Steubenville-Massillon; This is NOT just another football game


Steubenville and Massillon tangle for the first time in 31 years.

It’s not often that Steubenville takes a backseat to anyone in regards
to Ohio High School Football, but Massillon Washington can say with
confidence that Big Red is in its rearview mirror. That doesn’t
necessarily mean its true.

Friday night we find out.

It’s not often that Steubenville takes a backseat to anyone in regards to Ohio High School Football, but Massillon Washington can say with confidence that Big Red is in its rearview mirror. That doesn’t necessarily mean its true.

Friday night we find out.

This is NOT just another football game.

This is THE football game of the regular season.

In a match-up described as epic, classic and divine on the JJHuddle message boards for the past nine months, Steubenville puts its 66-game regular season and 58-game home win streaks on the line Friday when it entertains Massillon at Harding Stadium, aka Death Valley, in what’s arguably the biggest regular season game – not only this year – but in recent Ohio history.

The annual meetings between powers from the Greater Catholic League (Moeller-Elder), Midwest Athletic Conference (St. Henry-Coldwater) and even McKinley-Massillon resonate, but are exactly that – annual. This isn’t.

I can hear the Monday Night Football theme right now.

Since the match-up was announced in the winter, discussion of the game and what is going to happen, when, and by whom, has logged over 60,000 views on two JJHuddle threads. One of the threads registered 21,000 views in the last six days alone.

The mayors of both towns made a joint statement earlier this week saying they hope sportsmanship carries over to the stands following the arrest of an off-duty Steubenville police officer by Massillon police two weeks ago for a fight in the crowd at a freshman game between the two schools.

And what’s worth baring knuckles for here you ask? The answer is plenty.

This is Goliath against himself. Or at least a slightly smaller version.

Massillon wreaks tradition. Steubenville oozes it.

Massillon ranks third nationally and is Ohio’s all-time leader in victories (791). Steubenville is third (710) and just one of three schools in Ohio with over 700 wins. McKinley is the other (763).

Massillon owns nine national championships and 22 state titles, but none since 1970. Since the playoff system started in 1972, Massillon has been to the postseason 17 times and is 22-17 with three big school state championship game appearances. The Tigers have lost all three.

Still, this is the place where baby boys are given footballs at birth – and where Paul Brown, Lee Tressel, Leo Stang and Earle Bruce coached.

Steubenville is where current head coach Reno Saccoccia has walked the sidelines of a field now named after him since 1983. His first season? Big Red went 10-0. Second season? 13-0 and state champions.

Since then Saccoccia has added two more state titles to the trophy case (2005-06) and 10 more undefeated seasons including six straight. Saccoccia is the program’s all-time leader in victories (277).

Big Red has been to the playoffs 21 times and owns a 42-18 record with six state championship game appearances, including last year in D-IV.

Steubenville’s history is two-fold though. Big Red claimed five state titles before 1936 and actually shared the 1935 AP state title with Massillon. Steubenville also won the state title in 1951.

The Big Red single season rushing record is still held by George “Puck” Burgwin who rushed for 2,126 yards in nine games in 1931. Burgwin (1929-32) is also the program’s career rushing record-holder (5,614 yards).

In addition to their lengthy individual histories, the two schools do have a history together.

Steubenville and Massillon were both members of the former All-American Conference and have played each other 42 times, but they haven’t met since 1978. Massillon owns a commanding 37-3-2 series lead.

Two of Steubenville’s rare victories were back-to-back wins in 1930 and 1931.

In 1930, Big Red beat the Tigers 19-0 en route to an undefeated, unscored upon season.

In 1931 Steubenville beat Massillon 68-0 with a rushing performance (784 yards in the game) that still stands today as an Ohio record.

The 1931 victory is also Big Red’s last over Massillon at Harding Stadium.

Steubenville’s only other win over Massillon came in 1962.

Do they get another Friday?

“I guess what I’ve let (my team) know is that we’re the biggest game on their schedule,” Massillon head coach Jason Hall told the Massillon Independent. “That’s not to downplay them. This is a big game for both communities.”

This is THE big game in Ohio.

Buckle up.

THE SKINNY: Much has been made of Massillon being a Division I school and Steubenville being a D-III school and a year removed from playing in D-IV. Big Red has proven though that size doesn’t equate to victory.

In Week 2, Steubenville shutout Pennsylvania-big school stalwart Woodland Hills 13-0.  Woodland Hills has since gone undefeated and in the past couple weeks has beaten Pittsburgh Central Catholic and defending WPIAL state champ Bethel Park. Woodland Hills, currently ranked No. 3 in Pennsylvania, is now one of the favorites to win the state’s largest classification.

Big Red’s defense is anchored by junior linebacker Shaq Petteway who has offers from Michigan State and West Virginia. Offensively Big Red rolls with standout senior quarterback Dwight Macon who committed to Central Michigan on Thursday.

Massillon, coming off a controversial 26-21 loss to Ohio’s No. 1 D-I team Cleveland St. Ignatius, counters with one of its best teams in recent memory. Stalwarts are senior quarterback Robert Partridge (Marshall, Ohio, Toledo offers) and senior receiver/defensive back Bo Grunder (Air Force).

Several scouts have pointed out that physically Massillon is superior to Steubenville and will create problems with its size. Question is…How do you measure heart?

PREDICTION: Steubenville 21, Massillon 14

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