Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

November 13, 2012

McEachern defense expected to be formidable

MOULTRIE —  When discussing the McEachern defense his team will face on Friday in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, Colquitt County offensive coordinator Jeff Hammond had this observation.

“They are fast and they are very, very good,” Hammond said. “They are going to try to out-athlete you.

“They are very similar to Camden.”

And while the Packers were able to shock the Wildcats with a 13-12 victory that included 170 yards of offense in the fourth quarter, the Packers surely would rather not have to face a similar defense so soon.

And while obviously not disparaging the Packers defense, Hammond said he does not expect another low scoring affair.

“McEachern is going to move the football,” he said. “We are going to have to go out and score some points.”

The Region 4 champion Indians will take an eight-game winning streak into Friday’s 8 p.m. game against the Packers at Cantrell Stadium in Powder Springs.

McEachern has an explosive offense and got 222 rushing yards and four touchdowns from Ty Griffin in last Friday’s 33-30 victory over Hillgrove.

And although the Indians are giving up nearly 24 points a game, many of those came early in the season and others were posted after McEachern grabbed big leads.

“We expect them to do what they do,” Hammond said.

But the Indians defense must be concerned with the Packers ability to use quarterback Cole Segraves to successfully rush the football.

Segraves carried the football 18 times out of the Packers shotgun and gained 170 yards, including 70 for Colquitt County’s first touchdown.

He also bulldozed 11 yards to a first down inside the Camden County 5-yard line to set with John Boatwright’s game-winning touchdown.

It was not necessarily the Packers plan to run Segraves down the throat of the Camden defense.

“Like anything else, we go in with a couple of different plans,” Hammond said. “We just kept going to it and they never adjusted.”

Hammond gave much of the credit for offense’s fourth-quarter success to the fine work of the line, including center Dalton Dillon, guards Jeffery Davis and Travis Register and tackles Octavius Jackson and Gabe Mobley.

Segraves also hit several clutch passes in the final drive, hitting Bobby Hill for a third down conversion and getting the ball to Sihiem King for another first down.

“Our kids just never doubted,” Hammond said.

The Packers offense has  been “right on the cusp of being really good” for several weeks, Hammond said.

After falling 17-14 to Lowndes, the Packers pounded Tift County 49-7 and rolled up big yardage in the 44-26.

The offense slumbered early in the loss to Valdosta, but has been in sync the last two weeks in victories over Coffee and Camden County.

“Since Tift County, we’ve been putting up points,” Hammond said. “We’ve just got to take better care of the football.”

The Packers are minus-six in the turnover ratio.

Over the last three years, during which Colquitt County has played more post-season games than another othe school in the state, the offense has performed well late.

“I think we’ll be OK down the stretch,” Hammond said. “This is when our experience matches our talent.”

And while the Packers head into the stretch run as the No. 4 seed from Region 1 and facing as many as five games away from Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium, Hammond points out that the Packers are three plays from being 10-0.

“We could very, very easily be undefeated,” he said. “But this is the situation we have put ourselves in.

“But one thing is how well our fan base travels.”

Playing a schedule that includes seven playoff teams — eight if scrimmage opponent Norcross is counted — should help the team down the stretch, Hammond said.

“We are battle-tested,” Hammond said. “We know how to go out and fight.”

Hammond said Segraves will get his third straight start when the Packers face McEachern on Friday.

He has led the Packers to the wins over Coffee and Camden County and started four playoff games last year.

“We want to see if he can put together a stretch run like he did last year,” Hammond said. “You take away those drops against Valdosta and he has played really well.

“He’s overcome a lot this year. But he’s relaxing and his hard work is paying off. He’s become the player we expected him to be.”

His ability to both throw the football and run it efficiently allows the Packers to be more multiple, Hammond said.

Daniel Mobley, who led the Packers to victories over Tift County and Brunswick, will be available to play.

The junior quarterback is battling a sore shoulder.

“He’s been limited in practice,” Hammond said.

“But he definitely can play if needed.”


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