MASSILLON, Ohio — Before driving through on the Lincoln Highway on Saturday, I had never been in this Stark County city before. I knew next to nothing about the place except that high school football was a big deal here. Granted, high school football is a storied tradition in a lot of places but in Massillon, its role in civic life might as well be written into the city charter. (And if it is actually written into the city charter, I wouldn’t be surprised.)
To illustrate the impact football has here, I’ll point you to the gigantic mural stylized as a Roman-like military triumphal arch called “A Century of Heroes” at Lincoln Way East and 1st Street. (And I thought my high school’s grandiose football stadium renovations were a bit over the top. East Grand Rapids Team Boosters: It may be time to think bigger and perhaps construct an actual Roman triumphal arch.)
The rivalry between Massillon’s Washington High School and Canton’s McKinley High School is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — in all of American sports. It traces its roots to the 1890s and was the subject of the 2001 documentary “Go Tigers!”
The primary road that links the rivalry between Canton and Massillon is the Lincoln Highway, known locally as Lincoln Way in Massillon and Tuscawaras Street in Canton.
While the rivalry is something remarkable, the Lincoln Highway in this section is not.