MOULTRIE – Colquitt County’s Dextra Polite has earned a well-deserved reputation for developing outstanding secondary players during his 20-plus years on the staff at his alma mater.
One reason for his success is his focus on ensuring the Packers secondary not only features outstanding starters, but has competent backup players as well.
While he continues to impart his vast knowledge and enthusiasm to his frontline players, he makes certain he does not overlook the guys that he might have to thrust into the game at a key juncture and who could become starters themselves in future seasons.
One of Colquitt County’s strengths this season is expected to be its all-senior starting defensive backfield of corners T.J. Spradley and Omar Daniels and safeties Jaheim Ward and Traveon Tuff.
They were solid when the Packers went 9-3 last season and are expected to create difficulties for opposing quarterbacks and receivers this season.
But Spradley and Daniels were held out of the Saturday’s first day of padded practice, which gave Polite a chance to give three relatively inexperienced rising juniors some extended reps.
Polite said he likes the future of Myquaries Andrews, Tylan Brice and Ny Edwards.
“Those guys are doing a great job,” Polite said. “We’ve given them a ton of work and they learning what I want.
“I believe in having those guys ready. They are always just one play away from having to go in there and I won’t be afraid to send them in.”
Polite said Spradley and Daniels will be back on the field soon.
Spradley had two interceptions for the Packers last year. Daniels got one when he stepped in front of a Warner Robins receiver in the end zone during Colquitt’s 31-14 victory on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium and returned the pick 61 yards.
That game against the Demons also featured a play in which Tuff suffered a broken leg that kept him out for the remainder of the season.
But Tuff has put the injury in his rearview mirror.
“He’s back like he never even had the injury,” Polite said. “He goes full speed all the time, 24/7.”
Ward has been moved from corner to safety this year. He is carrying on the tradition as the third Ward to wear jersey No. 4 in recent years and play smothering defense in the Packers secondary.
“And he’s become a leader for us back there,” Polite said of Ward, who had one interception last year.
If the Packers were pleased to finally put on full gear to get ready for their Aug. 21 scrimmage at Lee County and Sept. 4 season-opener at Marietta, their enthusiasm could not match that of their irrepressible position coach.
From the moment the team took the field for the first time just after 9 a.m. Saturday, Polite was chirping, cajoling, correcting and challenging his players.
With no spring practice and a restricted summer program, it had been far too long since the former Packer and Clemson Tiger corner had been on a football field.
“I couldn’t even sleep last night,” he said following the two-hour practice. “I was awake at 3 and 4 in the morning. I just couldn’t wait to get out there.”
And when he did, his exuberance was on full display. It is a style he learned from Jimmy Francis, his position coach when he was a member of Colquitt County’s 1994 undefeated state championship team.
“When the coaches are high, the players are high,” he said.