Both Hillgrove and Kennesaw Mountain hope to put last week’s losses behind them and get back on track tonight.
However, only one team will be able to do such since the Mustangs and Hawks will meet at Cobb Energy/Hillgrove Stadium in a Region 4AAAAAA contest.
History and statistics greatly favor Hillgrove
(3-3, 2-2) in this matchup. The Hawks defeated Kennesaw Mountain 35-0 last season, and the Mustangs are 0-5 in region play. Plus, Hillgrove will want to maintain touch with the rest of the leaders in the region, which will still allow it to earn a playoff spot when the Hawks play the other contenders during the last three weeks of the season.
“I look at (Hillgrove) on film and am very impressed with how well coached they are, how hard their kids play and the soundness of their schemes,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “I think coach (Phil) Ironside is one of the best coaches in the state, and I think his kids play that way.”
The Hawks’ offense is led by quarterback Troy Thompson, who has 10 passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns. Four of his scoring passes have gone to Evan Engram.
The one area that may be a concern for Hillgrove is its running game, which has been slowed so far this year. The Hawks come into the game averaging only 89 yards a game on the ground.
On defense, Victor Sanchez, Justin Haney, Tolando Cleveland and Marcus Bailey lead the team in tackles.
“I know they are going to be a very attacking defense,” Scott said. “They do a good job of playing fundamentally sound. They like to bring pressure with their linebackers either outside or inside. So we’ve just got to make sure we are on top of everything that we do offensively.”
But last Friday, Hillgrove lost 41-14 to North Cobb. Elijah Ironside threw a touchdown pass to Engram, and Evan Arnold ran for a score.
As far as the Mustangs, they lost 56-21 to Marietta despite having the advantage in total yards and rushing yards.
“I really thought we played somewhat decent offensively,” Scott said. “We outrushed and outgained them in total yards but had two very costly turnovers that resulted in them having an opportunity to scoop-and-score both of them.”
Kennesaw Mountain finished with 261 rushing yards, resulting in a 368-365 edge in total yards.
Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t match the offensive performance. The 56 points allowed was a season high, and the Mustangs are allowing 36 points a game.
“I say all the time trying to build a program in this region is like building a program in the SEC,” Scott said. “It’s going to take some time and you’re going to play some of the best teams in the state of Georgia week in and week out.”
This will be just the third meeting between Hillgrove and Kennesaw Mountain.