Friday's matchup between the Hopewell-Loudon Chieftains and the Gibsonburg Golden Bears takes place between two teams that most likely will not make the playoffs. The Chieftains come into the week projected to finish 17th in the Region 22 playoff standings. The Golden Bears are projected to finish 9th in Region 23. Gibsonburg comes in as a 19-point favorite as each team fights to close out the regular season strong. The Chieftains will have a chance to move up in the rankings this week - coming into the game ranked 73rd in Division 6, they take on one of Division 6's best as the Golden Bears come in ranked 12th in that division. The Golden Bears, the better team on paper, will look to prove their superiority on the field come Friday. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Friday'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.
Hopewell-Loudon comes off of a 24-21 loss against the Calvert Senecas and will look to rebound this week as they hope to finish out the season strong. While the Chieftains haven't been the most high-powered offense throughout the season, they have been improving week to week. In the last 4 weeks, they've averaged 36.5, up from their season average of 24.8, which ranks 55th in Division 6. They aren't a top defense in terms of points allowed either, but they have given up less points in recent weeks. While they rank 75th in their division on the season with 29.6 points allowed per game, they've given up an improved average of 12.67 points over their last 3 games.
For Gibsonburg, Friday is a chance to expand on a 9-game winning streak after their 42-13 win against the St. Joseph Central Catholic Crimson Streaks brought their record to 9-0. Scoring an average of 41.6 points per game on offense, the Golden Bears rank 10th in Division 6. They've been even more dominant in recent weeks, scoring an average of 52.6 over their last 5 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 11.9 points per game, which ranks 10th in their division.
Prediction: Gibsonburg to win (99.96% chance of victory)