A few short miles from Lawrence High School is John F. Kennedy International Airport. Numerous flights take off every hour very close to the Cedarhurst school.
Another kind of entity took flight on the green turf field of Lawrence yesterday. The Golden Tornadoes’ Chris Collier rushed 19 times for 290 yards and scored five touchdowns on runs of 37, 11, 64, 77 and 6 yards as Lawrence defeated Division, 48-22, in Nassau III.
So how fast is Collier?
“We didn’t put a clock on him, so I don’t know,” Lawrence coach Joe Martillotti said. “But I do know when you don’t get caught from behind, you’re fast.”
Fair enough. As much as a scrappy Division team tried, they rarely were able to corral the speedy running back.
“We have an exceptional line,” said Collier, who was moved to running back after playing wide receiver last season. “Our wide receivers held their blocks on the outside, which made my job easier.”
Nothing looked easy for Lawrence (2-0) in the first quarter. Its first three possessions ended in a turnover and back-to-back punts. However, the Golden Tornadoes got into a rhythm and scored on seven of their final 10 possessions.
“Division is a good team,” Lawrence quarterback Akym Land said. “Luckily, we were able to get going.”
Collier scored twice in the second quarter as Lawrence led 14-8 at the half. The 6-foot, 185-pounder then scored on the second play of the second half from 64 yards out and a kick from Kevin Rodriguez, who made 6 of 7 PATs on the day, made it 21-8.
Division, as it did all afternoon, battled. Blue Dragons quarterback Vinny Inciarrano ran in from 18 yards as Division (1-1) trailed, 21-15, with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
But Land and Lawrence responded. Land hit talented sophomore Jordan Alexander with a 27-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter and a 16-yard scoring strike on the first play of the fourth quarter and the lead was 35-15.
Inciarrano, who was 12 of 25 passing for 111 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, punched it in from 2 yards with 9:51 remaining as Division pulled to within 35-22.
But Collier ended any Blue Dragons’ comeback thoughts with his final two touchdowns of 77 and 6 yards.
“Division is always big, strong and well-coached,” Martillotti said. “Even last year was a tough game. Our athleticism has been the difference.”
That athleticism certainly was on display yesterday. Land was 9 of 15 for 94 yards and two scores. Sophomore Christian Fredericks added nine carries for 97 yards. Christian Rodas had nine tackles and Najier Gillespie added seven tackles, including a sack in the win.
“We can’t be taking teams lightly,” Collier said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Collier realized he had room for improvement last spring, so he started competing in outdoor track.
“I wanted to help pick up my speed,” said Collier, who did the 100, 200, long jump and pole vault. “Coach McQuillan helped me a lot.”
Bud McQuillan had a great view of Collier’s performance. He was part of the chain gang on the Division sideline.
“He’ll do anything you ask,” McQuillan said, “and he’s a great athlete.”
Another talented Lawrence player taking flight.