tigers’ impending playoff showdown, the first state-semifinal appearance for the program since 2009. It was also about where the program stood in Moore’s third season at the helm.

Even as his team prepared for the program’s biggest game in almost a decade, Moore acknowledged there remained work to be done.

“I don’t know if we’re 100-percent there yet,” Moore said at the time. “I don’t know if we’re 100-percent there where they are raising the bar that we’ve set. They’re doing really good taking ownership of our expectations. I think there’s another level that we can get to.”

Massillon’s season would end that Friday night in a loss to Winton Woods, just a step short of the state championship game. The Tigers would still amass a 10-4 record and their first regional championship since dropping down to Division II in 2013, while also retaining the Victory Bell for a second consecutive year after beating archrival McKinley to end the regular season.

For Moore, though, all of that is part of the building process. It’s all a part of a vision he had for the Massillon program when he was hired in January 2015, fresh off of winning a Division II state title at Cincinnati La Salle the previous season.

The Tigers weren’t able to duplicate what Moore did in 2014 at La Salle. While that remains the ultimate goal, what he saw from his team during the season gave him reason to believe it’s quite possible in the future, even the near future.

“I think we’re on the right trajectory, the right path,” Moore said. “The kids are playing hard. That’s what makes you the most proud as a coach is when your kids go out there and they just get after it. The worse thing you can hear is that your kids aren’t tough or your kids, they don’t play hard. There’s nothing worse than that. To put on the film and just seeing our kids get after it, that’s where you want to be. You roll out against the opponent and just play as hard as you can.”

Before the season began, there were questions about what the 2017 Tigers were. A team full of youth and/or inexperience, many wondered if their reality would match their potential.

After a season-opening loss to eventual Division I state runner-up Mentor, Massillon would win its next five games. However, the Tigers stumbled a bit heading into the finale against McKinley, losing two of their three games ahead of the traditional Week 10 showdown.

Turns out, in many ways, that showdown in Canton would come to define Massillon’s season in ways few could’ve expected even as game day arrived. The traits the Tigers would showcase over their playoff run - swarming defense, confident offense and solid special teams - came out into that 15-13 win over the Bulldogs.

Even as junior running back Jamir Thomas emerged as a 1,506-yard rusher - 515 of those in the playoffs - and Austin Kutscher put together a 1,349-yard receiving season, however, there was also a selflessness which showed itself the longer the season went along. That selflessness was something Moore believes was a trait both players and coaches held.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place,” Moore said. “Right now, we’re reaping the benefits of a coaching staff that’s talented and works really, really hard. It does not care who gets the credit. Our kids are talented and work really hard and doesn’t care who gets the credit. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Which is a good place to be, even with room to grow even more.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.
On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE
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Old 12-26-17, 03:06 PM
DB135 DB135 is offline
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Massillon's Moore to coach big-school North all-star team

Dec 10, 2017 4:55 PM

MASSILLON Massillon head coach Nate Moore will lead the Division I-III North team in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game in April at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Moore guided the Tigers to a 10-4 record this fall. Massillon then won its first regional championship since 2009 before losing to Cincinnati Winton Woods in the Division II state semifinals.

In three seasons at Massillon, Moore is 22-13 with a pair of playoff appearances.
The coaches for the teams are chosen by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, which also runs the game. The players for the game will be chosen in January.

The other head coaches will be Dresden Tri-Valley's Justin Buttermore (South Division I-III), Findlay Liberty Benton's Tim Nichols (North Division IV-VII) and Loramie's Witt Parks (South Division IV-VII). The game will be played on April 28 in Massillon, the second consecutive year the game has been back in Stark County.

Moore's coaching staff for the big-school North team will also feature Barberton's Tony Gotto, Medina Buckeye's Greg Dennison, University School's Ben Malbasa, Oregon Clay's John Galyas and Rootstown's Mark Geis. Buttermore's big-school South team will have on its staff Northmont's Tony Broeing, Walnut Ridge's Byron Mattox, Cincinnati Anderson's Evan Dryer, Sydney's Adam Doenges and Teays Valley's Mark Weber.

The small-school North coaching staff will also include South Range's Dan Yeagley, Liberty's Chet Allen, Orange's Adam Bechlem, Milan Edison's James Hall and Archbold's David Dominique. Shaw's Rick Meeks, John Glenn's Matt Edwards, Hannibal River's Mike Flanery, Coal Grove's Evan Ferguson and Grandview's Jason Peters will be on the small-school South team's coaching staff.
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