MOULTRIE — When he heard last week of the death of Tyree King, his former teammate on Colquitt County’s 1994 undefeated state championship football team, Steven Harlow called King “a teammate you always wanted. A guy who didn’t complain, but just did his job and was the best.”
It is a sentiment expressed by many about the quiet former defensive end who died of leukemia last Thursday at age 43.
Todd Myrick was another member of Colquitt County’s first 15-0 team and a longtime fishing partner of King’s.
So was current Packer assistant coach Dextra Polite.
“We are a tight-knit group,” Myrick said. “And anytime any of us had some trouble, Tyree was always willing to help.
“The guys on that team always spoke about us being family. That was our thing. We became brothers.”
King started his junior season in 1993 as a safety for the Packers defense.
But about midway through the year, he was moved to defensive end, despite weighing just 185 pounds.
Tony Kirkland, who was the Packers defensive line coach then, remembers when the switch was made.
“He was a good player that we needed to get on the field more and get him closer to the football for him to be successful,” Kirkland said.
Despite only playing about half the 1993 season at defensive end, he finished with 65 tackles, third-most on the team, and was named to the All-Region 1-AAAA second team.
In fact, he had the most tackles of any returning player in 1994.
And that year, he became part of what many believe is the greatest Colquitt County High defense ever.
In 15 games, the Packers allowed just 101 points.
They shut out three opponents; two managed just a field goal; seven scored just one touchdown.
It took until the ninth game before an opponent scored in double-digits against the Packers. Only three did it all season, including Valdosta, which fell 23-10 in the state championship game.
King started on a line that included Jerry Jones, the 240-pound other end who was named the region’s Defensive Player of the Year, and defensive tackles Terry Turner, 270 pounds, and Danny Walker, 210 pounds.
Myrick remembers head coach Jim Hughes liking “speed ends,” and King certainly fit the description.
“He was real fast,” said Myrick, who as an offensive tackle had to line up against King in practices and scrimmages.
“It was hard to get to him sometimes.”
Kirkland said that it was at first thought that King might have trouble playing inside the tight end and would have to switch sides with the bigger Jones, depending on the offensive formations.
King proved he could hold his own against any offense.
Remarkably consistent, he finished the 1994 season again third on the team in tackles, this time with 67, and he had 4 1/2 sacks to receive honorable mention on the All-Region team.
“He was a heck of a football player, now,” Kirkland said.
After his high school career, he worked for the City of Moultrie and for several years helped coach in the Colquitt County middle school football program.
Several years ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia, but after treatments, it went into remission.
Several months ago it returned.
“It was just like his fight with cancer,” Myrick said this week. “He had a big heart and a will to survive.
“He didn’t give up. He gave out. He fought to the end. That was what coach Hughes instilled in us.”