For the third year in a row, Eric Collins finds himself in charge of a different high school football program on the Coast, leaving behind a trail of success in his wake, but this time it appears as if the veteran coach might stick around a while at a school he knows quite well, even though he’s never worked there.
Until today at his official introduction.
“Sometimes when you walk into a place where you’re following – Seth, in my opinion here now is a legend. And you’re following that, that’s sometimes hard to follow. But they made it special for me.” Seth Smith was pretty awesome during his seven years in Hurley, but who better to take the wheel than Eric Collins who employed Smith as an assistant during their time together at Pearl River Central. “You’ve got to admire what they do in the weight room. From what I saw, the kids were rocked up. That don’t just happen, and that’s not in the water. That’s from hard work. And I know Seth instilled that in these kids and the love for the weight room. That takes years to build, and it’s already here. And that was one thing that really attracted me to the job is that I could walk into a program and just drive it because it’s already there.”
As fate would have it, Smith’s departure for PRCC left the door wide open for one of his former mentors to pick up right where he left off. Albeit a tough act to follow, Collins has a track record of winning no matter where he goes, PRC, D’Iberville, and most recently Bay High. Next up is East Central. “This will be the easiest transition for me because it’s like walking into – I don’t mean to minimize anything Seth did, but it’s like walking into my own program. I mean he’s got it going like it’s supposed to be going.”
Coach Smith set the bar high in 2017 with a 4A South State title championship and the program’s first ever state title game appearance. Big shoes to fill now in Class 5A, but Coach Collins is ready to try on a pair. “Obviously, long-term goal – I want to win a state championship. I want to win a district championship. I want to win a state championship and I want to take what Seth has built and I want to continue to build on it and hopefully take it to the next level.”
Both the Hornets and Coach Collins are still in search of their first ever gold ball and if the man of the hour is to win one, it will be together. “This is my last stop, and I will retire a Hornet.”
Collins says that he hopes to start at East Central sometime after the Christmas break.