Category: <span>Editorial</span>

Massillon is Once Again the Odds-On Favorite to Win…

Massillon is Once Again the Odds-On Favorite to Win Region 7

The Ohio High School Athletic Association this year re-assigned several schools to various playoff regions based on changing enrollment and current competitive balance adders, with consideration for consolidating geographic locations.  While Region 7 gained a few and lost a few, there appears to be no impact on Massillon’s projection as the clear favorite to once again win out in the region and advance to the state playoffs.  That is based on the Tigers having won last year’s Division II state title, having defeated the Division I champion in the regular season for the second consecutive year, winning four of the last five regional titles and returning a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball.  They also last year outscored their four regional opponents, 157-25.

The Makeup of Region 7

Seven teams have vacated the region from last year, including local schools Green, Lake and North Canton, which have been reassigned to Region 5, and Columbus-area schools Grove City Central Crossing, Watkins Memorial, Columbus Independence and Columbus West.  Taking their places are New Albany and Westerville Central from Division I and Ashland and Columbus Whitehall from Division III.  The region, which is comprised of 25 playoff participants, is heavily laden with teams from Columbus proper, while there are just three from the local area: Massillon, Perry and Wooster.

Regional Powers

The chart below shows the regional playoff performances over the past five years of all the teams in this year’s Region 7.  Massillon clearly stands out above the rest, with four regional titles and 19 playoff wins through inter-regional play.  Behind the Tigers are New Albany, Big Walnut and Columbus DeSales, followed by Canal Winchester and Westerville South.  The remaining teams have had little success in this span time and fall away from those mentioned above.

Note 1: In 2019 only eight teams qualified for the playoffs; there have been at least sixteen since.  So, in order to balance the data across the five years in the chart, the next eight regional placers in 2019 were recognized as having playoff appearances.

Note 2: First round play-in games during the 2020 Covid year are not included in the data.

New Albany – The Eagles have returned to the region having spent the last four years in Division I.  Their best year there came in 2022 when they ranked third in their region with a 7-3 record and went on to defeat Westerville North, Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington in the playoffs, before losing to Gahanna Lincoln.  Last year, they beat Westerville Central, but lost to Pickerington Central, 42-16.  In 2017 they lost 24-6 to Massillon in the Division II regional finals.

Big Walnut – The Golden Eagles have played ten playoff games over the past five year and have achieved modest success.  In 2022 they finished first in the regional rankings and commenced the playoffs with wins over Olentangy and Canal Winchester.  But in the third round they lost to Massillon, 42-21.

Columbus DeSales – The Stallions had a great year in 2020, although it occurred in Division III.  During that Covid year they finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Columbus Watterson.  Once in the playoffs, the ran off five straight wins before falling in double overtime to Chardon in the state finals.

Canal Winchester – The Indians have been a regular in the playoffs, but have never reached the regional finals.  Last year they managed to win a couple of playoff games, but fell 10-0 to Green.   In 2022 they faced Massillon in Round 2 and lost 23-0.

Westerville South – The Wildcats are a hit and miss in regards to qualifying for the playoffs.  Twice previously they faced the Tigers.  In 2021 they lost 50-19 and last year they lost 50-7.

Aside from those teams and possibly newcomer Westerville Central, there is not a lot of competition for the Tigers.  Approximately half of the teams in the region have not won a playoff game in the past five years.  And six did not even qualify, although three of them are Columbus City schools.  So, the bottom line is that if Massillon takes care of business, they should be considered the favorite in a head-to-head matchup against any other team in the region.

State Powers

The chart below lists the better Division II teams in the state based on playoff performance.  But when it comes to annually having a realistic chance to win a state title, just three teams at this moment rise to the top: Akron Hoban, Massillon and Avon.  Toledo Central Catholic, the 2022 champion, would have been included in this group, but they were downgraded to Division III a year ago.  Also, there appears to be a level of parity within the top group in that no team has won more than a single title in the past five years.

Akron Hoban – The Knights have an outstanding program and are annually considered as the team to beat in Division II.  However, it hasn’t always played out as expected over the past five years.  In 2020 they defeated Massillon in the finals to win the title, but since that time have come up short in state finals games, losing to Cincinnati Winton Woods, Toledo Central and Massillon.  In addition, they lost to Massillon in the 2019 regional finals.  But they have at least advanced to the state finals in four of the five years.  Their primary competitors are Hudson and Walsh Jesuit.

Massillon – The Tigers captured the crown last year with a 7-2 victory over Hoban, bolstered by a tremendous defensive performance.  It was their first title since 1970, having lost in the state finals in six previous attempts, and now claim 25 titles.  They also have more regional championships than any other large public school.  And they have reached the state finals in three of the five years.

Avon – The Eagles appear to be always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.  Although they have captured four regional titles in the last five years, they have never advanced to the state finals in Division II since the regional modifications occurred in 2013.  Three times they lost to Hoban in the state semifinals and Massillon defeated them 35-10 in the 2019 semis.  Also, their lone regional finals loss was to Toledo Central, which went on to take the crown that year.  But don’t count them out.  They always have a formidable team with great coaching.  Their primary competitors are Highland and Olmsted Falls.

