Variety is Kenny Collier’s specialty.
While some players use their strength or size to make an impact, Collier relies on speed to keep opponents off balance.
The Victory Christian junior made his presence felt multiple ways Friday night in a 53-6 victory against archrival Tuscaloosa Christian in a Christian Football Association (CFA) game Columbus.
Collier, a 5-foot-10, 130-pound wide receiver/cornerback, scored on an 85-yard punt return, returned an interception for a touchdown, and scored on runs of 24 and 35 yards. He also had a second interception to give him six for the season.
“Kenny has been a real good player for us this year,” Victory Christian coach Chris Hamm said. “He is probably the fastest guy on the team. For his size, he is tough and able to withstand hits. We try our best to get him to the outside. Defensively, he just has a knack for finding the football.”
Preston Kinard had an 11-yard touchdown run, Dakota Bradford had a 55-yard touchdown reception, Gavin Forrester had a 51-yard touchdown run, and Brandon Moore had a 2-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Kinard had one two-point conversion, and Moore had three extra points.
Garrett Anthony and Bradford led the way with nine tackles.
Collier scored his first touchdown by using his speed on a sweep. He said the middle linebacker bit on the fake, which allowed him to get the corner and outrun the rest of the defense.
“I have to read the defensive end,” Collier said. “If he is biting inside, go outside. If he is biting outside, go inside and make a move.”
Hamm said Collier gives the Eagles a “home-run threat” who can make a big play to change the momentum. He said Collier has had a lot of timely contributions to fuel Victory Christian’s attempt to return to the playoffs.
Hamm said Collier’s maturation from last season has played a key role in the team’s development. Collier said the skill work and the conditioning he did in the offseason with strength and conditioning coach Anthony Sharp helped him gain confidence entering his junior season.
“I saw a huge difference from last year to this year,” Collier said. “I got faster and stronger and gotten better as a player.”
This is Collier’s second year on the football team. He also is a member of the school’s boys basketball and baseball teams.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak to Tuscaloosa Christian. Last season, Tuscaloosa Christian beat Victory Christian 57-6. It won 53-17 in 2015, so Collier said it was extremely satisfying to gain a measure of revenge.
“We knew what they did to us last year, so we wanted to do the same thing to them this year,” Collier said.
Victory Christian, which is off this week, will have to wait until Friday night to learn its fate. At 4-3 in the CFA, Victory Christian could finish in a three-way tie if Tabernacle loses to East Memorial Christian and New Life loses to Russell Christian. Hamm said the CFA does points allowed in the first half to decide a tiebreaker. Tabernacle allowed 70 points in the first half of a 90-22 loss to Russell Christian, which would eliminate it from playoff contention. New Life beat Victory Christian 34-33 on Sept. 22 and would earn the No. 3 seed and push Victory Christian to the No. 4 seed.
Victory Christian holds the tiebreaker against Tabernacle thanks to a 60-54 victory on Aug. 25.
If those results hold, Victory Christian would travel to Meridian next week to take on No. 1 seed Russell Christian. East Memorial would take on New Life in the other semifinal.
If Tabernacle beats East Memorial, Victory Christian would be eliminated from playoff contention.
Hamm said Victory Christian will practice Thursday and then see what happens Friday night.
“We haven’t made the playoffs the last two years, so making the playoffs will be another step forward back to where we want to be,” Hamm said. “If you are in there, you have a chance.”
Collier hopes the Eagles get a chance because he would love to have an opportunity to build on a career night. A playoff game would be an ideal setting to showcase that variety.
“We lost to East Memorial and Russell, so we want to come back and beat them to advance to the championship and win,” Collier said.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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