Week 6 Preview – Hillgrove vs Gainesville
This week’s VNN-GA Game of the Week preview looks at the Hillgrove Hawks on the road to take on the Gainesville Red Elephants at Bobby Gruhn Stadium tonight at 7:30pm. Online tickets only, no cash or tickets at the gate, buy now – https://gofan.co/app/events/86800?schoolId=GA5015. Watch online via NFHS Network – https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/gainesville-high-school-gainesville-ga/gam1616facfd2 and/or follow the score via Live Score feed – https://gainesvilleredelephantathletics.com/red-elephant-live-scores-fall-2020/.
Hillgrove is led by first year Coach Byron Slack. The Hawks are 2-1 entering this their final non region game and looking to add to a 2 game winning streak after impressive victories over McEachern & Westlake. Hillgrove will lean on an improving offensive line to give rising star QB Chase McCrav. With several players returning from sickness & injury the Hawks depth will play a key role in tonight’s match up.
The Red Elephants are led by Head Coach Heath Webb who is entering his 3rd year as the Gainesville head man. Gainesville is also on a 2 game winning streak, 3-1 overall, with recent wins over Discovery & Forsyth Central. Led by QB Gionni Williams and a tough defense the Red Elephants are looking to continue their winning ways as they head into region play next week as well.
I recently had a Q&A with both coaches discussing the season to date & tonight’s game.
What is your biggest area of concern about your team heading into this game?
Coach Slack – “Getting better than we were last week.”
Coach Webb – “Can we tackle their great athletes in space.”
What has been your team’s strengths that have come to light coming off your early season games?
Coach Slack – “Offensively being able to make small catches turn into big plays.”
Coach Webb – “We’ve played well on both OL and DL.”
Has anyone or anything stood out as the most surprising or unexpected positive during the first games?
Coach Slack – “Our kids willingness to go both ways. We have several kids playing both sides of the ball, and several different positions.”
Coach Webb – “Sophomore RB Naim Cheeks has averaged over 100 yards rushing in each game.”
Any thoughts on how COVID as impacted the season to date – good or bad or in general?
Coach Slack – “Our overall size. Not being in the weigh-room in the winter when you are trying to put on size to make it through a 15 game schedule makes it hard toward the end of the season.”
Coach Webb – “Good: it’s made our team appreciate playing. It’s also made our backups ready because they never know when they’re going to be called upon. Bad: having to deal with players being quarantined even though they weren’t positive. Contact tracing has taken players off our roster each week.”
Any final thoughts on the game, the season?
Coach Slack – ” Glad to be getting another opportunity to play. That is a plus these days.”
.Coach Webb – “We’re excited to compete with a great 7A power in our first year in 7A.”
Thanks to both coaches for their time & input. Looks to be an awesome game, wishing both teams well in tonight’s match up!