The Bellaire Big Reds begin this year's postseason with a major challenge as the South Range Raiders come into the game projected to win by a score of 36-15. 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 2019 season with a loss. Bellaire comes in as Division 5's 37th-ranked team. South Range comes in ranked 24th. 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.
Last week, Bellaire dropped a game 23-12 against the Martins Ferry Purple Riders. They'll look to get in the win column this week as they hope to finish out the season on a positive note. 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 4 games, they've scored an average of 18.5 points - this season they've averaged 23.3, which ranks 62nd in Division 5. On defense, they haven't been any better statistically, ranking 10th in their division, allowing 13.6 points per game.
South Range will look to continue the momentum of their 4-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 36-13 win against the Hubbard Eagles last week, bringing their record to 7-3. Scoring an average of 34.9 points per game on offense, the Raiders rank 20th in Division 5. They've been even more dominant in recent weeks, scoring an average of 44.25 over their last 4 games. 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 16.8 points per game, which ranks 19th in their division.
Prediction: South Range to win (90.67% chance of victory)