By Wayne Grandy
MOULTRIE – Colquitt County’s Justin Rogers has completed his staff for the 2021 football season and it includes six assistants who have served as head coaches.
Three – Alan Rodemaker, Joe Thornton and Buck Hanson – return from the Packers’ staff that led the team to a 9-1 record last year.
This spring, Rogers had added Byron Slack, Bill Shaver and Ashley Anders to the fold.
The six represent 34 seasons of head-coaching expertise.
And two of the three who have been added most recently have squared off against Colquitt County in recent years.
Anders was the head coach at Tift County the last six seasons before resigning last fall and being replaced in January by Noel Dean.
While in Tifton, Anders went 35-31 and led the Blue Devils to the state quarterfinals in 2017 and 2018.
The Arkansas native had served as the defensive coordinator at Murray State, Georgia Southern, Valdosta State and Holmes Community College before joining John Reid’s staff at Tift County in 2013.
He was named head coach in 2015 after Reid left to take over at Rome.
Anders will be the co-defensive coordinator and will handle Colquitt County’s special teams and inside linebackers this fall.
Shaver was the head coach at Thomas County Central from 2008-2017, posting a 74-40 record after succeeding Ed Pilcher and winning region championships in 2009 and 2016.
His Yellow Jackets teams faced Colquitt County three times, winning 35-29 in 2010 and losing the next two seasons before the two rivals ended their long-running series.
Shaver, who has retired from teaching, will be the ninth-grade offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
In talking about Shaver, Rogers smiled and said that no, the Packers will not start running the split-back veer offense that Thomas County Central ran so successfully for so many years.
“He is a football guy,” Rogers said of Shaver. “He is so experienced and knowledgeable.
“He’s retired, but he wanted a place to coach at a high level.”
In February, Rogers announced that Slack had been added to the staff as assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
Slack, an assistant for 13 years at Camden County and three at Lowndes, was the head coach at Hillgrove last year, posting a 4-5 record.
Rodemaker was the head coach at Peach County and Valdosta for six seasons before his controversial release by the Wildcats after the 2019 season.
He has a career head coaching record of 51-25 and led Valdosta to a state championship in 2016.
Thornton and Hanson both served as head coaches in Alabama.
“That’s a lot of experience,” Rogers said.
Another recently named assistant will be familiar to Packers fans.
John Cooper, who worked at Colquitt County from 2012-2015, is returning to coach the wide receivers.
Cooper had coached seven seasons at Worth County before coming to Moultrie in 2012 as a ninth-grade assistant. He coached the varsity inside receivers from 2013-2015.
After helping lead the Packers to back-to-back 15-0 records and state championships in 2014 and 2015, he left to join Sean Calhoun’s staff at Carrollton.
While Cooper was on staff at Carrollton the last five seasons, the Trojans went 51-12 and won two region titles.
When Calhoun left Carrollton in January to become the head coach at Vestavia Hills in Alabama, Cooper decided to return to South Georgia. He is a 1999 graduate of Worth County.
The Packers have lost four members of the 2020 varsity and ninth-grade staffs.
Chad Nighbert, who was the team’s co-defensive coordinator, was named recently as the defensive coordinator at Brookwood in Snellville.
Greg Carswell, the defensive line coach, is heading to Cordele to become the defensive coordinator at Crisp County.
Joining Carswell at Crisp County is former Colquitt County football player and ninth-grade coach DeRyan Arnold.
Colquitt also lost receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Josh Crawford, who left to become the outside receivers coach at Western Kentucky University.
The Colquitt County offensive staff now includes Thornton, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks; Hanson, offensive line; Dave Windon, running backs; Cooper, receivers; Kirbie Bodiford, tight ends; and David Hill, receivers.
The defensive staff includes, Slack, assistant head coach and defensive line; Anders, co-defensive coordinator, inside linebackers, special teams; 2020 ninth-grade defensive coordinator Chad Wheeler, outside linebackers; Rodemaker, defensive coordinator and safeties; and Dextra Polite, cornerbacks.
Kirk Woodall is back as the ninth-grade head coach.
His staff includes Shaver, who will work with the quarterbacks and serve as offensive coordinator; Cory Harper, wide receivers; Trey Perkins, offensive line; and newcomer Eric Rand, formerly of Oak Leaf High in Orange Park, Fla., linebackers.
The Colquitt County football staff also includes Zack Stanaland, strength and conditioning; Ryan Kebler, athletic trainer; Earl Jefferson, director of football operations; and Greg Hall, videography.
Spring football for the rising ninth-graders will begin on Monday, April 26.
Varsity spring football will begin on Wednesday, May 5.