One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the first round comes between the Walnut Ridge Scots and the Xenia Buccaneers, the Scots projected to win by a score of 30-24. It's do or die for each team as always in the postseason. Regardless of the outcome, each team can take comfort in the fact that they had a successful enough season to get here, but only one team will be satisfied with the result as the other's season will end on a loss. The Scots, one of the top teams in Division 2, come into the game ranked 10th. The Buccaneers come in ranked 28th. 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. 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.
Walnut Ridge comes into the game on a 10-game winning streak. After last week's 35-0 win against the Columbus Independence 76ers, they are 10-0 and look to continue the positive momentum. On offense, the Scots have been one of the best in the state this season, ranking 14th with 45.5 points per game. Recent weeks haven't been quite as explosive as they've averaged 38 points per game but they remain one of the most explosive offenses statewide. Their defense has been equally impressive, particularly in recent weeks. Over their last 2 games, they've allowed just 0 points per game - that's even better than the shutdown defense they've played all season. On the year, they rank 7th in the state on defense, allowing an average of 0 points.
Xenia will look to continue the momentum of their 9-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 42-0 win against the Fairborn Skyhawks last week, bringing their record to 9-1. While the Buccaneers haven't been the most high-powered offense throughout the season, they have been improving week to week. In the last 3 weeks, they've averaged 34.33, up from their season average of 28.9, which ranks 33rd in Division 2. On defense, they're not much better statistically. They rank 5th in their division, allowing 8.7 points per game. However, they have improved as the season's gone on, giving up an average of 4.57 points over their last 7.
Prediction: Walnut Ridge to win (75.83% chance of victory)