Colquitt County Packers
2012 record: 10-4, lost to Norcross 41-27 in Class AAAAAA semifinals.
Starters returning: 6 offense, 9 defense
Key players lost: QB Cole Segraves, WR Bobby Hill (Ole Miss), OL Octavius Jackson (Florida), DB Johnny Ward (South Florida)
Key players returning: QB Daniel Mobley, WR Todd Boyd, OL Gabe Mobley, DL Jamiyus Pittman, DL Mike Parrish, LB Brandon Key, S Tim Sanders
Spring practice dates: May 7-23
Outlook: Colquitt County has lost to the eventual state champion in the semifinals or final each of the past four seasons. The ’13 team returns 15 players who started at some point last season, so there’s no reason to lower expectations. Colquitt has added Grayson and Hoover (Ala.) to the schedule, making it the strongest in Georgia if not the nation. Colquitt will be ranked in everybody’s top five in the AAAAAA preseason rankings.
8/24 vs. Grayson
8/30 at Hoover (Ala.)*
9/7 vs. Lovejoy
9/13 vs. Carver-Columbus
9/27 at Lowndes
10/4 vs. Tift County
10/18 vs. Brunswick
10/25 vs. Valdosta
11/1 at Coffee
11/8 at Camden County
*Game date uncertain after Colquitt failed to get approval to play Hoover on Labor Day (Sept. 2) because of the GHSA’s rule against two games in the same week.
Colquitt County will be commemorating its 100th year of football this fall. It also will be coach Rush Propst’s 25th season as a head coach. So the Packers apparently decided to celebrate by playing the toughest schedule in creation.
Check this out:
It starts with a scrimmage against defending Class AAAAAA champion Norcross. Next is 2011 champion Grayson in the Georgia Dome at the Corky Kelly Classic season opener.
Then comes Hoover, the Alabama school that became a national power under Propst, now in his sixth season in Moultrie. That would be a road game followed by a return trip to Moultrie by Lovejoy, the 2012 runner-up.
Then there is AAA power Carver-Columbus before the Packers open their Region 1-AAAAAA schedule at Lowndes and finish it at Camden County.
That’s six schools that have won state titles over the past decade (winning 14 state titles among them).
“This is probably as excited as I have been in some time about a football season,’’ said Propst, who cited the Packers’ centennial, his own personal health (nearly two years as a cancer survivor) and the daunting schedule. “We’re playing the toughest schedule in the state of Georgia. I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s a challenging year for everybody with the games of that magnitude on our schedule, but it’s special for me, special for our school. There’s a lot of energy surrounding all that.’’
Colquitt has reached the semifinals or better each of the past four seasons, losing to four eventual state champions. Propst has the personnel to make another run at the title.
With spring practice coming next month, there are two major areas to address.
One is the coaching staff. Propst lost both of his coordinators – Jeff Hammond on offense to Foley (Ala.) and Travis Pearson on defense to the University of South Alabama. Propst promoted offensive line and strength coach Shawn Sutton as offensive coordinator and safeties coach Tracy Bukhannon as defensive coordinator.
Sutton had worked with Propst back in the days at Hoover. Buckhannon worked under Pearson as defensive coordinator when Pearson was a head coach in Alabama. Propst still has three or four hires to make.
The other issue is the offensive line. Center Gabe Mobley is an all-state candidate, and Cade Blackburn started three games in 2012, but the Packers must find three other lineman among a cast without little experience. Colquitt’s offensive line has been perhaps the most underrated aspect of the program’s recent success as there have been five Division I signees since 2009, and Mobley would make six.
The quarterback will be rising senior Daniel Mobley. He started three games in 2012 and had beaten out a pretty good incumbent in Cole Segraves (2,230 yards passing in 2013), but Mobley was injured late in the regular season and Segraves got hot.
But Propst remarkably high praise for a rising senior with only three starts. Mobley was 68-of-103 passing for 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
‘’I’ve had a lot of good quarterbacks [including John Parker Wilson, who is in the NFL], but I wouldn’t trade any of them for Daniel Mobley,’’ Propst said. “He just has the it factor. He has a tremendous ability to throw with high accuracy, and he’s a winner.’’
Colquitt will graduate receiver Bobby Hill (84 catches, 1,115 yards), but three who are returning caught 25 or more balls including Todd Boyd (46-839).
Nine are back on defense. Mike Parrish and Jamiyus Pittman (offers from Florida, Ole Miss) are as good a pair of defensive lineman in the state. Propst considers safety Tim Sanders, linebacker Brandon Key and cornerback Quan Patillo potential D-1 recruits.
Colquitt County set a record last year with a fourth straight semifinal appearance in the highest class. No school has made five straight.
“We’ve stirred the pot every year,’’ Propst said. “We would like to tip it over one time.’’