Category: <span>Editorial</span>

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 6eams 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.



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.

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

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The Website Corner – Playoff Week 2

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.

There are eight teams left fighting for the Division II state championship.  When you get to this point there is one common thread that stands out and that is defense.

When you look at the regional semi-final results the theme of defense becomes quite clear.  One might argue that yielding 20 and 21 points is not great defense, but in today’s era of spread offenses that will win you a lot of games.  The results were Cincinnati Winton Woods 52 Cincinnati Anderson 21 and Olmstead Falls 21 Wadsworth 20.

The results from the other Division II games were as follows.

Avon 28                        Medina Highland 10
Massillon 28                 Ashland 7
New Albany 30            Columbus Walnut Ridge 6
Cincinnati LaSalle 41  Sydney 6
Akron Hoban 49          Lyndhurst Brush 0
Barberton 35               Bedford 0

The theme of defense rings very true and it continues as we go forward.  We will need a stellar defensive effort again this week.  With New Albany’s offense we will need to stop their run game.  If we can do that we stand a very good chance of moving on.  Go Tigers! — GV

Last week Massillon defeated Ashland in a hard fought game, 28-7.  It was the first Round 2 Playoff victory for the Tigers in five years.  “The guys played hard,” said head coach Nate Moore.  “The defense played really well against a high-powered offense.”  They created turnovers (stripping the ball twice) and forced many incomplete passes.  Receivers coach Caleb Miller said the players really like coming to practice now, unlike earlier in the season, owing to the youth of the team.  He believes in practicing well to play well, something they did prior to the Ashland game.  Miller emphasized that the players have been doing that now for the last several weeks.  “The kids have taken a leadership role and really gotten after it,” he said.

The Round 3 opponent is New Albany, winner over a pair of inner-city Columbus teams in Whitehall-Yearling (42-35) and Walnut Ridge (30-6).  The Eagles finished the regular season with a 6-4 record, losing a pair of games to two superior Ohio Capital Conference opponents and LIcking Heights (35-30).  Their signature win came in Week 1 against Reynoldsburg (7-3) by the score of 15-13.  They average 24 points a game and give up 25.

Offensively, New Albany runs the Wing-T.  It’s different from Perry’s scheme in that they put two running backs in the backfield and split one of the wings wide.  But some of the plays are similar.  Look for outside sweeps, inside traps and quarterback keepers around end.  Moore said that the junior  quarterback is a good athlete and throws a good ball, although they prefer to run 80% of the time.  The junior running backs are smallish at 5′-8″ each, but they possess very good speed.  Defensively, the Eagles utilize a 3-3 with cover-4.  Occasionally, they will switch to a 4-man front.  The linebackers are good and there are several athletes in the secondary.  The offensive line has a 255 lb. center, but the rest of the line averages 215 lbs.  Defensively, they average 238 lbs.  They have two full-time 2-way players.  They also start eight juniors on the defensive side of the ball.  Moore stated that they are well-coached and play very disciplined ball.  At this stage everyone is good and the Tigers will need to be at the top of their game to win this one.

The OHSAA announced this week that the winner of the Massillon-New Albany game will face the winner of the Cincinnati LaSalle-Cincinnati Winton Woods game next week, presumably in Columbus. — DE

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The Website Corner – Playoff Week 1

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

Many area football fans believe that Massillon and Boardman are the best teams in Region 7.  As luck would have it, they were paired against each other in the opening round of the playoffs.  The Tigers came out on top in a come-from-behind effort, 28-23, but it wasn’t without some nail biting.  The game plan for Massillon was to pound the ball up the middle with the power running attack and wear down the defense, something that has worked in most games this year.  But against Boardman, it was a different story.  Aside from  an opening drive that netted a touchdown, the running attack was almost completely shutdown.  The reason for this, according to Coach Moore, was the different method that the Spartan defensive line used to attack, something that was different from the scouting films.  And the Tiger offensive line was never able to adjust.  Fortunately, Massillon pulled it out in the fourth quarter using an overwhelming passing attack, this aspect being particularly effective on first down. Also, the defense did its part when it mattered the most.  Let’s hope the rest of region does not measure up to Boardman. – DE

On Saturday “Principal Sal” tweeted.  “Our kids deserve to see a packed house in Wooster Friday!  Forecast looks great for November football.  No excuses . . . get your tickets this week!  TIG!”

As Paul Salvino’s tweet confirms, we fans do make a difference.  That was never more evident than last Friday evening as our Tigers came from behind to earn a victory over Youngstown Boardman.  You could see our young men feeding off the energy from the crowd.  This was the loudest PBTS has been all year.  Great job Tiger Players!  Great job Tiger fans!

We will need a like effort this week against Ashland.  We need the Tiger Nation to get your tickets and make the trip Wooster.  We need to take over the Wooster stadium.  A total Massillon effort will be needed to bring home another Tiger Victory. – GV

Round 2 for the Tigers is a match against Ashland this Friday at 7:30 pm.  The game will be played at Wooster High School.  The Arrows come into the game with a 9-2 record, having dropped contests to 9-2 Clyde 22-19 and 5-5 Wooster 34-31.  Their signature win came against Mansfield in Week 7 by the score of 41-20.   Massillon Coach Nate Moore said at the Booster Club Meeting that Ashland is a well-coached team.  They are a good team and play very disciplined ball.  Only three players go both ways full-time.

