Typically, the first round consists 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 Pickerington Central Tigers head into Friday projected to beat the Hilliard Bradley Jaguars by a score of 30-24. 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 Tigers rank 3rd in the division while the Jaguars rank 9th. A rematch from their game last season, this matchup will be a good gauge on how each team has improved or regressed. In 2017, the Tigers defeated the Jaguars by a score of 42-31.
After their 40-0 win against the Grove City Greyhounds last week, Pickerington Central is 8-2 and looks to finish the season strong. The Tigers rank 14th in Division 1 on offense, scoring an average of 33.1. However, over the last 6 weeks, their average is down to 25.17 points per game. Nevertheless, the defense could actually be the true strength of the team, which they've shown in their most recent contests. Over the last 3 games, they've allowed only 10.33 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 7th in their division, allowing 13.2 points per game.
Hilliard Bradley will look to continue the momentum of their 7-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 49-0 win against the Hayes Pacers last week, bringing their record to 9-1. The Jaguars are undeniably one of Division 1's best offenses, averaging 36.1 points per game, which ranks 7th. In their last 2 games, they've been even better, scoring 48.5 points per game. Nevertheless, the defense could actually be the true strength of the team, which they've shown in their most recent contests. Over the last 2 games, they've allowed only 5 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 13th in their division, allowing 14.1 points per game.
Prediction: Pickerington Central to win (65.23% chance of victory)