Also of note is that Cincinnati Winton Woods, winner of the state title in 2021, has been moved up to Division I on account of an increased competitive advantage adder.

Wrapping up, look for Akron Hoban in Region 5, Avon in Region 6 and Massillon Region 7 to once again advance to the state semifinals.  Region 8 may be up for grabs.  But if any team stands out there it is probably Cincinnati Anderson, as they return stellar quarterback Justice Burnam.  But the Raptors will need to figure out how to climb the hill, based on their 55-7 state semifinal blowout loss to the Tigers last year.  Also keep an eye on Cincinnati LaSalle and Kings.

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The 2023 Massillon Team is In Small Company When…

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.

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Will Top Defensive Performances Translate into State Championships?

Will Top Defensive Performances Translate into State Championships?

There’s an old adage in football that goes: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.  So does one need to look no further than the teams with the great defenses in order to predict the eventual winners?  Maybe it’s as simple as that.  But maybe it’s not.  For, there is still a slew of teams with good records that have their goals set on taking home a state crown.

In the top two divisions there are 45 teams that have compiled records of 6-2 or better.  But, only about a third of them have given up two touchdowns or less per game, in spite of most possessing high-scoring offenses.  Here’s a look at the ones with the good scoring defenses.

Division 1 – Six of the 23 top teams in this division have good defensive numbers.  They are:

  • Lakewood St. Edward (7-1) – Average score, 33-13. Lost to Massillon (8-0).  Wins over Center Grove, IN (7-1) and Good Counsel, MD (5-1).  Finishes with Cincinnati Moeller (5-3) and Akron Hoban (8-0).
  • Gahanna Lincoln (8-0) – Average score, 34-9. No big wins recorded.  Plays Pickerington North (8-0) in Week 10.
  • Cincinnati Princeton (8-0) – Average score, 28-10. Wins over Lakota West (6-2) and Hamilton (6-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Westerville North (6-2) – Average score, 26-13. Lost to Westerville South (4-4) and Canal Winchester (8-0).  No challengers remain.
  • Centerville (7-1) – Average score, 24-13. Lost to Dublin Coffman (6-2).  Win over Miamisburg (6-2).  Plays Huber Heights Wayne (6-2) in Week 10.
  • Hamilton (6-2) – Average score, 22-13. Lost to Hamilton Badin (8-0) and Cincinnati Princeton (8-0).  No big wins.  Plays Lakota West (6-2) in Week 10.

Division 2 – Eight of the 22 top teams in this division have good defensive numbers.  They are:

  • Troy (7-1) – Average score, 35-4. Lost to Tippecanoe (6-2).  Win over Vandalia Butler (6-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Akron Hoban (7-0) – Average score, 40-7. Wins over Walsh Jesuit (7-1) and Cleveland Glenville (5-3).  Plays Lakewood St. Edward (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Cincinnati Winton Woods (6-2) – Average score, 23-7. Lost to Cincinnati Anderson (7-1) and Milford (8-0). Win over Trotwood-Madison (7-2).  No challengers remain.
  • Avon (8-0) – Average score, 40-8. Wins over Canton McKinley (7-1), Cleveland Glenville (5-3) and Olmsted Falls (6-2).  Plays Avon Lake (6-2) in Week 10.
  • Massillon (8-0) – Average score, 40-9. Wins over Valdosta, GA (5-2), Mansfield (6-2), Lakewood St. Edward (7-1), Middletown, DE (4-1) and St. John’s College, DC (3-3).  Plays Canton McKinley (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Canal Winchester (8-0) – Average score, 33-9. Win over Westerville North (6-2).  Plays Delaware Hayes (7-1) in Week 9.
  • Medina Highland (7-1) – Average score, 43-13. Win over Hudson (6-2).  Plays Aurora (7-1) in Week 10.
  • Uniontown Lake (6-2) – Average Score, 23-13. Lost to Alliance (4-4) and Canton McKinley (7-1).  Plays Green (5-3) in Week 10.

Will the eventual state champions come from these groups and thereby prove out the adage or will strong offenses rule the roost?  We’ll know the answer in another eight weeks.

Massillon Will Once Again Compete in Playoff Region 7

Massillon Will Once Again Compete in Playoff Region 7

The 2023 season opens on August 18 with 104 Division 2 teams competing for the ultimate prize: a state championship.  But first they need to qualify for one of the sixteen spots available in each of the four regions in order to at least have a shot.  Then, the eventual winner needs to win six consecutive games to survive the field and be crowned the new champion.

How the playoff landscape has changed over the years.  A wise man once said that there is nothing so certain as change.  And that is ever so true for Ohio high school football.  There was a time long ago that teams had up to four weeks and three scrimmages to prepare for a 10-game season, with the opening games scheduled for the Friday after Labor Day.  Now, the season starts before the corn is even ready to pick, with one less scrimmage and considerably less preseason prep time.  And all for the sake of adding additional rounds of playoff games, which is a format that most coaches don’t necessarily support.  But money talks.

