One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the first round comes between the Maple Heights Mustangs and the Boardman Spartans, the Mustangs projected to win by a score of 29-22. 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 Spartans, one of the top teams in Division 2, come into the game ranked 41st. The Mustangs come in ranked 21st. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Friday'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.
After their 55-6 win against the Lakeside Dragons last week, Boardman is 6-4 and looks to finish the season strong. While the Spartans offense has not been particularly great, ranked 58th in Division 2 with 23.4 points per game, they have improved in recent weeks, averaging 37.67 points over their last 3 contests. On defense, they haven't been any better statistically, ranking 15th in their division, allowing 13.2 points per game.
Maple Heights will look to continue the momentum of their 10-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 28-21 win against the Cleveland Heights Tigers last week, bringing their record to 10-0. The Mustangs rank 7th in Division 2 on offense, scoring an average of 42.9. However, over the last 2 weeks, their average is down to 39 points per game. 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 12.9 points per game, which ranks 13th in their division.
Prediction: Maple Heights to win (93.76% chance of victory)