Packers play host to Westlake, seek first victory of season
September 10, 2010Colquitt County Sr High School
By Wayne Grandy of 'The Moultrie Observer'
MOULTRIE - MOULTRIE - Beginning last Sunday, two days after his Packers lost 35-29 to Thomas County Central in overtime to fall to 0-3, Colquitt County Coach Rush Propst began a specific challenge to his players, especially those on the defensive side of the football.
"We've asked them to consider on each snap, on each play, what have I done to change that play in our favor," Propst said Thursday. "We've harped on it and harped on it, asking them to think what did I do to change the outcome of that particular play?
"And on Tuesday, we had the best practice we've had defensively this season. We're hoping this will translate into winning.
"If this season gets turned around, we'll look back on Sept. 7."
The Packers will try to begin to right their season today when Region 2-AAAAA's Westlake visits from Atlanta. The game marks the halfway point in Colquitt County's six-game pre-Region 1-AAAAA part of the schedule. Home games against Warner Robins and Carver of Montgomery, Ala., await before league play begins on Oct. 8 at Tift County.
The Packers have struggled defensively the last two games and Propst said he hopes a renewed focus will help in stopping the 1-1 Lions.
Westlake lost to Washington in its opener then defeated McNair 21-12 last week.
The Lions have some outstanding athletes, especially on defense, and the Pack must be more consistent with its veteran-laden offense.
Colquitt rolled up 423 yards of offense and scored four touchdowns in the loss to Thomas County Central, but turned the ball over twice late in the game.
"Our offensive consistency is just not there yet," Propst said.
The Packers played without wide receiver Octavius Little against the Yellow Jackets and Little is still slowed by illness and a sore ankle.
The offensive line will again have Bryce Giddens at center, Garrett Brewer and Trey Rhymes at the guards and Xzavier Ward and Tommy Marshall at the tackles.
Propst said Marshall did an outstanding job neutralizing Central's all-state defensive end Ray Drew.
Tommy Hudson and Blake Stamps will be back at wide receiver. Stamps caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown last week. Hudson remains the Packers leading receiver with 14 catches.
Fred Phillips filled in for Little much of the game last Friday.
Tyler Brown will start at quarterback, with D'Amonte Ridley and Tevin King with him in the backfield.
The Lions will have a strong secondary, led by safety Chris Tavarez and corner Ronnie Harris. Amir Mustafa, a 6-1, 250-pound defensive lineman also can cause problems.
"They've got some strong defensive kids," Propst said. "I think they are better defensively than Cook or Thomas County Central. They fly around and tackle well."
And the Lions were stout when they played the Packers in the first round of the playoffs last year, falling 10-0.
Defensively, the Packers would like to duplicate last year's effort and keep the Lions off the scoreboard.
Westlake returns seven starters on offense and will try to take advantage of a defense that has given up 841 yards over the last two weeks and has not come up with a turnover in any of the three games.
"We have got to manufacture some stops and get some turnovers," Propst said. "The mentality of our defense has to change. We have got to be more opportunistic."
Defensively, the Packers will start Quan Daniels and DeRhyan Arnold at the ends, with Wayne Jackson and Creig Harris backing them up. Brett Smith and Richard Kinsey will start at the tackles, with big sophomore Octavius Jackson and freshman Michael Parrish getting plenty of snaps.
Da'Quan Nelson, Rashawn Hunt, Ikeem Blakely and John Gray will get most of the work at the linebacker positions.
Propst said senior middle linebacker Stephen Moore, who has missed the last two games and most of the opener with an ankle injury, is questionable, but if ready, could play 10-15 snaps.
"I think he's ready to play a little," Propst said. "But we want to be very careful with him."
Starting cornerback Stacey Blackwell, injured in the loss to South Panola, is doubtful. E'Darius Davis and Trey Scott are the likely starters at corner. Ronnie Caldwell will be at free safety and Payne Newsome will be at rover. Vann Pitts, Anthony Brumbley and Tae Avery also will play.
Propst said Tre Cooper has been moved from offense to help at safety.
"We think that move will really help us," he said.
The Packers must find a way to keep the Lions offense off the field. He noted that Central snapped the ball 62 times, while the Packers ran just 52 plays.
"You'll lose 80 to 85 percent of the time when the other team snaps it more than you do," Propst said
The Packers coach said he thinks Westlake has more athletes on offense than Thomas County Central had, but the Lions run a more conventional offense.
"We were very fortunate to win that game last year," Propst said. "They had much more offense than we had. They had good field position, they just didn't score. Willie McCrary and Emory Wheeler made some outstanding plays on the goal line.
"They are a scary group. I think we are going to be in a dog fight Friday night."
And Propst again emphasized the importance of getting a marker in the win column.
"We are doing some things to try to change their mindset," he said. "We reminded them that they were ranked No. 33 in the nation and No. 5 in the state. We've told them they are a good football team. They just haven't won yet.
"If we'll just play with high emotion, intensity and desire and with that one-play mentality, we should be OK."
Also tonight in Region 1-AAAAA, Coffee will go to Appling County, Lowndes will play host to Leon High of Tallahassee, Tift County will entertain Stephenson and Valdosta will meet Lincoln High of Tallahassee at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.