In the first playoff matchup of the year for the Whitmer Panthers, they are projected to come away with a 36-23 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. 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. The Thunderbolts, one of the top teams in Division 1, come into the game ranked 27th. The Panthers come in ranked 8th. A new matchup on the schedule for each team, Saturday's game is a chance for each to test its skills and strategies against an unfamiliar opponent. Usually, matchups from the previous year are used in developing a strategy for upcoming games. For these two, no such opportunity will be afforded.
Northmont comes into the game on a 4-game winning streak. After last week's 28-27 win against the Wayne Warriors, they are 6-4 and look to continue the positive momentum. The Thunderbolts offense will look to continue to improve as they've scored an average of 38 points per game over their last 4 games, up from their season average of 27.6, which ranks 30th in Division 1. On defense, they rank 30th in the division, giving up 20.3 points per game.
For Whitmer, Saturday is a chance to expand on a 3-game winning streak after their 35-18 win against the St. Francis de Sales Knights brought their record to 9-1. The Panthers offense is one of the most high-powered in their division, particularly in recent weeks. For the year, they rank 4th in Division 1 with 37.1 points per game. Over the last 3 weeks, they've scored an average of 37.1. 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 12 points per game. However, success on defense isn't just a recent trend - on the season, their defense ranks 24th in their division, allowing 18 points per game.
Prediction: Whitmer to win (98.52% chance of victory)