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OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR: Henderson guides Eagles to memorable season

Collins Hill running back Tyler Henderson had nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns to earn Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year honors.


Collins Hill’s Tyler Henderson has been selected as the Daily Post’s offensive football player of the year. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Collins Hill’s Tyler Henderson has been selected as the Daily Post’s offensive football player of the year. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Collins Hill’s football team won the most games in school history this season.

The Eagles claimed a region title for the first time in nine seasons and beat the No. 1 team in the state.

Tyler Henderson made a lot of that success happen.

The running back had nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns to earn Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year honors.

“I couldn’t have had a better senior year,” Henderson said. “We all came together as a team, a bunch of brothers that love each other. I don’t think I’ll ever be as close to a team as I was this year. I think that’s what helped with our success being so close like that.”

Henderson’s memorable senior year almost didn’t happen.

Last year the junior sustained two injuries that forced him to miss the rest of the season.

In the ninth game of the regular season against Duluth, Henderson was tackled in the end zone after scoring on the first possession of the game. When he fell on his shoulder, he broke his collarbone and was out for the rest of the year.

After he had surgery on his collarbone, Henderson found out the swollen leg he thought was just bruised was actually broken. In a matter of three months, he had two surgeries and was busy rehabbing to prepare for his senior season.

Henderson was able to participate in spring practice and by the time the season rolled around, his injuries were a distant memory.

“When he first had some contact, I was worried. But the doctor said he would be fine,” Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said.

The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Henderson showed no signs of his collarbone or leg bothering him this season, rushing for 1,554 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also added 27 catches for 331 yards and four touchdowns.

“He did everything for us. He had over 2,000 yards of offense,” Reach said. “We tried to get the ball to him as much as possible. He was a huge asset to our success.”

In Collins Hill’s spread offense, the quarterback and receivers typically put up the big numbers. Collins Hill averaged 39 points a game and 398 yards of offense and Henderson found a way to stand out at running back with nine 100-yard rushing games.

“I think Tyler (Herman) spread the defense out and as soon as they would do that, I would start killing them on the run,” Henderson said. “Also me being able to catch the ball, kept the linebackers and defensive backs on their heels.”

Henderson rushed for 120 yards and one touchdown against No. 1 ranked North Gwinnett to help the Eagles to a 53-28 victory. It was Collins Hill’s first win over North since 2005 and helped the Eagles earn a share of the Region 7-AAAAAA title with Norcross and North Gwinnett. It was the first region title for Collins Hill since 2004.

“That was a big-time win. I think they were ranked No. 1 in the state and ranked nationally. That was a big-time game,” Henderson said. “No one gave us a chance and I think it gave us momentum for the rest of the year. From there we started clicking and our offense was rolling from then on.”

Henderson continued to get better the remainder of the season, rushing for 266 yards and three touchdowns against Duluth and 203 yards and three scores against Mill Creek.

Henderson had 110 yards and four touchdowns against Walton in the first round of the state playoffs, giving the Eagles their first postseason win since 2010. Collins Hill reached the state quarterfinals and finished the year with an 11-2 record, totaling the most wins in the school’s 20-year history.

“He’s as good as I’ve coached from tackle to tackle,” Reach said. “He has good vision, good speed and he’s strong, which is a surprise for his size. One thing people don’t talk about is his blocking. He’s a good blocker, too.”

Henderson is the third Collins Hill player to be named Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year in the last five seasons, joining running back Charles Perkins in 2009 and quarterback Taylor Heinicke in 2010.

“We’ve been blessed with some talent,” Reach said.

Henderson, who maintains a 3.78 GPA, has scholarship offers from Buffalo, Old Dominion and West Georgia. He’s also picked up interest from a handful of ACC schools.

“He’s been a warrior in the weight room, community and football field,” Reach said. “He’s as good as we’ve had since I’ve been at Collins Hill.”

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Collins Hill's Tyler Henderson

Collins Hill running back Tyler Henderson had nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns to earn Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Collins Hill running back Tyler Henderson had nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns to earn Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year honors.