PEARL RIVER, La. — Eric Collins’ has spent the last 18 years of his head coaching career in the state of Mississippi.

“I left and I went to Tupelo, and I just never made it back,” says Pearl River head football coach Eric Collins.

In May, he officially made it back to Louisiana after being named the new head football coach at Pearl River.

“It’s been very difficult because I didn’t have a spring. The biggest challenge is for me knowing the kids and still I don’t know the kids. You know, we’re trying to put in a special team here and not knowing who can actually do what has been a real challenge. But I think in the two months that I’ve been here we’ve been able to accomplish an extraordinary amount of things,” says Collins.

Collins has hit the ground running in his two months as leader of the Rebels’ program.

His offense will be tailor-made to suit the strengths of his newest weapons, which include quarterback Austin Wadsworth, wide receiver Kaileb Rayford, and all-district running back Brian Jenkins.

“I would call him a quiet leader. He goes about his business in really a business-like way. He’s yes sir, no sir and again, I made this statement that our kids have great character, and he is top among them, says Collins.

“Honestly, he’s got great talent but great talent if it’s not coachable is not very good, but this kid is coachable, and he’s got great talent. He’s got the whole package,” added Collins.

Last year, Jenkins earned 1,500 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns with a goal to be an “all-around back” in 2022.

“The goal that I have is just to break my rushing record for this year, in a single game. I’m trying to at least get 2,000 yards this season,” says Pearl River running back Brian Jenkins.

All-district defensive end Gabe Whittington headlines a group of seven returning starters on defense, all determined to be rare.

“Relentless action, relentless effort. Going out there and being relentless, dominating on the ball and not letting the offense get an inch on the field,” says Pearl River defensive end Gabe Whittington.

“This kid is a coach’s dream. He runs a 4.62. He’s 240 pounds. He squats the whole weight room. So, when he goes to do his workouts, we have to stop because we don’t have enough weights.,” says Collins.

All positive signs for the Rebels in 2022.

Eric Collins has found success everywhere he’s been with 205 career wins.

He plans to restore the winning tradition at Pearl River.

The Rebels will open the 2022 season Friday, September 2nd at Pope John Paul.

The 31st edition of WGNO’s Friday Night Football, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, returns Friday, August 19th.

You can catch all of the action on Friday Nights at 11 p.m. on Nola 38 the CW and again at midnight on WGNO.