The Kirtland Hornets come into the second round of the playoffs projected to get a victory over the South Range Raiders by a score of 34-18. However, anything can happen in the playoffs so you can throw mathematical predictions out the window. The playoffs are the best time of the year but also come with a great deal of drama as many powerhouses will even see their seasons cut short. Each week, it's do or die and, after this week is complete, half of the current playoff teams will be eliminated. The Raiders rank 23rd in the division while the Hornets rank 1st. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Looking to build upon their 5-game winning streak, South Range comes into the week at 8-3. After their 30-7 win against the Bellaire Big Reds, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. The Raiders have boasted one of Division 5's best offenses all season, averaging 34.5 points per game, which ranks 20th. In their last 5 games, they've been even better, scoring 41.4 points per game. While recent games have affected averages negatively, their defense is one of the best as well. They rank 16th in their division, giving up an average of 15.9 points per game.
Kirtland will look to continue the momentum of their 11-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 38-24 win against the Sandy Valley Cardinals last week, bringing their record to 11-0. Thus far, the Hornets offense has averaged 43.5 points per game offensively, which ranks 21st in the state. In recent weeks, they've been even more powerful, scoring an average of 50.57 points per game over the last 7 weeks. While their offense gets a lot of credit for their success, the defense has played at an elite level as well. Giving up just 5.3 points per game on average, their defense ranks 3rd in the state.