Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Data Is "Rolling" In

Last summer, we presented an example of the type of data analysis that could be done using the methods outlined in our book, Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call. Since that time, coaches from all over the country have sent us requests for the tally sheets and Excel templates in our book. Some coaches have gone so far as to add me as a coach within their HUDL software in order to allow us to produce data analysis and decision tools for them. Below we present the play distribution data for 4 schools that have done just that.

We present the run play distribution data in Figure 1. The probability distribution function (PDF) for each school informs the coaches (and analysts) of the probability of gaining a specific number of yards in the offense. We should emphasize that the play distributions are derived from full seasons of data from each school, but the data is historical. That is, future results may vary from these historical performances. A quick glance at Figure 1 does not reveal big differences in the offenses between the schools, but the differences (particularly with respect to Pulaski Academy) come out as the data analysis goes forward.

Figure 1 - Run Play Probability Distribution Functions
Figure 2 shows the play distribution data from the 4 high schools from passing plays. Again, a quick look does not reveal anything vastly different between the offenses.
Figure 2 - Pass Play Probability Distribution Functions

The other distribution functions (the cumulative distribution function [CDF] and the complementary cumulative distribution function [CCDF]) derived from the same data set from each school are shown in Figure 3 - Figure 6. Differences in the offensive output of the schools become more apparent in these figures.

Figure 3 - Run Play Cumulative Distribution Functions

Figure 4 - Pass Play Cumulative Distribution Functions

Figure 5 - Run Play Complementary Cumulative Distribution Functions

Figure 6 - Pass Play Complementary Cumulative Distribution Functions
The most useful data to a coach in the 4th down decision making process are the CCDFs. Essentially, the CCDF will describe the probability that a team will gain AT LEAST a given number (X) yards. We have built an Excel tool to query the CCDF to give a coach the probability of gaining the yards needed for a 1st down with either a run or a pass play. We can make a sample of this tool available if you request it (

While the decision tool provided by the Excel spreadsheet does not help a coach on the sidelines on a Friday night, the data can be extracted into a useable form. The tables below show examples that would easily fit in a corner of a play sheet allowing a coach to assess the degree of "gambling" with a given play call. However, the full degree of gambling is not known unless he includes the points the other team is likely to score if a conversion fails. We discuss this analysis technique (and a couple of others) in the book.

As a note on the above tables, the conversion probability percentages for Pulaski Academy demonstrate just how potent Kevin Kelley's offense is. He knows that he can depend on ~35-40% conversion percentage on 4th down out to 10 yards to gain. This is an absolutely brutal offense to attempt to defend. To learn more about decision making tools for high school coaches, pick up an eBook copy of Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call at your favorite bookseller for just $0.99.
The paperback version is also available in these retail outlets for just $5.99:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Arkansas High School Football State Champions

7A State Champions
Bentonville Tigers (9-4)
Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • KC Rockhurst (MO) 17, Bentonville 16
  • Broken Arrow (OK) 34, Bentonville 0
  • Bergen Catholic (NJ) 21, Bentonville 10
  • Fort Smith Southside 10, Bentonville 7
  • Bentonville 29, Fort Smith Northside 26
  • Bentonville 45, Springdale Har-Ber 13
  • Bentonville 38, Springdale 7
  • Bentonville 49, Rogers 0
  • Bentonville 42, Rogers Heritage 10
  • Bentonville 45, Fayetteville 2
  • Bentonville 17, Bryant 7
  • Bentonville 42, North Little Rock 10
  • Bentonville 24, Fayetteville 21

6A State Champions
Pine Bluff Zebras (10-3)

Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • Fort Smith Northside 26, Pine Bluff 15
  • Pine Bluff 45, Watson Chapel 12
  • North Little Rock 45, Pine Bluff 24
  • Pine Bluff 40, Texarkana 14
  • Pine Bluff 42, Little Rock Parkview 13
  • Pine Bluff 20, Lake Hamilton 20
  • Pine Bluff 63, Little Rock Hall 0
  • Pine Bluff 38, El Dorado 19
  • Pine Bluff 49, Sheridan 28
  • Benton 39, Pine Bluff 36
  • Pine Bluff 41, Siloam Springs 7
  • Pine Bluff 35, Jonesboro 24
  • Pine Bluff 51, Benton 10

5A State Champions
  Pulaski Academy Bruins (13-1)

Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • Highland Park (TX) 48, Pulaski Academy 42
  • Pulaski Academy 52, New Smyrna Beach (FL) 20
  • Pulaski Academy 50, Warren 21
  • Pulaski Academy 54, North Pulaski 7
  • Pulaski Academy 49, Little Rock McClellan 14
  • Pulaski Academy 65, Beebe 35
  • Pulaski Academy 55, Jacksonville 7
  • Pulaski Academy 58, Little Rock Mills 7
  • Pulaski Academy 56, Little Rock Fair 0
  • Pulaski Academy 50, Sylvan Hills 20
  • Pulaski Academy 49, Blytheville 21
  • Pulaski Academy 44, Camden Fairview 6
  • Pulaski Academy 42, Batesville 25
  • Pulaski Academy 38, Wynne 28

