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Ex-Raider Mo Collins looks to recharge West Charlotte

By Herb White
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/07/19/08/u0vhb.Em.138.jpeg|209
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    After addressing the media, Mo Collins answer questions from reporters. A former West Charlotte All American football player (and Oakland Raider Super Bowl player and Florida national champion) Collins was named West Charlotte Lions new football coach.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/07/19/08/RTyZh.Em.138.jpeg|277
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    Mo Collins chat with West Charlotte principal John A. Wall, Jr. after Friday’s press conference. Collins was named West Charlotte Lions head football coach.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/07/19/08/ILst6.Em.138.jpeg|224
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    After addressing the media, Mo Collins answer questions from the press. Collins was named West Charlotte Lions new head football coach.

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Mo Collins wants to make West Charlotte High football cool again.

Collins, who was introduced as his alma mater’s head coach on Friday, is tasked with rebuilding a program that went 18-40 the past five seasons, including 0-11 in 2013 under former coach Marcus Surratt. Collins said improvement begins with convincing current and potential players that winning starts with them.

“The talent’s here, but the program being in the state it’s been in, a lot of kids lost interest,” said Collins, 37, an assistant on last year’s squad. “It’s not cool to be a West Charlotte football player, but I had a core group of guys who stuck through the season last season, a core group of guys putting in time in the weight room now. We’re investing the time and they’re seeing the results already.”

Collins, who played six seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, won an NCAA national title at Florida in 1996. His background is an asset for a team looking to contend in the MECKA 8 4A, where Mallard Creek won last year’s 4AA championship and Hough is a rising power.

“Being here last year … to work with the kids, seeing some of the needs in terms of developing kids, it just kind of all worked out,” West Charlotte athletics director Chris Satterfield said. “Had he not been here, I can’t say what direction we would’ve went, but he connected with the kids and the kids responded to him.”

Said Lions sophomore guard/defensive tackle Davion Stephens: “He’s a great person. I feel I can trust him now because I know him as a person, and all the stuff we did last year he’s going to change. We’re lifting now, extra running, everything.”

As important as it is to convince the campus that football is relevant, Collins is recruiting former players and alumni to take a more active role. Getting the once-rabid West Charlotte fan base to return is part of the rebuilding process.

“I’m going to make a (concerted) effort to extend a hand,” he said. “I go to the alumni meetings and see a lot of older alumni, but that gap from the ’90s all the way up to now is (evident). I’m trying to find out what it is going to take to bridge that, because I want them to come back.”

The first order of business, however, is changing the football culture. Collins acknowledged the obstacles on and off the field, but he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m here to let you know we’re going to catch our stride,” he said, “and the mighty West Charlotte Lions will be back.”

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