As we reach the end of the season, teams that still have reasonable chances are jockeying for playoff positioning. For the home team in this matchup, the Massillon Tigers, anything but a playoff bid would be a disappointment. They come into the week projected to finish 1st in the Region 5 playoff standings. For the visiting Louisville Leopards, it's a battle to stay in contention. They are currently expected to finish the season 6-4, which would put them around 13th in Region 9. The Tigers are the favorites on Friday, projected to win the game by a score of 38-23. The Tigers rank 3rd in the state while the Leopards rank 136th in the state and 29th in Division 3. The Tigers, the better team on paper, will look to prove their superiority on the field come Friday. A rematch from their game last season, this matchup will be a good gauge on how each team has improved or regressed. In 2018, the Tigers defeated the Leopards by a score of 41-0.
Looking to build upon their 3-game winning streak, Louisville comes into the week at 5-3. After their 40-21 win against the Point Pleasant Knights, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. In recent weeks, the Leopards haven't been quite as successful producing points but they remain the 24th-ranked offense in Division 3, scoring an average of 32.8 points per game. Their defense ranks 69th in their division allowing an average of 25.4 points per game, but they have shown improvement in recent weeks - in their last 3 games, they've given up an average of 14 points.
Massillon will look to continue the momentum of their 8-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 49-24 win against the Barberton Magics last week, bringing their record to 8-0. The Tigers score an average of 49.8 points per game, which ranks 3rd in the state offensively. In recent weeks, they've scored at an even more impressive rate, an average of 52 points over their last 4 games. 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 12.2 points per game, which ranks 11th in their division.
Prediction: Massillon to win (99.98% chance of victory)