At first it seemed inconceivable. How could Colquitt County, the reigning USA TODAY Super 25 runners up, go from winning 30 consecutive games to not being ranked in the initial Super 25? How could a Rush Propst-coached team be unworthy of the benefit of the doubt before a season even begins?
Apparently the USA TODAY experts were on to something.
In an almost unprecedented fall, the Packers, two-time defending Georgia state champions, have started the 2016 season at 0-4. They fell to Mill Creek in the annual Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome by a score of 34-27. A week later, the Florida-Georgia battle between Colquitt and American Heritage of Plantation tipped the Florida squad’s way, 17-14. A game at Tucker followed, with a final score of 21-20 relegating the Packers to 0-3.
That’s when the bottom fell out. In the season’s forth game, Propst’s charges were comprehensively blown out, 34-3, at the hands of a talented Roswell squad, which is currently ranked No. 8 in the Super 25.
Taken in isolation, each loss is justifiable, or at least understandable. As chronicled by the Moultrie Observer, the first three losses were all within a possession, with a young team consistently making mistakes in different phases of the game. Against American Heritage, Colquitt missed three field goals. Against Tucker, Colquitt actually led at halftime before capitulating in the second half and falling by a point. Roswell is one of the nation’s best teams, and the difference in both talent and experience between the two squads showed.
Yet this is still a stunning turn of events for Propst. He has never started 0-4 before, dating back to 1999 when he took over at Hoover High in Alabama. He started 1-3 at Colquitt in 2010, then led his team to the Class AAAAA state finals, where the Packers fell to Brookwood. For now, Propst is sticking to a similar script, insisting that the 2016 campaign is far from over and that his charges have plenty of reason for optimism, even if Friday’s game against 2-1 Brookwood promising to be yet another challenge for a young Packers team, albeit one that the coach is now calling a “must-win.”
“We’ve played very young at times, and made some very young mistakes,” Propst told the Observer. “And you are playing teams that are very, very good. They have a lot of incentive to beat you because you’ve beaten them.
“I don’t like to call anything must-win, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable coming in here Sunday after being 0-5 and getting ready to play Valdosta in Valdosta. … We shouldn’t be giving up those big plays. I like our plan. I like our kids’ attitude. Will that translate into a win? I hope so.”
If not, one of the most stunning turns of fate in the modern Super 25 era could continue on into more uncharted territory.