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Eagles face familiar foe in Roswell

Kevin Reach didn't have to worry about finding scouting video for tonight's season opener against Roswell.

The second-year Collins Hill head coach just needed to pull out video from last year. The Eagles beat Roswell twice last season and tonight's game will be the fourth time in 16 games over three seasons that the two teams have played.

"We know what they are going to do offensively and defensively," Reach said. "They are a well-coached team. It definitely helps playing them so much the last few years."

This is the fifth all-time meeting between the two schools. Roswell edged out a win in the first round of the 2006 playoffs and went on to claim a share of the Class AAAAA state title.

The Hornets won again in 2009 in an epic double overtime game in the first round of the playoffs.

That was all the motivation Reach needed as he entered his first year as head coach.

"I didn't know what to expect with our bunch last year," Reach said. "We had that one game to beat Roswell after losing to them in the playoffs."

Collins Hill opened last year with a 13-9 win over Roswell and proved it was no fluke in the playoffs by beating the Hornets again in the second round.

"There's no love lost with them. They want to beat them bad," Reach said. "It's been a great rivalry. It really has been."

In the four meetings, the game has been decided by an average of five points.

"It's been a dog fight every time we've played them," Reach said. "It's incredible how big a rivalry it is and have only played them four times. They've all been close."

Collins Hill graduated record-setting quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Bradley Johnson will take the reins, but the junior's role will likely not be as significant.

A bulk of the offense is expected to revolve around running back Jordan Parker.

"We're going to put the ball in his hands," Reach said.

Collins Hill's defense struggled early last season, but Reach isn't expecting that to be the case this year. The Eagles shut out Berkmar 42-0 in a scrimmage two weeks ago and only allowed one first down.

Reach set the bar pretty high in his first year as Collins Hill's head coach.

He took the Eagles to the Class AAAAA state semifinals, losing to eventual state champion Brookwood.

With such a deep playoff run last year, Collins Hill isn't just satisfied with making a fourth straight trip to the postseason. The Eagles want to be playing in the Georgia Dome in December.

"I felt like if we beat Brookwood, we would have won state," Reach said. "I'm hoping with us playing 14 games and extending the season our kids will feed off of that. But until Friday night and under the lights you don't really know what to expect."