In the second playoff matchup of the year for the Pickerington Central Tigers, they are projected to come away with a 32-24 win over the Northmont Thunderbolts. However, it should be one of the more hotly contested matchups of the round and all statistical predictions could easily go out the window. 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 Tigers, one of the top teams in Division 1, come into the game ranked 3rd. The Thunderbolts come in ranked 17th. There is a certain degree of familiarity between the two teams after they faced off last season. Last year, the Tigers got the better of the Thunderbolts, winning by a score of 41-21.
Pickerington Central is currently on a 2-game winning streak, which they hope to continue on Saturday. Coming off of a 14-13 win against the Hilliard Bradley Jaguars, they are 9-2 and their confidence continues to build as they finish up the year. In recent weeks, the Tigers haven't been quite as successful producing points but they remain the 14th-ranked offense in Division 1, scoring an average of 31.4 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 6.5 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 9th in their division, allowing 13.2 points per game.
Northmont will look to continue the momentum of their 6-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 42-20 win against the Hilliard Darby Panthers last week, bringing their record to 10-1. The Thunderbolts offense is one of the most high-powered in their division, particularly in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 7th in Division 1 with 35.3 points per game. Over the last 6 weeks, they've scored an average of 35.3. Their defense ranks 26th in their division giving up an average of 17.6 points per game, but they've been improving with each game - over the last 2 weeks, they've allowed an average of 13 points.
Prediction: Pickerington Central to win (90.56% chance of victory)