MONTAGUE, Mich. (WOOD) — After months of uncertainty, high school football will once again kick off on fields across Michigan Saturday afternoon.
One particular matchup drawing attention is Montrose Hill-McCloy vs. Montague, where the Associated Press Division 5-6 player and coach of the year will play host to the Rams.
Here’s the kicker, the coach and player of the year, they’re father and son, Pat and Drew Collins.
Pat Collins, who has been coach of the Wildcats for the last 17 years has led teams to the state finals before, most noticeably with victories in 2008 and 2009.
They hope to make it that far this year to continue their uncommon season together as a family.
“I mean, I would never want to bleed and sweat with anyone else and cry with anyone else. These guys have just been so special,” senior quarterback and AP Division 5-6 Player of the Year Drew Collins said. “Now that we’re back, I’ll speak for the whole team, we’re really excited to be back.”
This team has added motivation this year, unfinished business some would say, falling to Maple City Glen Lake in overtime 31-30 in the state semifinals last season. They’ve waited for their chance to make it to the finals for months due to the pandemic.
“We always say that football season never ends and now it’s taking it to a new level this year,” Drew Collins said. “It’s something we call Montague football. And just that it has its own name. Of Montague football and we always preach it, just playing with toughness and grit and out working everyone else on the field.”
It just means more here, and for the AP player and coach of the year it’s personal. It’s family. Their last chance to etch their names as state champions together.
“This chance, this game represents an opportunity to finish what these guys have earned. So much of what they accomplished is obviously due to the fact that they just decided to accomplish it and they put their mind to a common goal, and they worked for it very hard. It’s going to be fun to kind of watch that come to fruition where they get the opportunity to prove the work they did and continue on the quest they were on,” Pat Collins said. “The awards I receive is from the work my son puts in as well as all the teammates and coaches. Those awards just represent so much. It’s like when two people on the same team can get it, doesn’t matter if it’s him and I, it’s just the fact that two of us were able to get that award and it just represents this team and it represents the teams that came before us.”
Teams like his own, because 28 years ago Pat Collins found himself in the shoes of his son.
“I’m just so very proud of him. I mean, the leadership and believe me he does have some advantages because he is in the household and he has been since he has been sucking his thumb, he has been around this football life,” Pat Collins said. “It’s just engrained in him. And he’s taken ownership of it instead of running from the pressure, or even just the work, he just attacked it and I’m proud of that.”
From walking the sidelines of Ford Field with is dad, learning from past championship caliber teams to now potentially leading his own team down a similar path. They’re a family, uncommonly committed to football because in Montague, football is family.
“It’s very special. It’s awesome to know that the tradition not only with my dad but with Montague is carrying on and just to be able to put on the same jersey as him and accomplish the same goals is definitely special,” Drew Collins said. “I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
A reduced number of fans will be allowed in the stands, contact the high school for more information.