Game of Week: QB Taylor Heineke leads Collins Hill against Brookwood

CHANNEL 2 SPORTS ZONE FRIDAY GAME OF THE WEEK: COLLINS HILL AT BROOKWOOD

Like anyone else, Taylor Heinecke could not have been sure what coach Billy Wells leaving Collins Hill High School after last season would mean for his football future. He, like the entire Eagles program, had enjoyed both personal and team success under the leadership of Wells, who left to coach at Lanier.

Ultimately, here’s what it meant: The Eagles are still playing in the season’s 14th week and Heinieke has established virtually every Gwinnett County passing record.

The switch from Wells to coach Kevin Reach meant a switch from an I-based offense to a pass-happy spread. And for Heinecke, that has meant 3,903 yards passing and 43 touchdown with just nine interceptions.

“Coach told me I’d have big numbers,” said Heinecke, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior. “But if you told me I’d have the numbers I do, there’s no way I would’ve believed it.”

Collins Hill (10-3) takes on No. 3-ranked Brookwood (12-1) in the Class AAAAA semifinals tonight at Brookwood Community Stadium. Should the Eagles have their typical offensive game and advance to the state championship game, Heinecke could be in position to break the state’s all-time passing record, set just last year by Lassiter’s Hutson Mason.

The 7:30 p.m. game is being televised as the “Channel 2 Sports Zone Friday Game of the Week.” It can be seen live on Comcast Channel 248 and Charter 126. A replay will be shown at 1 a.m. on WSB Ch. 2.

It’s not like Reach was coming in from Mars. Reach was an in-house hire and served as Wells’ offensive coordinator as the Eagles flourished for the last several seasons out of the I-formation. But Reach knew when tailback Charles Perkins, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards the last two seasons, left for Georgia Tech, he would have to re-think the way Collins Hill was advancing the football.

One of Reach’s first moves to that end was to hire offensive coordinator Sean Calhoun from Berrien. Calhoun is a former Valdosta State offensive coach and spread guru and Reach wanted to bring him to Lawrenceville to install the offense.

“We knew Taylor was an excellent passer and we had a lot of athletes we needed to get the ball to,” Reach said. “I knew Coach Calhoun from some clinics we used to do and Valdosta. It wasn’t easy but we figured out a way to get him up here.”

That proved to be a life-changing move for Heinecke, who had passed for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns out of the Eagles’ proo-style set. But it wouldn’t be an easy transition. To effectively run the spread a quarterback not only must have a good arm but also a sharp eye for reading defenses. It wasn’t something he’d been required to do before.

“I knew I could throw the ball,” he said. “The whole reading defenses part is what I wasn’t sure about. Coach Calhoun really helped me with that. Mainly we just did a whole lot of film work. I think that’s probably made the biggest difference. Now I feel like I know what I’m looking for out there.”

It would appear so. Heinecke has had some monster games. The one that will probably be talked about for years around Collins Hill occurred last week in a 31-28 upset of No. 2-ranked Lowndes. He led the Eagles on a 95-yard scoring drive to tie the game late, then scored the winning touchdown on a 12-yard reception with three minutes to play.

For the game, Heinecke finished with 388 yards on 34-of-55 passing and three touchdowns.

Heineke’s development has likewise benefited a Collins Hill roster full of playmakers. Led by wide receivers Zay Howard (1,054 yards), Nick England (807) and Jeffrey Glover (762), the Eagles feature seven players with more than 242 yards receiving. Wideouts have accounted for 46 touchdowns.

“Our O-line has done a great job of protecting me and we have some big play-makers at wide receiver,” Heinecke said. “We all work hard at practice every day. None of us have any down time. It’s definitely a team accomplishment.”

We’ll find out tonight if Collins Hill will live to play another day. If so, Heinecke might have a chance to become the state’s all-time passing leader. He needs 588 to surpass Mason’s 4,560 last season.

As to whether Heineke will continue to play past this season, that question was answered earlier this week when he landed his first scholarship offer from Old Dominion. Richmond has been hanging around a lot, too. East Carolina, Western Kentucky and South Florida has sent inquiries.

“The recruiting process has definitely picked up for me the past week or so,” Heineke said. “Coach said to just be patient. He said to keep playing and winning games and recruiting will take care of itself.”

