The first round is often the part of the playoffs where we find out who truly deserves to be there, chasing after a state title. This week, the London Red Raiders will have to prove they belong here, coming in as 41-point underdogs against the Bishop Hartley Hawks. It's do or die for each team as always in the postseason. Regardless of the outcome, each team can take comfort in the fact that they had a successful enough season to get here, but only one team will be satisfied with the result as the other's season will end on a loss. The Red Raiders, one of the top teams in Division 3, come into the game ranked 40th. The Hawks come in ranked 1st. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Saturday's game is a chance for each to test its skills and strategies against an unfamiliar opponent. Strategically, this might lead to complications that could throw off the gameplan of either team.
Last week, London dropped a game 24-23 against the Jonathan Alder Pioneers. They'll look to get in the win column this week as they hope to finish out the season on a positive note. In recent weeks, the Red Raiders haven't been quite as successful producing points but they remain the 2nd-ranked offense in Division 3, scoring an average of 43.1 points per game. While their defense has given up more points than usual in recent weeks, they deserve every bit as much of the credit for this season's successes as the offense. Over the course of the season, they've given up an average of 12 points per game, which ranks 14th in their division.
Bishop Hartley is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 5-game winning streak, including last week's 20-13 win against the St. Francis DeSales Stallions. That brings their record to 9-1 as they look to add another notch to the win column. The Hawks offense hasn't been particularly great this season in terms of point production, a trend which continues into recent weeks. Over their last 6 games, they've scored an average of 28 points - this season they've averaged 33.1, which ranks 29th in Division 3. While the defense hasn't been much better, they have improved lately - while they average 13 points allowed per game, which ranks 17th in their division, they've taken that average down to 6.33 points over the last 3 weeks.
Prediction: Bishop Hartley to win (99.89% chance of victory)