MOULTRIE – Counting down to the start of a new football season often involves a series of thresholds, be it the first day of summer camp, the first day of acclimation (and mandatory practices) to the first day of full pads.

Colquitt County High’s Packers under first-year head coach Justin Rogers had two of those big anticipated days within a week of each other. Last Thursday was the first day in full pads, and on Monday it was time to go back to school.

Rogers has seen a few first-day-of-school football practices in his time as a head coach, and when things finished Monday in the indoor facility he let the Packers know that was the best one he’d ever seen.

“Tip of the hat to these young men,” said Rogers. “They had to get up early this morning and catch buses. Do whatever they had to do to get here. Go through a full day’s schedule for the first time in a long time. We lifted this morning. I thought our attitudes were great. I thought our focus was great.”

The Packers are less than three weeks away from kicking off 2019 during the Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium vs. North Gwinnett. With 27 seniors and a handful of underclassmen who put in about a whole season’s worth of game time, the biggest change is at the top. On Aug. 24, it will be a little more than five months since Rogers began the new Packer era.

“We’ve played with them a little bit this summer,” said Rogers about North Gwinnett, meaning they’ve gone over the Bulldogs’ tendencies. “Did some weeks where we did some things that their defensive structure is. We’ll play with them a little bit this week, then next week we’ll focus on Columbia (Colquitt’s scrimmage foe in Lake City, Fla., Aug 16).

“It’s all about the process. It doesn’t matter where you start; it only matters if you finish well at the end. The only way you’re going to finish well at the end is if you embrace the process of trying to go day-in and day-out to the best of your ability, being the best you can be. Whether it’s being the best student you can be, the best lifter in the weight room you can be, or be the best player at practice you can be. If you do that, the outcome naturally takes care of itself.”

Rogers said that’s the case at any high school no matter the size, and this is what he told players when he led Jones County High for five seasons. Rogers said there’s so much more potential at Colquitt County and therefore expectations are much higher. Jones County is in Class 5A, so for the coach this is a step up to 7A, and he was honest saying he won’t know the real difference in the classes since he hasn’t been in a 7A game yet.

“I do know we are extremely talented,” said Rogers. “We are a really good football team, no doubt. That’s the big question mark, how much different is it. I have a feeling when we get to the line, it’s still going to be football.”

And Rogers, between now and Aug. 24, is going to be talking a lot about Packer football. It’s not just media interviews, but speaking engagements galore.

“Now that’s different (from Jones County), no doubt,” said Rogers. “We have a bunch of public speaking engagements, from churches to civitan groups to kickoff luncheons. That’s awesome. That shows you what a great program we have here and how blessed we are that people are interested and committed and want to know … excited about the future and the kickoff of the season.”

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