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story.lead_photo.caption Bud Sullins/Special to the Herald-Leader Sophomore linebacker Cam Collins, No. 5, was a 6A-West All-Conference selection in 2018.

Siloam Springs senior football players Kaiden Thrailkill and Corbin Collins were among the best football players in Class 6A, according to the state's high school coaches.

Thrailkill and Collins both earned Class 6A All-State honors for the 2018 season after helping the Panthers to five regular season wins and a Class 6A playoff berth.

Thrailkill, Collins and seven other Panthers also were 6A-West All-Conference selections as voted on by the conference coaches.

All-State

Thrailkill, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back, earned his second straight all-state honor after rushing for 1,580 yards on 300 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and scoring 19 touchdowns this season.

Though complete statistical records are not currently available, it's probable that Thrailkill's rushing statistics ranks among the best in school history -- if not the best. He had a season-high 257 rushing yards in a 35-32 road win at Van Buren. He also rushed for 238 yards against El Dorado and had more than 100 rushing yards in nine of 11 games.

"He built on what he started last season and came back this year and basically doubled that," said Siloam Springs head coach Brandon Craig. "He's been a kid that's been hungry every day and he's showed up and worked extremely hard."

Thrailkill finished his three-year career with 586 rushes for 2,794 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 28 touchdowns. He also caught 41 passes for 506 yards out of the backfield with four touchdowns, including 13 receptions for 116 yards and a score his senior year.

"He was a kid that was always willing to do what we asked him to do," Craig said. "That's not only sign of a great player but also a sign of a great person. Our team understands he was a big reason for our success. It was exciting."

The Panthers took advantage of Collins' versatility on the offensive line and also used him on the defense line throughout the year.

Collins (6-2, 275) played in all three offensive line spots over the course of his career, including some his senior year, spending most of his time at tackle but also playing guard and center.

"It's hard for people to understand what a kid like Corbin does," Craig said. "He's able to play guard, tackle, center and he can slip over and play defensive tackle. He's very versatile and was able to do what we needed him to do."

By anchoring the offensive line, Collins helped the Panthers average more than 330 yards of offense per game -- 189 rushing yards per game and 144 passing per contest.

Defensively, Collins finished with 16 total tackles, including 10 for loss, in limited action.

"Every time he was in there he had an impact," Craig said. "He was a big leader for us off the field and a kid we'll miss in the program for a lot of reasons, including his versatility and his ability to do multiple things."

All-Conference

Senior linebackers Chase Chandler and Matt Avery, and sophomore linebacker Camden Collins were named 6A-West All-Conference as were senior defensive back Primo Agbehi, senior center Dillon Conn, senior H-back/tight end Spenser Pippin and senior quarterback Landon "L.T." Ellis.

Chandler (5-10, 215), a linebacker, led the Panthers with 116 total tackles, including nine tackles for loss. He also had an interception that was returned for a touchdown against Little Rock Hall.

"He was the leader of our defense," Craig said of Chandler. "Just a kid that every time he got a chance he made an impactful play. He showed up every week and played extremely hard and did everything we asked him to do."

Avery (5-11, 230) helped the Panthers at middle linebacker. He was second on the team with 88 tackles and led with 11 tackles for loss. He also had four quarterback sacks after sitting out his junior year entirely.

"We were very excited to get him back," Craig said. "He brought something special to the program. He brought that spirit and excitement to the team. He loves being a Panther."

Camden Collins (6-1, 165), Corbin Collins' younger brother, began making a name for himself from the start. He worked his way into the starting lineup at outside linebacker and finished third on the team with 73 total tackles. His 11 tackles for loss tied Avery for the team lead and he had four quarterback sacks as well. He also recovered two fumbles, one that he returned for a touchdown against Little Rock Hall, and had three interceptions.

"Cam had a tremendous year for a sophomore," Craig said. "He did unbelievable things for us. He has a tremendous future ahead of him if he keeps working hard and staying healthy. He did a great job for us."

Agbehi (5-9, 170) was another two-way starter for the Panthers, playing defensive back and wide receiver.

Defensively, he led the team with seven pass breakups as the Panthers' top defensive back. He also had an interception and 41 total tackles.

Offensively, Agbehi was a big play threat, catching 18 passes for 473 yards (26.3 yards per catch) and six touchdowns.

"You know as a coach he was going to be your top man-to-man (defense) guy," Craig said. "He has the speed but he worked on technique this summer and got better and really developed into a lockdown corner.

"Then offensively he would flip over and have an impact for us. He's just a kid that has that explosive ability."

Conn was a two-year starter at center on the Panthers' offensive line despite being undersized at 5-11, 193 pounds.

"Dillon was a leader on the field and off the field," Craig said. "He's the kind of kid you want to have in your program year after year after year. You never want to see a kid like that leave. He gave tremendous effort on every play. As a coach you can't ask for more than that."

Camden Collins' emergence on defense helped the Panthers utilize Pippin more on the offensive end.

Pippin began the season playing both ways, but by the end he was mainly on offense at the H-back/tight end spot and finished with a team-high 34 receptions for 353 yards (10.4 yards per carry) and one touchdown.

"There's no doubt he was the best H-back/tight end in our conference," Craig said of Pippin. "He blocked well and caught the ball and was a big factor in the passing game. He gave us a lot of options as a playcaller."

Pippin (6-0, 180) also was the team's deep snapper on punts and the holder on field goals and extra points.

"He's another kid that loved to play football and did everything the coaching staff asked him to do," Craig said.

After a slow start to the season, Ellis finished strong for the Panthers at quarterback, completing 120 of 231 passes for 1,578 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions -- all while coming off of his second ACL tear.

Ellis (5-11, 168) also showed some ability to run the ball, rushing 86 times for 335 yards and five touchdowns.

"L.T. was in a tough spot," Craig said. "A senior quarterback learning a new system and two ACL injuries. That's the toughest spot of anybody with all the pressures and I think he handled it tremendously. He did a great job of learning and if he'd had a second year he would have been even better."

Sports on 12/26/2018

Print Headline: Thrailkill, Collins among best in 6A

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