One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the first round comes between the Elder Panthers and the Lakota West Firebirds, the Panthers projected to win by a score of 27-20. The playoffs are an interesting time of year as 7 teams fulfill their most ambitious goal in winning a state championship while the other 217 playoff teams will end their season with a loss. This matchup is no different as the winner will continue their playoff run while the loser will end its 2019 season with a loss. Lakota West comes in as Division 1's 33rd-ranked team. Elder comes in ranked 9th. 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. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Lakota West is 7-3 after their 41-13 win against the Middletown Middies last week. This week, they look to build on that victory on the way to what they hope will be a strong finish to the season. The Firebirds offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 38 points per game over their last 2 games, up from their season average of 24.6, which ranks 38th in Division 1. Defensively, they haven't been the strongest either in terms of points allowed. They give up 18 points per game, ranking 24th in their division.
Looking to rebound from a 27-25 loss against the La Salle Lancers last week, Elder will try to establish momentum early and sustain it throughout. The Panthers rank 3rd in Division 1 on offense, scoring an average of 38.4. However, over the last 2 weeks, their average is down to 28 points per game. Their defense gives up an average of 25.8 points per game, which ranks 47th in their division - in their last 6 games, they've improved, giving up an average of 20.83 points.
Prediction: Elder to win (98.55% chance of victory)