Rush Propst’s Colquitt County Packers will enter spring practice looking to ease the pain of last year’s state-title loss on a last-second field goal from North Gwinnett following a penalty that allowed the Bulldogs excellent late-game field position.
“We have kind of a sour taste in our mouths,” said Propst of last year’s finish. “There is a fire in our belly and a determination in our kids. But at the end of the day, all that is only good offseason talk. When you get in that week of preparation for a football game, you hone in on the scheme, you hone in on personnel and matchups and all the things that come along with winning a football game. You just have to settle in and play the game, too.”
Last year, the Packers opened with a victory over Norcross 20-17 in the Corky Kell Classic at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta. Colquitt carried that momentum through the next three games before falling to Brookwood 43-25 on the road. The Packers struggled through arguably the toughest region in the state and fell to Tift County and Lowndes to close their regular season 7-3.
Once in the playoffs, the Packers were forced to go on the road for each game. Not bothered, however, Colquitt moved through Pebblebrook 49-7 before facing an undefeated Walton team. The Packers earned the quarterfinal berth with a 28-21 victory over the Raiders, and Archer was next. Colquitt kept momentum and control throughout the game and walked away with a 12-7 victory that set up a rematch with Brookwood in the semis. Following the 31-14 victory over the Broncos, Colquitt, as the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAAAA, earned a berth in the state title game against North Gwinnett.
But that was last year. This season, Colquitt will use spring practice to find a replacement for Steven Krajewski, who passed for 2,395 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 199 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“We have a hole to fill, we do,” said Propst. “I have a lot of confidence in the kid we got. He’s an in-house kid who’s come up through our system. But for Jaycee Harden, well, it’s his job to lose. He’s the older kid and he’s a starter in baseball. I’ve always said that, if you go back and look at the draft, about 80 or 90 percent of the first-round picks were multi-sport athletes, and he is. We believe in the dual-sport athletes, especially at the quarterback position. He has the heart of a champion and understands our system.”
For Colquitt, depth is everywhere: offense, defense and special teams.
In the backfield, star running back Ty Leggett (5-foot-10, 172 pounds) returns and will likely improve upon his numbers from the runner-up season. Last season, Leggett rushed for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns on 206 carries. If Leggett is tied up, another option on the ground is rising junior Daijun Edwards.
“Not only Ty Leggett,” Propst said. “We have the No. 1 running back prospect in the state of Georgia in the 2020 class. I don’t know a running back in the state of Georgia better than him, Edwards. We really have a one-two punch there, Leggett being the senior leader and Division 1 prospect. So we really have two really good backs. We are deep at the running back spot.”
Edwards is rated as a 4-star recruit by 247Sports. The 5-11, 205-pound running back also had impressive numbers, rushing for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns on 176 carries in 2017. He’s rated as the 20th-best running back in the state according to 247.
The receiver corps will need to fill the void left by Cam Singletary’s graduation. Last year, Singletary caught 79 passes for 1,025 yards and 11 touchdowns. Three rising seniors could help fill the spot — K.T. Wilson caught 24 passes for 356 yards and five touchdowns last year. Marvion McDonald had 19 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and Josh Hadley caught 16 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
“Receiver-wise, we have both of our starters back in Marvion McDonald and K.T. Wilson,” Propst said. “But we have other guys that are young guys that are really, really talented players, really good athletes, long, fast and athletic. Our inside slot receivers, we have Tyrik Williams and Tyler Walker, who was ineligible last year. His cousin is at Arkansas. So, we have some kids who were ineligible who moved in and they’ll be playing.”
On defense, rising senior Rashad Revels returns and will add to his numbers this season. Last year, Revels, a 6-0, 183-pound linebacker, made 104 solo tackles with 97 assists for 201 total tackles. Marcus Anderson, a 5-11, 200-pound middle linebacker, made 82 solo tackles with 66 assists for 148 total tackles. Corner Jay Ward (6-1, 175 pounds) has been offered by Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Kentucky to name a few. NyQuann Washington (5-11, 170 pounds) is also a threat to opposing quarterbacks with his athleticism and knack for interceptions.
“I think defensively we are as deep as we’ve ever been,” said Propst. “We have guys everywhere. It’s really a pleasure to have what we’ve got, athletes all over the field. Jay Ward has been offered by everybody at corner. He’s a 6-2 corner that can play and had four picks in the playoffs last year. NyQuann Washington is going to be a rising junior and he had five picks in the playoffs. That’s nine picks between our corners. We look for them to do good things this year.”
Colquitt County’s 2018 Schedule
8/18 at McEachern (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
8/25 vs. Trinity Catholic, MO
8/31 vs. Thomasville
9/07 vs. Valdosta
9/14 at Warner Robins (MT)
9/21 at Grayson
9/28 vs. Alcovy
10/12 vs. Camden County
10/19 at Tift County
10/26 vs. Lowndes