Let me start out, again, by reiterating the criteria, because some of the readers and subscribers are confused a little. Most media members, when selecting an All-State team, go straight to a recruiting service and just pick the players with offers. If there are slots left, they then vote for good players who play in the coverage area of either their newspaper or other media outlet.
KPGFootball isn’t one of those other media members, though we are enrolled media members with the Associated Press. Our coverage area is Kentucky and parts of Tennessee.
When we vote for the All-State team, we select the best high school football players (in our opinion) from across Kentucky whether they have been offered or not. You see colleges are attempting to project what you will mature into being, not what you are now.
There are plenty of college-frames out there who are “ghosts” on Friday nights. They may become good at some point in the future but they aren’t good right now.
That is why there are so many college “busts,” why there are so many former one and two-stars who get drafted into the NFL and thrive, and why Georgia State can beat Tennessee, Kentucky State can beat Robert Morris, and how a Virginia Union team can beat Hampton University, all of which has happened just this Fall.
Our criteria is this…the players we are featuring in this series, start for any high school in Kentucky, at any classification, for any team to which they might (figuratively) transfer. The below two fit that bill. We believe they will play college ball, but they are on this team because of the value they add to a high school squad each and every Friday night.
Charles Andrew Collins; a.k.a. “Geeny”; 5-11, 190-pound RB…
The great ones make the entire team around them better players. Man, can that be said about this superstar.
After two years at Montgomery County, where he had 49 carries, 315-yards, and 3 rushing TDS his freshman year, and sophomore production set out below more fully, Collins transferred to Anderson County where his dad, a high school coach with decades of football coaching experience and a high school teacher by trade, as is his wife, Betty, both got jobs. Over his sophomore year, while still at MoCo, Collins, helped the Class 5A football team finish 10-3, gained 2,004-yards from scrimmage and scored 29 rushing TDs in 194 carries while tallying 202 points.
For his Junior year, Collins transferred to Anderson County where he was named the Class 5A, District 6, Player of the Year by the district coaches. Collins ran for 1,474 yards and 21 rushing TDs in 11 games averaging more than 11 yards per carry to lead Kentucky’s second largest classification. Collins tallied 390 yards receiving and totaled over 2,000 all-purpose yards while scoring 170 points, 16 points shy of the Anderson County High School record for individual scoring in a season.
Defensively, where Collins doubles at linebacker, Charles tallied 29 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, and 2 interceptions at Anderson County. His mightily contributing on both sides of the football is a trend which will continue on into the first 8 games of his senior campaign at Breathitt Co., which is the place the Collins’ clan considers home with Geeny’s brothers having played there before him.
Through 8 games of his senior year, Collins has only carried it 53-times. After all, Breathitt has “run the clock” on each of its first 8 opponents. Pounding Collins at these overmatched foes an entire game would be unsportsmanlike and unseemly. It has limited his carries.
That aside, he has 869-yards rushing, in the eight games, for 108.63 yards a contest in only 6.63 carries per. He has scored 18 rushing TDs or a home-run every 2.94 swings. Defensively, his play from LB has been stellar.
Collins, playing “Iron Man” football, has 26 solo tackles, 12 assists, 38 total hits, with 4 tackles for loss and a QB sack on his defensive résumé. While other RBs are over on the sideline getting water, Collins is out there leading the team from the defensive second-level in addition to what he contributes offensively.
We asked a few of our “go-to” high school football experts from around the commonwealth and areas which regularly look at Kentucky high school players about this particular ball carrier. With what looks like quite a few games still left, this running-back’s career is mind-boggling.
He has rushed for 68 TDs over the course of the last three seasons. He has gained 4,374 yards in 378 carries while averaging close to 11.6 yards per carry over a three year period. Maybe more importantly, the teams on which he has played, two in Class 5A and this Breathitt County team this year (2A) have won 28 of its 32 football games in which the three teams have played combined.
JT Powell, Director of Appalachia Prep Combine…
While I have seen film on this running back, I don’t know anything about his “measurables.” That being said, he has some statistics which appear to tell me something.
Any running back who has 68-career rushing TDs, with games still to go in his senior season, is a back which seems to break a lot of runs. He’s running away from somebody.
I mean, he scores a TD over a 32-game period, 24 of which against Kentucky 5A competition, between his every 5th and 6th carry. Hard to not hear what that seems to say.
One guy we consulted was Justin Dearinger. Justin, himself having formerly played college football, is someone who would know a marquee player when he sees one. His son, Darion Darringer, who we first featured, is Kentucky’s best DE and (according to many) Kentucky’s very best football player in the Class of 2021.
