Skip to main content

Collins Hill basks in state championship run by scheduling another game against another unbeaten squad of Eagles

15-0 Collins Hill will play 14-0 Graham-Kapowsin from Washington on Saturday in Las Vegas in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series.
Cecil Copeland_Collins Hill_Milton.34

By David Friedlander | Photos by Cecil Copeland

ATLANTA — Collins Hill football coach Lenny Gregory said it best after his nationally ranked Eagles' 24-8 win over Milton in the Class 7A state championship game Saturday at Georgia State's Center Parc Stadium.

“It's a great day to be an Eagle!” Gregory exclaimed at the end of his postgame TV interview.

Really, 2021 has been a good year to be an Eagle, and it isn't over yet, as Collins Hill will play another group of Eagles — Washington's Graham-Kapowsin, which also recently won its first state title — on Saturday in Las Vegas in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series. The game will be at 4 p.m. Eastern time and televised on ESPNU.

Collins Hill is coming off two terrific seasons, first finishing as state runner-up a year ago before taking the final step toward the first state title in the program's 28 seasons of varsity football with Saturday's win.

“It means everything,” said an emotional senior quarterback Sam Horn, who completed 22 of 33 passes with an interception for 243 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 35 yards and another score on six carries. “It starts as a little kid growing up in the area … watching my brother (former Collins Hill two-sport standout Monty Horn) play, it just means so much.

“I just can't describe how good it feels right now for the community. I'm just so proud of these guys. We worked so hard for it.”

This year's dominant Collins Hill squad has been carried by 23 seniors, especially Horn and five-star, Florida State-bound receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter, who finished Saturday's title game with 10 receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown, plus a forced fumble on defense.

Cecil Copeland_Collins Hill_Milton.18

Other seniors playing a huge role Saturday were running back Spenser Anderson (71 yards of total offense, including a 10-yard TD reception), defensive end Asani Redwood (10 tackles, 1½ sacks), safety Aaron Horton (11 tackles) and linebacker Roberto Bryant (11 tackles, one sack).

As freshmen during Gregory's second season as head coach in 2018, neither Horn nor Hunter probably had any idea what an important role they would play in transforming a ground-based option offense into the spread-based juggernaut it has become over the past two seasons.

And in addition to helping the Eagles make program history Saturday, each of them also made their own individual history.

Read More

With his 243 yards, Horn became just the eighth quarterback in Georgia High School Association history to reach 10,000 passing yards for his career.

Meanwhile, Hunter's 6-yard TD reception from Horn was the 46th of his career, which matched the GHSA state record held by former Rabun County receiver, and current University of Georgia redshirt freshman, Braxton Hicks.

It left Gregory with no doubt about the mark the dynamic duo has left on the Collins Hill program and beyond.

“It’s the greatest quarterback-and-receiver combo probably in the state of Georgia’s history,” Gregory said. “They did it right here at Collins Hill. Those two bought in. What great leaders, great examples of what passionate football players are, and they impacted Collins Hill football for a long, long time.”

Cecil Copeland_Collins Hill_Milton.17

There's also no question in Gregory's mind exactly what kind of mark the entire program has left.

“It's going to be known as the greatest team to ever play at Collins Hill,” Gregory said. “And looking at the stats, it might be the one of the greatest teams to ever play in the state of Georgia.”

As it turns out, the 2021 Collins Hill team will have one more chance to add to its already impressive legacy Saturday in Las Vegas.

The Eagles will be the fourth team from Georgia — joining Valdosta, Lee County and Marietta — to participate in the two-game, four-team event since it began in 2016.

It will be a quick turnaround to have to prepare for an out-of-state opponent from nearly 2,700 miles away, particularly one as successful as Graham-Kapowsin (14-0).

Gregory is confident his team will be ready.

“It's a big deal,” Gregory said. “But it's no different from being in the playoffs and finding out who your opponent is, and then you've got to trade film and prepare. We weren't watching and preparing for Lowndes (in the state quarterfinals while playing in previous rounds of the state playoffs). It's a four-hour (drive) to Lowndes and this will be a four-hour (flight) to Vegas.

“(The kids) are so pumped up. It's awesome. Everybody's fired up.”