The Colquitt County High football team will not go to camp to prepare for this season with Packers coach Rush Propst saying he wants his team to get into a “structured routine” as soon as possible.
The plan had been to take the team to West Georgia University from Aug. 3-6. The Packers instead will practice in Moultrie, which will allow the Packers to get into a routine quickly with the scrimmage at Dacula set for Aug. 12 and the season-opener at home against Cook coming a week later.
Practicing at home also will allow the Packers staff the benefit of having video of each session available before the next practice.
“We want to practice, watch film and correct it; practice, watch film and correct it; practice, watch film and correct it,” Propst said.
The Packers practice fields are already set up to accommodate cameras, and equipment in the field house can quickly have the practice video available for the coaches.
And Propst noted that fewer schools are taking their teams out of town for camps. At one time, taking teams away from family and friends was thought to help players and coaches bond. It was part of “team-building.”
Propst hopes the change will help the Packers avoid the slow start it got off to last season.
Starting offensive tackle Preston Mobley was hurt in the final camp scrimmage and the Packers were forced to scramble to make adjustments.
The Packers pounded visiting Lassiter 34-24 in the scrimmage, but Propst called it a “false win.”
Colquitt was upset 15-9 by Class AA Cook in its opener, was trounced by South Panola 65-35 the following week and then lost in overtime at Thomas County Central.
“I don’t want to start 0-3 again,” Propst said. “This team needs confidence and success early.”
The Packers have just three starters back from the offense that led the Packers to the state championship game and was, Propst said, “the best offense I’ve ever coached.”
Colquitt also is installing a new defense under new coordinator Travis Pearson. He will try to turn around a defense that gave up an average of 346.7 yards and 31.5 points a game last fall.
In addition, Colquitt has three new coaches, including Pearson, offensive assistant Sean Sutton and special teams coordinator Gregg Segraves. Gone are assistants Rico Zachery, Jack Hines, Tony Kirkland and Buzz Payne.
Propst also has shuffled the responsibilities of several members of the offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Jeff Hammond, who coached the receivers last year, will work with quarterbacks Cole Segraves and Daniel Mobley. Zach Grage, who coached the quarterbacks last year, will handle the running backs. Sutton, who was an assistant under Propst at Hoover (Ala.) High and an offensive coordinator in Alabama the last two seasons, will work with the receivers.
Sutton also is in charge of the Packers strength and conditioning program and Propst said he is outstanding in that area.
“When I hired him in 2004, I thought our strength and conditioning just went through the roof,” he said.
The rest of the offensive staff includes line coaches Kevin Giddens and Joey Bennett. On defense, tackles coach Greg Tillery and secondary Dextra Polite will be back. Andy Harden, hired for the ninth-grade staff, also will work with the varsity defensive ends.
The ninth-grade team will practice with the varsity this season and will have a separate staff, although coaches from both teams will be available to the freshmen and varsity teams.
Earl Jefferson again will be the head ninth-grade coach. Harden, Jake Mobley, Kirbie Bodiford, Danny Blalock and Sherard Reynolds will be the primary freshmen coaches.
Hines will be the head seventh-grade coach. He and Jimmy Whitfield will be the head coaches of the Black and Gold teams. Cliff Willis will be the head eighth-grade coach. He and Andy Chapura will lead the Black and Gold teams.
Propst said he was pleased that Hines agreed to coach the seventh-grade team. He served as the Packers defensive coordinator all of 2008 and 2009, but stepped down after 10 games last year.
PACKERS NOTES: The Southeastern Select 7-on-7 will be held Thursday and Friday at Packer Park.
The teams that will compete are Colquitt County 1, Colquitt County 2, Nease, North Florida Christian, Houston County, Jefferson County, Taylor County, John Carroll, Valdosta, Matanzas, Pinson Valley (Ala.), Ware County, Laney, Brunswick and Episcopal.
Propst was back at his office on Monday after spending much of last week in Birmingham undergoing tests in connection with the throat cancer that was surgically removed in February.
Propst underwent 30 radiation treatments and now weighs 179 pounds. He said he weighed 221 pounds when the team prepared for the 7-on-7 competition last year.
After the round of tests last week, Propst said his doctor told him “there is not a spot of cancer in you.”
Propst said his sense of taste has been adversely affected.
“I have to force myself to eat,” he said, adding that his taste buds are “about 15-20 percent.”