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PREVIEW: Collins Hill at Habersham Central

Collins Hill's Tra Palmer

Collins Hill's Tra Palmer

Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Kevin Reach

Record: 1-1

Last week: Beat Dacula 24-22

Habersham Central Raiders (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Stuart Cunningham

Record: 0-2

Last week: Lost to Stephens County 44-8

It may be a long year in a new region for Habersham Central, which has lost its first two games to White County and Stephens County by a combined score of 75-8. It doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders Friday when Collins Hill visits for the teams’ 7-AAAAAA opener.

It’s a slightly different trip from the norm for the Eagles, who have played in an all-Gwinnett region in recent years. Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach has been to Habersham Central frequently, from his nine years coaching at Loganville, but it’s the first trip to Mt. Airy for his players.

“We’ll leave at 1:15 from our place, get out a little earlier than we normally do for games in Gwinnett County,” Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. “We’ll treat it like (trips to) Roswell the last few years, try to get on the same schedule.”

Collins Hill’s first two games have been up-and-down, closing strong in a loss to Central Gwinnett and opening strong in a thrilling win over Dacula. A complete game has eluded the Eagles thus far.

“We still haven’t played close to our best football,” Reach said.

Tra Palmer and the defense blanked Dacula for three quarters last Friday, only to watch the Falcons score 22 straight fourth-quarter points, the last two with 15 seconds left. Still, Collins Hill regrouped and won the game on Mitchell Blanchard’s 50-yard field goal with no time on the clock.

“In 24 years, I’ve never seen a football game like that,” Reach said. “We probably came together in those 15 seconds more than we have all year.”

Last meeting: Habersham won 28-7 in 1997

Directions to Habersham Central High School: Take I-985 north until it becomes Ga. Hwy. 365. Take the Clarkesville/Mt. Airy exit onto Ga. Hwy. 197, just past the 49-mile marker. Turn right at the end of the ramp and school is 3/10 of a mile on the right.