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Collins' father-and-son collaboration lifts Montague to Division 6 title

Eric Coughlin
The Detroit News

Detroit — Every state championship is special for the winning coach, but for Montague’s Pat Collins, Friday’s 40-14 win over Clinton in the Division 6 football final was extra special.

That’s because Pat’s son, Drew, was Montague’s star quarterback this season and was masterful at the controls of Montague’s offense in the title game. Throw after throw, Collins found his receivers, often senior Sam Smith, to set an offensive pace that Clinton (10-2) simply couldn’t keep up with. Collins, committed to play football at Michigan Tech, finished 15-for-19 for 244 yards and three touchdowns, plus 52 yards rushing and another two scores on the ground.

Montague's Drew Collins and Tugg Nichols celebrate after Collins' run into the end zone for a touchdown in the second half.

“It was a special feeling,” Drew said about winning a state championship with his dad. “It’s a feeling that you have to experience, hard to describe. There’s a lot of upside to having your dad as coach, and I was blessed to have it.”

It was Montague’s fifth finals appearance and third championship, the other two coming in 2008 and '09, both under the elder Collins.

“It can’t finish any better than that,” Pat said. “I told myself I wouldn’t cry. How does it get any better? It’s been a phenomenal run. Pinch me. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing.”

BOX SCORE: Montague 40, Clinton 14

Smith had the best game of his high school career, hauling in five catches for 96 yards and three touchdowns.

“When their corners started playing up, I was getting past them, and I knew I was going to have a big game,” Smith said.

The teams traded scores in the first quarter. Collins hooked up with Smith for two Montague (12-0) touchdowns, the first for nine yards and the second for 44. Clinton answered with a five-play, 80-yard drive capped by an 8-yard scoring run by junior George Ames. At the end of the first quarter, Montague held a 13-7 lead.

In the second quarter, Clinton finished off a monster, 80-yard, 19-play drive that took up 10:56. Clinton’s sophomore running back Bradyn Lehman capped the drive by diving in for a 2-yard touchdown, giving Clinton a brief 14-13 lead. It was brief because only one minute later, Montague’s junior running back Dylan Everett scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown after Collins connected with him for a 49-yard gain through the air. Montague led at halftime, 19-14.

Montague figured out Clinton’s wing-T offense in the second half and dominated. Collins added rushing scores of nine and 23 yards, plus found Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass, routing Clinton for the big win.

Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer