Morning Huddle: Massillon’s live tiger sidelined?


JJ’s Morning Huddle: A daily dose of News, Notes & Nuggets from around the state

• A new bill could sideline Massillon’s mascot

• South trumps North 48-13 in All-Star Football Classic

• Nielsen ratings on The Decision announced
• ESPN, FoxSports Ohio to cover more high school football games this fall

Obie no more? The live tiger mascot that roams the sidelines at Massillon’s home games may be forced out of the stadium pending passage of a bill that’s sitting on Gov. Ted Strickland’s desk. The new law would aim to stop the flow of wild animals into private hands. “It would be a shame if we got rid of Obie,” Bob Hollender, a member of the Tiger Booster Club and a 29-year veteran of the Obie Crew, told The Independent. “This tradition has gone on for 41 years now. Forty-one years. There will be a lot of unhappy people in Massillon if we can’t get a new baby Obie.” It’s not immediately clear how Obie might be affected by the bill, but a lot of Tigers fans are nervous. “Obie is one of the best things about the Tiger football program,” Hollender said. “All of the kids – little kids and even grown-ups – love Obie.”

The verdict on The Decision: Last Thursday’s hour-long ESPN special with Lebron James turned out to be the third-most-watched program on cable television this year. The Nielsen Co. estimates that 9.95 million people watched The Decision. That puts it behind just two other broadcasts: 1) the NFL Pro Bowl with 12.3 million, and 2) an episode of “ICarly” (whatever that is) on Nickelodeon where 11.2 million tuned in. More Clevelanders, of course, watched the show than residents of any other city. All told, an estimated one in four homes with televisions tuned in. It’s safe to say then that 25 percent of the TV-owning crowd in Cleveland wasn’t too happy last Thursday.

All-Star Football Classic: South trumped the North 48-13 in Saturday’s Buckeye Superstore/McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic at Lexington High School. Lexington’s Zach Collins was particularly impressive at quarterback. Headed to Buffalo this fall, Collins tossed two TDs (a 31-yarder to Marion Harding’s Eric Gilmore and a 66-yarder Lexington Minuteman Kenya Coombs). Collins played backup quarterback last season for another impressive Lexington quarterback: Courtney Avery who committed to Michigan. Collings likely would have started at QB if he were at “any other area school.” “It’s always nice to start,” Collins told the Mansfield New Journal, “but I just do what the coaches say. I was asked to play in this game to give (the South) more depth at quarterback.” Coombs was named the game’s offensive MVP with two touchdowns despite playing with a tender hamstring.

Coming to a TV near you: ESPN officially announced they’ll cover the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown doubleheader on Aug. 29 at St. Xavier. St. Xavier will play Good Counsel (Md.) at 3 p.m. on ESPN, followed by Moeller vs. Huber Heights Wayne at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. Expect a lot of eyes on Buckeyes recruit Braxton Miller and Moeller’s senior defensive lineman Jesse Hayes, who has more than 20 scholarship offers. FoxSports Ohio has also announced that they’ll cover the 7 p.m. Sept. 30 matchup between Solon and Mayfield. It’ll be a contentious battle as the Solon Comets knocked off Mayfield twice last year (the only two losses of the season for the Wildcats).

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