Offensively, the game revolves around quarterback and Mr. Ohio Football candidate Keagan Armitage.  A 6′-2″, 208 lb. senior, Armitage has passed this year for around 3,000 yards, including 300 in the 48-47 overtime win over Columbus Mifflin in Round 1.  He has completed 65% of his passes and converted 31 touchdowns. At the other end of these passes is a fine group of receivers, including 6′-6″ Manny Langston and 6′-5″ Kamrin Knowlton Golings, who have caught 80 passes between them for 1,541 yards and 17 touchdowns.  But don’t forget Bryke Williams.  Although small in stature, he has grabbed 61 passes for 724 yards and 6 touchdowns.  But don’t think  Ashland is all about the pass.  They also have two very capable runners including the quarterback Armitage (974 yards and 18 touchdowns) and Owen Reef (853 yards).  Moore stated that all of the skill players have good speed and the running back “runs hard.”  The offensive line averages 6′-0″, 253 lbs.

Ashland will line up in an empty backfield; that is, a quarterback in the shotgun with five wide receivers.  The “running back” is one of the receivers, aligned in a slot position.  Most passing plays are directly from this formation.  When the Arrows want to run they motion the slot receiver/running back to quarterback for a  jet-sweep handoff or a quarterback read option.  Occasionally, the quarterback will run the ball on his own without prior motion.  They will run the ball about 50% of the time.  Massillon hopes to put pressure on the quarterback to force him into quick throws and bad decisions.

Defensively, Ashland is very similar to Austintown Fitch, who Massillon defeated 38-28 earlier in the season.  The alignment is 3-3 with a cover-3.  The defensive line averages 6′-0″, 243 lbs.  Personnel-wise, Moore said that they have some good players at safety and defensive line.  But the best player is Mason Harpster, a 5′-8″, 185 lb. linebacker.  He is a tough kid that makes most of the tackles.

The Arrows punt the ball out of the same formation that they use for offensive plays.  The quarterback just steps back a bit prior to the kick. — DE

Click here for the Division 2 playoff bracket


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The Website Corner – Week 10

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.

One could point to any number of attributes that led to a Tiger victory over our arch rival Saturday.  When you win by one point there are usually a number of areas that decides why one team wins and the other does not.

Our opponent was undisciplined and numerous penalties hurt their ability to compete.  The Tigers had a distinct advantage in the passing game.  The Tigers did not turn the ball over.  Our Tigers possessed the ball.  Jamir Thomas had forty-two carries.  The Tigers were able to pass with some success while McKinley was held to just 25 yards.  Klay Moll’s field goal provided just enough points to outscore McKinley.

All these items are currently in the past and our focus is now turned toward Youngstown Boardman.  So, what can we bring forward from our win, to use as we take on this week’s opponent.  The biggest attribute that we displayed last week that can be brought forward to this week’s game is the physicality with which our Tigers played.  Being physical and playing with great energy will help bring home another win this Friday.

We as fans need to bring that energy in supporting our team.  Massillon kids have always been able to feed off of the energy of our crowd.  Bring your “A” game and help our Tigers play with that physicality that they displayed last week.  Go Tigers beat Boardman. — GV

Massillon finished No. 2 in Region 7 and will host No. 7 Boardman this Friday at 7:30 pm in the first round of the playoffs.  Boardman brings a 6-4 record into the fray with a signature win over Jackson  (8-2) 39-36 coming in Week 3.  The four losses followed a 3-0 start when their star running back was lost to an injury.  Two losses were to undefeated Steubenville (41-21) and undefeated Canfield (17-7).  The others were to 6-4 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (21-7) and 6-4 Austintown Fitch (28-7).  While the Tigers bested Fitch 31-21, both teams own wins over Warren Harding by similar margins.

Offensively, the Spartans will aim to establish the run, something they have favored this year on 80% of the plays.  They typically operate out of the spread formation, with a tight end and three receivers.  The offense flows through quarterback Mike O’Horo, a 6′-1″, 200 lb. senior.  Massilllon Coach Nate Moore calls him a “really good football player.”  Expect O’Horo to carry the ball a majority of the time, occasionally using the read-option to set up his runs, something that gave that Tigers problems earlier in the season..  The featured running back is 5′-11″, 202 lb. senior Domonhic Jennings.  He’s a strong runner, but not particularly fast, as compared to previous Tiger opponents.  The offensive line averages 6′-1″ and all are between 240 and 250 lbs.  Although this group comprises only two seniors, it’s the two juniors that have impressed Moore the most.  The passing game is OK at best.

