Sunday, August 13, 2006

Latest Sign of the Apocalypse

They are Ohio's most storied high school football team. They play in a 17,000 seat stadium that fills up every Friday night during football season. Not only that, but they also have an internet following most Division I colleges would envy, and their games get top billing on the local ESPN radio affiliate.

Their alumni include one of the Four Horseman of Notre Dame, and Ohio's greatest football legend, who was also their finest coach. The team's rivalry with Canton McKinley has not only been celebrated in an award winning documentary film, but as one reviewer pointed out, it's the only high school football game in the nation for which Vegas posts odds.

They've won 22 state championships and are second in the nation in total wins. While none of those state titles has come since the state playoff format was instituted, they've come tantalizingly close. In addition to falling to Cincinnati St. X in last year's state championship, they've lost state championship games to juggernauts like Gerry Faust's Moeller teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s and state semi-finals to the great St. Ignatius teams of the early 1990s.

Of course, I'm talking about the Massillon Tigers. They may be the quintessential big-time high school football program, but--believe it or not-- according to this article in today's Canton Repository, it's just possible that they are about to go down a class into Division II. There's nothing underhanded about the move and, if it happens, it will probably guarantee them some of the state championship hardware that they undoubtedly covet. Still, there's something very strange about the thought of the mighty Massillon Tigers becoming a Division II team.

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