While Collins Hill might be the hottest team in the state right now, its quarterfinals opponent, McEachern, has been bruised up and beaten, but never broken on its tough road to the Elite 8 in this week's Atlanta Falcons Football Friday on Comcast Sports Southeast at 7:30 p.m. The Indians had not made it past the second round of the state playoffs since 1999 before this season, and with a 21-9 deficit to Langston Hughes in the final quarter last Friday and their senior quarterback on the sideline it appeared another early exit was in the forecast for the Cobb County school. Freshman quarterback Bailey Hockman was filling in for the injured Ty Clemons (a Georgia Southern commitment) and teamed up with five-star junior running back Taj Griffin and wideout Malik Williams to propel a 22-21comeback.
Hockman found Williams for a touchdown pass with 3:23 remaining to cut the deficit to 21-16 and the McEachern defense had the answer with a quick three-and-out. From there, Griffin took over and broke a barrage of tackles and used his 4.3 speed to race in the game-winning score. A great rushing attack and explosive playmakers return as the Indians' offensive formula to success, but the defensive side of the football is a main reason this team has continued finding ways to win.
There is athleticism and experience on McEachern's defense to match up with any offense and leading the unit are defensive ends Henry Famurewa and McKenzie Billingslea. Famurewa and Billingslea are dangerous pass-rushers and have the speed to make noise against a nearly perfectly balanced Collins Hill offense. The Indians can be prone to penalties and will need a disciplined and solid defensive effort to win.
Collins Hill suffered its only loss of the season in a 28-0 shutout to Norcross in the sixth game of the year and, in the Eagles' six games following the loss, the offense has erupted for a 50.7 points-per-game average and has won every contest by double-digit points. In the playoffs, Collins Hill reached a new gear and has outscored its first two opponents a combined 89-7 .
Quarterback Tyler Herman has been outstanding, passing for 2,769 yards and 32 touchdowns this season while throwing only eight interceptions. Running back Tyler Henderson gives the Eagles balance in the run game and can make game-changing plays behind an experienced offensive line. Henderson has accounted for 1,554 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and last week he rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns while catching three balls for 62 yards and two scores. The running back battle between Henderson and McEachern's Griffin showcases two of the states most productive rushers.