As many as six teams — McEachern, South Cobb, Marietta, Hillgrove, North Cobb and Harrison — were in the running then, and after roughly seven games, that’s still the case.
One team will get closer to its postseason goal when Hillgrove visits Harrison tonight at Cobleigh Stadium.
The Hoyas will have to try to do it for interm coach Bruce Cobleigh. The long-time Hoyas coach retakes the reigns for the final three games of the season after Marty Galbraith left the program on Thursday.
The Hawks and the Hoyas share identical 4-3 overall records as well as 3-2 region marks. With North Cobb also settled in at 3-2 in the region, and either South Cobb or Marietta likely dropping down to 4-2, neither Harrison nor Hillgrove can afford to have a third region loss and expect to make the playoffs.
One thing about Region 4AAAAAA, it’s crowded at the top.
“I don’t think either team is in panic mode right now,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “These kids and our coaching staff continue to work at making this a better team.”
With three games left on the schedule, neither team has much room for error. After tonight’s contest, Hillgrove completes its regular season hosting South Cobb and region front-runner McEachern. Harrison, meanwhile, will visit McEachern and Marietta.
Both programs have already lost to North Cobb, and the Hawks fell to Marietta in their region opener. The Hoyas dropped a decision to South Cobb last week.
“On the one hand, being 4-3 is a good thing because you’ve won more than you’ve lost,” Ironside said. “But, on the other hand, 4-3 is rough because it means you probably didn’t play your best football and I wasn’t at my best as a coach.
“But, you have to continue on and work as hard as usual in practice to get better. I don’t know if the plan is any different leading into this game than before.”
Last year, Hillgrove displayed a balanced offensive attack with running back Kenyan Drake and quarterback Elijah Ironside. The defense was also strong with John Silas at linebacker.
This season, the Hawks are relying heavily on the passing game, while the defense is doing its best to keep teams in check.
“We’re focusing on continuing to run the ball better and stopping the run,” Ironside said. “We’ve been good in one, but haven’t been very good in the other. Harrison is a well-coached team and they’re much improved.”
Hillgrove has been working in practice this week on overcoming those challenges. Yet, with so much on the line riding on this week’s game against Harrison, there has been some urgency and extra excitement in practice.
“I think it’s easier for the kids to keep their focus during times like this,” Ironside said. “The kids know what’s going on. It’s business as usual, but at the same time you can’t stand to lose another game and be the kind of team you want to be. I think these guys will be ready (tonight) and they’ll play hard.”