Heineke is on a path remarkably similar to Mason, who had very few offers until late in his senior season. Like Mason, Heineke competed in the TV series “The Ride” this summer. That show takes eight “under-the-radar” quarterback prospects and has them compete for judges for the right to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7.

Heineke was voted out in the first episode, which ran on MTV2 on Nov. 13. But got to work with the panel of expert coaches and now he’s the only contestant still playing.

“It definitely helped,” Heineke said. “That took place back in the summer and it was a great experience being around all those cameras and working with all those coaches. I definitely think it helped a lot with reading defenses and learning the proper mechanics to be a good quarterback.”

Heineke will be playing in front of cameras again tonight. A year ago, who would’ve guessed it?

47 comments Add your comment

Chip Towers

December 3rd, 2010
1:47 pm

This was supposed to post hours ago, guys. Not sure what happened but sorry for the delay.

RambleOn84

December 3rd, 2010
2:02 pm

Shame that Sandy Creek vs Peach County is not the Game of the Week.

Both teams are defending State Champs, Sandy Creek from AAAA and Peach County from AAA.

Channel 2 blew this one.

GT Sambo

December 3rd, 2010
2:10 pm

Sorry RambleOn84, a few more readers of the AJC and viewers of channel 2 in Gwinnett county than in Peach county. I think it was a foregone conclusion.

RambleOn84

December 3rd, 2010
2:16 pm

Well that’s obviously the rationale, but if you’re trying to get the biggest matchup, they’re missing out.

I mean, should we switch in Notre Dame for Oregon in the National Championship just to get more viewers?

Weak, that’s all I’m saying.

How often do you get to see two defending state champs play each other?

egeagle

December 3rd, 2010
2:17 pm

True enough. The viewership possibilities are the bottom line here. The Starr’s Mill\Peach cCounty game would be good, and so would the Statesboro\ Chattahoochee game. ‘course travelling to the Boro would push up production costs. Best of luck to the South Ga teams.

RRTDawgs

December 3rd, 2010
2:18 pm

Hay Chip i had change my handle again that guy is still giving me a hard time but this ryan red & black i dont’t what else to do

Dawg Fan in Grayson

December 3rd, 2010
2:44 pm

People of the Lilburn, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Grayson, and Loganville area get a rare treat of TWO State AAAAA semi-final games close to their neighborhoods. Collins Hill @ Brookwood and Colquitt Co. @ Grayson. Take your pick…both games look to be great.

If you come to the Grayson game check out #90 for the Rams and keep reminding yourself he is just a soph. His bro (#4) is a great player too as well as Peek #18.

Hankie Aron

December 3rd, 2010
3:06 pm

Why does this guy keep doing it to you RRT? I mean even if he doesn’t like your comments you would think he would get over it eventuallly.

RRTDawgs

December 3rd, 2010
3:16 pm

@Hankie Aron i don’t who he is all i wanted to was to talk about recruiting on here i don’t want to hold grudges with anyone i have tried to see if Chip would something but who knows . Go Dawgs .

258DAWG

December 3rd, 2010
3:17 pm

Chip……… Big question here – > Are there any chances of UGA swaying James Vaughters commitment to Stanford with all the reports of Harbough going to Michigan?? I would think that the UGA coaches have maintained contact with him. I look forward to your take. Thanks

RambleOn84

December 3rd, 2010
3:24 pm

Seems to me like ALL the schools are probably still going hard after Vaughters.

RRTDawgs

December 3rd, 2010
3:32 pm

That would be sweat if we can get James Vaughters to flip is Michigan fixing to fire Rich Rod and that is why Dee Hart has decommited .

Fire Paul Johnson

December 3rd, 2010
3:33 pm

Vaughters isn’t going anywhere. He is obviously a kid that cares about his education just as much as his athletics. You don’t choose Stanford because of the stadium size or the number of frothing redneck fans. As for Harbaugh, I’m one of the few who thinks he stays at Stanford– he is obviously an oddball coach. It may hinge on whether Luck goes pro. Besides, from all accounts he works better in the underdog role than as a front-runner, but we’ll see.

firepauljohnson.blogspot.com

Not Chip, but can answer

December 3rd, 2010
3:40 pm

Vaughters is solid with Stanford, regardless of whether Harbaugh stays or goes. FPJ is correct about that.

