Saturday’s meeting between Charleston and Collins is more than a rematch from last year’s 3A championship — it’s a meeting of differing philosophies.
While Collins makes its living on offense, Charleston has the identity of a defensive powerhouse.
Collins (14-1) has an offense that runs like a well-tuned Porsche. It’s a machine that has produced, on average, 463 yards and 48 points per game in 2015.
It all starts with quarterback Detric Hawthorn. The senior has thrown for 3,930 yards and rushed for 698 with 44 total touchdowns. He has weapons aplenty in the passing game, most notably seniors Calvin Keys (88 catches, 1,527 yards, 13 TDs) and Kenterious Rhodes (29 catches, 903 yards, 8 TDs).
Running back Timothy Durr sets the pace, averaging 6.6 yards a carry with a team-high 22 rushing touchdowns.
“They are very explosive because they have most of their kids back,” said Charleston coach Scott Martin. “They do a great job offensively; Coach (Ryan) Earnest does a great job. We’re going to try to use ball control to slow the game down and stay in it.
“Hopefully we can give them a great game that way.”
If past performance is any indication, Martin’s Tigers will do just that.
Charleston (13-2) has surrendered fewer than half the points (165) Collins has this season (359), and has only given up three offensive touchdowns in its last 16 quarters of football.
“When I’m looking at film, I see a traditional Charleston team,” Earnest said. “They’re very fast, athletic and very hard-nosed. They play a physical style of football where they want to run it and impose their will on you.”
Earnest knows all about that. The Tigers from Tallahatchie County built a 17-6 halftime lead before Collins rallied to win 28-20 in overtime of last year’s championship.
This year, he said, digging a hole that deep would be harder to overcome because of how strong the Charleston defense has been. Defensive end Tyjour Jones has recorded 16 of the team’s 44 sacks, and Tiger defenders have picked off opposing quarterbacks 22 times.
“They are so athletic in the secondary,” Earnest said. “You know, some teams are good in the front end, some at linebacker and some in the back end. They are athletic at every level, but especially in that secondary.”
The Charleston offense is no clunker, either. While they don’t have the quick-score ability of Collins — Hawthorn has nearly as many offensive yards (4,628) as Charleston’s entire team (4,829) — they have five upperclassmen who carry the ball out of the backfield that average more than 6 yards per attempt.
Quarterbacks Ahmad Alexander and Tre Truly have combined for 1,310 passing yards and two touchdowns with just one interception.
Martin’s Tigers have prided themselves on not turning the ball over, and that’s just what he had in mind when he took over the program in 2013.
“Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve been trying to build a top-notch defense around a solid offense,” Martin said. “Defense can win you championships and offense just puts fans in the stands. Our defensive coordinator does a great job and the kids play hard for us and get after it.”