By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor
MASSILLON Versatility of the Massillon offensive line has been huge all season. And as the Tigers began their Division II playoff run on Friday night against Nordonia, it was tested to the limits.
A leg injury to tackle Devin Williams in the McKinley game last week had Massillon already looking at possibly being short-handed. On top of that, center Nathaniel Devers came down with mononucleosis, which sidelined him Friday, and potentially longer.
Then, with 4:29 left in the first quarter, Ronnie Humphrey went down with a leg injury. Humphrey had moved to center to replace Devers.
Williams ultimately came in to play tackle when Humphrey went down. Evan Berbari, who had started at tackle for Williams, shifted to center.
The other adjustments came with Bushman lining up at guard next to Berbari. George Papacostas was at strong guard, next to tackle Chase Lash.
In last week’s game at McKinley, Papacostas played tackle in Williams’ place. Bushman, meanwhile played guard. Berbari also saw some time during that game.
Once again, Massillon elevated a handful of its freshman to the varsity roster for the playoffs. It was similar as a year ago, when a number of the freshmen actually saw minutes in the 2012 rout of Nordonia.
A total of 11 freshmen have been given the opportunity to practice with the varsity for the duration of the playoffs, as well as dress for games. Massillon coach Jason Hall has said in the past, the chance for those players to get extra practice reps was at the heart of the decision to promote those players.
This year, Seth Blankenship, Jacob Risher, Marcus Perrin, Ben Brahler, Kordell Ford, Deven Roth, Malcolm Robinson, Cody Flood, Austin Jasinski, Dillon Delong and Chris Anthony were promoted. They join classmate Danny Clark, who has been the Tigers’ starting quarterback for the last nine regular-season games as well as the playoff opener.
Reed Fichter was in uniform for the second straight game as he recovers from a broken leg. A week ago, he made his first appearance since suffering the leg injury against Firestone.
Fichter went through multiple drills during warmups with trainer John Hays, testing the leg out. He admitted a twinge or two, but seemed to be moving much better than even a week ago when he dressed for the McKinley.
In that 34-7 win over the Bulldogs, Fichter appeared for the final three kneel-downs.
Wilson hits mark
Lyron Wilson wasted no time to get that one yard he needed to top the 1,000-yard rushing plateau. On his first carry, he broke loose for a 52-yard run to the Nordonia 28.
Wilson entered the game at 999 yards for the season. The run made him the fourth 1,000-yard rusher in Hall’s six seasons, joining J.T. Turner (2008), Alex Winters (2009) and Ryne Moore (2012).
By halftime, Wilson was already over the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, with 115 yards on 13 carries.
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