Typically, the first two rounds consist largely of vastly superior teams beating up on other teams in their region that just so happened to get in with enough playoff points. This likely will not be one of those matchups as the Columbus Grove Bulldogs head into Saturday projected to beat the Seneca East Tigers by a score of 31-25. 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 2018 season with a loss. The Bulldogs, one of the top teams in Division 6, come into the game ranked 45th. The Tigers come in ranked 21st. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Saturday'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.
Columbus Grove is currently on a 4-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Saturday. Coming off of a 21-7 win against the Carey Blue Devils, they are 8-3 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. The Bulldogs have struggled on offense, scoring only 30.33 points per game over their last 3 games. On the year, they rank 32nd in Division 6, scoring an average of 32 points per game over the course of the season. On defense, they're not much better statistically. They rank 24th in their division, allowing 16.4 points per game. However, they have improved as the season's gone on, giving up an average of 8.5 points over their last 4.
Seneca East will look to continue the momentum of their 6-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 33-9 win against the Loudonville Redbirds last week, bringing their record to 10-1. The Tigers are undeniably one of Division 6's best offenses, averaging 38.5 points per game, which ranks 10th. In their last 4 games, they've been even better, scoring 45.25 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 14.2 points per game, which ranks 16th in their division.
Prediction: Columbus Grove to win (97.22% chance of victory)