Justin’s son, Darion, played and blocked for Collins at Anderson County a year ago, where they went 10-1 with Collins in its backfield. Thus far, without Collins, Anderson, which is now a Class 4A school post-realignment, is a pedestrian 4-4, perhaps the most telling statistic about this two-way, impact player.
Dearinger told us this…
“When I found out Anderson County (in 2018) was getting a transfer from Montgomery County, I called a good friend of mine from Mt. Sterling to make some inquiries. His nephew was the QB there. This guy is as big of a “football-nut” as I.”
“I asked him about Collins. He told me there were games for MoCo Collins (frankly) just won alone. I knew to what he was alluding. The kid was (and still is) special.”
“I met him and was immediately fooled by his height and slender-frame. Then, I watched him bench press and power clean over 300 pounds per lift. I was amazed.”
On the field, I was more amazed. His vision, use of angles, the way he allows his blockers to set up for him and then pours on both a burst of speed and spacial, change of direction on a dime, quickness is so rare. There are only a handful of kids in Kentucky who can do what he was doing in front of my very eyes. When you combine all of his speed and quickness with his power, explosiveness, strength, and toughness; well, there isn’t a better running back than he anywhere in Kentucky.”
Darrell Keith, Head Football Coach at Todd County Central…
The third “expert” consulted is one of the hottest coaching commodities in western-Kentucky HS football right now. Coach Keith has Todd County Central poised to win the most games in a season it has won since the mid-seventies. He also had the Rebels in the Class 2A, AP top-10, weekly poll, this season, for a program-best 5 consecutive weeks.
He knows a little something about prime-timers. His son Joshuah Keith, is Kentucky’s highest-rated football player in the graduating class of 2024. Joshuah also started at QB, in Dallas, TX, at the middle school All-American game for the under-15, East team, though he was only 13 at the time. “Little Keith” was also the Offensive MVP of this year’s Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars game.
Coach Keith evaluated Collins’ film and told us this. “His ability to go from standing still to full-throttle in an instant is unbelievable. He “wears his pads well” and, what I mean is, he is still fast when padded-up and playing. They call that ‘football fast.'”
“His ‘body-lean’ and ability to ‘cut on a dime,’ while running incredibly low to the ground, is unlike any RB I have seen on this end of Kentucky at the HS level. There isn’t a team in Kentucky where this kid isn’t starting regardless of the classification. There is a reason teams on which he has played win all the time.”
William Long, a.k.a “Tank,” 5-11, 250-pounds, C/NG…
William Long is a football player who gets enormous respect from the other “star players” across Kentucky. For one, he has won back-to-back, powerlifting championships (bench press of 405-pounds (registered in competition)/600-pound squat/535-pound deadlift/265-pound power clean (registered in competition)) and has yet to compete as a junior (this year).
Recruiting services ignore him owing to his stature and frame. He is not being ignored on the recruiting trail by schools looking for his type player.
He was a former Team Captain (twice) for “Team Kentucky” and played both FBU and Future Stars. What he does for a football team, with his leadership and game-play, show up in both measurable and immeasurable ways.
With Breathitt losing all five up-front, offensive linemen, from off its 8-4, Class 3A, district championship team, he was “just what the doctor ordered” around whom to rebuild a front. His play along the 3-man defensive line for Breathitt this year, at NG, has been somewhat of a surprise.
William has, going into the 9th game of the 2019 season, logged 33-consecutive varsity football starts along an offensive line at either guard (13) or center (20). Twenty-five of those starts were at Class 4A, football power, Hopkinsville High School, and of course the last 8 coming at Class 2A, football power, Breathitt County.
Long has started 20-consecutive games at offensive center, one of the most demanding positions on any offense, especially an offense which primarily requires a pistol snap. Long is a returning, first-team, All-Stater at center, having made the AP’s first-team in 2018. Austin Gough of Owensboro High School (LB) and he were the only two sophomores.
During the offseason, William attended the Appalachia Prep Combine where he worked exclusively as a NG. He was being recruited there and he didn’t play a lot of defense at Hoptown which is why he worked there at the APC to the exclusion of center.
It is hard for any high school team to be blamed for not using Long both ways. When you’re the only reliable snap on the roster, and are responsible for the run-calls and protections, coaches don’t want to play guys like that on both sides.
Offensively, in 8 games, William has anchored a front which has been dubbed Breathitt’s Big Blue Wave. This front, which has Tim Spencer at LT, Teegan Smith at LG, Long at C, a combination of Derrick Newcomb and Greg Messer at RG, and hulking star (6-7, 350-pound) Connor Deaton at RT (who is only 15-years old), has opened the way for Breathitt to gain 1,686 yards rushing, in only 160 carries for the whole team, with 38 rushing TDs. The team is averaging 210.75-yards on the ground, in 20 carries a game (10.54 yards per rushing attempt), and scoring a TD ever 4.2 carries.
