Packers making strides as spring football game approaches

May 12—MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County football team has accomplished two of its primary goals as Tuesday's spring game against Coffee in the Hawg Pen approaches.

Packers coach Sean Calhoun said on Sunday that the team has remained healthy while beginning to create depth after 17 of 22 senior starters departed after the 2023 season.

"I feel like we are getting better," Calhoun said. "But we are going to have a lot of competition that lasts through the summer and into fall camp."

The Packers have gone 25-2 over the last two seasons and last fall's edition not only was senior-oriented, but many of those 12th-graders are among the best Colquitt County High has produced.

Among the most crucial positions that need replenishing are quarterback and receiver.

Calhoun said the receiver situation "is moving in the right direction" while trying to replace Ny Carr, Zay Williams, Landen Thomas, Markese Wilson and Jaden Fowler.

The quintet combined to catch 168 passes, including 37 for touchdowns last season, when the Packers went 12-1.

The battle to replace Neko Fann, the most productive quarterback in Packers history, is between rising junior A'Zhiyen Alridge and rising freshman Cohen Lawson.

Neither has claimed the starting job yet.

Calhoun said the competition will likely last through the summer, which will include crucial 7-on-7 competitions at Florida State on June 5 and at the University of Florida on June 12.

Both are expected to have the opportunity to display their progress against Coffee on Tuesday.

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium with all seats set at $5.

There is, however, an 80 percent chance of rain that could cause the game to be moved to the Ray Goff-Virgil Seay Indoor Facility.

A decision on when and where the game will be played could be made on Monday.

Calhoun said he and his team are eager to meet the Trojans, who went 15-0 and won the Class 5A state championship last December.

It was the first state title in school history.

"We knew they'd be well-coached and physical," Calhoun said. "And need to see that."

The Trojans rolled up 583 points of offense last season and allowed just 100, including 14 in the state championship-clinching 31-14 win over Creekside at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Coffee had 396 yards of offense against Creekside and held the Seminoles to just 67 yards on the ground.

But like the Packers, Coffee will have to replace several top offensive performers this season.

Fred Brown, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back who carried 35 times for 171 yards and a touchdown in the state championship game victory, is gone.

So is quarterback Maurice Hansley, who threw for 124 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two scores in the title game.

Colquitt and Coffee have not met since 2013 when the Packers took a 31-15 regular-season victory at Jardine Stadium.

It was the fifth in a row for the Packers in a series in which they hold a 23-6 advantage.

Colquitt and Coffee were fellow members of Region 1-4A from 1988-1999; Region 1-5A from 2000-2011; and Region 1-6A from 2012-2013.

Coffee is coached by Mike Coe, who in his two seasons in Douglas has led the Trojans to a combined record of 25-3.

Coe went to Douglas from Madison County, Fla., where he led the Cowboys to a 133-30 record over 12 seasons that included state championships in 2017-2019 and 2021.

He has made an immediate impact on the Coffee program, which had never won more than 10 games in a season, although the Trojans did reach the state championship game in 2015 under Robby Pruitt, but lost in overtime to Lee County.

And while Coe has never led the maroon, gold and white Trojans against Colquitt County, he is not exactly unfamiliar with the Hawg Pen.

On Aug. 26, 2011, he brought his Madison County team, ranked No. 2 in Class AAA in Florida, to Moultrie to face the Packers.

And with the Cowboys leading 19-10 and Packers pinned back on their own 12-yard line with 1:51 remaining, it appeared the trip north would be a successful one.

But Colquitt then drove to score a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Cole Segraves to Ty Smith with 35.9 seconds left and Oscar Luna added the extra point to pull the Packers to within two.

The Packers attempted an onside kick and Tre Cooper emerged from the pile with the ball. With 17.5 seconds left, Luna was summoned to try a 45-yard field goal.

Madison was flagged for encroachment and the ball was moved five yards closer to the Cowboys goal line.

It didn't matter.

Luna's kick would have been good from 50 yards away and the Packers had pulled off the improbable 20-19 win in front of the home fans.

But that was 13 years and another school ago.

"He has won a bunch of games," Calhoun said of Coe. "And Coffee will be good for the next x-number of years.

"The state championship should have given them great momentum heading into the off-season."