Walter Bates and Hillgrove will try to get back on the winning track against North Paulding on Friday.

Game: Hillgrove (4-3, 1-2) at North Paulding (1-7, 0-3), 7:30 p.m.

Last year: Hillgrove 44, North Paulding 17

All-time series: Hillgrove leads 6-0

Prediction: Hillgrove 35, North Paulding 17

Hillgrove has some work to do to better its playoff chances out of Region 3AAAAAAA.

It starts with getting a win over North Paulding at the Den at North Paulding.

It’s an opportunity Hillgrove coach Byron Slack doesn’t want to squander.

“I like to put motivations into the scouting report,” he said. “So, this week I told the kids, ‘play to get into the playoffs.’ It’s about this week. So, let’s worry about this week and let the chips fall where they may.

“This is our playoff game. It’s win or go home, and that should be more than enough motivation for anybody.”

Hillgrove has been inconsistent during region play so far this year and fell by more than 20 points to region leader North Cobb last week. Slack hopes the Hawks can perform better tonight than they did against the Warriors.

“North Cobb’s a good team, and we knew we’d have to play a near-perfect against them, but we fell short,” Slack said. “We had some turnovers and mistakes and North Cobb has some quick strikes that bit us. It’s hard to overcome that sometimes. We have the talent to limit those big plays, so it’s about being in the right position to stop it.”

Hillgrove will attempt to be in the right position to stop North Paulding. The Wolfpack have one win on the season but has shown the ability to be competitive. North Paulding is averaging 23.1 points per game while allowing 33.6. Their last three games have been decided by 11 points or less.

“On film it’s hard to believe North Paulding’s record,” Slack said. “They only have one win, but they’re putting up points and they’ve in a lot of their games.

“I told our kids that I don’t know if we’ll face a better quarterback in the state than the one North Paulding has. He’s very accurate with the football, and they do things alignment-wise that makes them really tough to defend.

“Their defense plays hard, but they’ve been coming up on the short end in some of their past few games. (Tonight) will be challenge for us on the road and in a hostile environment against a good team. It should be a good game.”

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