Defensively, where Breathitt lost 8 starters from off its 2018 unit which permitted opponents to score approximately 23.67 points per outing without Long and Collins in the lineup, is now only allowing 7.75-points per game with the pair. The starting defense has allowed a lone, single TD all season long.
Long, from his NG slot, and being double-teamed and cut-blocked all year, has registered 26 solos, 24 assists, forced 3 fumbles, made 13 tackles for loss, and has a QB sack. He’s enjoying living in Breathitt County, attending high school there, and playing for the Bobcats very much he reports.
We consulted the same three “experts” about William Long. We asked them to comment on his play at NG, offensive center, or both should they like. Here is what they said…
JT Powell, Appalachia Prep Combine…
William Long came out of our 2019, summer APC, the 8th highest regarded defensive lineman in the entire combine. This is a combine which draws the best players from across the Appalachia Mountain area. His performance, at that combine, considering he wasn’t a junior yet especially, was outstanding.
I have evaluated his games, having watched several full games of his this year. To me, he may be better than the 8th best defensive linemen in the region at present.
I get calls about him from college coaches. While he’s not a frame to be offered early, that doesn’t mean he won’t get offered.
Wait until he has a registered ACT score. I personally know teams ready to eat-up players like him and him, personally.
From the film I have watched, William Long has been consistently dominating at the nose position. He has wrecked offensive centers all year long with his violent punch and with brute strength.
I had the pleasure of first watching William play four years ago when he was in the 7th grade for Team Kentucky in the FBU National Championship tournament. He was Kentucky’s starting center then.
I remember his having fantastic technique and footwork in seventh grade. I am good friends with an assistant coach at Breathitt County high school, so I have followed Breathitt County this season.
I watch their games on the Bluegrass Sports Network. William, on defense, stands out to me.
That being said, I am even more amazed at his play at offensive center. He is truly special among Kentucky high school players at that position.
The way he explodes from off the football, his hand placement, his footwork, all make him among the best high school centers in Kentucky I have ever seen play. His snap is always on target and delivered exactly when a QB wants and needs it.
That snap, delivered on a pulse, is what truly makes him stand out at that position for teams which prefer to align in the pistol formation across Kentucky. Ask any team which runs from that formation the difference it makes to offensive timing when a snap gets there at the right time and on-target, as opposed to it just getting there.
When you take into account his strength, his ability to read defenses and make both instantaneous and appropriate blocking and protection calls, together with his character and leadership, he is rare in the high school game. His “intangibles” make him indispensable on a high school offensive line. It’s like having an offensive line coach padded-up and playing on Friday nights.
Darrell Keith, Head Football Coach at Todd County Central…
When I heard the Longs had found employment away from where they were living and were relocating, I can’t tell you how much I prayed it would be Elkton. Unfortunately, the move was much further away than Todd County.
I will tell you how mobile William Long is, I wanted to play him at fullback in our “wish-bone” and “Power-I” sets. I have watched him play this year on BSN. The first thing I noticed is how much better of a football player he is now than at anytime during his 25-starts at Hopkinsville High School.
Some of that is age and maturity. Juniors often make tremendous strides between their sophomore and junior years.
There is something else one can’t help but notice. He looks and sounds happy to me. His play is better because he’s found a home. He has fallen back in love with playing the game of football. He’s finding joy in it once more.
In Breathitt County, William has found a place where he appears to feel he fits in well. He has found a place where he feels he is both loved and appreciated by the home crowd. I don’t believe, having known him for years, he has always felt that way, though he hasn’t ever said anything derogatory about any area where he has before played.
Defensively, he takes over games. Offensively he’s the best high school center I have seen play. I would have loved to have seen him at fullback. The kid is a fantastic athlete.
In conclusion, these are both the kind of players one enjoys seeing succeed. Both of them declined being interviewed for this article and it was a devil of a time just to get them to pose for the picture we wanted to use. They are team-first players, and neither of them could tell you their stats, on the year, nor do they care.
There is only one statistic which matters to both Geeny Collins and Tank Long. The only important number to either is Breathitt County’s being undefeated and heavily in the thick of Kentucky’s title hunt in the 2A classification.
In the end, neither of them care about being on this or that All-State team, they want to win a ring. That is the focus for both of these guys who have found, in the other, a lifelong friend, brother, and teammate. In the end, this is why Collins and Long are double-trouble out on that high school football field.
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is HB Lyon, reminding all of you ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
If you enjoyed this article and wish to gain full-access to the site, then subscribe monthly to Kentucky Prep Gridiron by following the prompts!