In the playoffs, anything can happen. At least that's what the Bellaire Big Reds are hoping as they come into Sunday as 28-point underdogs against the Johnstown-Monroe Johnies. 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 2018 season with a loss. The Big Reds, one of the top teams in Division 5, come into the game ranked 53rd. The Johnies come in ranked 2nd. 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.
After their 14-7 win against the Martins Ferry Purple Riders last week, Bellaire is 8-3 and looks to finish the season strong. The Big Reds offense hasn't been particularly great this season in terms of point production, a trend which continues into recent weeks. Over their last 2 games, they've scored an average of 7 points - this season they've averaged 25.4, which ranks 50th in Division 5. On defense, they haven't been any better statistically, ranking 15th in their division, allowing 15.3 points per game.
Johnstown-Monroe is no stranger to winning recently as they come off of a 7-game winning streak, including last week's 15-7 win against the Ironton Fighting Tigers. That brings their record to 10-1 as they look to add another notch to the win column. The Johnies offense is the 22nd-ranked offense in Division 5, scoring an average of 34.4 points per game over the course of the season. In their last 3 games, however, they haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 27.33 points per game. Nevertheless, the defense could actually be the true strength of the team, which they've shown in their most recent contests. Over the last 2 games, they've allowed only 3.5 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 4th in their division, allowing 10.2 points per game.
Prediction: Johnstown-Monroe to win (99.98% chance of victory)