Last year: Marietta 27, Hillgrove 13
All-time series: Hillgrove leads 2-1
Prediction: Hillgrove 28, Marietta 21
Hillgrove and Marietta have both played two solid non-region opponents. Both teams had a bye week last week. Both squads are 2-0.
The Hawks and the Blue Devils square off tonight to grab an early Region 4AAAAAA win, and kick off what is setting up to be a challenging region championship race.
“One of us is going to be at the top of the region when this is over and the one of us is going to be at the bottom,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “There’s still a lot of other games between now and the end of the regular season.
“You can’t get too high on this one game. You’re not dead if you lose, but it’s good to get ahead and be at the top when you can. I don’t think our kids will get too high for this game and psyche themselves out.”
Hillgrove and Marietta are almost mirror images of one another. Both teams play solid defense, and the offenses utilize spread formations to run play-action and throw the ball to a pair of dynamic receivers.
Both running games also have experienced running backs, while the quarterbacks have similar styles and are accurate with their passes.
“(Hillgrove quarterback) Elijah (Ironside) has been through it,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “We’ve tried to make things simple for (Marietta quarterback) Brenton (Martin). We want him to flourish under reasonable guidelines. He’s an eager kid, but we don’t want to give him too much.”
Martin has done well so far in leading Marietta to wins over two playoff teams from last season. Hillgrove also went to the playoffs last year, while next week’s opponent, McEachern, has won two of the last three region titles.
“This is the kind of schedule we need as a program,” Burton said. “We got an early barometer of who we are as a program going against Newnan and Pope. It continues this week with Hillgrove.”
Whichever team can dictate play will ultimately control the game.
“Whoever can establish the run and do what they want to do will have the advantage,” Ironside said. “Don’t give up big plays and play good defense. It should be an exciting game.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Campbell (2-0) at Harrison (1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Harrison 21, Campbell 14
All-time series: Harrison leads 14-3
Prediction: Harrison 17, Campbell 14
This will be a statement game for Harrison and Campbell as they begin Region 4AAAAAA competition.
Campbell will try to improve to 3-0 after posting wins over Morrow and Osborne. Harrison is looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Alpharetta after winning its season opener over Woodstock.
“Anytime you play in a region game, there is a little bit of a difference, but our focus is on the team that we play next, so we’re going to focus like we always do.”
Campbell will have to be fundamentally sound in the tranches because the Hoyas (1-1) have about a 75-pound size advantage. The Spartans are also aware of defensive lineman and Central Florida commitment Joey Connors.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” Rainbow said. “Every time I watch them, I get sick to my stomach.”
If Campbell’s offensive linemen can hold off Harrison’s front seven for a few seconds, the Spartans are capable of making explosive plays with Ricky James under center and Michael Rogers, who is also committed to UCF, in the backfield. Rogers rushed for 219 yards against Osborne, a Cobb County high, and scored three touchdowns.
Harrison has offensive talent but has to start limiting mistakes. The Hoyas turned the ball over three times in their loss to Alpharetta last week, and in their win over Woodstock two weeks ago, they turned the ball over inside the 10-yard line and dropped two touchdown passes.
“We have to start to click offensively,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said. “If we can do the things we’re capable of, we can get things going. The big word is, we need to stay consistent.”
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Pebblebrook (2-0) at McEachern (2-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: McEachern 30, Pebblebrook 23
All-time series: McEachern leads 27-8-2
Prediction: McEachern 42, Pebblebrook 21
McEachern’s bye week came at a good time as the Indians prepare to begin Region 4AAAAAA play tonight against Pebblebrook.
The Indians faced two tough opponents in Brookwood and Lassiter to begin the season, and both contests finished after midnight, which took a lot out of the team.
“We had two objectives with the bye week,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “The first was to get some rest. August was a real grind. We had two-a-days, a scrimmage, school started and then we had two games that went late to start things off.
“The other thing we wanted to do was to try and take specific problems that we have or that were there or reoccurring over the past couple of weeks and get them corrected.”
The Indians focused on being smart near the end of a play and making good decisions on tackling, blocking and avoiding penalties. McEachern also worked on its kickoff return game and the personnel there, as well as making its run and pass plays look identical.
Those different adjustments will probably be needed this week against an undefeated Falcons team that has apparently found new life under second-year coach Tommy Macon. Pebblebrook, which went 0-10 last season, fell to McEachern in a close
30-23 game last year.
“Pebblebrook has a talented quarterback who’s quick and they have a defensive end that is as good as anybody in the region,” Hockman said. “They have a secondary and some linebackers that really fly around the field, so they have our attention. On film, you can see they have playmakers.
“Last year, we didn’t play very well. We didn’t play to our ability. This week, we’ve had a good week of practice. The kids understand that we’re not as good as we think we are, and (Pebblebrook) is not as bad as they were last year. That’s what we’ve been preaching.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Kennesaw Mountain (1-0) at South Cobb (0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: South Cobb 28, Kennesaw Mountain 26
All-time series: South Cobb leads 8-3
Prediction: Kennesaw Mountain 35, South Cobb 21
Kennesaw Mountain has only played one game. Like last year, that one game was a season-opening win against Sprayberry. Then came the bye week, which was followed by six consecutive losses to Region 4AAAAAA opponents.
The Mustangs, who don’t want the same results as last season, used their bye week this year to make corrections and prepare themselves for the Eagles.
“It was like camp again,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “Have a scrimmage, then dissect the tape from the scrimmage and then we have a game the first week.
“Now, we take another break to get ready for our next game. It’s going good. We’ve spent time getting better at those little things and improve on what we do well. We added some things and kept ideas fresh for the kids.”
Scott said he and his staff are preparing for a South Cobb team that is not indicative of their record.
“South Cobb is explosive,” he said. “They’re going through some growing pains with the new head coach, but they’re capable of things offensively and defensively. Watching film, we saw what South Cobb can do, and we hope we can play well and get a win.”
South Cobb’s adjustment to new coach Michael Youngblood is still in its initial phases. The Eagles started out 5-0 last year, averaging 32.2 points per game, before going 7-3 on the year. This season, South Cobb is 0-2 and averaging 8 points per contest.
“We’re installing new schemes and we have two returning starters,” Youngblood said. “On offense, we’re breaking in a new quarterback and running back. We have seniors on the team playing for the first time and our guys are young.
“We’ve been harping on them in practice and trying to get the kids focused on their jobs. If they can do that, everything else will fall into place.”
— By Carlton D. White