MOULTRIE – Several days before Colquitt County was to play Valdosta last Friday, Packers’ co-defensive coordinator Alan Rodemaker, the Wildcats former head coach, was approached for an interview.
Rodemaker respectfully declined, alluding to a difficult week and saying he would comment following the game.
Rodemaker was more forthcoming - but took the high road - on Friday after the Packers defeated the Wildcats 24-10 on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium in a game in which his defense was particularly dominant.
Colquitt held the Wildcats, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, to just 50 yards passing, 54 yards rushing and five first downs in the second half as the Packers rallied from a 7-7 halftime tie to get the victory.
The Packers also forced Valdosta to punt nine times, blocking two of them.
It was a performance that had to be gratifying for Rodemaker, who was dismissed as the Valdosta head coach last January after four seasons, including 2016, in which he won the Class 6A state championship.
“It was,” said Rodemaker, who has said he had “no inkling” that he was to be let go last winter, especially after leading the team to a 10-3 record.
He has filed a lawsuit in the matter and did not comment further on that, other than to say, “Some people think the reason I came to Moultrie was to get back at them, but that’s not the case. My problem is with 10 or 12 people in the entire city of Valdosta. I love the rest of them. I raised my family there.
“But I’d be lying if I said our family is not enjoying this (the win over the Wildcats).”
And he said he has no “ill will” toward former Packers coach Rush Propst, who was named as his successor.
“No, none at all,” he said. “My choice to come to Moultrie was made before he got the job over there.”
One regret Rodemaker had on Friday night was not being able to spend some time after the game with Valdosta players he had coached the last few years.
“A lot of those guys were very respectful when they were ahead and were respectful when they were behind,” he said. “I wish the very best for them. They’ve got a very good coach and a very good team and they’ll do well in 6A.”
But it was clear the Packers had the better team on Friday.
The first half wore on the Colquitt County defense, a group Rodemaker said was “gassed” at intermission. The Packers aim was to keep the pressure on and it took a toll.
“Valdosta did a good job of keeping us from doing what we wanted to do,” he said. “They ran the ball at will in the first half.
“I don’t think our defensive line played very well in the first half and I didn’t call a very good first half. They put us back on our heels some in the first half.”
The final two quarters were something else entirely.
In addition to its paltry offensive production, the Wildcats were intercepted twice and surrendered a 62-yard touchdown pass from Xavier Williams to Lemeke Brockington that gave the Packers their final lead.
If Colquitt appeared weary from lack of conditioning caused by the quarantines, it didn’t show.
“I knew conditioning would be a question and our kids were sucking wind,” Rodemaker said. “And that’s the problem with the quarantines: you get them in shape and then you have to sit them.
“But our kids fought through it.”
Rodemaker left the stadium on Friday and prepared to travel to Miami, where Florida State University, where his son Tate is a freshman quarterback, would play the Hurricanes.
He got there in time to see his son play his first college game and complete his first collegiate pass.
But before he left he left the field house on Friday, he had one more thought on the Packers’ victory in the latest edition of the 107-game series with the Wildcats.
“I just hope we’ll continue to work hard and try to get better,” he said.