CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The Massillon Tigers are one of the most storied high school football programs in the state of Ohio and a new T-shirt is adding to its legacy.
Last year, in the state championship game the Tigers faced Akron Hoban, a private Catholic school, and came up short.
Massillon alumni Brock James, owner of TeeShopz, and his brother were in the stands that night.
“We were super upset, cold and frustrated,” James said. “We almost left during halftime due to the blowout at the end of the 2nd quarter.”
The brothers stuck it out, and although Massillon battled all the way back, it was Hoban who took the trophy for the fourth straight year.
It may have been cold that night but a fire was lit for James.
“Me and my brother wanted to release a cool shirt in response to our frustrations with parochial powerhouses,” James said.
They came up with “Tradition Over Tuition,” taking a shot at private schools that are often accused of recruiting players by offering them scholarships for tuition.
“We knew it was a diamond in the ruff and decided to hold out till the perfect time,” James said.
That time is now, ahead of Friday’s game when the two teams meet again, this time for a chance to go to the state championship game.
For James, who played for Massillon and graduated in 2003, there is a clear frustration around schools that seem to have an advantage by picking players as opposed to the kids who grow up in the district.
“Massillon players are born from the cradle to the grave in hopes to one day play on Paul Brown Tiger stadium,” James said. “We lost a Massillon born player to Hoban a few years back who ended up winning a state championship two times with Hoban. This obviously gave us a chip on our shoulder against Hoban last year. Tradition was not enough for him to ride out his high school career with the Tigers.”
The rivalry between Massillon and Hoban is a relatively new one but it’s heating up quickly with the pair playing so often in the state playoffs.
This T-shirt, which is nearly sold out, is now fanning the flames.
“T-shirt sales have been through the roof with shirts being sold all the way as far as Hawaii, California, Texas, Arizona and more,” James said.