MOULTRIE — Running back Melvin Loving was injured when the Coffee High played host to Colquitt County at Jardine Stadium in Douglas last season, but the Trojans did not need him in a 35-7 victory.

Now a senior, the 215-pounder should be ready to go on Friday when the 4-0 Trojans visit Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium.

Loving has been one of Region 1-AAAAA most bruising and productive backs over the last two seasons and the 3-1 Packers will have to slow him down on Friday if they are going to get back in win column after last Friday’s 51-0 loss to Lowndes.

Many remember Loving’s 24-carry, 150-yard effort as a sophomore when the Coffee won 39-37 in triple overtime in their last visit to Moultrie in 2006.

The Packers were 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA when the Trojans escaped with what turned out to be a crucial victory.

The Trojans went on to finish 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the region and qualified for the playoffs.

The Packers won just one more game in 2006 and did not make the postseason.

Colquitt won just three more games through the 2007 season, leading administration to request Tim Cokely’s resignation and ultimately hire Rush Propst to replace him.

Several of the players who have led the Trojans to two straight victories over the Packers — including Loving — are expected to be in the lineup on Friday.

Coffee quarterback L’Shawn Smith did not play in the 2006 game, but got in last year’s game long enough to score on a 5-yard run to put the Trojans up 35-0 in the fourth quarter before the Packers got their only score.

Smith has taken over the starting quarterback job from the graduated Burke Batten and has completed 25-of-36 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns.

He has helped lead the Trojans to victories over Ware County, Pierce County, Shaw and, in their region opener last Friday, Houston County.

In the victory over the Bears last Friday in Douglas, Smith was 10-for-11 for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

Smith’s favorite receiver will be DeMario Bennett, who has one catch in each of the previous two Coffee-Colquitt County games.

Last year’s catch went for 32 yards and a touchdown.

Bennett came up with a 65-yard catch for a touchdown on Coffee’s first play after Houston County has scored on its first possession last Friday.

But Loving will be the focal point of the Trojans offense.

He rushed for 1,308 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore an had an outstanding junior season, carrying 61 times for 482 yards and 8 touchdowns.

In four games this year, he has rushed for 248 yards and six touchdowns.

In the victory over Houston County last Friday, Loving rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came on a 51-yard run.

The Packers also must be aware of the Trojans ability to strike quickly on special teams.

Coffee returned a punt for a touchdown against Colquitt County in each of their last two meetings.

Colquitt also gave up a 47-yard punt return by Greg Reid in last week’s loss to Lowndes.

Colquitt County holds a 20-5 advantage in the series against Coffee, which dates back to 1968.

The two schools have played every year since 1988 and from 1991-2001, the Packers won 14 straight, including two wins in 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Coffee won 3-0 in 2002, but, after dropping three straight, has won the last two meetings between the two schools.

In 1990, the Trojans knocked the Packers out of a berth in the postseason with a 10-7 victory on the final night of the season in Douglas.

The Trojans quarterback that night was Ken Eldridge, who is in his first season as the head coach at his alma mater.

Eldridge, who was a senior playing his final game for the Trojans, was 6-for-12 for 33 yards in the game.

Coffee got a 2-yard touchdown run from Reggie Glover to finish off its first drive of the game and 30-yard field goal from Matthew Smith in the third quarter.

The Packers only touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Parks Hughes to Anthony Bridges in the second quarter.

PACKERS NOTES: The other Region 1-AAAAA games Friday are Lowndes (1-0, 4-0) at Tift County (1-0, 3-1), Warner Robins (0-1, 2-2) at Valdosta (0-1, 3-1) and Northside (1-0, 4-0) at Houston County (0-1, 3-1).

In sub-varsity action this week, the Colquitt County seventh-grade team (3-1) will meet Coffee at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium; the eighth-grade team (2-2) will go to Coffee on Thursday; the ninth-grade team (0-3) will go to Tift County on Thursday; and the B-team will meet Lowndes at 5 p.m. Thursday at the stadium.

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