MOULTRIE — Heading into the 2008 season, Coffee was perhaps the great unknown of Region 1-AAAAA football.

Yes, the Trojans were 9-3 the last two seasons, but Jerry Odom, the coach who led them to those records, left for arena football and defensive coordinator Ken Eldridge, who had no head coaching experience, took his place.

So far at least, Coffee has proved ready to qualify for a third straight playoff berth.

The Trojans have climbed to No. 9 in Class AAAAA, leap-frogging Valdosta, and are No. 8 in the Georgia Football Magazine Top 25 poll.

Coffee will put its rankings and perfect record on the line when it meets Colquitt County at 7:30 tonight at Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium.

Coffee is 4-0 and has given up just one touchdown in those four games.

And that one was scored by Houston County on its first possession when the two region rivals met last Friday in Douglas.

The Trojans matched that score on its next play with a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback L’Shaun Smith to Demario Bennett and went on to a 30-7 victory.

Coffee and Colquitt County have similar total offense numbers. The Trojans have roled up 966 yards; the Packers, 957.

But while Colquitt County’s offense is weighted heavily toward the pass (736 passing yards, 221 rushing yards), Coffee is more nearly balanced.

The Trojans have rushed for 513 yards and thrown for 453.

Coffee boasts two of the top seven rushers in the region.

Melvin Loving, a 215-pound senior, has carried 40 times for 247 yards and six touchdowns and ranks sixth in the region.

Simeon Goolsby is right behind with 227 yards on just 23 carries. He has scored twice.

Quarterback L’Shaun Smith has rushed for 75 yards and passed for 422 and five scores.

The first-year starter has completed 25-of-37 passes and has been intercepted twice.

Wide receiver Demario Bennett, with nine catches for 178 yards and two scores, and tight end Corey Davis, five catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns, are Smith’s favorite targets.

Bennett ranks seventh in the region in receiving.

“They are loaded with talent,” said Colquitt County defensive line coach Bobby Mize.

The Trojans will run a multiple wing-T.

“They’ve got two real good receivers, a real good tight end they like to throw to and real athletic quarterback,” he said.

Packers linebackers coach Darius Dawson said he is expecting a “typical Coffee.”

Dawson said the Trojans might use as many as 16 or 17 formations and that slows the reaction times of opposing defenses.

“If we’ll just fly around and play assignment football, we’ll be OK,” he said.

The Packers don’t need a repeat of last week’s performance in which they gave up 398 yards — 348 on the ground — in the 51-0 loss to top-ranked Lowndes.

The defensive front is expected to again feature ends Cameron Erving and Tyrell Wright and tackles Nyneson Jeudy and Robert Fuller.

The linebacker corps will start with Jarrett Sutton, Emory Wheeler and Justin Jones.

C.J. Copeland and Derrell Ward have been playing the corners, with Davis Durham and Corzell Ellerson at the safeties.

Ellerson is the Packers leading tackler after four games with 26 total stops. Fuller has 24, Erving 23 and Durham 22.

Colquitt also will try to get its offense back on track.

After moving the ball well for the most part in their three non-region games, the Pack managed just 115 yards of offense against Lowndes.

Quarterback John Michael Harrison leads Region 1-AAAAA in passing, completing 64-of-115 passes for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns, but threw for a season-low 75 yards and no touchdowns against Lowndes.

Colquitt County features the top two receivers in the region in Eric Key, who has 18 catches for 237 yards and five touchdowns, Quin Roberson, who has 13 catches for 159 yards and two scores.

The Packers leading rusher is senior Travon Littleton who has carried 41 times for 190 yards.

Key and Littleton will line up in the backfield with Harrison.

Roberson, Jacob Propst and Travis Harris are the likely starters at wide receiver.

Senior Weston Gittens and freshman Bryce Giddens have been playing center, with senior R.J. Taylor and junior Chris Walsh at the guards.

Garrett Brewer and Trey Rhymes, a pair of sophomores, man the tackle positions.

Ashley Mead will do the snapping for both punts and place kicks. Tyler Dismuke is averaging 33.9 yards on 15 punts this season. He also is 2-for-4 in field goal attempts.

Rich Tyndall has been kicking the extra points and is 12-for-14, including his last 11 in a row.

Also in Region 1-AAAAA tonight, Lowndes (1-0, 4-0) will travel to meet Tift County (1-0, 3-1), Warner Robins (0-1, 2-2) will go to Valdosta (0-1, 3-1) and Northside (1-0, 4-0) and Houston County (0-1, 3-1) will meet at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

The Packers also will be home on Friday, Oct. 3, to meet Valdosta before three straight road trips to Tifton, Warner Robins and Houston County.

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