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Football: King of the Hill
Wolverines wallop Eagles in opening round of state playoffs
sports-WestCollins5-websmall JP
West Forsyth running back Trevor O’Brien carries the ball in for a touchdown against Collins Hill on Friday at The Den. - photo by Jared Putnam

Jake Wieczorek had his way with the Collins Hill defense all night.

The senior wingback tallied 273 rushing yards on only 12 carries and returned a kickoff 95 yards for one his four touchdowns, as No. 8-ranked West Forsyth topped the 60-point mark for the third time this season and flattened Collins Hill 66-41 in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs on Friday at The Den.

"I can’t really describe the feeling when you see the open field in front of you and the guys are on their blocks and you know you’re going to score; it’s an incredible feeling," Wieczorek said. "We had good perimeter blocking and it just worked out to the point where we got leverage on them and I was given the opportunity to be able to outrun them."

West (10-1) improved its home winning streak to 11 consecutive games — a stretch dating back to Oct. 29, 2010 — and became one of the first 16 teams to ever win a state playoff game in Class 6A.

The Wolverines’ 66 points are the most any team has scored against Collins Hill (6-5) since at least 2001. Prior to Friday night, no one had scored more than 48 points against the Eagles in the past 12 years.

West set the tone early by jumping out to a 17-0 advantage in the first 5:09 of play.

"We were in a 17 [point] hole before we knew what hit us," Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said.

"I think [66 points allowed] might be a school record. I think that might be the most points we’ve ever given up."

Senior Will Brown took the opening kickoff 90 yards in 18 seconds for the game’s first points, giving the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.

"It was great," Brown said. "... I ran over and picked it up and my teammates had some great blocks. [Collins Hill] left a wide open hole and I was surprised and was, like, whoa. Just let me run and let me find the kicker and get past him and score.

"I think I set the tone. After that, everybody was going."

After Josh Gordon intercepted Collins Hill quarterback Brett Sheehan (26 of 37, 352 passing yards, 5 TD, 2 INT) on the Eagles’ first drive at the Collins Hill 46 yard line, West was called for three penalties that backed it up into third-and-27.

But quarterback A.J. Erdely connected with Tanner Bridges for a 39-yard gain to keep the drive alive. On the following play, Wieczorek took an end-around run 24 yards for a touchdown.

Collins Hill faked a punt on the ensuing drive on fourth down at its own 44 yard line, but the West defense stuffed the play and forced a turnover on downs.

The Wolverines took advantage of the field position and drove to the Eagles’ 20 yard line before Timmy Hartshorn hit a 37-yard field goal to make the score 17-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Collins Hill capped off a 10-play, 59-yard drive to score its first points in the second quarter with a three-yard run by Quentin Jones. The Eagles didn’t have the momentum for long, as Wieczorek took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a West touchdown, making the score 24-7.

Sheehan found Grant McDonald for a 16-yard touchdown pass for Collins Hill, but West responded on the first play from scrimmage with a 68-yard end-around from Wieczorek for his third touchdown. Sheehan passed to McDonald again for a 32-yard touchdown with 59.8 seconds left in the half, as the Eagles cut the West lead to 31-21.

West drove to the Eagles’ 5-yard line with time running out, but Erdely was sacked as time expired.

Collins Hill got the ball first after halftime with a chance to cut the lead to three points, but the Wolverines forced a punt and turned the ensuing possession into seven more points.

"We get that opening kickoff [in the second half] and end up punting down to their 1-yard line, and they come out with a 99-yard [touchdown] drive," Reach said. "I think that right there just got the momentum going for them."

West capped off the nine-play drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Erdely to Ty Anderson with 7:44 left in the third quarter. One minute and twenty-six seconds later, West capitalized on a Collins Hill three-and-out, as Wieczorek took the first play of the drive 74 yards for a touchdown on another end-around, making the score 45-21.

"He’s one of the smartest kids I’ve ever been around," West head coach Frank Hepler said. "His grade point average and test scores are off the charts.

"Why every Division I team in the country isn’t in here finding out about this kid just blows me away. He’s got good size [and] great speed. I understand he might not fit what some of the other backs around the country look like, but that kid can play big-time football somewhere."

Sheehan threw his fourth touchdown pass to Amadi Stephens before West’s Trevor O’Brien darted into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown run with only 37.9 seconds left in the third quarter to make the score 52-28.

West’s Brian Porter and Cole Staton scored on runs from three and 13 yards out, respectively, while Sheehan threw two more touchdown passes to McDonald (8 receptions, 122 yards, 4 TD)  from 10 and 31 yards out, as the final touchdown pass came on the last play of the game.

"We got to the elite eight last year, so we always want to push our limits and break records, but at the same time you can’t take anyone lightly," Wieczorek said. "It was the best 32 [teams], now it’s the best 16 teams. Each game is going to get harder, so we have to play our best each week."

West Forsyth advances to host Parkview, the No. 3 seed from Region 5, in the second round of the state playoffs on Friday at The Den.