MOULTRIE — Colquitt County senior offensive guard R.J. Taylor had his answer ready when asked if he had any goals for the 2008 season that opens tonight at the stadium against Randolph-Clay.

“I really want to make the playoffs,” said Taylor, emphasizing the “really.” “None of us seniors have been in a playoff situation. We just want to know what it feels like.”

Taylor and the rest of the Packers seniors were freshmen when Colquitt County last reached the playoffs in 2005, defeating Tri-Cities 7-3 on the road before being eliminated by Starr’s Mill 16-14.

The last two seasons, the Packers have gone 6-4 and 2-8 and were shut down when the postseason started.

The actual drive for the playoffs does not start until Sept. 19 when Colquitt County opens Region 1-AAAAA play against defending state champion Lowndes. But the Packers have three games to get ready for the rigors of the region, beginning with the game against the Region 1-A Red Devils tonight.

“We’ve got three games to get into the flow of the offense,” the 270-pound left guard, who was an All-Region selection last year, said. “Hopefully, when region starts, we’ll be clicking.”

Taylor and his fellow offensive linemen are expected to do plenty of pass blocking in Coach Rush Propst’s spread, fast-paced, throw-first, run-second offense. The group also includes fellow senior Weston Gittens at center, junior guard Chris Walsh and sophomore tackles Garrett Brewer and Trey Rhymes. Freshman Bryce Giddens also will get plenty of playing time.

Taylor and Gittens have assumed leadership roles in the group, which is coached by veteran Kevin Giddens and first-year Packers assistant Joey Bennett.

“We just try to get everybody right,” Taylor said.

And when asked about starting two sophomores on the edge in an offense that is expected to throw the ball at least 60 percent of the time, Taylor sounds as if he believes the positions are in good hands.

“They are going to be something,” Taylor said of Brewer and Rhymes. “I’m proud they have stepped and played like they have this year.

“They are going to be good players.”

The entire group has benefited from have two offensive line coaches on staff.

Giddens, who was the line coach when the Packers won the state championship in 1994, is back for his second season in his second stint at working with the line. Bennett played for Propst at Hoover High and coached the Bucs offensive line for several seasons.

“I really like Coach Bennett,” Taylor said. “He really knows the offense. And he knows the techniques of pass blocking. He has shown us a lot of little things.

“Coach Giddens is our motivator. Coach Bennett is our technique guy. I like it because it’s like we’ve got two sets of eyes on us.”

Taylor said he likes the new offense that Propst has installed and hopes to be able to play in it at the next level, perhaps at Valdosta State or Georgia Southern.

That Taylor has become a successful player should not be surprising. His father is the late Ralph Taylor, the outstanding and well-respected former William Bryant High head coach and Colquitt County assistant football coach.

R.J. was just 8 years old when his father died and never was able to enjoy playing for him. But he remembers several things his father told him.

“I remember him telling me ‘Never quit. Don’t give up,’” the younger Taylor says. “I love football and I know it was the game he loved.

“So in some ways, I feel myself playing for him. I’m trying to make him proud.”



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