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Alcovy hopes to rebound against Hillgrove
The Alcovy Tigers travel to Powder Spring to take on the Hillgrove Hawks in the first round of the state tournament. - photo by Anthony Banks

The Alcovy High varsity football team fell just short of clinching its first region title in school history a week ago against Lovejoy, but as the Tigers hit the road to take on No. 8 Hillgrove, the Hawks are the only things on their minds.

The Tigers (7-3, 4-2) dropped a physical 22-8 contest to the Wildcats to fall to the No. 3 seed in Region 2-AAAAAA, but Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said his program isn’t letting the loss linger.

“I really feel like we’ve had a good week of practice,” Hoffman said. “It was cold this week, but the kids didn’t get down, and they came out focused. They could have hung their heads, but the kids in the program know that we have to prepare for the next game and they’ve done a good job of leaving the last game behind them and moving on.”

Hoffman said the Tigers have been focused this week on what they can do to get better and less on what the Hawks (9-1, 7-1) plan to do to stop them.

“The biggest thing we’ve focused on this week is working on things we can get better at,” Hoffman said. “We’ve really worked hard on our special teams this week and have seen improvement there. Defensively, we’re making sure that our players are getting into the right spot and getting to the right places. We’re going to have to be precise on defense this week, so that’s been what we’ve focused on heading into tonight’s game.”

The Tigers take on a Hillgrove program led by quarterback Elijah Ironside. Ironside and the Hawks’ offense have averaged 38.2 points a game this season, including scoring over 30 points in their last four contests.

The Hawks enter tonight’s contest coming off a 31-17 win over McEachern High School. Hillgrove scored on its first three possessions against the Indians, as running back Richardre Bagley ran for 236 yards and two scores on 26 carries.

“Their offense is top-notch,” Hoffman said. “They’re senior loaded, and their quarterback is very smart. They love to throw the ball and we are going to have our work cut out for us. When you watch them on film, I’m impressed with the overall speed of their offense. They move the ball offensively very well and it’s going to take a great effort from our defense to slow them down.”

The Tigers will battle a defensive unit that held the Indians to 282 yards last week. Hoffman said the Hawks’ front line is as dominant as they come.

“Up front, they are as good as we’ve seen all year, but, it’s the playoffs, and that’s what you ought to be seeing,” he said. “Their linebackers run to the ball well, and their play up front allows their defensive backs to play back and not give up the big play. They’re very sound defensively.”

Although the Hawks present a huge hurdle for Alcovy to pass on its way through the state playoffs, Hoffman said the Tigers just have to be steady and play their game.

“We have to be consistent,” Hoffman said. “Offensively, we have to have sustained drives and when we get the opportunity, take advantage of it. Defensively, we can’t miss tackles. We can’t give them a second chance to score.”

The Tigers and Hawks will kick off tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Powder Springs.