Photo by Hays Collins

By Robert Wilson

​Toby Collums made history this past football season when he led Northwest Rankin to a second-round playoff victory for the first time since the school opened in 1981. 

​Now Collums will get to try to make history at another Metro Jackson Class 6A school.

​Collums has been named the athletic director and head football coach at Madison Central, Madison Central principal Sean Brewerconfirmed Thursday pending board approval March 1. Collums replaces Anthony Hart, who announced his retirement after being at Madison Central for the last five seasons.

​“We are excited to welcome Coach Collums and his family to the Jaguar family,” Brewer said. “Coach Collums brings a record of success on the football field and 10 years of experience in athletic administration. Most importantly, Coach Collums is a man of character and has led his programs to have success both on and off the field. We are all excited to begin this new chapter of Jaguar athletics with Coach Collums as we continue to strive for continued success in all of our athletic programs.”

​“Toby did a great job for us, but the Madison offer was too good to pass up,” Northwest Rankin principal Ben Stein said. “Toby is a great people person, AD, a community man and a football coach. We are going to miss him.” 

Collums led the Cougars to a 9-4 record this season, winning six more games than last year’s team.  He was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Coach of the Year.

Collums has a 77-42 career record in 10 seasons as a head coach, 31-14 in four seasons at Itawamba AHS and 46-28 in six seasons at Northwest Rankin. He has had nine winning seasons out of 10. 

Photo by Hays Collins

Collums was a running back at Smithville High and Itawamba Community College and played strong safety for Mississippi College. He won the Class 1A state title as a senior at Smithville in 1993 and was a runner-up for the state junior college title at Itawamba. As a junior at MC, Collums helped the Choctaws to a conference championship.

​​After one year as a graduate assistant at MC, Collums was a wide receiver coach at Wayne County for one season, four years at Amory as offensive coordinator, one year at Louisville as defensive coordinator and five years at Wayne County as offensive coordinator before getting his first head coaching position at Itawamba AHS.

​​ Collums put together quite a turnaround at Northwest Rankin this past year. He had 12 returning starters from last year’s team, which finished 3-8, Collum’s first losing season since he took over for Tyler Peterson in 2015. Collums wasn’t able to have spring practice because of the pandemic and summer workouts were limited. Then on the first week of practice in August, linebacker coach Kelby Bowman passed away. Bowman, 43, was in his second season at Northwest Rankin. The players wore patches with his initials KB on their helmets and the coaches had KB on their headsets as a tribute to Bowman during the season.

​​Northwest Rankin led Madison Central 7-3 at halftime in the season opener before losing 31-20. Only 6A state runner-up Oxford scored more points than Northwest Rankin against Madison Central last season. Northwest Rankin bounced back to beat Clinton 28-21 to start a seven-game winning streak before losing to Brandon and eventual Class 6A state champion Oak Grove to finish the regular season. Then Northwest Rankin bounced back with a 17-14 victory over Ocean Springs in the first round the 6A playoffs. Then came the chance for history where many Northwest Rankin teams in the past couldn’t get over, a second-round playoff victory. The Cougars had to travel on the Gulf Coast and face d’Iberville and 6A Player of the Year, senior wide receiver Justin Walley. Northwest Rankin scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 29-28 victory. After scoring a touchdown with about a minute to go, Collums went for the win and Parten connected with Jordan Cavitt for the winning two-point conversion.

Northwest Rankin quarterback Caleb Parten speaks highly of Collums.

Photo by Chris Todd

​​“Coach Collums is more than just a great coach, he’s a great man,” Parten said. “He made me such a better football player. The way he knows the game is absolutely crazy. He got me to where I actually know the game. Our whole team loved him because he had a bond with every single one of the players. He cares about our football career, but he also cares about our lives outside of football. He’s the greatest coach in the state. He’s more than a coach to me. I love that man.” 

​​Collums takes over one of the most successful Class 6A football programs in the state. Hart, who has been named head coach at Brookhaven Academy, had a 48-18-1 record in his five seasons at Madison Central. The Jaguars finished 7-4 and lost at eventual Class 6A state runner-up Oxford 25-23 in the first round of the playoffs. Madison Central lost its four games by a total of 18 points. Collums is expected to have 13 returning starters, including three players who made the Priority One Bank/Mississippi All Metro Jackson teams. Senior-to-be tight end Blake Gunter made the first team and senior-to-be defensive lineman C.J. Barney and senior-to-be defensive back B.J. Washington made the second team.

​Madison Central won 56 games in the past six seasons, only Oak Grove (57) and Starkville (61) won games in Class 6A.