The 2023 Massillon Team is In Small Company When Compared to Previous Squads

There is very little argument that this year’s Massillon football teams is one of the better ones seen in the last several years.  They are undefeated and have won fourteen games.  They have beaten some very good teams and are nationally ranked by several rating services. And they are playing in the state semifinals this Friday.  So, how do they stack up against other Tiger teams throughout recent and past history?

Aside from counting championships, the best way to judge a team is through offensive and defensive statistics.  For the running game it is simple: yards per carry.  For passing, a little more complicated: pass efficiency rating, a calculation that involves attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.  Then there are the obvious stats of win/loss record and points scored.  Finally, there is the performance rating; i.e., the percentage of time that a team gains a first down or scores a touchdown after starting with a first down play (percentage of success).

Here the rundown on the 2023 team:

  • Total wins (14) – This is the third time that the Tigers have accomplished this feat, the other two being in 2018 and 2019. And they can eclipse that mark with a win this Friday to become the all-time winningest team.
  • Average points scored (39.7) – This one is best measured using data from the years of the spread offense (1998-present). During those 26 years only four teams have a higher scoring average: 2018 (41.9), 2012 (40.8), 2019 (40.3) and 2002 (39.8).
  • Average points allowed (7.6) – This year’s mark is the best during the era of the spread offense.  The closest to that number was the 2019 team, which allowed 11.8 points per game.  Prior to that, the 1986 team surrendered 7.0, but finished 7-3 and failed to make the playoffs on account of a 2-point loss and a 4-point loss.
  • Rushing offense (6.7 yds/att.) – This is Coach Nate Moore’s best rushing attack in his nine years at the helm. The two most productive runners are quarterback Da’One Owens and running back Ja’Meir Gamble.  Owens, the first Tiger quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards, has put up 1,145 yards (9.7/att.) and Gamble has rushed for 893 yards (7.0/att.).   Should Gamble go over 1,000, this will be the first time since 1991 that two runners in the same season have accomplished that feat.  That year involved Travis McGuire (1,976) and Falando Ashcraft (1,353) and the team averaged 6.6 yards per attempt.  It is a potent offense when two high-caliber runners are in the backfield at the same time.
  • Rushing defense (1.6 yds/att.) – This is the best run defense in the last nine years (Nate Moore era), ahead of the 2021 team that allowed 2.8 yards per attempt. Recording of detailed statistics began in 1958 and no team since that year has matched that mark.  The 1952 team held opponents to 1.3 yards per attempt, but that number is estimated.
  • Passing offense (167 eff.) – The average efficiency rating over the last nine years is 168, so this mark is right on average. However, Owens has a rating this year of 166, while Jalen Slaughter has a rating of 189.
  • Passing defense (92 eff.) – This is by far the best mark over the past nine years, which demonstrates the improvement the Massillon coaches have made in this area. Opposing teams are completing just 42% of their passes.  The second best was the 2020 team, which had an efficiency rating of 122.  This asset should bode well against Cincinnati Anderson and their high-tempo, passing offense.
  • Offensive performance rating (86%) – The 2018 team had a rating of 85%. Prior to the spread offense, both the 1993 and 1970 teams had ratings of 84%.  The average over the past nine years is 80%.
  • Defensive performance rating (57%) – This is the second best mark during the era of the spread offense, behind the 2002 team, which had a rating of 51%. When a differential of offense rating minus defense rating is considered, the delta of 29% is surpassed by only two teams.  The 1970 team had a differential of 38% and the 1971 team had a differential of 30%.  However, neither played a schedule matching that of this year’s team.

So, one can see that the 2023 team is in small company in nearly every statistical category.  Nevertheless, they still need to prove it on the field.  And that resumes on Friday against Anderson and hopefully continues next week in the state finals.