MOULTRIE – The Colquitt County football team will play seven of its 10 games next season on the new turf and under the new lights on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium. The schedule includes two defending state champions.
The Packers will open on the road against defending Class 7A champion Marietta on Aug. 21. Two weeks later they will play host to Cedar Grove, which won the Class 3A state championship the last two seasons.
Colquitt’s only other road games will be at Northside in McConnell-Talbert Stadium on Sept. 25 and at Region 1-7A Tift County on Oct. 30 in the regular-season finale.
Colquitt will be facing two opponents for the first time. In addition to Cedar Grove, the Packers will welcome Heritage High of Conyers. The Patriots will visit on Sept. 18.
Also on the schedule are Westlake from Atlanta at home on Aug. 28; Valdosta at home on Sept. 11; and Alcovy, the Homecoming opponent for the third year in a row, on Oct. 9.
The final three games of the regular season will be against Region 1-7A opponents: Camden County at home on Oct. 16; Lowndes at home on Oct. 23; and Tift County.
The Packers will be off on Oct. 2 and on Nov. 6. The playoffs will begin on Nov. 13.
Westlake, Cedar Gove, Heritage and Alcovy are contracted to come to Moultrie both this season and next, meaning the Packers have seven home games again in 2021 when they will travel only to Valdosta, Camden County and Lowndes.
While not as daunting as last year’s schedule, the 2020 slate is plenty competitive with Marietta, Cedar Grove, Valdosta, Camden County and Lowndes expected to be strong again. Westlake is the defending Region 2-7A champion. Northside had its first sub.500 season since 1991, but the Eagles won a state championship as recently as 2014, its third since 2006.
Justin Rogers, who will start his second season as the Packers head coach this fall, said he is pleased his team does not have to play nine games in a row as it did in 2019 and likes “the flow” of this year’s schedule.
The Packers have to replace eight starters on offense and either five or six on defense from the team that went 9-3 last fall.
The new starters will get a quick baptism under fire.
“You’re always going to have a competitive schedule here, but with the top part of this schedule, we will be extremely tested,” Rogers said of the first four games. “The first part of the season will be so important for us.”
Marietta (14-2), Westlake (6-5), Cedar Grove (13-2) and Valdosta (10-3) went a combined 53-12 with two state championships, two region championships and two region runner-up finishes among them.
And although Marietta’s graduation losses include quarterback Harrison Bailey to Tennessee and Player of the Year tight end Arik Gilbert to LSU, the Blue Devils are expected to be a contender again.
Class 3A champion Cedar Grove will bring “lots of speed” to Moultrie, Rogers said, and while Valdosta does not currently have a head coach after the recent controversial dismissal of Alan Rodemaker, that game usually is competitive.
So, after the first four games, “We’ll have some answers,” Rogers said. “They might not be the answers we want. But then we can address them.”
The Packers will then play Heritage (5-6 in 2019), Northside (3-7) and Alcovy (2-8) before the final three games against Camden County, Lowndes and Tift County.
“We’re not going to go into the region with a false sense of security,” Rogers said.
Lowndes and Camden County should compete with Colquitt for the Region 1-7A title again.
The Vikings went 14-1 last year, losing the state championship game to Marietta. They defeated the Packers 28-17 in the regular-season finale.
Since the state championship game, longtime Vikings coach Randy McPherson retired and has been replaced by Jamey DeBose, who came from Central of Phenix City, Ala., where he had a 66-11 record. DuBose has won three state championships.
Camden County went 8-3 in 2019. The Wildcats, who lost to the Packers 34-17 in Kingsland, also were ousted by Marietta in the playoffs.
“They were a young team last year and they will be returning a ton,” Rogers said of the Wildcats.
Tift County went 3-7, lost all three region games and did not make the playoffs last fall. Colquitt defeated the Blue Devils 49-7.
Rogers said he is pleased with the Packers off-season work.
“They are working their tails off,” he said.
Spring practice will begin on April 29 and will conclude with a home spring game against Cairo on Friday, May 15.
The game will give the fans their first chance to see Colquitt County play on the recently installed turf and under the new LED lights at the 66-year-old home of the Packers.
Cairo was 8-3 last season.
Colquitt County will play its preseason scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 7, at Lee County.
The Trojans were 11-2 last season after winning back-to-back Class 6A state championships.
8-21 at Marietta
8-28 Westlake H
9-4 Cedar Grove H
9-11 Valdosta H
9-18 Heritage H
9-25 at Northside-WR
10-9 Alcovy H
10-16 Camden Co. H
10-23 Lowndes H
10-30 at Tift Co.