4A State Champions
Warren Lumberjacks (12-3)
Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • Fort Smith Southside 29, Warren 22
  • Warren 28, Stuttgart 12
  • Pulaski Academy 50, Warren 21
  • Warren 30, Crossett 9
  • Warren 46, Star City 21
  • Warren 49, Dumas 2
  • Warren 42, DeWitt 14
  • Warren 54, Monticello 22
  • Warren 45, Hamburg 20
  • Dollarway 34, Warren 15
  • Warren 45, Gravette 7
  • Warren 49, Heber Springs 7
  • Warren 47, Shiloh Christian 21
  • Warren 17, Dardanelle 16
  • Warren 48, Mena 14

3A State Champions
Charleston Tigers (14-0)

Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • Charleston 42, Shiloh Christian 14
  • Charleston 42, Gentry 6
  • Charleston 47, Ozark 12
  • Charleston 50, Danville 21
  • Charleston 42, Paris 8
  • Charleston 62, Two Rivers 20
  • Charleston 49, Lamar 28
  • Charleston 44, Lavaca 6
  • Charleston 47, Booneville 20
  • Charleston 49, Mansfield 23
  • Charleston 41, Fouke 14
  • Charleston 49, Osceola 22
  • Charleston 21, Booneville 14
  • Charleston 33, Smackover 26

2A State Champions
Junction City Dragons (13-0)
Helmet Image from MG's Helmets
  • Junction City 33, Smackover 19
  • Junction City 48, Rison 8
  • Junction City 68, Hermitage 8
  • Junction City 72, Hampton 0
  • Junction City 73, Parkers Chapel 0
  • Junction City 39, Bearden 0
  • Junction City 60, Strong 6
  • Junction City 48, Woodlawn 0
  • Junction City 62, Walnut Ridge 8
  • Junction City 42, Bearden 0
  • Junction City 48, Des Arc 0
  • Junction City 50, Earle 16
  • Junction City 38, Hazen 6

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 - Playoffs Week #5 Scores

Last weekend put the final wrap on the 2014 Arkansas high school football season as the three smallest school classifications crowned champions in Little Rock. We expected two of the three games to be competitive, but only the Friday night contest in 3A lived up to that billing. Warren and Junction City both controlled their contests from beginning to end while Charleston was forced to fight all the way through to their second straight title. We want to congratulate all the champions and runner-ups in the six classifications on great seasons.

Like us, the coaches are already starting to look to spring football and summer 7-on-7. As we move into the "off-season," we will have our traditional helmet salute to the state champions, team and individual camp announcements, 7-on-7 tournament previews and results, and some posts with data analysis from around the country. The posts will draw data from high schools around the state of Arkansas and a few other states processed using techniques advanced from those outlined in our book, Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call. This Harrison data example from last summer provides the link to where the book is available.

  • Warren 48, Mena 14

  • Charleston 33, Smackover 26

  • Junction City 38, Hazen 6

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Playoffs Week #5 Match-ups

It is the final week of the 2014 Arkansas high school football season. The three smallest school classifications play their state championship games this weekend in Little Rock. You will find the championship game capsules and our picks below. Next week, we will have the state final results and then eventually present our traditional helmet tribute to all 6 state champions.

  • Mena vs. Warren
    • Saturday, December 13
    • 12:00 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
The 4A contest features the Mena Bearcats and the Warren Lumberjacks. The Lumberjacks are familiar with deep runs in the playoffs over the 15 years having won back to back titles in 2001 and 2002. Warren lost to Booneville in the state finals just last year. The Bearcats return to the state finals for the first time since their only championship in 1976. Second year coach, Tim Harper, has Mena firing on all cylinders as they have beaten 2 conference foes in route to this title game appearance. Both teams have played excellent defense during their playoff runs and we don't expect that to change. However, Warren's team speed may be an issue for the Bearcats run defense.

OUR PICK: We are going with the heart rather than the head, so Mena over Warren in a 27-24 game.

  • Charleston vs. Smackover
    • Friday, December 12
    • 7:00 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
The 3A title game features the Charleston Tigers and the Smackover Buckaroos. The Tigers are in familiar territory as this is their 6th title game in 11 years, and they are the 3A defending champion. Ty Storey, a highly touted Razorback commit, will be the feature story of the game as he looks to win a 2nd state title on Friday and then enroll at the University of Arkansas in a few weeks. Smackover, on the other hand, is playing for its first state title since the 1949 season. The lone loss for the Buckaroos in 2014 has come at the hands of the Junction City juggernaut in the only close call for the Dragons. So, Smackover is familiar with tough defense and high powered offense. We look for this game to be a back and forth shootout.

