MANSFIELD — New Albany High School football coach Pat Samanich said Massillon Washington threw nothing at his team that he did not expect in the Division II, Region 7 final Nov. 17.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, that meant a balanced Tigers’ offense that posted 508 yards and held the ball for almost 32 minutes in a 24-6 win at Arlin Field.
Six-foot-1, 212-pound running back Jamir Thomas bruised his way to 164 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, Tigers quarterback Aidan Longwell further loosened the defense with 276 yards passing and a touchdown, and the weapons that helped New Albany to its fourth regional-final appearance in the past six years largely were neutralized.
“(Thomas) just put his team on his shoulders. (Longwell) made some big throws to move the chains. You have to tip your hat,” said Samanich, whose team was outgained 508-140 in total yards and finished 8-5. “Their defensive scheme is just well-coached guys running downhill and playing sound football. They did a great job of making our best difficult.”
New Albany running back Michiah Burton was held to 32 yards on 11 carries after amassing 389 yards and four touchdowns the past two weeks, and wide receiver Luke Muter had only two catches for 14 yards after catching seven passes for 134 yards and four scores in two previous playoff wins.
Thomas had a 2-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to cap a fast start that saw Massillon run 28 of the game’s first 34 plays and outgain the Eagles 168-15.
Longwell ran for an 11-yard touchdown and threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Austin Kutscher in the third quarter for a 24-0 lead.
Massillon improved to 10-3 and will play Cincinnati Winton Woods in a state semifinal on Nov. 24.
New Albany avoided a shutout when Jack Scharfe blocked the Tigers’ only punt attempt and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown with 9 minutes, 29 seconds to go.
“Other guys took up blockers, I saw the gap and got there,” Scharfe said. “I got the block, the ball was kind of fumbling around and then it squirted out. I picked it up and ran with it.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final NEW ALBANY 0 0 0 6 6 MASSILLON WASHINGTON
3 7 14 0 24
MW—Moll 25 FG
MW—Thomas 2 run (Moll kick)
MW—Longwell 11 run (Moll kick)
MW—Kutscher 22 from Longwell (Moll kick)
NA—Scharfe 13 fumble return (pass failed)