Here’s a look back at the various changes that have occurred to the playoff system over years:

  • 1972 – State playoffs were introduced. 3 divisions with 4 teams per region.
  • 1980 – 5 divisions with 2 teams per region.
  • 1985 – 5 divisions with 4 teams per region.
  • 1994 – 6 divisions with 4 teams per region.
  • 1999 – 6 divisions with 8 teams per region.
  • 2013 – 7 divisions with 8 teams per region. Division 1 reduced to 75 teams.
  • 2020 – Covid. 7 divisions with every team invited to participate.
  • 2021 – 7 divisions with 16 teams per region.
  • Given the domination of the parochial schools in the playoffs, open enrollment was introduced, permitting students from outside a school district to enroll and participate in sports. It was believed to be a way to even the slate between the public and parochial schools.  Unfortunately, restrictions were put in place later that restricted the ability of a student to play a full season; i.e., a requirement to sit out the second half of the season plus playoffs during the first year of participation.
  • Later, as a compromise to separating the playoffs between public and parochial schools, a system of competitive advantage was introduced, which is designed to move schools up a division or two based on their geographic reach for student athletes. This mostly impacted parochial schools, as was anticipated.  It appears to have worked well in the lower divisions, but in Divisions 1 and 2, wherein 80% of Ohio students are enrolled, it had no positive effects.  No Division 2 team moved up to Division 1, while some very good teams in Divisions 3 and 4 moved up into Division 2.

Looking back, Massillon was initially a Division 1 team and a pretty competitive one at that, performing well against the best teams in the state.  Through 41 years they captured more regional championships than nearly any other team in the division and three times they advanced to the state championship game.  But they were caught up in the 2013 restructuring on account of decreasing enrollment and were thus moved down to Division 2.  Clearly, the competition in D2 is less than that of D1 for a team like Massillon, but there are still a few formidable teams to be concerned about, including Akron Hoban, Cincinnati LaSalle, Cincinnati Winton Woods and Avon.

During the first two years in Division 2, the Tigers were assigned to the Toledo region.  That changed in 2015 when they were transferred to the Columbus region.  There, Massillon has stayed, except for 2019 when they were assigned to the Cleveland region.  Massillon this year is once again in Region 7, a group comprised of 28 teams.  Twenty are from the Columbus area, six are from the Stark County area and two are located in remote parts of the state.

Most of the teams in Region 7 have returned this year.  But there was one change in that Dover moved down to Division 3 and Grove City Central Crossing moved into the region from Division 1.

Traditionally, those teams that placed in the Top 8 of the standings following the regular season have had the best shots at winning the region.  So, let’s assume that the Region 7 participants had been in place over each of the past five years and evaluate their overall performances.  Here are the results:

  • Finished in the Top 8 all five times – Massillon.
  • Finished in the Top 8 four times – Westerville South, North Canton and Columbus DeSales.
  • Finished in the Top 8 three times – Perry, Dublin Scioto and Wooster.
  • Finished in the Top 8 two times – Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Green, Teays Valley and Columbus Walnut Ridge.
  • Finished in the Top 8 one time – Watkins Memorial, Columbus Independence and Columbus Northland.
  • Never finished in the Top 8 – Twelve teams.
  • Top five average computer points per year over the 5-year span – Massillon (32.1), Westerville South (23.0), Columbus DeSales (20.0), North Canton (19.5) and Big Walnut (16.6).
  • Top win-loss records in the playoffs – Massillon (20-5), Columbus DeSales (7-4), Big Walnut (5-3), Perry (4-3), Lake (4-3) and Green (4-3).

Having qualified for the playoffs, the next measure of performance is the playoff games themselves.  Below is a performance breakdown covering the past ten years for the current teams in Region 7:

  • Massillon – 5 championships. 1 runner-up.
  • Perry – 2 championships. 1 runner-up.
  • Green – 1 championship.
  • Lake – 1 runner-up.
  • Dublin Scioto – 1 runner-up.
  • Worthington Kilbourne – 1 runner-up.

As expected, the Tigers have achieved some very good success during the ten years following the reassignment.  In nine out of ten years they qualified for the playoffs.  Five times they advanced to the state semifinals after winning the region.  And three times they played in the state finals.

So, since the restructuring of the divisions, few teams in the current Region 7 have consistently been in position to effectively compete for a regional title.  And even less, six out of 28, have ever experienced a regional championship game.  But let’s face it.  Based on the above data, the bottom line is that it’s annually Massillon’s region to lose.  And in most years they ARE the team to beat.  Nevertheless, you still need to play the games.  And those other teams want to win, too.

Statewide, if one was to predict the Division 2 final four, they would probably come up with these teams:

  • Region 5 – Akron Hoban (Austintown Fitch, Hudson and Walsh Jesuit contending)
  • Region 6 – Avon (Avon Lake, Medina Highland and North Olmsted contending)
  • Region 7 – Massillon (Lake and North Canton Contending)
  • Region 8 – Cincinnati Woods or Kings (Cincinnati Withrow contending)

Here are the Division 2 state champions since the realignment:

  • 2013 – Loveland defeated Cleveland Glenville
  • 2014 – Cincinnati LaSalle defeated Nordonia
  • 2015 – Cincinnati LaSalle defeated Perry
  • 2016 – Cincinnati LaSalle defeated Perry
  • 2017 – Akron Hoban defeated Cincinnati Winton Woods
  • 2018 – Akron Hoban defeated Massillon
  • 2019 – Cincinnati LaSalle defeated Massillon
  • 2020 – Akron Hoban defeated Massillon
  • 2021 – Cincinnati Winton Woods defeated Akron Hoban
  • 2022 – Toledo Central Catholic defeated Akron Hoban

Is Deferring to the Second Half the Correct Strategy?

