Prince Kollie calms qualms in tough Pioneers loss
By Collin Brooks
He called it.
That was the sentiment from a few David Crockett coaches and players after a hard fought 37-35 loss to Campbell County.
But many smiles followed a tough 37-35 loss to Campbell County, because the Pioneers learned two things about themselves: they may just be one of the better teams in the area and they may just have the next great freshman running back in Washington County.
Prince Kollie, a 14-year old freshman, whose statue ages him more years than that, told a few players and coaches before the contest that he was going to have a big game. He calmly, but confidently, called that he would rush for 200 yard in his first game in varsity pads.
He did that and more, rushing for 203 yards on 26 carries and providing four rushing touchdowns for the Pioneers.
“I told myself in the locker room that I was going for 200 (yards),” said Kollie through a calm smile.
Just a few days before, Kollie took his first snaps at running back for the Pioneers varsity team during Monday’s practice. He looked good enough to catch the attention of his head coach and former NFLer Gerald Sensabaugh.
“It just so happen that Prince got his opportunity to play running back and in practice he looked very impressive and I knew with his running style and how big and physical he is and his vision, that he could be a great running back for us.
“Prince is going to be the future of the running back position for our school…We’ve got four years to ride Prince.”
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The Pioneers fought back from a 27-21 halftime deficit to have an opportunity to win the contest with a long field goal with under a minute left in regulation. But kicker Gio Ortiz - who joined the football team just a few weeks ago as a soccer player - missed a 40-plus yard field goal to turn the ball over own downs and end the contest. Sensabaugh wasn't disappointed in his kicker's chance.
“He is a heck of a kid and a really good kicker,” Sensabaugh said. “He kicks 48 yards in practice and so I have the faith to give him that range at the end of the game. He will have his opportunities again this season.”
The close contest seemed even more impressive considering that Campbell County opened their season last week with a 48-20 win over Cherokee, one of the teams predicted atop Region 1-5A. Offensively, Cade Larkins was 9 of 23 for the Pioneers with 211 yards, while Devonte Boozer added nine carries for 50 yards.
Campbell County was led by quarterback Zack Rutherford who was 25 of 36 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. They also received 98 yards rushing on 11 carries from Christian England.
Sensabaugh said he was happy with the way his Pioneers performed.
“Our motto is focus, fight, finish, no matter what is going on,” Sensabaugh said. “We have a lot of young players that have never played varsity football and a lot of guys we are counting on didn’t really play last year.”
Sensabaugh started the game coaching from the coaches box in the press box before joining his team on the sidelines with 10 minutes remaining in the second quartering trailing 27-14.
It was a similar technique he used last week at Seymour, because he says he sees the field better from the press box. But even with the good view, Sensabaugh said he made a few coaching errors that he will learn from.
“I made a couple of bad calls in a couple of situations that I wish I could take back,” Sensabaugh said.
But after the contest the Pioneers got a lot of praise from their head coach.
“Our kids fought,” Sensabaugh said. “That is a top ranked team in 5A and to show our fight and how we competed against them. It shows that we have come a long way…I love coaching this team, this team is awesome. The sky is the limit for us, we lost to a good football team tonight.”
Friday, August 25, 2017 / Campbell County at David Crockett