The line is the strength of the defense, which averages out at 6′-2″, 234 lbs.  Although the linebacking corp is on the smaller side, the middle linebackers appear to play well.  Expect a 4-4, cover-3 alignment, with 2-high in passing situations.  Boardman will occasionally blitz, usually from the edge.  Once again, it will be a chess match to see if the Tigers try to pound it out or take advantage of several mismatches in the passing game. – DE

Here are some interesting facts on the eight teams in Region 7:

  • Three teams qualified with 6-4 records, including New Albany, Boardman and Canal Winchester.
  • New Albany played the most D1 or D2 teams (10), followed by Canal Winchester (9) and Massillon (8), although it’s hard to call Ursuline or St. Vincent anything less than D2.
  • Massillon faced the most playoff teams (5), followed by Boardman (4) and Columbus Walnut Ridge (3).
  • Massillon played three private schools; Columbus Whitehall and Boardman played two each.
  • The most potent offenses belong to Ashland (37) and Columbus Mifflin (34).  However, neither boasts of a strong schedule.
  • The best scoring defenses are Canal Winchester (16) and Walnut Ridge (17).
  • The biggest signature wins were Massillon over both Bedford (9-1) and Canton McKinley (8-2), Boardman over Jackson (8-2) and New Albany over Reynoldsburg (7-3).
  • Unexpected losses were both Licking Heights (6-4) and Big Walnut (4-6) over New Albany and Wooster (5-5) over Ashland.

Additional notes:

  • Had Warren Harding defeated Football North from Canada last week, Boardman would have moved to 5th in Region 7 and the Tigers would be playing Ashland this week.
  • Had Massillon been in Division 1, they would have ousted 9-1 Perry from the playoffs with the win over McKinley and traveled to Cleveland St. Ignatius for Round 1.
  • Click here for the Division 2 playoff bracket
  • DE
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The Website Corner – Week 9

Each week, the staff of will provide input of their choice related to the current season or Massillon football in general.

Massillon will face Canton McKinley this week in the 128th renewal of this longstanding rivalry.  The Bulldogs enter the contest with an 8-1 record, owning signature wins over Hudson (6-3) 39-27 and Jackson (7-2) 35-23.  Their lone loss came last week to Perry (8-1) 28-20.  Both teams faced Warren Harding and Canton GlenOak, with each wininng both games.

Offensively, McKinley will run the spread, utilizing a read-pass option; i.e., choosing to either run or pass depending on how many defenders are in the box.  The feature back is speedy Javon Lewis, a 5’6″, 162 lb. senior, who has scored eight TDs and rushed  for 633 yards, at 5.6 yards per carry.  But he was replaced for the most part against Perry by former Tiger player Keishan Watson, who recently became eligible following academic and transfer suspensions.  Quarterback duties fall to 5’9″, 172 lb. junior Alijah Curtis.  He has completed 68% of his passes for 1,647 yards, while throwing nearly 20 passes per game.  The primary receiver is Prayer Wise, a 5’7″, 144 lb. senior.  Wise has 53 catches for 641 yards and seven touchdowns.  Most of the passes have been either tag screens or deep balls.  With this offensive scheme, the Bulldogs force defenses to defend the entire width of the field.

On defense, McKInley has very few weak links, according to Massillon Coach Nate Moore.  They are pretty good everywhere.  Senior laden with very good speed.  The main cog in the defense is 6’0″, 218 lb. linebacker Josh Chandler, a transfer from GlenOak, who has been hobbled over the last month with a leg injury.  Also, keep an eye on junior defensive tackle Micha Clemson, a 5’11”, 198 lb. junior.  Moore stated that he is one of the best defensive lineman the coaches have seen this year.  Look for the Bulldogs to line up balanced against the Tigers, mimicking that of Akron St. Vincent, allowing their superior athletes to make the plays.  Don’t  expect a lot of blitzing.  Massillon will need to run the ball effectively and be efficient in the passing game to have success in this area.

McKinley has very good special teams.  Watch for some rugby punts throughout the game.  The Tigers will need to cover and tackle well due to the speed the Bulldogs have at the return positions. — DE

With one week remaining in the regular season, there are still 13 teams in contention for the Top eight spots.  Four spots are spoken for, while the remaining are up for grabs.  Ironically, as many as nine of these teams are expected to lose this week, which should make for an interesting Friday evening of score chasing.  Here is a rundown on each team’s chance:

  • Columbus Walnut Ridge, Massillon and Columbus Mifflin – These teams are in, win or lose.
  • Ashland – Should beat Wooster to qualify.  But if not, it will be dicey.
  • Boardman and New Albany – Both are expected to win and will qualify, barring a couple upsets.
  • Dublin Scioto, Columbus Whitehall-Yearling, Westerville South and Licking Heights – Each team is expected to lose and be eliminated from contention.  However, an upset a top spot.
  • North Canton, Canal Winchester and Columbus Northland – Each team is expected to lose and be eliminated from contention.  However, an upset would result in a chance for a top spot pending some upsets.
  • If all goes as predicted, the Tigers would finish 2nd, win or lose this week, and face Columbus Whitehall-Yearling in the first round.  However, if Columbus Mifflin upsets Aurora, then the Tigers would slide to third and possibly face New Albany.  But with upsets brewing, who knows.
  • Click here for the computer rankings.
  • — DE