Coming off a big win over archrival McEachern and with a potent offense firing on all cylinders, the Hawks appear well positioned for a deep postseason run as they host Alcovy in a first-round Class AAAAAA state playoff game at Cobb Energy/Hillgrove Stadium.
Hillgrove clinched the second seed from Region 4AAAAAA and the home-field advantage for its first-round contest with a 31-17 victory over McEachern in its regular-season finale last Friday.
With its offense averaging 43 points a game over its last four contest as well, as building up plenty of momentum with its win over McEachern, Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said his team is beginning to peak as it enters the postseason.
“We certainly hope so,” Ironside said. “We’re all playing good. The kids have been very focused and have been very business-like. So, hopefully, it will continue.”
The Hawks have been boosted by an offense that has successful combined a strong passing game that has been led by quarterback Elijah Ironside as well as a solid ground game that has been led by Richarde Bagley, who rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns against McEachern.
“It’s a little of both,” Phil Ironside said. “I think we have done some things vertically downfield and we’ve been able to run the football better. McEachern did a lot of things to stop our vertical passing game and our offensive line did a very good job of taking advantage of it. We have four or five kids who have made a difference. We protect well and we’re good up front. We’ve got some playmakers and we get them the ball when we’re able to.”
With a win, Hillgrove could possibly face a second-round matchup on the road in South Georgia against top-ranked Camden County, which hosts Westlake in its first-round game tonight.
For now, the Hawks are focused on a 7-3 Alcovy team that is the third seed from 2AAAAAA. The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a 42-8 loss to last year’s AAAAAA runner-up, Lovejoy, in their regular-season finale.
“They’re athletic and very aggressive defensively,” Ironside said. “They have a lot of people and who can bring a lot of pressure. Offensively, they’re a little mixture (of pass and run), but they’re more power run than anything. We’ll have our hands full offensively.”
Game: Alcovy (7-3) at Hillgrove (9-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: First meeting
All-time series: First meeting
Prediction: Hillgrove 35, Alcovy 14