MOULTRIE -- Five of the six head coaches in Region 1-AAAAA this season have strong Florida ties, including the three newest coaches: Tim Cokely at Colquitt County, Jay Walls at Tift County and Jerry Odom at Coffee.

Rick Darlington of Valdosta and Randy McPherson of Lowndes were hired from Florida schools.

And, now, even when they play a team from the Atlanta area, the Packers can't seem to get away from the Florida connection.

Although new Meadowcreek coach Reggie Perry was recently at Redan, he is from Orlando.

Perry is in his first season as the Mustangs head coach, but unlike some of his other coaching brethren, Perry faces an immense rebuilding job at the Norcross school.

Perry will bring his first Meadowcreek team to Moultrie on Friday for an 8 p.m. meeting with Colquitt County at Mack Tharpe Stadium at Tom White Field in the season-opener for both teams.

Colquitt County also will have a new coach on its sideline, with Cokely going for his first Georgia victory as a head coach.

Cokely replaces Mike Singletary, who went 32-22 in his five seasons at the helm of the Colquitt County program, including successive 6-5 marks the last two years.

Perry, who is the school's sixth coach in the last eight years, takes over a Meadowcreek program that has not won six games over the last four seasons combined.

The Mustangs have gone 5-35 the last four years, and 2-28 the last three.

Last season, George Pugh's final season with Meadowcreek before returning to the college ranks at Alabama-Birmingham, the Mustangs were 0-10.

Their closest game was a 27-20 loss to Berkmar.

For the second year in a row, Meadowcreek will open with three straight games against perennially strong South Georgia programs: Colquitt County, Thomas County Central and Lowndes.

The Mustangs lost those three games last season by a combined 110-19.

Colquitt spanked them 34-7 in last year's season-opener in Moultrie. Lowndes took little pity on the Mustangs, either, winning 49-0.

Meadowcreek faces an uphill battle this season as well.

Only six starters -- three on each side of the ball -- return and one of those is not running back Cameron Smith, who rushed for more than 3,100 yards last two years and 1,452 last year, before transferring to Brookwood for this, his senior season.

The Packers were not much intimidated by Smith last season, holding him to just 61 yards on 25 carries.

Meadowcreek's only score against the Packers last year came in the first quarter when Cord Burse picked up a Colquitt County fumble and ran it 15 yards of a touchdown.

It was one of three fumbles the Packers lost in the game.

Perry won't have many athletes to choose from after taking just 31 to camp. He has the team in excellent shape, hoping that will help make up for an overall lack of size.

Cokely watched Meadowcreek in a controlled scrimmage with Lamar County last week, but the field was a quagmire, making it difficult to assess what the Mustangs might offer.

"They are very skilled," Cokely said. "Their quarterback did a nice job and the do a good job of spreading the field.

"They'll be well-balanced with the run and pass and surely they'll have a lot of speed."

The Mustangs top player is junior linebacker/tight end Cyhl (pronounced Kyle) Quarles, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder who played corner against the Packers last season.

Cokely said he empathizes with what Perry is facing in Norcross.

"It's just a matter of getting the kids to believe," he said.

PACKER NOTES: The other games featuring Region 1-AAAAA team on Friday will include Ware County at Coffee, Warner Robins at Houston County, Tri-Cities at Lowndes, Tift County at Crisp County and Shiloh at Valdosta. ... Today's Cokely's 42nd birthday.

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