OUR PICK: Charleston over Smackover in a 45-42 game.

  • Junction City vs. Hazen
    • Saturday, December 13
    • 6:30 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
The Hazen Hornets will take on 2-time defending state champion Junction City Dragons in the 2A state title tilt. Both teams arrive in the title game undefeated with Junction City looking to win its 40th straight game. Dragon dominance has been the story of 2A football in Arkansas for the last decade, and they continue to produce D1 football talent at this small school. Hazen has never won a state title, but the Hornets have looked dominant at times this season as well. The real question in this game may be whether or not the Hornets believe that they can slay the Dragons. If they can keep it a ball game into the 2nd half, then we may see tension that has not been there all season for Junction City.

OUR PICK: Junction City over Hazen in a 42-14 game.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 - Playoffs Week #4 Scores

Three state champions were crowned last weekend. In the 5A contest, Pulaski Academy held off a late charge by Wynne to claim another state title for Coach Kevin Kelley. In the 6A contest, the Pine Bluff Zebras flipped the script on the Benton Panthers and cruised to a surprising lopsided victory. In the 7A match-up, Fayetteville scored too quickly to take the lead and allowed the Bentonville Tigers a chance to answer, and they did to cap another thrilling state title game between these two programs.

The other action around the state set up state final matches for Class 2A, 3A, and 4A schools. We will preview the match-ups later in the week. The only real upset last Friday in these classifications was Warren taking down a previously undefeated and top ranked Dardanelle in the 4A semi-finals. All the scores are below. Our correct winners are in BLUE while the misses are in RED. We were 7 of 9 (77.8%) for the week.

  • Bentonville 24, Fayetteville 21

  • Pine Bluff 51, Benton 10

  • Pulaski Academy 38, Wynne 28

  • Mena 26, Malvern 7
  • Warren 17, Dardanelle 16

  • Charleston 21, Booneville 14
  • Smackover 18, Episcopal Collegiate 12

  • Junction City 50, Earle 16
  • Hazen 13, McCrory 6

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014 Playoffs Week #4 Match-ups

It is Championship Week in the 2014 Arkansas high school football  season for classes 5A, 6A, and 7A. The other three classifications are playing semi-final games this week. The state championship game capsules with date and game time are below. Below the game capsules, you will find with our picks for winners of the class 2A-4A semi-final games in BOLD. The semi-final games will all be played at 7:00 pm on Friday, December 5.

  • Bentonville vs. Fayetteville
    • Saturday, December 6
    • 12:00 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
If it feels like you have seen this show before, you have. The Bentonville Tigers and Fayetteville Bulldogs meet for the 7A state title for the 4th time in 5 years. Both teams will be looking for their third title in 5 years. The Tigers are making their 5th straight title game appearance. Bentonville has to be considered the favorite even though they started the 2014 campaign a very un-Tigerlike 0-4. However, Fayetteville is coming off its largest win in its playoff history over the Bulldogs traditional nemesis (Fort Smith Southside). The Tigers trounced the Dogs 45-2 in a week #10 contest. We look for a much more competitive game in Little Rock.

OUR PICK: Bentonville over Fayetteville in a 38-28 game.

As a curiosity, why must these teams (separated by 25 miles) travel an average of 150 miles to Little Rock to play a noon kickoff?

  • El Dorado vs. Pine Bluff
    • Friday, December 5
    • 7:00 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
The 6A game has all the makings of the most competitive game in War Memorial this weekend as the Benton Panthers and Pine Bluff Zebras have a rematch of a week #10 barn burner. The Panthers clipped the Zebras 39-36 in Pine Bluff. Both teams have dominated competition in the playoffs. Benton is in the state finals and undefeated (there is that week #1 tie) after a 0.500 season last year and hasn't won a state title since 1977. Pine Bluff is in the state title game for the 3rd year in a row having lost the previous two.

OUR PICK: Benton over Pine Bluff in a 35-32 game.

  • Pulaski Academy vs. Wynne
    • Saturday, December 6
    • 6:30 pm
    • War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock)
These two teams have been rated at or near the top of 5A all year by Hooten's Arkansas Football. The Pulaski Academy Bruins are undefeated against the state of Arkansas with their only blemish a 49-42 loss to Texas 6A power, Highland Park. The Wynne Yellowjackets only loss on the season was to Batesville - the team handled by the Bruins in last week's semi-finals. The Yellowjackets have tremendous team speed and a high powered offense. However, Wynne did struggle in last week semi-final game against a scrappy Beebe team.

OUR PICK: Pulaski Academy over Wynne in a 49-28 game.

  • Malvern @ Mena
  • Warren @ Dardanelle

  • Booneville @ Charleston
  • Episcopal Collegiate @ Smackover

  • Earle @ Junction City
  • McCrory @ Hazen