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Teams getting 'quality work' as Hillgrove host final padded camp

We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2023 Georgia High School Association football season and as teams continue to ramp up for the official start of practices, the Hillgrove Hawks hosted their second and final padded camp of the summer with several guest teams from around the metro Atlanta area. “This is something we’ve been planning since January to honest with you and everybody here has got great head coaches and they’re controlling their kids so we’re getting a lot of quality work,” Hillgrove Grove head coach, Justin DeShon, said of the camp.

Giving credit to the Hawks’ defensive coordinator, Andy Szatkowski, for helping bring the camp to life for Hillgrove, DeShon, added that the one day event also gave them a chance to “bring competition to us and be able to offer this for free”. And as summer activities wind down ahead of the official start of the 2023 season, as teams can start practices as early as July 31, DeShon says the Hawks have had a good summer and as he is now in year three as head coach of Hillgrove, he has been impressed with the “dedication” of his players this summer.

“They want to change our culture. They want to start getting back to the way it used to be here and I think we’re close. They’ve put in the work and we’ve got great kids man and this is a great place and our kids are phenomenal, parents are phenomenal and we’re really close. We’re excited,” DeShon said.

And among the teams participating in Thursday’s camp, was the Pebblebrook Falcons, who are now under the direction of new head coach, Michael Woolridge, who spent the past two with South Atlanta, and Woolridge says consistency has been a huge factor in the Falcons transitioning to he and his staff’s direction. “Just getting better, taking it one day at a time, getting one percent better every day. Summer’s been good, we’ve had 80 plus kids on a regular, consistent, so that’s a good start,” Woolridge said adding that the players are “buying in. That’ the biggest piece of it, that they’re starting to buy into what we’re selling”.

And when asked if the sound of the pads clashing gets the Falcons excited for the start of the season, “it is,” Woolridge said due to the fact that the camp gives them a taste of what is to come when teams can officially pad up in practices on August 1st. “It’s good to get a practice where you can actually fit up and not just have helmets on,” Which for Woolridge is especially important as they will be gearing up for a scrimmage with the McEachern Indians on August 4th. “It’s great preparation with us having this scrimmage game in two weeks being able to get some thud and get our steps in place,” he added.

Hillgrove will kick off their regular season on August 18th when they face River Ridge and Pebblebrook will take on South Gwinnett to open up their season on the same night.


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