The playoffs are here and, in the first round, comes what could turn out to be one of the best matchups of the entire season. The Euclid Panthers have earned homefield advantage and will face one of their biggest challenges of the year in the Austintown-Fitch Falcons. The Panthers are projected to win the game 29-26 but nobody truly knows what's in store for Friday's game. 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. Austintown-Fitch comes in as Division 1's 27th-ranked team. Euclid comes in ranked 14th. A new game on the schedule for both teams, it should shape out as an unpredictable affair. Strategically, this might lead to complications that could throw off the gameplan of either team.
Looking to build upon their 4-game winning streak, Austintown-Fitch comes into the week at 8-2. After their 24-14 win against the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals, they are confident in their ability to finish strong. The Falcons offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 35.25 points per game over their last 4 games, up from their season average of 23.3, which ranks 41st in Division 1. Defensively, giving up 17.6 points per game, they rank 30th in the division.
After a 40-0 win against the Shaker Heights Raiders brought their record to 8-2, Euclid will be looking to carry that momentum over and earn another victory. The Panthers offense is the 10th-ranked offense in Division 1, scoring an average of 34.2 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 23.5 points per game. On defense, they've been just as strong. Allowing just 14 points per game over the course of the season, their defense ranks 11th in their division. Over the last 4 weeks, they've been even more proficient, giving up just 9 points per game.
Prediction: Euclid to win (95.78% chance of victory)