Game: Pebblebrook (1-0) vs. Hillgrove (1-0) , 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Hillgrove 21, Pebblebrook 7
All-time series: Hillgrove leads 6-0
Prediction: Hillgrove 28, Pebblebrook 17
Pebblebrook and Hillgrove met twice last year, and the Hawks won both meetings by a combined score of 45-14.
Both are coming off impressive season-opening wins, though. Hillgrove (1-0) beat Douglas County 28-6, and the Falcons (1-0) beat South Cobb 37-13, though coach Leroy Hood said he knows things will be more difficult this week.
“They do have some guys stand out, but the biggest thing is that they’re a well coached team,” the first-year Pebblebrook coach said. “You look for areas where teams aren’t very strong. Watching the film since this weekend, I just haven’t seen really any areas they look weak in.”
Defense is the one spot Hillgrove was expected to take a step back.
Defensive end Myles Murphy, a Clemson commit and one of the top recruits in the nation, leads the unit, but the play of the rest of the defense, including two new starters at linebacker, corner and safety, is what stood out most to Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside in Week 1.
“I thought the new kids played really well,” he said. “There were some mistakes, but the energy was good. We’re right on target with where we want to be.”
That group may be tested more this week.
Led by Jaquavious Jones, who will play more than just quarterback, and playmakers Marveon Boyd and Sincere Street on the perimeter, Pebblebrook has the athletes to test the Hawks.
“They’re very athletic, and they play hard,” Ironside said. “They can score a lot of points. They’ll put a lot of pressure on you.”
While Pebblebrook is capable of breaking big plays, Hood said that will not be the major focus this week.
Instead, he said he wants his offense to focus on limiting mistakes that will be difficult to overcome against Hillgrove’s defense.
“The game plan is to take care of the ball,” he said. “We know playing against a team like Hillgrove, we can’t make any mistakes. Ironside will take a similar approach offensively.
With Matthew McCravy back at quarterback, the Hawks have a reliable player in place to distribute the ball to running back Issaiah McCray and receiver Tre Walker.
“We just need to execute and take advantage of what we get,” Ironside said. “You don’t want to let them dictate what we’re going to do. We need to do what we do and try to take control of the situation.”
Hood said he is not expecting anything too flashy from the Hillgrove offense this week, but that does not mean things will be simple.
He said he saw too many mistakes from his defense last week ,despite forcing a pair of turnovers, and he knows things will have to be much cleaner this week.
“Tackling is No. 1,” Hood said. “It’s something we’ve stressed. We haven’t done a good job in the scrimmage or against South Cobb. We’re focused on tackling. I haven’t seen anyone take those backs or receivers down by themselves. It’s going to take the whole team.”