The state semifinals offer some of the best matchups as teams in close proximity look to claim superiority over their area in the division. On Sunday, the Ironton Fighting Tigers come in projected to beat the West Jefferson Roughriders by a score of 32-27. 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 Roughriders rank 8th in the division while the Fighting Tigers rank 9th. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Stylistically and schematically, past matchups are often used as a guiding tool. This week, however, each team will likely take time to adjust to an unfamiliar opponent, which should make for some added excitement.
West Jefferson comes into the game on a 5-game winning streak. After last week's 34-0 win against the West Liberty-Salem Tigers, they are 12-1 and look to continue the positive momentum. Thus far, the Roughriders offense has put up an average of 49.2 points per game, which ranks 2nd in the state. In recent weeks, they've been even more powerful, scoring an average of 52.6 points per game over the last 5 weeks. Their defense gives up an average of 19.9 points per game, which ranks 33rd in their division - in their last 2 games, they've improved, giving up an average of 14 points.
Ironton will look to continue the momentum of their 9-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 24-14 win against the Ridgewood Generals last week, bringing their record to 12-1. The Fighting Tigers offense is the 14th-ranked offense in Division 5, scoring an average of 37.9 points per game over the course of the season. In their last 2 games, however, they haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 27.5 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 6.4 points per game, which ranks 2nd in their division.
Prediction: Ironton to win (72.01% chance of victory)