In their third game of the 2018 playoffs, the Manchester Panthers will play at home in the regional finals against the LaBrae Vikings in what looks to be one of the most competitive matchups of the season. The Panthers come into the game as 3-point favorites, projected to come away with the victory by a score of 33-30. 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. LaBrae comes in as Division 5's 12th-ranked team. Manchester comes in ranked 11th. 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.
LaBrae is currently on a 2-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Sunday. Coming off of a 21-0 win against the Wickliffe Blue Devils, they are 10-1 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. On offense, the Vikings have been one of the best in the state this season, ranking 4th with 48.7 points per game. Recent weeks haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 30 points per game but they remain one of the most explosive offenses statewide. While their offense is solid, the defense deserves equal credit for the season's successes. Their 10.5 points allowed per game ranks 6th in the division and continues to get better week by week - in their last 2 games, they've given up just 3 points per game.
Manchester will be looking to put together a win streak coming off of a 35-0 win over the Sandy Valley Cardinals last week, which brings their record to 8-3. The Panthers offense is the 12th-ranked offense in Division 5, scoring an average of 37.2 points per game over the course of the season. In their last 2 games, however, they haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 27 points per game. Their defense gives up an average of 22.7 points per game, which ranks 47th in their division - in their last 3 games, they've improved, giving up an average of 20.33 points.
Prediction: Manchester to win (78.29% chance of victory)