Hunter returns to Colquitt County; is impressed with Fitzgerald

Oct. 25—MOULTRIE — Patrick Hunter had been out of coaching the two seasons before he was hired this year to work with the Colquitt County kicking game.

He had not heard much about the Packers kicker Brett Fitzgerald.

He was more familiar with Brett's older brother Ryan, a former Packer and current kicker at Florida State.

It didn't take long for Hunter, himself a former Colquitt County place-kicker and Lowndes kicking coach, to appreciate the younger brother's talent.

And he is perhaps just as impressed with the way the youngster goes about his business.

"He takes what he does very seriously," Hunter said this week. "He works hard in the weight room. He's focused.

"You don't have to worry about whether he's going to do what he's supposed to do."

Brett appears to have an excellent shot at surpassing some, if not all, of Ryan's Colquitt County records. Ryan has the record for most extra points, 171; field goals, 51; and points scored by a kicker, 324.

After converting all five of his extra-point attempts and kicking a 23-yard field goal in the 52-34 win at Lowndes last Friday, Brett has 154 extra points, 29 field goals and has scored 241 points.

Brett hasn't had a shot yet at what might be his older brother's signature record: seven field goals of 51 yards or longer.

And while he has connected on 9-of-10 field goal attempts this season, he also is impressing Hunter — and Packer fans — with his ability to get his kickoffs into the opposing team's end zone.

So far, 30 of his kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks, including four of six against Camden County two weeks ago and seven of nine against Lowndes last Friday.

"That's what we really need the kickers to do: kick it into the end zone," Hunter said.

As a case in point, Jacurre Fleming returned Fitzgerald's second kickoff against Lowndes last Friday 50 yards.

It forced Fitzgerald to make the tackle and gave the Vikings a short field to navigate and score a game-tying touchdown.

Fitzgerald's might have prevented a touchdown, but "We don't want our kickers to have to make tackles," Hunter said.

The 2002 Colquitt County graduate also is working with punter Sam Miller, holder Eli Meads and with the Packer snappers, starter Chason Glenn and his backup Logan Morris.

Their work has been near flawless.

And if Glenn can impress Hunter, he will be doing something special. As the Packers kicker in 2000, Hunter's snapper was Brian Jordan, who went on to snap at the University of Georgia and is a member of the Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame.

Like his brother Jeffrey before him, Patrick Hunter kicked and played soccer for the Packers.

He converted 41-of-45 extra point attempts and hit two field goals in 2000 and 2001.

While attending Valdosta State, he decided he wanted to get into coaching and was a volunteer coach at Lowndes in 2006 and 2007.

He worked for a time as the sports director at the Moultrie YMCA and officiated high school soccer before joining the Vikings staff on a full-time basis in 2010.

From 2014-2015, he taught in North Carolina, but Lowndes coach Randy McPherson welcomed him back in 2016 and he remained at Lowndes through 2020.

He did not coach the last two seasons, but could not pass up a chance to join several other former Packers on Sean Calhoun's staff.

He will work on the boys soccer staff next spring.

Hunter and wife Miriam have four children, 8 years old and under. He also has continued to officiate college soccer.

Hunter's parents, Ron and Ann Hunter still live in Moultrie, as does his sister Julie, who played soccer for the Lady Packers.

Last Friday was the first time Hunter was on the sidelines when the Packers have defeated Lowndes. The Vikings won both meetings when he played at Colquitt County.

He also is 0-2 against Valdosta as a Packer. He is hoping to see that trend reversed on Friday as well.