MOULTRIE – It came at the 11th hour, but the Colquitt County football program finally was able to schedule a scrimmage against another school before the 2019 season kicks off.
The Packers did not have a scrimmage scheduled when Justin Rogers took over as head from Rush Propst in May and efforts to secure a game had been fruitless until Thursday when a contract was signed for a game against Columbia (Fla.) High School on Friday, Aug. 16, in Lake City.
The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Lake City is just off I-75, a little over 100 miles from Moultrie and will take about two hours to drive there.
Rogers said he thought it was imperative for his first Colquitt County team to have a game under its belt before the Aug. 24 season-opener against North Gwinnett in the Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“This is a God-send,” Rogers said. “They say you improve the most between the first and second games.
This will allow us to make some mistakes and go back and correct them. We’ll also be able to see who plays well under the lights.”
And not only was Rogers able to secure an opponent, but also got one that should challenge the Packers, who are coming off a 14-1 record and a trip to the state championship game last year.
The Tigers were 10-2 last season and are 73-23 since head coach Brian Allen took over at his alma mater in 2011.
“This is someone who will challenge us,” Rogers said. “It’s a team that will help us answer some questions. I am very, very happy.”
Allen was an outstanding linebacker and an honor student at Columbia High before going to start at Florida State. He was drafted by St. Louis in 2001 and played in three games for the Rams.
He was then taken by the Houston Texans in the 2002 expansion draft, but was released and signed the Carolina Panthers, for whom he played, mostly on special teams, through 2003. He signed with the Washington Redskins in 2005, but retired after suffering a knee injury.
His Columbia High teams have not had a losing record since he took over in 2011. The Tigers, who will wear purple-and-gold uniforms, had their best season under Allen in 2015 when they went 12-2.
The scrimmage game between the two schools nearly did not happen.
Columbia only had an opening for a scrimmage when it was forced to move an opponent from that date to a date in the regular season.
And the Packers will have to go to Lake City because the Florida High School Athletic Association does not allow member schools to play scrimmage games out of state.
Rogers said he will have a staff meeting today to set the schedule for the team as it heads into the season-opener.
The Packers will continue what the Georgia High School Association calls “acclimation” practices on Monday through Wednesday before full padded practices commence on Thursday.
He said the full contact practices will help his team break some bad habits picked up during summer work.
Rogers also is looking forward to the start of school on Monday, Aug. 5, so his team can get into what will be its routine for much of the rest of the season.
He also said the annual Meet the Packers dinner will be held on Thursday, Aug. 15, the night before the team travels to Lake City.