Photo: Craig Cappy — Collins Hill's Thomas Harris (29) runs through a Mountain View defender during the game earlier this season.
Collins Hill at West Forsyth
Collins Hill Eagles (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Kevin Reach
Last week: Lost to Mill Creek 17-14
West Forsyth Wolverines (6-AAAAAA)
Coach: Frank Hepler
Last week: Beat Lambert 17-16
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
Directions to West Forsyth High School: Highway 400 north to exit 13, which is Peachtree Parkway or Highway 141. Turn left onto Peachtree Parkway which becomes Bethelview Rd. Follow four miles and turn left onto Drew Rd. School will be on the left.
As the No. 4 seed, Collins Hill's players and coaches understand the playoffs aren't beginning under ideal circumstances.
They must go on the road and face a region champion in the first round. They did this last year, facing eventual state champion Grayson in the first round, quickly exiting. But after a tough regular season schedule where the Eagles' worst lost was by 14 points to North Gwinnett and a week after Collins Hill rested quarterback Brett Sheehan in a season-ending loss to Mill Creek, there's reason to hope in Suwanee.
"I do like our chances, we've got a good chance," head coach Kevin Reach said. "I am just happy we are not playing Grayson."
West Forsyth certainly isn't last year's Grayson, but the Region 6-AAAAAA champions didn't win the title accidentally.
Led by quarterback and Middle Tennessee State commit A.J. Erdely, the Wolverines are looking to build on the school's first region title.
"He does a lot of good play-action fake stuff," Reach said of Erdely and the Wolverines' wing-T attack. "They like to keep the ball in his hands.
"They are solid offensively. They don't make a lot of mistakes. There is a reason they finished first in the region."
Led by Erdely, West Forsyth's attack is slightly more varied than a typical wing-T team. Erdely runs plays from the shotgun and the Wolverines will spread the field out, too. But after 10 games and the gauntlet of Region 7-AAAAAA, West Forsyth's offense is nothing new to Collins Hill.
"What they are running, we've seen it somewhere in our 10 games," Reach said. "We feel confident. We are excited."
On defense, the Wolverines lead their attack with outside linebacker Mohamed Camara, a South Carolina commit.
"They want to try to get (him) on the corner and have him be a football player," Reach said.
Quarterback Sheehan returns to the Eagles' offense after sitting out last week with a high ankle sprain. In nine games, Sheehan threw for 2,008 yards and 16 scores for the Eagles, who kept him out against Mill Creek to ensure a healthy quarterback for the playoffs.
"We wanted to make sure we had him for the playoffs," Reach said. "The whole key is to get into the playoffs. That's where we are at. Our kids our playing well."
A healthy Sheehan is imperative for Collins Hill, which must pick up for the loss of running back Tyler Henderson, who is out for the year with a broken collarbone. But aside from Henderson, Collins Hill enters the postseason a healthy football team. And an experienced one.
"I think (West Forsyth) hasn't played the schedule we've played. We are kind of battle ready," Reach said. "The schedule we have played is going to get us prepped and ready to go."
And No. 4 seed on the road or No. 1 seed at home, Collins Hill is still playing in the postseason.
"We are saying our motto is, 'It starts now,'" Reach said. "It doesn't matter that we are 6-4. It doesn't matter that we lost to North Gwinnett, Norcross and Mill Creek. It doesn't matter."