OULTRIE — Colquitt County coach Justin Rogers and wife Melissa will take a little ride together tonight.
They’ll set the GPS for Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs and watch the Hawks play host to North Cobb in the final game of the season for the two Region 3-7A teams.
The winner will take the same trip that Rogers and his wife did, just in the opposite direction, next Friday to take on the Packers in the first round of the state playoffs.
Hillgrove is 7-2 overall and North Cobb is 6-3. Both are 2-2 in Region 3 and will battle tonight for the Nos. 3 and 4 berths in the Class 7A playoffs.
The loser will have to travel to face Region 1 champion and undefeated Lowndes in the first round.
McEachern is Region 3 champion. It’s first-round opponent will be decided by the GHSA power rankings.
Marietta is No. 2 and will face the winner of tonight’s Camden County-Tift County game at Brodie Field.
The Packers will know their first-round opponent by the time Rogers steers his vehicle south later on tonight.
But the Packers, who are off tonight, have not been idle in the days since their 28-17 loss to Lowndes last Friday at Martin Stadium.
A grim nine-game gauntlet behind them, the Packers have tapered back on their practices.
But they have not taken a vacation.
“We couldn’t get a complete jump, since we didn’t know who we were playing,” Rogers said. “So we’ve worked on our base stuff and some of the fundamental stuff that needs to be worked on.
“And we’ve used this week to heal some bangs and bruises and to deal with mental fatigue.”
Rogers said the team is ready for a reset, but “It’s not a complete off week.
“It is a time to focus on us.”
Rogers is no stranger to the postseason, having led Jones County to the playoffs in each of his five seasons in Gray.
The Greyhounds were 4-5 from 2014-2018 and reached the quarterfinals in 2017.
Jones County played just once in front of the home fans in those five years, defeating Griffin 32-8 in 2017.
He must be looking forward to playing at least one game on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium where, since 2010, Colquitt County is 15-1 in home playoff games.
“Playing at home is a huge benefit,” Rogers said.
Colquitt is 6-0 at The Mack this season.
Still, it is the playoffs.
“You’re going to get everyone’s best game,” Rogers said. “You are going to get a phenomenal effort each week.
“We know a really good football team is coming here, one that has separated themselves from the pack. And there are no do-overs now.”
The Colquitt County seniors are certainly used to winning.
Since 2017, the Packers are 33-7, 8-2 in playoff games and have played in the state championship game each of the last two seasons.
Hillgrove has only been playing football since 2006, but made it to the playoffs after winning the region title each of the last two years.
The Hawks were just a combined 11-11 the previous two seasons.
Hillgrove is 5-4 against North Cobb.
The Warriors did not qualify for the playoffs last year, but did make it in two of the previous three seasons.
While Colquitt County has never played Hillgrove, fans might remember the only time the Packers faced North Cobb.
It was in the second round of the 2013 playoffs and Colquitt had to travel to Kennesaw to meet the Warriors, who were 9-2, ranked No. 10 and who were coming off a 62-18 blistering of Luella.
The Packers won 52-6.