As we reach the end of the season, teams that still have reasonable chances are jockeying for playoff positioning. For the home team in this matchup, the Jackson Ironmen, anything but a playoff bid would be a disappointment. They come into the week projected to finish 3rd in the Region 11 playoff standings. For the visiting Chillicothe Cavaliers, it's a battle to stay in contention. They are currently expected to finish the season 4-6, which would put them around 18th in Region 8. The Ironmen are the favorites on Friday, projected to win the game by a score of 30-17. Better on paper, the Ironmen come into the game ranked 77th in the state, hosting a Cavaliers team that comes in ranked 260th in the state and 49th in Division 2. Chillicothe looks to silence the crowd early as Jackson comes into the game expecting a relatively decisive victory. While a lot of factors point to a home victory, it will still require a valiant effort from the Ironmen to come away with the win. There is a certain degree of familiarity between the two teams after they faced off last season. Last season, the Ironmen beat the Cavaliers 20-7.
Chillicothe is currently on a 3-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Friday. Coming off of a 23-3 win against the Miami Trace Panthers, they are 4-5 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. The Cavaliers offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 38.67 points per game over their last 3 games, up from their season average of 20.7, which ranks 64th in Division 2. 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 26th in their division on the season with 20.1 points allowed per game, they've given up an improved average of 7.67 points over their last 3 games.
For Jackson, Friday is a chance to expand on a 9-game winning streak after their 42-3 win against the Hillsboro Indians brought their record to 9-0. The Ironmen offense is one of the most high-powered in their division, particularly in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 6th in Division 3 with 39.6 points per game. Over the last 4 weeks, they've scored an average of 39.6. Nevertheless, the defense could actually be the true strength of the team, which they've shown in their most recent contests. Over the last 4 games, they've allowed only 8 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 13th in their division, allowing 11.9 points per game.
Prediction: Jackson to win (99.28% chance of victory)