Fire Paul Johnson

December 3rd, 2010
3:51 pm

Looks like our “marquee” recruit Vad Lee is wavering according to the HIVe. Way to go again Coach Johnson.

saban

December 3rd, 2010
4:04 pm

Understand Georgia is really doing well recruiting in the reform schools in Florida.

Suspect everyone wants to play for “Wild Thing Grantham”.

GT Sambo

December 3rd, 2010
4:29 pm

Fire Paul Johnson,
Sorry, not buying it. I follow Vad Lee on twitter and he is totally focused on semifinals of NC HS playoffs tonight. Don’t think he is even giving a lick of thought to recruiting right now. He was cheering on GT on twitter last weekend.

dogfish

December 3rd, 2010
5:12 pm

ryan, your a good dude. Anybody giving you a hard time is of very low class and not very astute.
I like seeing you on the blog so hang in there!

Go Dawgs!

RRTDawgs

December 3rd, 2010
5:40 pm

Hey guys thanks for the support i will use this handle for now and see what happens its still ryan Red & Gold Clarke Central HS Go DAWGS !

Dawggie

December 3rd, 2010
6:21 pm

Vaughters ranked his choices as being Stanford, GT, then UGA. Maybe we would be better if he were to just hold onto his Stanford offer…

I asked the other day but I want to ask again, Has anyone else taken note that the Butler, N.C. team that LeMay walked away from is ranked in the top ten nationally? Does that concern anyone else that a small rural high school didn’t even miss a beat with the loss of their returning starting QB?

Chip Towers

December 3rd, 2010
7:26 pm

258Dawg: Yeah, Mr. Vaughters told me last week James is solid with Stanford regardless of what Harbaugh does.

Chip Towers

December 3rd, 2010
7:27 pm

About to kick off our telecast. Several Georgia State coaches here. Probably to see Heineke but also Brookwood’s Nick Tompkins and some of these Collins Hill WRs.

NOVAJacket

December 3rd, 2010
8:24 pm

FPJ has no clue. Lee is helping recruit others to Tech…

wesleywhatwhat

December 3rd, 2010
9:36 pm

FPJ is a steaming pile of horse manure. and his blog is worse.

mowreck

December 4th, 2010
6:16 am

Anyone take in the Tucker/Starrs Mill game last nite. Great game! Good to see GT have two excellent recruits like #81 (Green) and 32 (Lackey) coming into the flats.
I was so impressed with the Starrs Mill QB. He runs the option AND throws the ball nice. I wonder if CPJ has an eye on him. Tucker had all the stars, but at the end Starrs Mill had 20, Tucker 19.
Great game!

layinlow

December 4th, 2010
11:13 am

Dawggie, I have already answered your question once on another blog about Lemay’s former team but I will do it again. The QB that took over for Lemay is only a junior and he is a superstar in the making. By his senior year he will be a nationally recruited QB. His coach has already said that he is better than Lemay at this point in his career. He is a lot more mobile than Lemay which gives his team another dimension. Unfortunately I think this is why his coaches and school administrators had no problem with the suspension rather than true pricipals being the main factor.

BroncoFan

December 4th, 2010
11:33 am

Love how the media hyped Heineke and Collins Hill SOOOO much before the game… maybe the team started believing their press, which always leads to over-inflated egos. Then Brookwood came in and did the job so cleanly and with precision. Let’s hear it for those guys who WORKKKKEEED !

Delbert D.

December 4th, 2010
11:50 am

This isn’t about recruiting, per se but it’s a great read: “Oregon’s Speed-Freak Football”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/magazine/05Football-t.html?hp

Dawggie

December 4th, 2010
10:35 pm

Guess since Calhoun won last night that its a good thing Crowell changed his commitment date huh?

Matthews Dawg

December 5th, 2010
7:52 am

Dawgie and layinlow…I live in the Matthews, NC area/Butler HS district. Butler is NOT a rural school. We are 12 miles south of downtown Charlotte. Butler has a bunch of stud HS football players. They had a list in the paper of Butler players playing college football and it was like 30 kids. Also, Riley Ferguson is the QB’s name and he is a 10th grader, not a junior. He is very good, but that team has many athletes on the it. LeMay will be rusty, but he will be a very good QB. He is playing in an All-Star game at Myrtle Beach here soon. Go Dawgs!!