Is Deferring to the Second Half the Correct Strategy?

We’ve seen it often enough.  The co-captains of the two opponents meet at the center of the field to determine which one kicks off and which one receives the ball to start the game.  The visiting team calls the toss.  The referee flings the coin into the air and identifies the winner, which then has a choice to make.  They either elect to receive the kick or defer until the second half.  Invariably, they elect to defer.  The loser of the toss is then left with one option: receive the ball.  For, choosing to kick off would most likely result in also kicking off in the second half as well and thereby forfeiting a possession.  The winner of the toss then selects the end of the field from which it will kick and the game begins.  It’s a rare day when the winner of the toss chooses to receive the opening kickoff.  But is deferring really the optimum strategy?


In earlier days of football the winner of the coin toss had a choice of either receiving the ball or defending a particular end of the field.  But this changed in 2008 when the NFL introduced the option for a team to defer their decision until the second half.  College and high school, of course, followed suit shortly thereafter.

Both options, receiving and deferring, have inherent advantages.  A team that receives the kick to start the game has an opportunity to score first.  Once on top, that team can then stay with their planned offense, as long as the score remains in their favor.  And, historically, a team that scores first wins the game about two-thirds of the time.

Conversely, a team that defers and kicks off subsequently starts the second half by receiving the ball.  This strategy provides the potential to open the scoring gap if they are ahead or close the gap if behind.  They might also receive an extra possession if they are the last team with the ball at the end of the game.  It could also be a psychological ploy to intimidate the opponent if they have an overwhelming defense.  Finally, there is the possibility of going back-to-back with scores if they tally right at the end of the first half and then again on their first possession of the second half.


But let’s go back to the original question: is deferring to the second half the right strategy?  Granted, the first two possessions of each half comprise a small segment of the overall game.  But any advantage that can be gained in defeating the great teams is certainly worthy of consideration.  To answer this question, a detailed analysis was performed, focusing specifically on Massillon and its game data from the last six seasons.

The study encompasses 84 games, but focuses specifically on those against the better opponents, since little trending knowledge can be gained from the games that were more one-sided, where the Tigers scored almost every time they had the ball.  So, it focuses primarily on two groups of opponents:

  • 16 great teams where Massillon was either evenly matched or considered an underdog. This group includes the larger parochial schools and those public schools they faced deep in the playoffs.  The Tigers’ record against those teams was 6-10.
  • 38 good teams where Massillon was considered a favorite, but not by a large margin. This group includes mid-sized parochial schools and those public schools that qualified for the playoffs, excluding a few mismatches.  The Tigers’ record against those teams was 35-3.

Data was collected for both Massillon and its opponents, for each one’s initial possession of each half, regardless of whether they kicked off or received the ball to start the half.  So, if Massillon kicked off to start the first half then they would have the second possession of the first half.  Then in the second half, they would receive the kickoff and have the first possession.  The opponent, of course, would have the opposite situation.  The remaining game possessions following these first two are not considered relevant to the study and were not charted.

The data was then analyzed to determine whether it was advisable to either kick off or receive to open the game, while considering the combined effects of both Massillon and its opponents.  In other words, the analysis searched for the situation where Massillon was maximizing its scoring potential, while at the same time minimizing the opponent’s scoring potential.

Results – vs. Great Teams

The charts below depict the chances of scoring for Massillon and the opponent based on the data compiled over the past six years relative to the 16 great teams.  Two scenarios are displayed, the first if Massillon defers the decision and kicks off to start the game and the second if the other team defers and Massillon receives.  For each scenario, the possessions are shown in the order in which they would occur during the game.  In other words, if Massillon kicks off in the first half, then the opponent would receive the kick and have the first possession.  In the second half, the opposite would occur.

In order to consider the effect of both Massillon’s and the opponent’s results, the average chances of a team scoring in either half are calculated and then the difference is taken between the two numbers.  If the difference is positive, then Massillon has the advantage; if negative, then the advantage goes to the opponent.

Per the chart, since the overall advantage is negative when Massillon kicks off but zero when receiving, then the favorable decision would be to receive the ball to start the game.  That would set the opponent up for a difficult first possession in the second half, where historically they have failed to score.

If Massillon desired to play the odds and follow this recommendation they fortunately would be nearly in full control of this decision.  That’s because (1) they could elect to receive the ball if they won the toss, and (2) obviously receive the ball if the opponent won the toss and elected to defer, which it nearly always does.

