When Shelby County was split into two high schools three years ago, school officials discovered many of the area’s best athletes attended the middle school on the west side of the county, and that’s one reason Collins has enjoyed immediate success in sports, especially in football.
The Titans, coached by Jerry Lucas, will take a three-year 33-8 record into its first state championship game at 8 p.m. EST Friday, when they play 21-time state champion Fort Thomas Highlands in the Class 4-A title game at Western Kentucky University’s Houchens Industries/L. T. Stadium in Bowling Green.
“This is our first state final, and we’re excited to play a team with the tradition Highlands has,” Lucas said.
Collins went 11-2 in its first season in 2010 and reached the 4-A semifinals last year before falling to Franklin-Simpson 20-15.
“That laid the foundation for our program and gave us a taste of success,” Lucas said.
Ten of Highlands’ 21 state titles have been coached by Dale Mueller, who is in his 19th season as the Bluebirds’ mentor. A victory over Collins would make Highlands the first team to win six consecutive crowns since the playoffs began in 1959. Boyle County won five in a row from 1999 through 2003.
The Bluebirds have compiled an 86-3 record in the past six years.
“We’ll have to score some points and limited their high-powered offense,” Lucas said. “… Their quarterback (Donovan McCoy) is a real football player.”
Mueller said McCoy was Highlands’ leading pass receiver as a junior, but has excelled as a quarterback.
“Donovan’s statistics this year are very similar to Patrick Towles’ stats last year,”‘ Mueller said. Towles, now a freshman quarterback at the University of Kentucky, was the state’s Mr. Football after leading Highlands to the 2011 state 5-A title.
McCoy has run for 1,039 yards and 20 touchdowns, and passed for 2,616 yards and 30 TDs, but has been intercepted 11 times.
Like Highlands, Collins can spread the ball around on offense.
“I like our balance where we can get the ball to a lot of different players,” Lucas said. “Lawson Page is a two-year starter at quarterback and has had a fantastic year.”
Page has passed for 2,825 yards and 36 TDs, and has been intercepted nine times in 346 pass attempts.
Page and many of Collins’ skill players — running backs Deandre Farris and Masai Whyte, and receivers Nathan Sames and Landon Forrest — are juniors.
“Farris is a touchdown waiting to happen,” Mueller said. “Collins has two really good two-way players in Whyte and Sames. Whyte is a great linebacker.”
Farris has rushed for 937 yards and 17 TDs, and caught 60 passes for 974 yards and 13 scores. “We move him all over the place,” Lucas said.
CLASS 4-A FINAL
COLLINS VS. HIGHLANDS
COLLINS VS. HIGHLANDS
Time: 8 p.m. EST Friday
Where: Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green.
|40.1||Points per game||52.4|
|24.9||Allowed per game||19.4|
|Meade County||W 21-14|
|Boyle County||L 49-26|
|Oldham County||W 28-14|
|Spencer County||W 38-35|
|Shelby County||W 34-33|
|North Oldham||W 36-20|
|Bryan Station||L 55-52|
|x-Warren East||W 58-7|
Coach: Jerry Lucas.
Rushing: Deandre Farris (Jr., 128 carries, 937 yards, 17 TDs); Lawson Page (Jr.,155-730-5-5); Logan Bailey (Sr. 85-487-5); Masai Whyte (Jr., 63-327-10).
Passing: Page (185 of 346, 2,825 yards, 36 TDs, 9 INT).
Receiving: Nathan Sames (Jr., 62 catches, 994 yards, 16 TDs; Farris (60-974-13); Landon Forrest (Jr., 34-501-2).
Defensive leaders: Elijah Jones (Jr., 5 INTs,); Sames (4 INTs.); Forrest 4 fumble recoveries; Bailey 3 fumble recoveries; Whyte (173 tackles (66 solos); Forrest 86 tackles; Zach Wilson Jr., 85 tackles).
|Boyle County||W 52-31|
|Scott County||W 60-37|
|Mason County||W 61-3|
|Covington Catholic||W 35-21|
|Harrison County||W 69-10|
|Pendleton County||W 70-0|
|Covington Holmes||W 57-28|
|Cincinnati Elder||L 38-24|
|x-Boyd County||W 56-14|
|x-Ashland Blazer||W 52-13|
|x-Covington Catholic||W 28-13|
|x-Lexington Catholic||W 61-29|
Coach: Dale Mueller.
Rushing: Donovan McCoy (Sr., 148 carries, 1,039 yards, 20 TDs, 11 INT.; Zach Harris (Jr., 130-905-18); Jaylen Hayes (Jr., 56-595-10); Colin Seidl (Sr., 43-516-9).
Passing: McCoy (159 of 252, 2,616 yards, 30 TDs, 11 INTs); Drew Houliston (Jr., 33-58-610-6-0).
Receiving: Luke Turner (Sr., 38 catches, 795 yards, 7 TDs); Luke Brockett (Jr., 21-358-4); Brandon Hergott 17-231-4); Nick True (15-218-4).
Defensive leaders: (tackles not available) Quentin Murray (Sr., 5 INTs.), Griffin Urlage (So., 3 INTs); Brady Murray So., 2 fumble recoveries).
Expect a high-scoring game. The Bluebirds posted impressive wins over top-20-ranked teams such as Boyle County, Scott County, Lexington Catholic and Covington Catholic. The Titans only play three seniors. Collins returned no starters from its defensive line of 2011 and only three from the offensive line, but Lucas has been pleased with both. “We’ve done a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage most of the year,” he said.– Bob White