Peachtree Ridge’s A.J. Houston goes after Mill Creek’s Carter Governale during the game earlier this season. (Photo: Craig Cappy)
Considering the intensity of the neighborhood rivalry between Peachtree Ridge and Collins Hill, there should be a highly charged atmosphere when the 10th edition of the series kicks off Friday at Collins Hill Community Stadium.
But the fact that both the No. 4 state-ranked Lions (5-0, 3-0) and Eagles (4-0, 2-0) enter their showdown undefeated overall and in Region 7-AAAAAA for the first time in series history only ups the ante further.
“At the end of the day, I think it adds a little energy to it,” Peachtree Ridge coach Mark Fleetwood said. “It’s exciting. They (Collins Hill) are a really good team, and every year I’ve been here, it’s been a war. They got us pretty good last year, and we got them the year before right there at the end. So, it’s been kind of back and forth.”
Given that both teams have used a similar formula for their success so far this season, Friday's game could also be back-and-forth.
Both teams provide plenty of firepower on offense — both on the ground, with the Lions’ Jordan Ellis (94 car., 654 yards, 10 TDs) and the Eagles’ Tyler Henderson (64-440 yards, 7 TDs), and through the air, with Peachtree Ridge’s Chance Thrasher (63-110-1, 971 yards, 9 TDs) and receivers Tyler Campbell (17-224, 2 TDs) and Myron Burton (13-160, 2 TDs), matching up with Collins Hill’s Tyler Herman (57-91-4, 885 yards, 8 TDs) and receivers Grant McDonald (14-178, TD) and Rhyan England (10-233, 2 TDs).
Both teams also feature large, powerful offensive lines, with Orlando Brown anchoring the Lions’ front, while the Eagles will get a boost with the return of Christian Harris from an injury that kept him from the team’s first four games.
And each also boasts plenty of playmakers on defense, with Aaron Harris (36 tackles) and Walden Davis (25 tackles, 3 INTs) leading the way for Peachtree Ridge, while Collins Hill looks to the likes of Tomon Fox (19 tackles, 4 sacks) and England (19 tackles, 5 INTs).
“They’ve got a good running game and three or four receivers who can go up and catch the ball, just like us,” Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach said. “So, I guess we are a little alike. They’re a lot bigger up front, but Christian Harris is ready to go this week. So, that will help us a lot.
“Hopefully, it will be a good ball game. I don’t think this makes or breaks either one of us, but it’s very important to get a leg up in the region race.”
And both coaches also have a similar idea of what the outcome will likely boil down to.
“In these type of games, it usually goes to the penalties and turnover thing,” Fleetwood said. “You’ve got to avoid the penalties and turnovers, and try to win the kicking game. Who can create the most points and field position through the kicking game may be very huge.”
Reach would add one more major key for Friday.
“We’re going to have to eliminate (Peachtree Ridge’s) big plays for us to win,” Reach said. “And of course, we have to hang onto the ball and win special teams.”
PEACHTREE RIDGE AT COLLINS HILL
Peachtree Ridge Lions (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mark Fleetwood
Record: 5-0, 3-0
Last week: Beat Habersham Central 49-0
Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Kevin Reach
Record: 4-0, 2-0
Last week: Beat Mountain View 42-13
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Collins Hill won 41-10 last year
Directions to Collins Hill High School: From I-85, go east on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and take a left on Taylor Road. School is on the right.
2012 — Collins Hill 40, Peachtree Ridge 10
2011 — Peachtree Ridge 28, Collins Hill 27
2010 — Collins Hill 14, Peachtree Ridge 10
2009 — Peachtree Ridge 21, Collins Hill 7
2008 — Peachtree Ridge 21, Collins Hill 0
2007 — Peachtree Ridge 21, Collins Hill 0
2006 — Collins Hill 7, Peachtree Ridge 3
2005 — Peachtree Ridge 38, Collins Hill 19
2004 — Collins Hill 41, Peachtree Ridge 0