Side note: In most cases, a team with a second possession of the half has a higher chance of scoring than with a first possession.  One could argue that field position may be better with a second possession, since the team would often be receiving a punt, rather than starting deep in its own end following a kickoff.  But the difference in starting field position within these 16 games turned out to not be significant enough (around five yards) to influence the results.  But the key factor might just be, at least for the second half, that the players need some time to return to game mode following a grueling half of football followed by decompression in the locker room.  Perhaps teams need to alter their routine after returning to the field, such as running a few simulated plays rather than focusing exclusively on stretching.

Results vs. Good Teams

The charts below depict the chances of scoring for Massillon and the opponent based on the data compiled over the past six years relative to the 36 good teams.

The Massillon advantage is positive in both scenarios, but favors Massillon kicking off to start the game.  Therefore, it would make sense for Massillon to defer to the second half if they win the toss.


The analysis attempts to determine whether it is better to receive the ball or defer the decision to the second half following the pre-game coin toss.  Six years of data encompassing 84 games were considered, with the opponents broken down into four categories.

  • Great teams – 16 teams where Massillon is at even odds or an underdog to win.  Preferable for Massillon to receive the opening kickoff, thereby forcing the opponent to receive the second half kickoff, from which they have produced zero scores.
  • Good teams – 38 teams where Massillon is a moderate favorite to win.  Slight advantage for Massillon to kick off to start the game.
  • Average to below average teams – 30 teams where Massillon is a clear favorite to win.  Kick or receive?  It doesn’t matter.

It should be noted that this same analysis was performed on Ohio State against against several of their great opponents and a similar result was obtained.



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Become An Active Member of the Booster Club

Become An Active Member of the Booster Club

The Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club is the principal public support organization for the Massillon football program.  Its primary purpose is to promote and maintain interest in Massillon Washington High School Football on the highest standard in the state, and to assist the coach and his staff in providing for each individual participating in the football program all the help possible in developing their moral, physical and scholastic ability and to further their loyalty to team and school.

To join the Club, Tiger fans need simply to contribute a minimum fee of $10.00, which can be obtained through this website, by clicking the “Booster Club Membership” page, which can be accessed through the Support Organizations section (main menu).

General membership meetings are held once per week on the Monday following each game and are open to each Booster Club card holder.  The bulk of the meeting is conducted by the head coach, who performs a film review of the previous game and previews the upcoming game.  Often, the coach will have a few of the team co-captains on hand to address the Club.  The Booster Club President also updates the members on the status of any activities as appropriate.

While the visible part of Massillon football occurs on game night, there is a myriad of pursuits that take place behind the scenes, most of which are unknown to the casual fan.   The coaches spend countless hours molding our young men into a competitive team that we can all be proud of.  And the players do their part by focusing on becoming the strongest, fastest, most fundamental student-athletes that they are capable of.  But all of this takes money.  While ticket sales provide significant financial support to the program, it is not enough to make the whole effort work.  And that’s where the Booster Club comes into play.

Throughout the year the Club conducts various fund-raising activities.  The funds are used for:

  • Purchase of football gear
  • Player summer camps
  • Special requests from the coach
  • Miscellaneous Booster Club expenses

While there are hundreds of community residents that are Booster Club card holders, the number of “active” participants is much smaller and very stretched when it comes to supporting each of the activities that are needed to maintain and support such a great football program.  This is where help is needed.  Therefore, each Club member is sincerely requested to assist with just one event.  And if you enjoy the experience, try another.  Eventually, you will cultivate many friends, while being acknowledged for your contributions, which then affords an opportunity to grow within the organization.

Unlike with most high schools, the active membership of the Massillon Booster Club is not comprised solely of player dads.  Rather, it is a group of dedicated men and women that stay with program year-to-year.  They are the ones who have the passion to support the needs of the players and maintain the high standards of Massillon football.

Often, active members are invited to become members of the Junior Board, which is an accolade that signifies their willingness to participate in various Club endeavors when called upon.  Board members also gather throughout the year to receive and discuss updates from committee heads on status and strategy, giving members insight into those “behind the scenes” activities.

Further opportunities could then present to become a Booster Club officer and perhaps president of the Club, all of which carry 1-year terms.  Outgoing presidents then join with several others in a Senior Board, a group of past presidents that is tasked with approving major Club activities and expenditures.

But it all starts with a single activity.  You can contact the Booster Club via email at to get started.

Below is a breakdown of the various activities with which the Booster Club is involved.  All of these need the dedicated leadership and personal support of active Club members.

A Select Few Teams Continue to Dominant the Playoffs

A Select Few Teams Continue to Dominant the Playoffs

In 2013 the OHSAA increased the number of playoff divisions from six to seven.  Then in 2018 they realigned the playoff divisions such that there are now 72 teams in Division 1 and 106 teams in Division 2.  This is the tenth year that the 7-division format has been in place and it’s time to take a look at the impact.

All of the participating schools are supposed to have reasonable chances to qualify for the playoffs and achieve at least some success.  To aid that goal, the OHSAA over time has introduced several modifications that were designed to balance inherent discrepancies between schools.

First, The number of divisions was expanded from the original three in 1972 to the current level of seven to better distribute the schools based on differences in enrollment.  In addition, the size of Division 1 was reduced significantly to further increase the odds in Division 1, where the span of enrollments is much greater than in the other six.