RRTDawgs

December 5th, 2010
9:17 am

Hey Chip X. Ward loved his visit with UGA and Jeffery Pagan will visit Athens will some on info on Monday .

Paddy

December 5th, 2010
11:45 am

I did some checking on some sites. Vlad Lee seems solid for Ga.Tech. No mention of him considering anyone else.

Fire Paul Johnson

December 5th, 2010
1:33 pm

John Tucker

December 5th, 2010
3:15 pm

Wake up, Chip. Colquitt County Packers v. Grayson was the game of the week !!!! And why aren’t some of the Packers’ running backs, QB and receivers rated as top statewide recruits after their offense shredded Grayson’s vaunted defense?

RRTDawgs

December 5th, 2010
3:21 pm

I think its bull crap that some of these people like Shultz and Tony Bonehead are saying that Newton is the best college player ever are you kidding me Tebo has 2 national championships and there has been only couple players to have to 2 Heisman Trophy’s i will say Newton is great but he not the best ever .

gt4ever

December 5th, 2010
5:30 pm

Ill say this about Cam….. He is the best at hiding church donation money……

John tucker

December 5th, 2010
7:45 pm

Chip:

Maybe it is time for UGA and GT to wake up and recruit south of Macon instead of leaving all the SO. GA. recruits to Auburn, FSU, FL, SC & AL.

RRTDawgs

December 5th, 2010
8:03 pm

Hey naganole FSU is pretty much now out of the running for Ray Drew because FSU just pick up another DE and Drew looks like he will a dawg .

DecDawg

December 5th, 2010
9:19 pm

Sorry RRTDawgs but Cam is way better than Tebo. He’s a far superior passer. There will be no need to tweek his delivery. He is a better runner, smoother, faster & more moves. The only thing Tebo has on equal ground is the leadership. Cam’s just a better athlete and football player, but on a far inferior team than what Tebo had around him.

Hope you’re right about Drew though!

RRTDawgs

December 5th, 2010
9:36 pm

Hey DecDawg i agree that Newton is a better athlete than Tebo but to say he is best ever is a stretch But Newton is one and done and still has to win the big one oh his dad may buy his championship .

I thought Heineke signed with the Braves..

December 5th, 2010
11:57 pm

Just wandering.

naganole

December 6th, 2010
12:26 am

@RRTDawgs You are correct. Drew will be going to UGA. Wanted him to be in Garnet and Gold, but we’re going to be ok. The commit you speak of was Dante Fowler, ‘12 DE from Lakewood High (St Pete). He holds 22 offers including UGA, UF, AU, and tOSU among others. Going to be a top 5 player in the state of FL and Top 25 player nationally in the ‘12 recruiting cycle. We are VERY excited to have him. But in this class FSU has Giorgio Newberry and Aaron Lynch committed (both ESPN150 players at DE), and we are very much in it for ESPN150 DE Jermauria Rasco. We also are the leader for top JuCo DE Tank Carradine. FSU will also host the #1 ranked player in the nation by all major ranking services DE Jadeveon Clowney for an OV the second w/e in Jan. So loosing Drew, a lifelong Nole who grew up in the shadow of our university, does hurt. However, we’ll be just fine…

Macon central

December 6th, 2010
8:52 am

Chip Towers = UGA homer

RRTDawgs

December 6th, 2010
9:20 am

I agree naganole FSU has a great class already in the top 3 UGA will have a great class to do you know what happened there with Dee Hart .

shankit

December 6th, 2010
10:04 am

No mention of who is still left in the
5 A playoffs. I assume according to
the last post I read, that the championship
will be decided by an all Gwinnett group
of teams, that the championship no longer
goes through 1 AAAAA, due to our “weak”
division.
Just wondering

Bob

December 6th, 2010
11:23 am

PJ and staff are horrible recruiters!!! They are being destroyed on the recruiting trail.We are recruiting southern conference lineman and this is unacceptable.Changes are going to be made on this staff.The genie is out of the bottle.

mowreck

December 9th, 2010
1:20 pm

The Collins Hill/Brookwood game tonight (Thurs.) or tomorrow night (Fri.)?