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Collins sees bright future for Gamecocks
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After Screven County's 43-6 loss to Charlton County last Friday in the first round of the state playoffs, a few of the Gamecocks made a decision. They were going straight back to work that Monday — a school holiday.
    It's moments like that that have SCHS coach Pat Collins excited about the 2007 football season. The Gamecocks ended the season with 96 players still on the roster, made the state playoffs for the first time in two years with a 6-5 record and should be a force to deal with in region 3-AA.
    "We may not be the most talented bunch," said Collins. "But we have the numbers and that makes the future look bright for this program."
    The numbers of the Screven program is the first positive that Collins looks to when reviewing 2006. The play of the school's B-team and junior varsity are another positive and the fact that SCHS set a team goal in June to make the playoffs — a goal they achieved with a 30-0 win over rival Southeast Bulloch on the final night of the regular season.
    Of course, with positives, come negatives. The Gamecocks finished 4-3 in a tough region 3-AA, but lost those three games by a combined 17 points.
    "That's the disappointing part," said Collins. "I was disappointed in our coaches, in our players and in myself for not finding ways to win those ballgames. When we look back on those games, it means we just have to push the bar to the next level."    
    The turning point for Screven may have been the Westside-Augusta game. With the score deadlocked at seven, the Gamecocks began to pull away and ended up with a 21-7 victory. Collins said it was evident the conditioning and offseason work really payed off in that game, and he felt the kids really started to buy into the system after that.
    Screven graduates 20 seniors, including quarterback Chris Pye and kicker Zane Powell. Collins said the senior class will always be a class he holds a fond memory of. Collins was hired by SCHS after former coach Mark Daniel left for another position at another school. Collins said the way the seniors embraced his arrival was key to the success of SCHS this year.
    Screven will return eight starters on defense and six on offense. Junior wide receiver and sophomore Travis Coles are among the key Gamecocks who will be back in '07.
    If SCHS is to get to that next level of competition, playing deep into December, Collins think he knows the key.
    "We have to improve our speed," he said. "We have to get more of our guys involved in our track program and in a setting where they're running competitively. Not only was Charlton County back-to-back state champions in football, they were defending state track champions, and I think that goes hand-in-hand."