Collins looks to build on momentum at Pearl River

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Eric Collins has a long and impressive resume’ as a high school football coach. Case in point, he has posted 205 wins over a span of 31 years as a head coach.

OVer the past 18 years coaching in Mississippi, Collins has led programs at Tupelo, Bay High, Pearl River Central, East Central and D’Iberville. Prior to that, he served as the head coach at Trafton Academy, Chalmette and at Archbishop Hannan.

Closer to home with the Hawks for seven seasons (1990-97), Collins posted a solid 50-27 record and won a district title. With the Owls for six seasons (1998-2003), Collins posted a 39-24 record, including a 10-0 regular season in 2003.

Collins is home again, back in Louisiana at Pearl River. The Rebels reached the state playoffs last season for just the 13th time in program history.

To keep the momentum rolling and to build on it, Collins has hired an outstanding staff. Among others, it includes former Northshore head coach Mike Bourg, who will handle special teams and the defensive line, Buddy Turnage, who will coach defensive backs and John Lambert to handle the offense and quarterbacks.

Pearl River returns 12 starters, including six starters on offense.

The Rebels have a superb running back returning in senior Brian Jenkins (5-8, 191). Jenkins had an outstanding season in 2021, rushing for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns while catching 22 passes for 221 yards and a score.

The fullback is freshman Noah Benson (6-0, 189).

Pearl River also returns a huge, talented quarterback in senior Austin Wadsworth (6-4, 159). Wadsworth completed 73 of 153 passes for 1,044 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Sophomore Dalton Sabathe (6-1, 171) is a returning starter at tight end.

Both starting wide receivers are back, including senior Logan Waller (6-2, 222) and junior John McQueen (6-0, 231).

Up front, the Rebels are young with a senior three sophomores and a freshman and two returning starter in senior Mason Joachim (5-11, 278) and sophomore Joe Seghers (5-11, 235). The other starters include sophomores Andrew Neal (6-1, 198) and Gavin Ruble (5-9, 208), along with freshman Hayden Mitchell (5-1, 266).

The defense also returns six starters.

Up front, all three starters are new, including McQueen at nose guard, along with seniors Logan Waller (6-2, 222) and Isaiah Dupuy 5-11, 192) at the end spots.

There is experience at linebacker as two starters return in senior Noah Hunt (5-11, 216) and sophomore Tashod Badon (6-1, 193).

The secondary features senior free safety Daron Sims (5-8, 147), who had 47 tackles and two interceptions last season. The strong safeties include a returning starter in senior Izaiah Auglair (5-10, 148) and sophomore Blake Palmer (5-7, 145).

The corners are both returning starters in senior Tyler Spiehler (5-8, 133) and Trey Turnage (6-1, 180).

Spiehler handles kicking duties while senior Wyatt Yates (6-0, 160) is the punter.

The season opener is at Pope John Paul II before the Rebels host Liberty. Road trips to Pine and Independence follow before a home date with Newman.

District 8-4A play begins at Loranger before three consecutive home games against Franklinton, Lakeshore and Salmen. The regular season concludes at Archbishop Hannan.

With an outstanding coaching staff and experience on both sides of the ball, Pearl River appears poised for a return to the playoffs in 2022.


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