The first round is often the part of the playoffs where we find out who truly deserves to be there, chasing after a state title. This week, the Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks will have to prove they belong here, coming in as 62-point underdogs against the Marion Local Flyers. The playoffs are the best time of the year but also come with a great deal of drama as many powerhouses will even see their seasons cut short. Each week, it's do or die and, after this week is complete, half of the current playoff teams will be eliminated. The Blackhawks rank 57th in the division while the Flyers rank 1st. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Sunday's game is a chance for each to test its skills and strategies against an unfamiliar opponent. Strategically, this might lead to complications that could throw off the gameplan of either team.
Looking to build upon their 2-game winning streak, Mississinawa Valley comes into the week at 7-3. After their 22-12 win against the Arcanum Arcanum, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. While the Blackhawks offense has not been particularly great, ranked 32nd in Division 7 with 28.6 points per game, they have improved in recent weeks, averaging 46 points over their last 2 contests. On defense, they'll also be looking for improvement, which they have shown signs of in recent weeks. Over their last 2 games, they've allowed an average of 12.5 points, an improvement over their 52nd-ranked season average of 24.1.
Marion Local will look to continue the momentum of their 2-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 24-0 win against the Coldwater Cavaliers last week, bringing their record to 8-2. The Flyers offense is the 20th-ranked offense in Division 7, scoring an average of 30.5 points per game over the course of the season. In their last 9 games, however, they haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 28.44 points per game. On defense, they've been just as strong. Allowing just 10 points per game over the course of the season, their defense ranks 4th in their division. Over the last 2 weeks, they've been even more proficient, giving up just 3.5 points per game.
Prediction: Marion Local to win (99.99% chance of victory)