It’s A Numbers Game – Looking back at Round 2 of NCHSAA Football Playoffs

It’s A Numbers Game – Looking back at Round 2 of NCHSAA Football Playoffs
Courtesy of Lucy Grainger, Special to

As teams took to the field this past Friday for the NCHSAA football playoffs, the influence of sports analytics in various games continues on a rapid upward trajectory. This market is projected to hit the $616 million mark by 2021. The collection of on-field and off-field data to add a competitive edge for teams is now becoming rather commonplace. What was once the reserve of teams and players in the big leagues has found its way to the lower echelons of sport.

The “Moneyball” effect

The 2011 film “Moneyball” that starred Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill brought the idea of sports analytics powerfully into public view. It was based on a 2003 book by the same name, authored by Michael Lewis. Armed with the insight it provided on the power of numbers, teams began to invest in sports analytics infrastructure over the years. Even high school and college coaches and teams are now benefiting from a newfound ability to crunch numbers.

Lowdown on the games

In Friday night’s playoffs, Eastern Guilford visited Southeast Guilford. The two teams had met again on October 12, in a title showdown for the Mid-Piedmont 3-A Conference. Southeast Guilford won 37-24 on that occasion. Porter Ridge was at Page, Dudley at New Hanover, while Grimsley hosted Mooresville. This was Grimsley’s first appearance in a playoff game in five years. Mooresville’s junior quarterback Hunter DeBerardino should feature, after a concussion forced him to sit out the team’s previous round triumph over McDowell(DeBerardino missed the game against Grimslsey). All the games kicked off at 7.30 p.m.

Video analytics

With these games being covered fully, there is great potential to glean statistics and data for the benefit of the coaches and their teams. This of course applies in the long run, and not just for these particular playoff games. The process of using video analytics begins with the capture of extensive footage of individual players, as well as the entire team. With the footage at hand, there are endless possibilities for the kind of information that can be extracted and leveraged to try and improve performances. The footage can be cut into clips that shine the spotlight on individuals and then tagged player-by-player or even play-by-play. This makes it easy to sift through specific events. It is out of these that statistics can then be derived and accumulated to paint a statistical picture of a player, a game or even a season. Charts, graphs, heat maps, and other graphical elements can be used to represent this information.

As with almost any other discipline in the world today, technology in sport is here to stay. In fact, its influence can only grow further. This is probably truer for sports analytics than it is for any other scientific advancement in sports right now. For players and coaches alike, the onus is on them to embrace it and use it to their advantage. Perhaps someone in the NCHSAA playoffs already is.