Second, Open Enrollment was introduced to help public schools “even the playing field” with the parochial schools, although later modifications restricted the benefit to a degree (first-year transfer players in public schools are required to sit out the second half of the season).

Finally, Competitive Advantage was introduced.  This came after the member schools’ proposal to separate the tournament into independent public and parochial venues was rejected by the OHSAA and it never made it to a vote by the member schools.  Competitive Advantage mostly accounts for the benefits in talent gained by parochial schools in securing players from large geographical areas.  The impact is that schools with large competitive advantage numbers are potentially moved into higher divisions to again “even the playing field.”  But, as of now, zero Division 2 parochial schools have been moved into Division 1, while several from Division 3 were added to Division 2, thereby increasing the competitiveness of this division.  Meanwhile, no fixes were made to Division 1.  Divisions lower than D3 did, however, did receive benefit from this change.

Since the realignment only 21 teams out of these 178 in D1 and D2, a mere 12%, have been able to claim at least a regional championship and only nine (5%) have been crowned state champs.  Meanwhile, only three public schools, Pickerington Central, Loveland and Cincinnati Winton Woods, have won either a D1 or a D2 title in the last ten years.

Most of the Division 2 titles have been captured by Akron Hoban and Cincinnati LaSalle.  Hoban, which was moved into D2 on account of Competitive Advantage, has won five, two in Division 3 and three in Division 2.  Cincinnati LaSalle, always a member of D2, has four.  Cincinnati Winton Woods took the 2021 trophy, while Toledo Central, which is also in D2 on account of competitive advantage, has one from Division 3.  Below is a breakdown of the ten teams that dominate this division.  Note that all, with the exception of Perry, which was ousted last week by Massillon, are still alive this year.

In Division 1, Lakewood St. Edward has four titles, Pickerington Central has two and one each belong to Cincinnati Moeller and Cleveland St. Ignatius.  Eleven teams are in this group and all are alive with the exception of Huber Heights Wayne and Cincinnati Colerain.  Below is their breakdown.

From the looks of this data, it appears that there is still some work lying ahead for the OHSAA.

Could Massillon Be Headed Back to Division 1?

It’s the off-season and the rumor mill is flying again.  Now it’s being bantered about that the divisional alignment will be changed for next year.  But then again, a wise man once said that there is nothing so certain as change.  If this realignment comes to fruition, could there be an impact on Massillon?

The current playoff structure utilizes seven divisions, with four regions in each division.  In Division 1 there are 18 teams per region.  The remaining teams in the state are divided equally among Divisions 2 through 7, and have around 28 teams in each region.  Division 1 has fewer teams because the OHSAA believes that the smaller enrollment teams lacked competitiveness in the playoffs.

Starting in 2000, the number of teams qualifying in each region was increased from four to eight.  That worked well until the Covid Pandemic hit.  Due uncertainties on whether many games could even be played depending on Covid exposure, difficulties were expected in determining realistic qualifiers.  So the OHSAA resolved that every team would qualify.  Several positives came out of this, the most significant of which was that many teams that rarely made the playoffs now had a chance to participate.  And that was a good thing for the schools and the Association as a whole.

So in 2021 the Association decided to double the number of regional qualifiers from eight to 16.  Unknowingly, they backed themselves into a corner.  While 16 of 28 teams nicely qualified regionally in Divisions 2 through 7, Division 1 was different.  In that arena, it was 16 of 18, and some schools that qualified had just one or two wins.  Apparently, this has not sat too well with many lower division schools.

Now the OHSAA may be considering a move in the opposite direction by adding more teams to Division 1 to calm the herd.  It’s not likely that they will return to the original 115 in each division, but a number like 88 in Division 1 (4 additional teams per region) may be more likely.  Two per region would not appear to have much impact and eight per region would return it close to the original number.  So, four seems to make the most sense.  To meet this new limit, 16 Division 2 teams would need to move up.

The cutoff for Division 1 is currently 594 boys (after the base enrollment has been adjusted to account for competitive advantage).  Adding 16 schools would lower the cutoff to 544 based on last year’s numbers, which is not a huge change in enrollment.  So, if last year’s numbers were used, here are the Division 2 schools that would move up to Division 1, in order of adjusted enrollment:

  • Cleveland Rhodes – 586
  • Cleveland John Marshall
  • Cincinnati Winton Woods
  • Loveland
  • Columbus St. Charles
  • North Canton Hoover
  • Austintown Fitch
  • Painesville Riverside
  • Wadsworth
  • Boardman
  • Westerville South
  • Massillon – 552
  • Cuyahoga Falls
  • Massillon Perry
  • Toledo St. Francis
  • Anthony Wayne – 544

As you can see, Massilllon lies within this group and could conceivably move up, depending on their revised adjusted enrollment for this year.  Note that competitive advantage numbers are re-calculated by the OHSAA annually to account for the number of real-time out-of-district players.  Massillon’s 2021 competitive advantage adder of 63 was the second highest in the state for a public school, surpassed only by Winton Woods’ 64.  If the Tigers’ adder came down by nine points or if the overall enrollment simply dropped, they could perhaps remain in Division 2, assuming the adjusted enrollments for the other schools remained about the same.  Nine points is equal to three transfers that enter the program through open enrollment.  Plus, the impact of both graduating seniors and incoming new players would certainly cause this number to fluctuate from year-to-year.  So that would make Massillon a borderline school, potentially moving between divisions from one year to the next.

