Tonight’s second-round Class AAAAA state playoff game between Collins Hill and Roswell will be just the fourth meeting between the two schools.
However, even more than the right to move on to the quarterfinal round is at stake when the two teams get together at Ray Manus Stadium in Roswell for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
COLLINS HILL AT ROSWELL
• Who: Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAA) at Roswell Hornets (6-AAAA)
• When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Roswell High School (Take Jimmy Carter Boulevard until it turns into Holcomb Bridge Road. At Holcomb Bridge and Alpharetta Street, you will get on Highway 92, or Crossville Road. Turn right at the red light at King Road. School is on right)
• Coaches: Kevin Reach, Collins Hill; Leo Barker, Roswell
• Records: Collins Hill 8-3; Roswell 7-4
• Last week: Collins Hill beat Woodstock 7-3; Roswell beat Parkview 29-27
• Winner plays: Lowndes-Newnan winner
• Collins Hill Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Parker, 354 yards
Passing: Taylor Heinicke, 3,192 yards
Receiving: Zay Howard, 911 yards
Tackles: Travis Parker, 97
Interceptions: Connor Boston, 2
• Roswell Leaders:
Rushing: Martez Sumler, 1,018 yards
Andrew Kwateng, 608 yards
Passing: J.P. Douglas, 1,228 yards
Receiving: Nick Henderson, 361 yards
“This (series) has turned into a pretty big rivalry,” Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach said. “You talk about (Region 7-AAAAA foes) Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett and Norcross and teams like that. But (Roswell) has become as big a rivalry as we’ve seen. The last two years have been really close, and they knocked us out (of the playoffs) in 2006, too. I know our kids really want this one bad.”
Indeed, the brief series between the Eagles (8-3) and the Hornets (7-4) are the stuff rivalries are made of.
Roswell eliminated Collins Hill in both 2006 and last season, the latter in double overtime, while the Eagles claimed the regular season opener this season.
All three previous meetings have been close, with Collins Hill’s narrow 13-9 victory back on Aug. 27 being the largest margin.
The two teams also share a lot in common with each other this season.
Both faced brutal schedules prior to their respective region slates and as a result, got off to slow starts — Collins Hill at 1-3 and Roswell at 0-3 — before rebounding.
Both have prolific offenses that utilize multiple weapons.
Roswell has averaged 34.6 points per game over its last seven games behind a strong ground game.
Though leading rusher Martez Sumler (1,018 yards, 13 TDs) is not expected to play tonight due to a heel injury, the Hornets still boast capable options, including sophomore Andrew Kwateng (89-608, 3 TDs), who ran for 171 yards and two TDs in last week’s first-round win over Parkview and 97 yards in the first meeting with Collins Hill in August.
Meanwhile, Collins Hill has relied more on the aerial assault behind record-setting quarterback Taylor Heinicke (228 of 342, 3,192 yards, 37 TDs, 5 INTs) and a wide range of receivers like Zay Howard (55-911, 8 TDs) and Nick England (38-619, 9 TDs).
“At any time, (both teams) have multiple options,” Reach said. “Our offense has thrown to several different receivers, it’s the same with them. They’ve got about two or three different good running backs.”
That will be a challenge to both defenses, though judging from recent events, both units could be up to the challenge.
Last week’s 29-27 win over Parkview was the first time the Hornets have given up double digit points since Oct. 15.
Over the same period of time, the Eagles have allowed just three points — all in the third quarter of last week’s 7-3 win over Woodstock — behind linebacker Travis Parker (98 combined tackles and assists) and safety Dakota Conn.
Parker knows holding the Hornets to just nine points like the Eagles did in the first meeting this year won’t be an easy task to repeat, though they are eager to try.
“Personally, I don’t mind at all,” Parker said of the rematch. “Every week, we’ve got to come out and play hard. We know (Roswell will) be coming out trying to beat us. But our team’s peaking right now. We’re playing well.”