One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the second round comes between the Maple Heights Mustangs and the Riverside Beavers, the Mustangs projected to win by a score of 31-26. 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 Beavers, one of the top teams in Division 2, come into the game ranked 40th. The Mustangs come in ranked 19th. 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.
Riverside is currently on a 4-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Saturday. Coming off of a 43-38 win against the Nordonia Knights, they are 9-2 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. The Beavers offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 41 points per game over their last 4 games, up from their season average of 31.9, which ranks 34th in Division 2. On the opposite side of the ball, they rank 32nd in the division, allowing 20.8 points per game.
Maple Heights will look to continue the momentum of their 11-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 42-12 win against the Boardman Spartans last week, bringing their record to 11-0. In recent weeks, the Mustangs haven't been quite as explosive on offense but they remain the 6th-ranked offense in Division 2, scoring an average of 42.8 points per game. While recent games have affected averages negatively, their defense is one of the best as well. They rank 12th in their division, giving up an average of 12.8 points per game.
Prediction: Maple Heights to win (94.79% chance of victory)