So hold onto your football.  We could be headed back to Division 1 this year.

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Rehashing the Infamous 1957 Clock Game

Story by Gary Vogt

Mention the Massillon-Warren football series to a Harding fan and he is sure to bring up the infamous “1957 Clock Game,” where it was claimed by Warren that the Tigers won by virtue of having an extra minute of time added at the end.  Here is that story.

The build up to the game was huge to say the least.  And the outcome would certainly go a long way that year in determining the eventual state champion.  The fact that the attendance that night was 21,322 fans attests to its magnitude.

Warren came into the game with a record of 6-0 and they were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll, which was used to select the state champ at that time.  The Tigers had a record of 4-1 having lost to Cleveland Benedictine 13-7 (they only played five games at that point in the season, as the contest with Mansfield was canceled due to a flu epidemic).

Massillon scored two first quarter touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead.  Warren then fought back with two second half touchdowns to tie it up at 14.  Then the epic drive and resulting controversy took place.

The Tigers had returned a punt to their 38 yard line with 2:38 showing on the clock to set up the drive.  When it was over, the clock had expired and Massillon was celebrating a victory.  Along the way, the Tigers used three different quarterbacks and converted on two fourth downs.  The first conversion required a measurement, which the Tigers made by inches.  The second occurred on the last play of the game with the Tigers on Warren’s 38 yard line.  With just four seconds left, sophomore quarterback Joe Sparma tossed deep to end Clyde Childers for the game-winning touchdown.  Childers snagged the pass between two Warren defenders and lunged across the goal line for the score. Pandemonium broke loose and the try for the extra point never did not take place.

According to the Warren Tribune Chronicle a Warren fan contacted Harding coach Gene Slaughter on the sideline after the game and claimed that a minute of time was added to the clock after it reached the 0:59 mark, obviously aiding the Tigers during their final march to the endzone.  Thus began a detailed investigation conducted by both schools.


  1. The clock operator that night was Bill Archibald.
  2. The game was broadcast on WHBC radio.
  3. Referees – Stan Machock – Referee, Eric Calhoun – Umpire, Sam Hadnick – Head Linesman & C. W. Kupp – Field Judge.
  4. Warren’s head coach – Gene Slaughter
  5. Warren officials did contact OHSAA to ask if they could look into the clock operation that night. OHSAA assigned the investigation to an E. M. Ensminger, an OHSAA Commissioner. He later found in Massillon’s favor.

Without discounting this information, Coach Slaughter contacted Head Referee Stan Machock to inquire if his crew had noticed a clock malfunction.  Machock stated that no one on the crew was aware of any such malfunction.  Machock and Slaughter climbed the stands to the West Press Box where Bill Archibald, the clock operator, was wrapping up his evening’s work and was putting away his equipment.  Machock asked Archibald if he had noticed any clock malfunction during the conclusion of the game.  Archibald had not noticed any such malfunction.  Machock asked Archibald to re-run the clock down to check it’s reliability.  He re-ran the last four minutes three or four times for Machock.  The clock performed accurately each time.  Machock told Slaughter that there was nothing more he could do and they departed the Press Box.

The next day Warren school officials contacted the Ohio High School Athletic Association and asked if they would look into the Massillon clock situation from the night before.  The OSHAA then contacted the Massillon school officials to inquire about the clock and its operation.

The following Monday, October 28th, Massillon officials obtained an audio rebroadcast of the game from WHBC.  By replaying the tape they could determine if the time was properly gauged.  The process was repeated three or four times and the clock appeared to be operating properly.

The worksheet below outlining the last four minutes of the game was believed to be generated by the Massillon officials as they replayed the tape and prepared their response to OSHAA.  It shows a play by play account of the last four minutes of the game by displaying the start time, the time run off and the clock reading after the play.  It also describes what happened on the play and the yards gained or lost.  What is of tremendous significance is the red OK on the left edge of the worksheet.  Then trace across the line with the red OK to the right edge.  The pencil lead colored notes on the right edge justify the clock readings after the play in question.  The notes read “TAPE”, “CAK” and “POWELL”.  The term TAPE refers to the rebroadcast from WHBC, the term CAK refers to Massillon’s statistician Chuck Koch and POWELL refers to the Massillon Evening Independent’s sport writer Charlie Powell’s article on the game.  These three sources verify that the times are an accurate account of what is displayed on the worksheet.

The first question to consider: why didn’t the Warren coaching staff bring the clock malfunction to the attention of the referees when it occurred rather than wait until the game was over?  Either the Warren coaches were asleep at the switch or the clock had operated correctly.  Were they not paying attention to the clock with one minute left in the game and Massillon driving for the winning score?  The clock was probably the focus of everyone in the stadium at that time.

Let’s be clear.  No Warren official claimed that the clock was purposely configured to add an extra minute.  Again, how can someone reconfigure the clock without the Warren coaches observing the clock altering process?  Surely someone would have noticed if Mr. Archibald had purposely tried to add a minute.  No one did.

