Anything can happen in the playoffs. This is why the Orrville Red Riders come into the first round expecting a victory over the Elyria Catholic Panthers, despite the fact the Panthers are projected to win the game by a score of 41-24. 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 2019 season with a loss. Elyria Catholic comes in as Division 5's 8th-ranked team. Orrville comes in ranked 7th. The teams did not appear on each other's schedules last season, which presents a degree of unpredictability. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Elyria Catholic is currently on a 5-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Sunday. Coming off of a 35-7 win against the Rocky River Pirates, they are 7-3 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. Scoring an average of 41.7 points per game on offense, the Panthers rank 10th in Division 5. They've been even more explosive in recent weeks, scoring an average of 51.5 over their last 2 games. Their defense ranks 43rd in their division allowing an average of 21.1 points per game, but they have shown improvement in recent weeks - in their last 2 games, they've given up an average of 13.5 points.
After a 38-20 win against the Triway Titans brought their record to 9-1, Orrville will be looking to carry that momentum over and earn another victory. In recent weeks, the Red Riders haven't been quite as explosive on offense but they remain the 17th-ranked offense in Division 5, scoring an average of 38 points per game. Their defense allows an average of 19.3 points per game, which ranks 33rd in their division.
Prediction: Elyria Catholic to win (84.56% chance of victory)