This week's matchup between the Manchester Panthers and the Orrville Red Riders should be one of the more competitive of the regional finals, the Panthers entering the week projected to win by a score of 37-30. 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 Panthers rank 7th in the division while the Red Riders rank 30th. This is a chance for the Red Riders to avenge a loss from earlier on in the regular season, when the Panthers beat them 67-31. Last season, they played as well, the Panthers beating the Red Riders 32-21.
Manchester comes into the game on a 2-game winning streak. After last week's 56-14 win against the LaBrae Vikings, they are 9-3 and look to continue the positive momentum. In recent weeks, the Panthers haven't been quite as successful producing points but they remain the 8th-ranked offense in Division 5, scoring an average of 38.8 points per game. Their defense gives up an average of 22 points per game, which ranks 43rd in their division - in their last 2 games, they've improved, giving up an average of 7 points.
Orrville will look to continue the momentum of their 4-game winning streak, the most recent addition to which was a 50-43 win against the Gilmour Academy Lancers last week, bringing their record to 10-2. The Red Riders have been one of the most prolific offenses in the state and even stronger in their most recent contests. Scoring an average of 44.7 points per game, their offense ranks 12th in the state. Over their last 2 games, they've been even more impressive, scoring an average of 48.5 points per game. Their defense gives up an average of 21.9 points per game, ranking 42nd in their division.
Prediction: Manchester to win (81.96% chance of victory)