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 Pickerington North Panthers, anything but a playoff bid would be a disappointment. They come into the week projected to finish 6th in the Region 3 playoff standings. For the visiting Gahanna Lincoln Lions, it's a battle to stay in contention. They are currently expected to finish the season 3-7, which would put them around 12th in Region 3. The Panthers are the favorites on Friday, projected to win the game by a score of 28-20. The Panthers rank 81st in the state while the Lions rank 198th in the state and 43rd in Division 1. Gahanna Lincoln hopes to mount an effort on Friday that will prove that they are, indeed, the better of the two. The teams have played each other in each of the last five years so neither is likely to surprise the other. Over their last 5 matchups, the Panthers have won 3, a trend they hope to continue. In last year's installment, the Panthers came out on top by a score of 14-10.
Gahanna Lincoln comes into the game on a 3-game winning streak. After last week's 41-7 win against the Grove City Greyhounds, they are 3-6 and look to continue the positive momentum. While the Lions offense has not been particularly great, ranked 47th in Division 1 with 21.8 points per game, they have improved in recent weeks, averaging 34.5 points over their last 2 contests. They rank similarly on defense, coming in at 65th in their division, allowing 34.6 points per game. That number has generally gone up in recent weeks as they've given up an average of 16 points in their last 2 games.
After a 42-14 win against the Lancaster Golden Gales brought their record to 5-4, Pickerington North will be looking to carry that momentum over and earn another victory. The Panthers offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 29 points per game over their last 3 games, up from their season average of 24.1, which ranks 37th in Division 1. Their defense, while not a top defense in Division 1, has shown signs of improvement. They currently rank 43rd in the division with 23.6 points allowed per game, but have allowed an improved average of 14.33 points over their last 3 games.
Prediction: Pickerington North to win (96.35% chance of victory)