WELLMAN — Two seemingly even teams in Mid-Prairie and Tipton will meet at Dwight G. Sattler Field with a football playoff victory on the line Friday.
Both teams are 4-3 and both have a solid rushing attack with Tipton at 2,024 yards and the Golden Hawks at 1,916. Kayden Reinier averages 9.6 yards a carry (124 for 1,190) for M-P and Payten Elijah averages 9.3 for the Tigers (103 for 961).
The Golden Hawks have the advantage in the air with 852 yards passing to Tipton’s 172, although each team has thrown five interceptions. Elijah is 17-for-61 passing with two touchdowns and a 51.1 rating. Vinnie Bowlin is 51-of-111 with six TDs and a 105.5 rating.
Cain Brown (168 yards) and Clarke Latcham (248) each have 13 receptions for M-P with each’s total nearly matching Tipton’s team.
Defensively, the two teams have almost the same number of tackles with 301 (Justice Jones leads with 55) for the Hawks and 50 tackles for loss (Michael Kelly and Cael Garvey lead with nine each) while the number is 310 (Caleb Narem has 45) for the Tigers and 56 TFL (Austin Hubler and Nile Shuett have 14 each).
Turnovers can often decide a game, but again the teams are very even as Tipton has four take-aways and the Hawks five.
The return yardage combined on kickoffs and punts is 557 to 558 and the kicking game looks about equal with 13 punts by M-P’s Jake Swartzendruber for a 34-yard average and 21 by Tipton at 40.3.
On paper, it looks to be a classic playoff battle, but games are not played on paper. Maybe the home field will be the difference for the Golden Hawks.