MOULTRIE -- There have been untold numbers of youngsters growing up in Colquitt County over the years who have dreams of carrying the football for the Packers.
But one of the most successful backs in Packer history always wanted to be a linebacker at Moultrie High.
In fact, when coach Bud Willis told Tony Mock he was moving him from linebacker to running back, Mock briefly quit the team.
"But then he explained to me why he put me there," Mock said. "He thought I could be successful there."
And was he ever.
As Moultrie High's featured back in 1970, Mock rushed for 1,171 yards on 163 carries -- a 7.2 average -- and helped lead the Packers to a 9-1 record.
Mock's total broke the previous region record of 1,104 held by Baker's Harold Lane, set in 1964.
And he is one of just seven Packers who have rushed for more than a 1,000 yards in a season, joining Ray Mercer, Don Porterfield, Gary Pyle, T.J. Edwards, Nathan Williams and Lavasky King.
Mock also led the region in scoring that season with 106 points, but refuses to take much credit for his outstanding performance.
Instead, he ticks off the names of the offensive linemen who kept the running lanes clear: Dick Carter, an All-State tackle; Roger Plymel; Bruce Boring; Richard Bass; David Durham; Charles Ellis; and Wayne Burroughs.
"I was just the messenger," Mock said. "They led the way. I just followed them. I can't say enough about them."
And the other running backs were helping as well: James Stancil, in his first and only season in the Packers backfield, and Freddie Hammock.
"Freddie was an outstanding blocker," Mock said. "I never got tackled by a defensive end.
"And James Stancil was so big. He'd just destroy linebackers. I had an easy job."
Perhaps so, but he did it better most of the backs who have carried the ball for the Packers during the 92 years the school has played football.
Mock is part of the 17-member Class of 2005 that will be inducted into the Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame at the annual banquet to be held Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Colquitt County High cafeteria. Inductees or their representatives will be introduced at Mack Tharpe Stadium at Tom White Field before the Oct. 7 home football game.
Mock had given little thought about carrying the ball before his junior year.
He played youth football for the Moultrie Recreation Department and when he reached the next level, he was influenced by Jackie Raley, Travis Allegood, Bill Christopher, Ace Little, Ed Reeves, Ralph Taylor and Ed Willis.
And although he played a little at receiver in an offense that rarely threw the ball while in the ninth-grade and on the B-team, he was happy on the other side of the ball.
"I just wanted to be a linebacker and play for the Packers," he said.
But all that changed when Willis asked him to carry the football rather than punish ball carriers.
"I was scared to death," Mock said. "I didn't want the responsibility. I had played defense all my life. I was going to play something I didn't know much about.
"But Coach Willis had confidence in me."
As a junior in 1969, Mock flashed some of promise that would make him one of the state's top backs the next year.
In the third game of the season, in a 26-0 route of Dougherty, Mock scored on a 37-yard run.
For the second year in a row, fullback Bob Hardy was the Packers' leading rusher that season, gaining a none-too-shabby 748 yards.
The Packers went 8-2, losing only to Valdosta 21-0 and Lanier 14-0.
But there would be no shutouts next season, as Roger Singletary guided the offense and Mock, Stancil and Hammock rolled up big yardage and the Packers scored 322 points.
Moultrie opened the season with a 28-6 victory over Lowndes in which Mock scored on runs of 2 and 5 yards and Stancil got his first Packers touchdown on a 4-yard run.
The next week, the Packers blanked Tift County 19-0 with Mock scoring on a 46-yard run. Mock score twice the next week on short runs in a 27-0 victory over Dougherty.
The yards began to pile up in the 28-6 victory over Monroe in which Mock gained 142 yards on 13 carries.
The Packers went to 5-0 with a 47-0 victory over Central of Thomasville, with Mock score on runs of 15 and 40 yards.
Also in the game against the Yellow Jackets, Ray Goff threw his first varsity touchdown pass, connecting with Robby Faircloth on a 21-yard score, and Florazel "Sweet" Lamar scored on a 67-yard punt return.
The winning streak ended the next week when Valdosta scored 13 fourth-quarter points at Mack Tharpe Stadium to take a 19-12 victory. Mock scored the team's only offensive touchdown on a 13-yard run.
Moultrie shook off what turned out to be the only loss of the season by defeating Thomasville and its new coach Jim Hughes 35-14 the next week.
Mock rushed for 117 yards and scored twice against the Bulldogs.
The next week, Mock had his biggest game, rolling up 223 yards on 21 carries and scoring two touchdowns in 29-15 victory over Bainbridge.
Mock eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark when he rushed for 136 yards in a 41-0 victory over Albany the next week.
And he finished his career with 156 yards on 13 carries and scored four touchdowns in the season-ending 56-20 victory over Crisp County.
The outstanding senior season landed Mock a place on the All-Region team. He was named honorable mention All-State and selected to play in the North-South All-Star game.
In that game, he injured his foot and after doctors told him he would not be able to play for a year, he decided to give up football.
Mock, now 52, attended Mississippi State, Abraham Baldwin College and Valdosta State. A lifelong resident of Colquitt County, he has worked at Merck Chemical in Albany the last 10 years.
He and wife Debbie have two sons, Heath and Brandon, both of whom played football for the Packers, and a grandson and granddaughter.
Mock, who lost his father when he was 15, said he looked upon Willis as a "father-figure," and referred to the teams he played on as "being like family to me."
And he has passed on to others what he has learned. Former Colquitt County High defensive back Calvin Clarke, now serving in the U.S. Army, said Mock was especially influential in helping him through some difficult times in the early 1990s.
Clarke said Mock "truly touched my life" and refers to him as "my other dad."
For his part, Mock says that being selected for the Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown is "like a dream come true.
"But it really belongs to my teammates. They were my friends and my brothers."
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