As the end of the season draws near, playoffs are the only thing on any team's mind that still stands a reasonable chance. On Thursday, two of these teams meet - the St. Francis DeSales Stallions and the Bishop Hartley Hawks. The Stallions come into the game projected to enter the playoffs as Region 8's 7th best team at 8-2. The Hawks come into the game projected to finish 9-1 as Region 11's 2nd best team. Bishop Hartley will enter the game as a 4-point favorite, projected to win the game 27-23. Thursday's matchup will feature two of the state's top 100 teams. The Stallions come into the game ranked 61st in the state while the Hawks come in ranked 16th. This looks to be a close and exciting game, which will be fun at least for the team that comes out on top. The teams are no strangers to one another, playing against each other in each of the last five years. Over their last 5 matchups, the Hawks have been superior, coming out on top in 3 of them. However, the past won't matter come kickoff. In the most recent season's matchup, the Hawks proved superior, winning 21-14.
Looking to build upon their 7-game winning streak, St. Francis DeSales comes into the week at 8-1. After their 30-18 win against the Steubenville Big Red, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. Particularly in recent weeks, the Stallions offense has struggled to put points on the board. In their last 4 games, they've put up an average of 26 points per game. Throughout the course of the season, they've averaged 29.6, which ranks 32nd in Division 2. On defense, they'll also be looking for improvement, which they have shown signs of in recent weeks. Over their last 3 games, they've allowed an average of 13 points, an improvement over their 41st-ranked season average of 22.4.
Bishop Hartley is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 4-game winning streak, including last week's 44-6 win against the Belmont Bisons. That brings their record to 8-1 as they look to add another notch to the win column. Scoring an average of 34.6 points per game on offense, the Hawks rank 20th in Division 3. They've been even more dominant in recent weeks, scoring an average of 41.5 over their last 2 games. While their offense is solid, the defense deserves equal credit for the season's successes. Their 13 points allowed per game ranks 16th in the division and continues to get better week by week - in their last 2 games, they've given up just 3 points per game.
Prediction: Bishop Hartley to win (97.97% chance of victory)