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Breakdown: Collins Hill At M.L. King

Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Kevin Reach

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Brookwood 24-7

M.L. King Lions (2-AAAAA)

Coach: Michael Carson

Record: 1-0

Last week: Beat South Gwinnett 33-23

Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said there is one thing his Eagles have learned from its first two games — a comeback win over Roswell and last week’s loss to Brookwood.

“We’ve got to come out of the gate better,” Reach said. “It’s what hurt us against both Brookwood and Roswell. We can’t keep doing that to ourselves.”

Indeed, falling behind by 17 points (like they did before coming back to beat Roswell) or 21 points (like they did last week against Brookwood) is not what the Eagles need against No. 10 state-ranked M.L. King, which demonstrated plenty of big-play ability in last week’s win over South. The Lions’ biggest threats have been multi-talented QB Jonquel Dawson and receiver Blake Tibbs, who has multiple Division I scholarship offers.

While the Eagles have weapons of their own like Jordan Parker (40-260, 2 TDs), one of Gwinnett’s rushing leaders, they will need defensive stalwarts like linebackers Jermichael Bailey (17 tackles) and Sterling Alexander (17 tackles) and safeties Daniel Fish (10 tackles, 2 INTs) and Connor Boston (16 tackles, 1 INT) to step up against M.L. King’s quick-strike capability.

“They’re explosive,” Reach said of the Lions. “They’re a big-play team that can strike at any moment. They’ve got three receivers that are 6-foot-1-plus, and we’ve got to be able to contain their quarterback.Defensively, we’ve got to play sound football. We’ve just got to make sure we play fundamental defense.”

Last meeting: M.L. King won 43-36 last year

Directions to Hallford Stadium: I-285 east to Memorial Drive and make a left. Turn left on Rockbridge Road. At Georgia Perimeter College, turn right on College Drive.