MOULTRIE — Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst had no doubt that his team would get ready to Lassiter in last Saturday’s scrimmage and should have no problem getting up to play South Panola of Batesville, Miss., on Aug. 28.
But in between Lassiter, which reached the Georgia Class AAAAA quarterfinals last year, and South Panola, the Mississippi Class 6A champion last year, is Cook High, which will visit Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Propst refers to it as a “sandwich game,” and it one he is having some trouble digesting.
Although the Hornets are ranked No. 9 in Class AA and reached the state quarterfinals last year, it is a game most observers believe the Packers should win.
And how well the Packers play against a Class AA opponent will be important to the development of his team, Propst said.
“How we handle this week, I think, will be a defining moment for us,” Propst said. “It’s a scary game.”
Cook has some athletic players and won a pair of playoff games last year before being eliminated by Buford.
The Hornets were 5-5 in the 2009 regular season and went to the playoffs as the No. 4 team from Region 2-AA.
Cook then knocked off Region 4-AA champion Northeast Macon in the first round and defeated Appling County 29-21 in the second, before running in one of the state’s top programs regardless of classification in Buford.
The Hornets were rocked in February when head coach Mac Thompson, a former assistant to Propst at Hoover (Ala.) High, died of a heart attack.
Thompson assistant Ken Cofer was named to take over the program and he inherited an experienced team. The Hornets are expected to continue to run the spread offense that Thompson favored, but Cofer would like to run the football, too.
Quarterback Zach Folsom, who started as a sophomore last year, is back, as are several receivers, backs and linemen.
One of the players the Hornets will try to get the ball to is senior Shannon Brown, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder, who has committed to Alabama as a linebacker.
“They’re mostly a spread team, but they’ll get in two tight ends once in while,” Propst said. “And their quarterback’s not bad. He’s got an idea of what he wants to do.”
Propst watched much of the Hornets masscre of Lanier in last Friday’s scrimmage.
“They were impressive offensively,” Propst said. “They blocked well. They looked sharp and polished.”
Brown, ranked by rivals.com as the No. 10 inside linebackers in the country, also will anchor the defense.
Like the Packers, the Hornets have to replace both cornerbacks.
But this year’s opener still will be much more challengting than the last two, when outmanned Class A Randolph-Clay visited.
“I was impressed with their athleticism,” Propst said. “They’ve got some good players.”
Cook has made the state playoffs each year since 2000 and reached the semifinals in 2000, 2001 and 2007.
“Since I have been in Georgia, one thing I have been impressed with is how talented AA and AAA football is,” Propst said.
The Packers played Thomasville the last two years, winning 10-7 in 2008 and trailing 19-6 with just over nine minutes left last year, before rallying to win 34-19.
“I don’t expect anything different out of Cook,” Propst said. “They’re a good program. They’ve got good players and they’ll come to play.”