May 16—MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County ninth-, eighth- and seventh-grade football teams conducted their end-of-spring scrimmages in front of fans on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium on Saturday morning and the teams' coaches seem optimistic about this fall's prospects.
Ninth-grade head coach Kirk Woodall said his 2021 team is much like the other two he has coached at Colquitt County.
"They seem to have bought into my philosophy, which is to be super physical," Woodall said.
That was on display Saturday morning.
Woodall believes his team's bright spot will again be its defense.
The transition from eighth-grade football to high school football is the most difficult and Woodall and his staff are working hard to help the players adapt.
Woodall says the numbers a bit lacking, partly because a number of players who would have been on the eighth-grade team last year sat out because of the coronavirus.
"We've got about 48 or 49 players," Woodall said. "We'd like it to be about 60."
The higher the numbers the easier it is to build depth.
"There are still some kids walking the halls that we'd like to have out," Woodall said, adding that any student interested in playing should contact him.
Joining Woodall on the ninth-grade staff are former Thomas County Central head football coach Bill Shaver, new linebackers coach Eric Rand and holdovers Corey Harper, who will work with the receivers, and offensive line coach Trey Perkins.
Also on the staff this season is varsity strength and conditioning coordinator Zack Stanaland, who will be the defensive coordinator and work with the secondary.
The staff will try to take what Woodall thinks is a strong nucleus and create a winning team.
"That's our job as coaches," Woodall said. "We have to build that belief that they will be successful."
Starting June 7, the ninth-grade team will practice Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 am.-12:30 p.m.
Eighth-grade head coach Darius Dawson says his team does not appear to have a lot of big-time players.
"But they are a group of hard-working young men," Dawson said. "And I'll take that any time."
His spring roster of 45-50 players has some players who were not in the program as seventh-graders last year.
And being a former Colquitt County and Georgia Southern linebacker, Dawson was pleased with how his defense flew around in Saturday morning's scrimmage.
He says the offense is a bit behind. The group is missing about five players who were on the seventh-grade team last year.
"We are missing all the running backs from last year," Dawson said. "But the three we have ran hard."
Dawson said his staff will have to build depth on the offensive line.
The eighth-grade assistants are Brandon Coleman, Roscoe Singletary, Derek Illian, Jarvis Lambright and Charlie Thornton, all former Packers.
Even volunteer Thad Brown, whose primary work is with the varsity boys basketball program, is a former outstanding Colquitt County High defensive back.
The Colquitt County seventh-grade team had just seven days of practice before performing Saturday morning.
"Most of these kids were new because of COVID," head coach Andy Chapura said. "With only seven days of practice, it was hard, but these kids were able to run plays.
"And our defense played good. Against the 8s, our black hats (defense) held their own."
Chapura's staff includes Jon Scroggins, Nate Madison and Timmy Jack Barnes working with the defense, and coordinator Todd Myrick, Glenn Jackson, Tyrell Cheevers and Carlos Bautista handling the defense.
The seventh-grade team will start summer work on July 12, with practices from 6-7:30 p.m.
Chapura said interested players can pick up an information packet in the Willie J. Williams Middle School main office.