High-stakes skirmish in 7-AAAAAA

The competition in Region 7-AAAAA often makes it tough to put together any kind of winning streak against the same opponent, yet it’s something Norcross currently has going against Collins Hill.

The Blue Devils have defeated Collins Hill four straight seasons — though they needed five overtimes to decide the first two — and have contained dangerous, Charles Perkins-led offenses the past two. Each of the past four games had playoff implications and tonight’s rematch in Suwanee is no different.


Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Keith Maloof

Record: 7-1, 4-1 region

Last week: Beat Meadowcreek 34-0

Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Kevin Reach

Record: 5-3, 4-1 region

Last week: Beat Mountain View 24-0

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Norcross won 25-21 last year

Directions to Collins Hill High School: From I-85, go east on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and take a left on Taylor Road. School is on the right.

Series history:

2009 — Norcross 25, Collins Hill 21

2008 — Norcross 17, Collins Hill 3

2007 — Norcross 31, Collins Hill 21

2006 — Norcross 39, Collins Hill 37 (3OT)

2005 — Collins Hill 23, Norcross 20 (2OT)

2004 — Collins Hill 14, Norcross 7

2003 — Collins Hill 18, Norcross 0

2002 — Collins Hill 10, Norcross 6

2001 — Collins Hill 10, Norcross 0

2000 — Collins Hill 28, Norcross 3

1999 — Norcross 10, Collins Hill 7

1998 — Collins Hill 31, Norcross 13

The victor gets quite a reward.

“This is for the No. 2 spot (in the region) and a home-field game (in the playoffs), so it’s very important,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said.

Collins Hill’s turnaround made it that way. The Eagles started 1-3 but have won their last four games, including victories over playoff contenders Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek.

Norcross also has defeated Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek and like Collins Hill, lost to region frontrunner North Gwinnett. And with North locked into the No. 1 spot, there’s only one home playoff game guaranteed in the first round of state. It will go to the winner of Collins Hill and Norcross.

A win would be huge for Collins Hill, which hasn’t hosted a state playoff game since 2005.

“We’ve been in a lot of these games this year,” first-year Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. “Our kids like the big games. It’s one of the reasons I like to coach is to be on a big stage like that.”

Reach’s defense has played a key role in the recent success, holding three of the past four opponents to 14 points or less. But the Eagles are still known for their prolific offense sparked by quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who is one touchdown pass short of tying the county’s single-season record of 29.

“(Heinicke) can get things done,” Maloof said. “He can extend the play. You think you’ve got him and then he pops out and makes a play.”

The Eagles have leaned heavily on the pass this season, though Jordan Parker topped the 100-yard rushing mark in last week’s win over Mountain View. The only team to have success on Norcross’ defense this season was North Gwinnett, which beat the Blue Devils 38-0, and it came with a strong running game.

Take away the North loss and Norcross’ defense averaged giving up 7.4 points in its other seven games, all victories.

“With the exception of the North Gwinnett game, they’ve been dominant in every other game,” Reach said. “They’ll be the biggest team we’ve played all year long.”

Duplicating North’s offense success against Norcross is Reach’s goal, though his attack may be slightly different. Collins Hill averages just 108.1 rushing yards.

“(North) ran the ball well (in the Norcross game),” Reach said. “North had a lot of success running the football. The zone reads out of the gun. They had a lot of success with the quarterback running the zone lead. Unfortunately we don’t run our quarterback that much. He’s not 230 or 240 pounds like (North’s C.J. Uzomah).”

North also seized control early from Norcross, something Maloof knows his team can’t afford this week. Not if the Blue Devils want a home playoff game.

“We’ve got to come out and play with intensity right off the bat,” Maloof said.