Collins to lead Bruins

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New Lancaster football coach built winner at Hough High

By Robert Howey

 Bobby Collins, who has built a Charlotte area high school football program from scratch, has been given the task of rebuilding the Lancaster High School football program.

Collins, 33, comes to Lancaster High after building the Class AAAA Hough Huskies’ football program into a winner.

Collins, hired as the first head football coach at Hough High in 2010, steadily built a winner at the Cornelius, N.C., high school. In four seasons leading the Huskies, Collins posted a 25-20 record, including a 19-5 mark and two playoff bids in the last two seasons.

“From the field of head coaching candidates, coach Collins was our top pick among 5-6 viable candidates,” said Lancaster High School principal Dr. Joe Keenan, who headed a four-member panel in the hiring process. “Most football coaches know the Xs and Os of coaching, but what we saw in coach Collins was an excitement and enthusiasm for our football program.

“We liked the fact he started the Hough program and has built a winner there in a tough football conference,” Keenan said. “He has a good presence about him. In 18 years as the principal at Lancaster High School, I’ve been fortunate to work with two hall of fame coaches (Johnny Roscoe and Bennie McMurray) and I feel he has the potential to be the third.”

Collins was selected from a field of 59 applicants, one of eight candidates interviewed for the job which came open Dec. 6 when McMurray announced his retirement.

Collins, a Sumter native who played football at S.C. State University, replaces McMurray, a Lancaster native who guided the Bruins for eight seasons and went 39-54.

McMurray’s best team was the 2008 Bruins who went 10-4 and fell a game shy of a Class AAAA Div. II state championship game berth. In eight seasons at LHS, McMurray led the Bruins to three winning seasons and three postseason bids. His final two seasons saw LHS go 2-9 in each campaign, including an 0-7 region mark last fall.

McMurray, in 27 years as a high school head football coach, posted a 218-127 record, including a 145-42 mark, three Class A state football championships and a pair of state runner-up finishes at the Richburg school in Chester County.

“Coach McMurray has left him with enough talent that coach Collins can hit the ground running and make us competitive,” LHS athletic director Mark Strickland said. “Coach Collins has proven he can do it at Hough and I feel he will give us a shot of adrenaline. He has a passion for molding young men into football players.”

Strickland noted Collins has a solid football pedigree.

“He played at Sumter High School, which has a strong high school football program, and at S.C. State, which is known for its football, and then mentored under coach Bruce Hardin at Providence Day School in Charlotte before becoming a head coach,” he said.

Hardin, a 48-year coaching veteran, is considered a legend in N.C. high school football as a N.C. High School Hall of Famer.

Before taking the job at Hough, Collins was an assistant coach at West Mecklenburg and Providence Day in Charlotte.

“We feel coach Collins will be able to get our kids out to play football and if I didn’t feel like that, I wouldn’t have hired him,” Keenan said. “We like his enthusiasm and energy and we feel good about our decision to bring coach Collins to Lancaster.”

Strickland said Collins, who will teach physical education, is planning to begin his duties at LHS in mid-March.

“He wants to get started with our weight program and he’s looking forward to spring practice and summer workouts,” Strickland said. “That’s impressive that he’s already thinking ahead about what he can do to make our football program better.”

Collins’ first season as the Bruins’ football coach coincides with Lancaster High’s move into the Class AAA ranks with the 2014-15 school term.

LHS opens its 2014 season at home Aug. 29 when the Bruins face county rival Andrew Jackson High School.


– Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157