MOULTRIE -- Since Moultrie High and Valdosta squared off twice in 1913, the first year of high school football in Colquitt County, the Wildcats could be considered the Packers oldest rival.

But Moultrie and Thomasville met for the first time the following year and have met 59 times over the years.

The Bulldogs and Packers have not played since 1995, however, and resuming the series is being anticipated by both communities.

The two schools, just 25 miles apart, will face off at 8 p.m. Friday at Mack Tharpe Stadium.

Both teams are 3-1, both have won two games in a row and both have lost only to Thomas County Central.

Thomasville opened with a 24-7 victory over Cairo, then lost to the Yellow Jackets via penetration in overtime 29-28.

In their last two games, the Bulldogs have rolled over Bainbridge 35-7 and Dooly County 44-0.

And while Thomasville plays in Class AAA, Packers coach Mike Singletary sounded particularly wary of coach Tommy Welch's Bulldogs.

"In my opinion, they are probably the best team we'll have played," Singletary said Monday. "They have more weapons than Central.

"They are so quick. They are far and away the fastest and quickest team we've faced so far."

Thomas County Central exploited the Bulldogs for more than 300 yards rushing, but otherwise the Bulldogs have been tough to move the ball against and have given up just seven points in their last two games.

The Packers, too, have rebounded since losing to Central, shutting out Dougherty 31-0 and beating Cairo 26-14 last Friday.

Friday's game will be the last non-region matchup for the Packers, who will be off on Oct. 11 before traveling to Lowndes on Oct. 18 for their Region 1-AAAAA opener.

A victory over the Bulldogs would give the Packers some impetus going into the region part of their schedule and would help make up a deficit in their longstanding series with Thomasville.

Thomasville holds a 32-24-3 advantage in the series and 19 of those victories came between 1971 and 1995, when the two teams last played.

In fact, from 1973-1989, the Packers went 17 straight games against the Bulldogs without a victory.

Jim Hughes, when he was Thomasville's head coach, beat the Packers each year from 1973-1982.

Hughes moved to Colquitt County in 1983 and lost 7-6 in his first meeting against his former team before the two schools played back-to-back 7-7 ties in 1984 and 1985.

The Bulldogs won four more in a row from 1986-1989 before the Packers finally ended the long drought with a 15-14 victory in 1990.

Colquitt won five of six before the series was discontinued in 1995.

Thomasville has gone 46-22 over the last six years. From 1996-1999, the Bulldogs were 32-14 under Jack Johnson.

Welch, the former head coach at Armuchee, went 6-5 in 2000 and 8-3 last year. Welch also was an assistant at Thomasville under both Mike Hodges and George Bobo before going to Armuchee in 1993.

The team he faces in his first trip to Moultrie appears to be improving as the season progresses.

The Packers opened with a 16-0 victory over Bainbridge, but then lost at Thomas County Central 14-7.

Colquitt bounced back with its second shutout, 31-0 over Dougherty and then last Friday's victory at Cairo.

"I'm just tickled with the effort we're getting out of our kids," Singletary said. "And I'm tickled with the way I see us getting better."

Singletary was especially pleased with the play of the secondary against Cairo. The Packers had three interceptions, including two by sophomore Byron Jordan, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

A first quarter pick by Dantrell Hunt lead to a Brian Knighton touchdown.

"I was really, really pleased with our secondary," Singletary said. "Most of (Cairo's) catches were on our linebackers. Byron did a good job, 18 (Hunt) did a good job and Hilton (Brinson) and Anthony (Ferrer) came over and helped."

But there is still room for improvement said Singletary, who, like Welch, took over as head coach at his school in 2000.

There was little pass rush for most of the game, although defensive tackle Walter Grier





came up with a pair of fourth-quarter sacks, and the Packers were unable to run the buck sweep. For the second straight game, the Packers struggled in converting extra points.

"We are going to continue to work on it," Singletary said. "We were only 1-for-3 on 2-point plays and that's not good either."

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