7-on-7 competitions crucial to inexperienced Packers

Jun. 4—MOULTRIE — As Colquitt County head football coach Sean Calhoun puts it, his team graduated "every passing yard and every receiving yard" from the 2023 team that went 12-1.

The linebacking corps and secondary also took a hit after last season.

Hence, the more-than-usual importance of the 7-on-7 competitions that the Packers will compete in on Wednesday at Florida State University and on June 12 at the University of Florida.

"These kids just don't have a lot of experience," Calhoun said. "There are going to be a lot of juniors playing who have been in the program. But as far as Friday night experience ... not too much.

"That's why the 7-on-7s are so important. It's a chance to compete. They keep score ... so let's find a way to win. We need to get these kids in those kinds of situations."

The average Colquitt County fan is unlikely to be able recite the names of the two Packers battling to become the starting quarterback.

Or the handful of youngsters trying to earn starting positions at the receiver positions.

"At some point this season, we are going to have to throw the football," Calhoun said. "And we are going to have to find a way to catch it.

"That's why going to Florida State and Florida are so important to us."

Rising junior A'Zhiyen Alridge and rising freshman Cohen Lawson are working to replace record-setting quarterback Neko Fann.

"I'm very pleased with their progress," Calhoun said. "They are trending in the right direction.

"They have been battling for the job and their battle will go right on through the summer."

Calhoun sounds as if he would like one to separate himself and take control of the position.

"I've never been a two-quarterback guy," he said. "It usually works itself out."

The battle for the receiver positions also has been highly competitive.

"That's why every practice and every film session is so important," Calhoun said. "We have a lot of kids who are very capable, who are showing a lot of promise and are making a lot of progress."

The 7-on-7s also will enable the staff to help the defensive players adjust to a 3-3 stack that is being installed as the base package this season.

"We've got to find out who is going to compete," Calhoun said. "When the ball is in the air, who is going to go get it."

PACKER NOTES: Returning for his 15th football season will be head athletic trainer Ryan Kebler. Kathleen Rubino also is back as his assistant.

Longtime Director of Football Operations Earl Jefferson also returns, as does video coordinator Darius Townsend.

Recently hired receivers coach Austin Westbrook is on the practice field this week with the Packers, as is tight ends coach Buck Hanson, who has been gone the last two years after serving on the Colquitt County staff the previous four seasons.

Patrick Hunter has resigned as the kicking coach and has taken a job with Veterans High, where he will work with the football team's kickers and be the head girls soccer coach.

A former Colquitt County kicker himself, Hunter has worked with the Packers kickers and snappers the last two seasons.

Defensive line coach Terel Toomer tore his Achilles tendon during spring practice and had surgery.

Head ninth-grade coach Marshall Locke and assistant ninth-grade coach Tomarcio Reese have been filling in for Toomer, who was expected back this week.

His daughter Leah, a member of the Colquitt County flag football team, broke her leg at a practice on Monday and was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

Several rising seniors have been receiving attention from college recruiters, including kicker Brett Fitzgerald, who went to Georgia Tech on Tuesday and will go to Georgia on Thursday.

He also has received an offer from Army. Older brother Ryan Fitzgerald is the kicker at Florida State.

Defensive lineman Amari Wilson has offers from East Carolina and Georgia Southern.

Offensive lineman Khalil Collins also is preparing to travel to Georgia Southern.