MOULTRIE — Joey Bennett was a member of two Hoover (Ala.) High state championship football teams and, still a young man himself, is helping pass his knowledge of Rush Propst’s offense to Colquitt County’s linemen.

Bennett, who also worked with the offensive line at Hoover, in the only coach Propst hired from his Bucs staff. He is teaming with veteran Kevin Giddens in giving the Packers two veterans in helping the linemen make a somewhat difficult transition this season.

Propst made it plain he needed Bennett on his staff and Giddens has said what a valuable addition the young coach has been.

And Bennett sounds if he could not be happier.

“When I came in the spring, I met the kids and met Mr. (Bobby) Cobb and saw how passionate he is,” Bennett said. “A lot of things had to fall in place, but the people here were a big selling point.”

Bennett is a community coach while he finishes work on his degree. And there is little doubt but that he will be on board as a teacher and full-time coach once he graduates.

A native of Hoover, Bennett began playing football as a seventh-grader and began playing for Propst as freshman. He was the center on the Bucs teams that won state championships in 2000 and 2002 and was the state runners-up in 2001.

Although an outstanding player, he was not tall enough to be recruited as an offensive linemen, but was able to go to Alabama as a preferred walk-on.

“I had always wanted to play at Alabama,” he said.

But when his mother became seriously ill, he was forced to quit Alabama and return home.

In 2004, he went to a Hoover spring football practice and talked with Matt Moore, his former offensive line coach.

Hoover hired him to help coach the offensive line, enabling him to get that experience while also attending college.

By 2007, Bennett has become the Bucs offensive line coach.

Coaching is something he obviously enjoys.

“I’ve always had a passion for football,” Bennett said. “I really feel like this is the right path for me.

“We work all the live-long day. But I enjoy it.”

And Bennett gives the Packers some other additional benefits.

“I’ve played in this offense,” he said. “That gives me a leg up. I’ve taken some live bullets in it.

“And being younger, I can relate to the kids. I’m not that much older than the guys I’m coaching.”

Bennett and Giddens give the Packers a strong tandem.

Giddens is a veteran, having been the offensive line coach when the Packers won the state championship in 1994. He also was the head coach at Coffee from 1998-2000.

“We have good chemistry,” Bennett said. “I feel comfortable with him.

“And I know he’d take a bullet for me and he doesn’t even know me that well.

He says he is “big believer” in the Propst offense.

“I just believe it gives you a lot of options,” he said, adding that the offense has remained basically the same over the last nine seasons

“But you tweak it. It’s evolved as it’s gone along.”

The Packers offensive line has just two seniors, center Weston Gittens and guard R.J. Taylor. Colquitt starts sophomores Garrett Brewer and Trey Rhymes at the tackle spots and a junior — Chris Walsh — at the other guard.

Freshman Bryce Giddens will continue to get significant playing time at guard and center in what is a young, emerging unit.

The group is expected to have its hands full tonight against a smallish, but quick, Thomasville defensive front.

But Bennett likes what he has seen of the group so far,

“We ask a lot of our kids,” Bennett said. “But they are buying in. They are trying to learn as quick as they can.”

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