For complete Collins Hill coverage throughout the season, including rosters, schedules and more, go to the Eagles' page on the Daily Post's prep sports site: www.gwinnettprepsports.com/collinshill.
In recent years the Collins Hill offense has revolved around the quarterback, producing some of the county’s top passers.
It won’t be any different this season, except for a new signal caller for the Eagles. Tyler Herman (pictured), who started two games last season, has emerged as the starting QB. Herman was the starting QB at Buchholz (Fla.) in 2011 and played in two and a half games in place of the injured Brett Sheehan last year.
“A lot is going to come down to our trigger man,” said Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach, who is entering his 25th year of coaching, “I feel our quarterback is going to have to have a good year in order for us to have a good year. I feel like he’s got to get the ball in the right people’s hands.”
Herman will have a strong group of receivers around him led by Grant McDonald, who is the team’s leading returning receiver with 34 catches for 437 yards and eight TDs. C.J. Davis and Quentin Jones also return at the receiver spot that will roll in six or seven players a game. Chase Seymour will start at tight end.
Tyler Henderson was the team’s leading rusher last season with 516 yards and 11 TDs and he returns as a three-year starter.
The biggest question mark for the offense is the line. Christian Harris, a Duke commitment, is the only returning offensive starter on the line. Ben Yarn and Frankie Filto started on defense last year and will play on offense this season.
“We’re a heavy loaded senior bunch,” Reach said of the offense that starts 11 seniors. “They are a close knit group. They’ve known each other a long time, they’ve played together. I feel like that’s going to be our strength.”
Collins Hill’s 3-4 defense returns six starters, but Reach is excited about several new additions to the unit.
The line should be a strength with two starters back in Yarn and Miles Fox, a promising Division I college prospect. The group will rotate six to seven players a game along with Alex Ozo, Harris, Shaq Harrioux and Toman Fox.
“I feel good about our defensive line, I think it’s one of our strong points,” Reach said. “It’s better than what we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’ve got some speed and size.”
The secondary returns Quentin Jones and college prospect Rhyan England, the team’s top returning tackler with 73 stops last year.
“I feel like secondary wise, that’s as good as we’ve been,” Reach said.
The linebackers still need to be tested, but will rely on Joseph Park and J.T. Thomas, who started last year.
“We’re excited about our defense,” Reach said. “I think we can run to the ball better than we’ve ever have.”
OVER THE HUMP
Collins Hill has reached the playoffs the last five seasons, which is the second-best streak in the region behind North Gwinnett. However, the last two years they have been the No. 4 seed from the region and have had first-round exits in the playoffs. The Eagles realize being a No. 1 or 2 seed from the region is pivotal for a deep playoff run like in 2010 when they reached the semifinals.
“Our seniors have gotten together and one of their goals is to finish higher than fourth in the region,” Reach said. “We’re a play away the last couple of years from being a three seed.”
Collins Hill had a field goal blocked against Mill Creek last year to decide the No. 3 and 4 seeds. Mill Creek went on to reach the quarterfinals.
“I felt like we were right there,” Reach said.
The Eagles added 2006 Collins Hill grad Michael Young to the coaching staff as a defensive back coach. Young was an all-county selection in 2005 and led the county in interceptions with 12, which is third-best all-time in county history. … Collins Hill has 110 players 10th through 12th grade in the program, including 38 seniors. … The offensive line went 9-0 at the FCA Athens Christian Camp to win the lineman challenge. … Collins Hill added a commemorative rock to the Eagle Walk to honor the late Brett Heinicke, who was heavily involved with the program as a volunteer. … Linebacker Austin Smith, the team’s No. 2 tackler last year, transferred to Buford and has Division I scholarship offers. … “I feel good about us. I feel like we’re kept under the radar and I want to keep it that way. I really do. I know we’re better than we were last year,” Reach said.