MOULTRIE — With less than three weeks to go before the start of school and the first day its team can don full pads for practice, the Colquitt County football staff is putting more focus on condition.

The Packers are working four mornings a week, with weight room and conditioning work at the high school.

“Without having two-a-days, we’re doing extra conditioning so we can get prepared,” Packers coach Tim Cokely said Monday.

“When school starts, we need to be where we’d be when we ended camp.”

The Packers will have 2 1/2 weeks of practice in pads before meeting Cairo in a preseason scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 24, in Cairo.

The 2006 season opens on Friday, Sept. 1, at Cook High.

After their weightlifting and conditioning, the receivers, quarterbacks, defensive backs and linebackers have been leaving the weight room soon after 9 a.m. and heading to the stadium for what is known as perimeter work.

That includes the everyone but the offensive and defensive linemen and consists of honing the passing game.

And with varsity quarterbacks Channing Hudson, John Michael Harrison, Tyler Hancock and rising ninth-graders Davis Durham and Quinn Robertson heaving the ball long down field in Cokely’s preferred vertical passing game, the receivers and defensive back especially are getting plenty of extra conditioning.

The Packers quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs will get a chance to see how they stack up against players with a different color jersey when Colquitt County plays host to Thomasville at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Mack Tharpe Stadium at Tom White Field in a passing league contest.

Cokely, who also will coach the wide receivers, quarterbacks coach Robert Craft and running backs coach James Stancil worked closely with the offense on Monday.

With a more experienced Hudson at quarterback and veterans Orion Ponder, B.J. Howard, Vance Cuff and Dontrell Johnson as his primary targets, the Packers will continue to build on its passing game.

“I’ve always been a vertical passing guy,” Cokely said. “All the other stuff is boring.

“We’ve got a good quarterback returning and some good wide outs. I think we are more confident going into the fall this year. Preparation breeds confidence.”

The receiving corps could be even deeper this year with Tyler Mobley, Jarvis Lambright, Duke Banks, Carter Jones, Eric Key and Mitchell Thompson also capable of helping move the ball downfield.

The passing offense will be tweaked a little this season with veteran Florida head coach Jim Sauls taking over from Barney Myers and joining Craft the Packers co-offensive coordinators.

“He’s an experienced guy,” Cokely said of Sauls, a 30-year veteran and a member of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“He’s brought in some things we didn’t do before.”

Hudson proved his ability last year, passing for 1,221 yards and six touchdowns.

With that experience and plenty of offseason work with Craft, he could have an even better senior season.

Harrison, a rising sophomore, has been impressive, Cokely said.

“He’s made a lot of strides,” Cokely said of the tall, left-hander, who is expected to get plenty of work in B-team games and should see some Friday night action as well.

The offensive line will have some experience back with Brandon Coleman and Terrence Grant at the guards and Brandon Richards and B.J. Baker at the tackles.

Joe Ben Griffin, who was injured and missed much of last season, is expected to take over at center.

What became known as place-kicking “tripod” also will be back this season. Snapper Carter Jones, holder Tyler Mobley and place-kicker Matt DeMott will return for their senior seasons.

Junior Cameron Fitzgerald appears poised to take over the punting chores this season.

“He has really improved his leg strength,” Cokely said.

The kickers are heading to the Ray Guy Kicking Camp in Atlanta this week, Cokely said.

PACKERS NOTES: Chad Horne, who coached at the middle school level last year, will join Clark Harden and coach the Colquitt County B-team this season.

Cokely said he has a full B-team schedule to enable a large sophomore class to mature this season. ...

The annual Photo Day will be held on Sunday, Aug. 13. ...

The four-member ninth-grade coaching staff of Craig Pitts, Greg Tillery, John Redmond and Daniel Dalton has been running their players through the new weight room at the Willie J. Williams Middle School gymnasium.

The ninth-grade roster includes 57 players, said Pitts, the team’s head coach. The team also has been going through conditioning.

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