Brookwood-Collins Hill preview

Brookwood defeated Collins Hill in double overtime Sept. 3 in one of the better games of the high school football regular season, but these Gwinnett County teams weren’t assumed to be state contenders at the time.

Brookwood was coming off a 6-6 season, and Collins Hill hadn’t won a playoff game in six years.

Three months later, they’re playing a rematch in the Class AAAAA semifinals. That 45-38 game in September is becoming a classic.

"It was a thriller, a shootout,’’ said Collins Hill quarterback Taylor Heinicke. “They were up by 15. We came back to go to overtime. Whenever you come back like that, you expect to win. When they batted down that last ball, it was heartbreaking.’’

Both would lose games later in the month, but they’re plenty hot now.

Brookwood has won 10 consecutive games and is the only region champion left in the Class AAAAA draw, perhaps the team to beat.

Nick Tompkins, a junior, has rushed for 1,660 yards. He also plays a lot in the secondary, a luxury that Brookwood has because its No. 2 tailback, sophomore Jamal Cole, is pretty good, too.

Cole has 980 yards rushing, and both have surpassed 100 in the same game several times, including the first Collins Hill meeting.

On defense, linebacker Cameron Lynch, a Syracuse commitment, has more than 170 tackles and 18 sacks.

“It doesn’t take long to take roll of the class that he’s in,’’ Brookwood coach Mark Crews said.

Collins Hill has won nine consecutive games with one of the more prolific passing offenses in state history.

Heinicke is 284-of-431 for 3,906 yards and 43 touchdowns. His passing yardage is second in state history to Lassiter quarterback Hutson Mason's 4,560 in 2009. His touchdown passes rank third all-time.

Heinicke said the first Brookwood game was a confidence-builder, despite the final outcome. Another one came the next week, albeit another loss to North Gwinnett.

"The first half of the North Gwinnett game, we were up 14 points,’’ Heinicke said. “We were making stuff happen against a nationally ranked team. Then we beat Peachtree Ridge, then Norcross. We’re thinking we can make a run.’’

Then came an overtime victory against Lowndes in Valdosta last week. Collins Hill, a 10-3 team that was a No. 3 seed from Region 7, won 31-28 over a school that has four state titles since 1999.

"That’s definitely one to remember the rest of our lives,’’ Heinicke said. “That was a booster. If we can beat them, I think we can compete for a state title.’’