Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) has won 30 consecutive games and back-to-back 6A state championships. This season, the Packers are one of only four South Georgia teams that make the leap to the newly established AAAAAAA classification. With only three other teams in the 1-AAAAAAA region, Colquitt struggled to fill up its schedule, even though they graduated 25 players who are going on to play college football, including 10 at the Division I level.
“As good as we were at Hoover, I don’t remember having this many problems filling a schedule,” Packers coach Rush Propst said. “We had some local 6A schools who we’ve played in the past and the game would be good financially for both teams, but they wouldn’t play us. A lot of that is because we have won 30 in a row.”
Some of the opponents wound up being maybe a little too familiar to Propst. In the first four weeks of its 2016 schedule, Colquitt plays two of the same teams it met in the 2015 playoffs (Mill Creek and Roswell, the state runner-up).
RELATED: Final 2015 Super 25 Expert rankings
The Packers also will play two teams from Broward County, Fla. The first, American Heritage (Plantation) is an established power. The other, International Broward School (Hollywood), is playing in only its second season.
“We talked to Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and several other national teams (IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla., Miami Central, Miami Northwestern, Byrnes of Duncan, S.C. and Hoover, Ala.) about playing, but it just didn’t work out,” Propst said. “A lot of those teams wanted to wait to play us in 2018. There is a lot of interest in our national schedule the next six or seven years.”
When the Packers begin spring workouts on May 5, they will be looking for a new quarterback and starting running backs.
Senior Jay Saunders saw some action at quarterback last year when Chase Parrish, now at the Naval Academy, was injured. The team’s running backs are young, but talented.
“We have Nigel Hillie (a junior), a 10th grader, Ty Leggett, who’s really talented and another 10th grader who’s good, in Tyran Sheeley, who is Sihiem King’s first cousin,” Propst said. “We’re not as experienced, but I think we’ll be more explosive.”
The team’s biggest strength may be its defensive line, despite its relative inexperience.
“We have five guys who can run,” Propst said. “We have Brian Merritt, a 10th grader who will be, down the line, an SEC-type guy. The rest of them will be something too.”
While Propst says he may be surprised by this year’s team, he’s really looking forward to future seasons.
“We’re not going to be as powerful as we have been for a couple of years,” Propst said. “The 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 are the best four years of players I’ve seen since I began coaching. I’m am hoping we can ride the wave of the wind that we have right now for 2016 and 2017 and those juniors who are sophomores this year mature so we can bridge the gap better.”
|Mill Creek (Hoschton)||Aug. 20||Georgia Dome, Atlanta||5:45||Corky Kell Classic|
|American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)||Aug. 27||Colquitt County||6 p.m.||Part of ESPN Kickoff Classic|
|Tucker||Sept. 2||Colquitt County||7:30 p.m.|
|Roswell||Sept. 9||Roswell||7:30 p.m.|
|Brookwood (Snellville)||Sept. 16||Colquitt County||6 p.m.|
|Valdosta||Sept. 23||Valdosta||6 p.m.|
|International Broward School (Hollywood, Fla.)||Sept. 30||Colquitt County||7:30 p.m.||Homecoming|
|Bye Week||Oct. 7|
|Camden County (Kingsland)||Oct. 14||Colquitt County||7:30 p.m.|
|Tift County (Tifton)||Oct. 21||Tift County||7:30 p.m.|
|Lowndes (Valdosta)||Oct. 28||Colquitt County||6 p.m.|
|State playoffs, first round||Nov. 11||TBD||7:30 p.m.|
All kickoff times are Eastern. Kickoff times and locations are subject to change.