CANTON, Ohio — There's no debate as to who rules the gridiron in Stark County.
Massillon Washington made that known to all Saturday afternoon with a dominating 35-14 win over archrival Canton McKinley. It's the Tigers' sixth straight win in the series, the longest streak for either team since they won their ninth in a row over the Bulldogs back in 1965.
Early on, it looked like this would be another classic back-and-fourth affair between the two heavyweight football programs, and McKinley actually led 13-7 at halftime thanks to touchdowns from Chris Williams and Amarion Williams. But Darrius McElroy scored on a 4-yard keeper to put Massillon back ahead midway through the third quarter, and things quickly turned from there.
An Austin Brawley interception of Williams set up another rushing TD by McElroy, and the Tigers clung to the eight-point advantage into the fourth. It remained that way until Freddie Lenix Jr. brought the visiting crowd to its feet and took the ball 68 yards to the house, his second of the day after a 46-yarder in the first period.
A fumble on the ensuing kickoff essentially sealed the Bulldogs' fate, and a late touchdown by Nathan Depuy provided the final margin and capped a run of 28 unanswered points. Despite the electric efforts of Lenix, McElroy was named MVP of he game, which was presented as the 1,000th matchup in the national Great American Rivalry Series.
This year's contest marked the return of a full-capacity crowd after a one-year absence, and nearly 20,000 packed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for the occasion. Just 1,700 (mostly friends and family of the players) attended the 2020 game due to COVID-19 restrictions.
At 8-2, Massillon has clinched the fourth seed in Division II's Region 7 and will host No. 13 Columbus Independence in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs this Friday. 6-4 McKinley is No. 4 in Division I's Region 1 and will welcome 13th-seeded Solon to Canton.