COLLINS, Miss. (WDAM) - Collins High School football coach Eric Booth said the coronavirus pandemic may have put an inexperienced Tigers’ team behind the eight-ball in its preparations for the 2020 football season.
“Last year I lost a bunch of kids,” Booth said. “We’re going to be young on both sides of the ball. I thought maybe this summer we’d put everything together, but this pandemic came in and kind of knocked me back for a little while.”
But Booth said he knows he can count senior running back Emmanuel Lockhart.
“I know this year we’re going to be relying on [him],” Booth said “I hope we get a season in.
“A bunch of them want to play their senior year. I talked to them and said, ‘Hey, whatever happens, happens. It is what it is. Nothing we can do about that.’”
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound “Player of the Pine Belt” for Collins, said he’s one of those looking forward to their final high school season.
“Just trying to stay focused and stay positive,” Lockhart said. “With everything going on, just trying to keep working and get better, prepare for the season.”
Injuries hampered the Tigers’ offense during a 4-8 season in 2019. Five Tigers combined to rush for just more than 1,000 yards, with Lockhart contributing 282 yards and a touchdown.
“I just like running the ball,” Lockhart said. “I find it more fun and something that comes easy to me.”
Lockhart, who also doubles as a free safety, said he wants to make his mark as a senior.
“Say for a kid like me, I want to go to the next level and play,” Lockhart said. “It’s really my last opportunity to make it to the next level, so it’s kind of important.
“God, it’s in his control.”
Booth said extracurricular activities are critical for the development of Collins’ young men and women.
“For a bunch of our kids, they need sports,” Booth said. “I think sports is one of the big things that keeps our kids out of trouble, keep them in school, keep them motivated. You take sports away and then you have a bunch of stuff going on that you should not have going on.”