There is one possibility that cannot be proved or disproved.  It is possible that the clock went from 1:00 minute to 1:59 and then immediately corrected itself.  This may have occurred, but regardless it did not alter the timing of the game and no extra minute was added as some claimed.

The loss knocked Warren out of contention for the 1957 state championship, which was awarded to Cleveland Benedictine based on their victory over the Tigers and their 9-0 season record.

In conclusion, the evidence overwhelmingly supports that claim that the clock kept an accurate account of the time and no extra minute was granted to the Tigers.  The scoreboard and clock mechanism were state of the art equipment for the 1950s and ran accurately during the post-game trials.  The worksheet breaks down the final four minutes in detail and is supported by multiple sources.  The WHBC broadcast combined with the clock rerun proved that the clock had accurately kept the time of the game.  OHSAA investigated Warren’s claim and found in favor of the Tigers.  With little or no evidence to the contrary it becomes obvious that the clock at Tiger Stadium performed accurately in timing the game that night.

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The Website Corner – Playoff Week 3

Each week during the football season the staff of will provide input of their choice related to the recent games or Massillon football in general.

Defending the Wing-T offense can be puzzling to some.  Many teams will lay back and let the play develop in front of them and then react and make the tackle.  Our Tigers chose to be more aggressive in their approach.

The key to defending the Wing-T is to follow the guards.  They will take you to the ball carrier.  Two Wing-T staple plays are the buck sweep and the trap.  New Albany ran both these plays very well throughout the season.  Our Tiger coaches elected to follow the pulling guard by having our d-line angle in the direction of the pulling guard.  Our Tigers executed the defense very well.  Defenders have to be disciplined and trust their keys.  The Tiger D did that very well.  They held the New Albany to just 101 yards rushing on 29 attempts and the Eagles recorded just 7 first downs.  Great job Tiger coaches and great execution by our Tigers.

This week’s challenge is to repeat the execution.  Cincinnati Winton Woods presents a unique challenge in that they run two different offensive schemes.  They run the spread and they run the flex-bone that Georgia Tech and the military academies run.  In both schemes they try to attack the perimeter of the defense.  Our Tigers will need to read keys and execute the defense like they did last week.  Get out Friday and support our Tigers like only the Tiger Nation can.  Go Tigers!  Beat Winton Woods! — GV

It goes without saying that at this stage of the playoffs every team is good.  That includes both Massillon and Cincinnati Winton Woods.  The Tigers will bring a power running attack with a proficient passing game to go along with a defense has been very stingy in the last few weeks.  All of this makes for a tough team to beat.  The Warriors, on the other hand, come at you with speed.  Think of a Bedford offense with a Canton McKinley defense and that pretty much sums it up for the Warriors.  They also will be a tough team to beat.

Winton Woods enters the game with a 12-1 record.  The lone loss was in overtime, 35-34, to Cincinnati Elder.  Being an independent team, the Warriors are forced to load up the schedule with the likes of Cincinnati LaSalle, Cincinnati Moeller, Columbus DeSales, Bishop Chartard, IN, and of course Cincinnati Elder.  So they have several signature wins, including a second victory over LaSalle.  Nine of their regular season games were against either Division 1 or Division 2 teams, including six private schools.  Four opponents qualified for the playoffs.  They average 34 points a game and give up 13.

Massillon quarterbacks coach Jarrett Troxler said that Winton Woods is very aggressive and athletic and the Tigers will have their hands full.  But the coaches feel good about the matchup and believe that they have a great game plan to win it.

Offensively, the Warriors utilize two different sets: the traditional spread and the “flex-bone.”  The latter is run by Navy and features three different running backs, one behind the quarterback and one at each wing, utilizing misdirection and triple-option.  Quarterback Kenny Mayberry (6′-2″, 190 lb.) is a 3-year starter and runs the offense well.  He throws a nice short pass and has a big arm to get it down the field to their speedy receivers, particularly Raequan Prince (5′-9″, 190 lbs.), who could be headed to D1.  Occasionally, Mayberry will run the ball off the read-option.  He’s not the swiftest player, but nevertheless he is very adequate.  Top running back Miyan Williams (5′-8″, 193 lbs.) is just a sophomore, but plays like a senior.  Coach Nate Moore considers Williams to be their best player.  However, he was injured last week and his status is unknown.  Both wingbacks are good.  The offensive line is big, averaging 5′-10″, 255 lbs.  Their best players on the line are the center and the two guards.

Defensively, Winton Woods looks a lot like Massillon on the interior, with a 3-man odd front.  Also like the Tigers, they will occasionally switch to an even front.  The secondary is where they differ.  Whereas Massillon plays a matchup zone, the Warriors prefer to go straight man-to-man.  Zone just doesn’t seem to work for them.  Therefore, look for all of the secondary players to line up in the faces of the receivers, with a single safety over the center.  The defensive line has good size, averaging 6′-1″, 246 lbs.  The linebackers also have good size, the best being Chris Oats (6′-2″, 230 lbs.), who holds many D1 offers.  Watch for the delay blitz on passing downs when aligned in an odd front. — DE