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Propst has Packers back in state title mix -- again

Colquitt County head football coach Rush Propst led Hoover High (Ala.) to five state titles before coming to Moultrie, where he's led the Packers to three straight state playoff appearances, including back-to-back Final Fours. (Moultrie Observer/Special to The Herald)

Colquitt County head football coach Rush Propst led Hoover High (Ala.) to five state titles before coming to Moultrie, where he's led the Packers to three straight state playoff appearances, including back-to-back Final Fours. (Moultrie Observer/Special to The Herald)

MOULTRIE -- One of the more interesting facts that Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye of the Georgia High School Football Daily came up with this week is that Colquitt County is the only school to qualify for the last three state semifinals in GHSA Class AAAAA.

Surprising? Perhaps, to some degree.

But state semifinal football games are familiar territory for Packers head coach Rush Propst.

When the Packers travel to Loganville on Friday to take on Grayson in the state semifinals for the second straight year, Propst will be coaching in his 12th semifinal.

Looking Ahead

WHO: Colquitt (11-2) at Grayson (13-0).

WHAT: GHSA Class AAAAA Final Four.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday.

WHERE: Loganville.

TV: WSB or GHSA.tv.

RADIO: 93.9 FM.

IF WIN: Will face winner of Lassiter vs. Walton on Dec. 10 in Georgia Dome.

Of course, while coaching at Hoover (Ala.), he led the Bucs to the semifinals and to the state championship game seven straight times, winning five titles.

Also while coaching in Alabama, Propst took his Ashville and Mobile teams to state semifinals.

And now his last three Colquitt County teams have qualified for a 14th game.

The 2009 Packers could advance no further than the semifinal against Camden County, losing, 19-10, in Kingsland.

Last year, the Packers knocked off Grayson to advance to the Georgia Dome, only to fall to powerhouse Brookwood, 52-38.

The Packers' motto this year has been "Resolve," as they attempt to reach the state championship game and this time give Colquitt County its first state title since 1994.

But Grayson has a motto of its own this year: "Finish the Mission."

The Rams also reached the semifinals in 2008 and 2010, but have yet to play for a state championship.

Expectations are high in Loganville.

The 13-0 Rams have not lost since giving up a fourth-quarter lead and falling to the Packers, 31-24, in last year's state semifinal at Grayson Community Stadium.

The Rams are ranked No.7 in the nation by MaxPreps, No. 5 by USA Today and No. 4 by ESPN.

"This is the second (nationally) ranked team in a row for us," Propst said after his 11-2 Packers defeated Camden County, 32-31, last Friday in Kingsland. "I think the pressure is on them to perform well. They know they will be in a war. It won't be easy for them.

"I like being the underdog."

The Packers' staff has had little rest since arriving back in Moultrie following the dramatic victory against Camden.

With video of 13 Grayson games to break down, the Colquitt County coaches have spent some 30 hours watching the Rams play this season, Propst said.

Wednesday's practice was a crucial one for the Packers, the coach said, adding that there are three keys to winning Friday.

"We have to play with a high-energy level," he said. "And we have to play with passion.

"And we have to have a sense of urgency."

NOTES: The Packers have a plus-14 turnover ratio this season and have scored seven defensive touchdowns. ... Propst said he gets a feeling from the community that the Colquitt County program "arrived" with the victory against Camden .... The 7 p.m. kickoff for Friday's game was dictated by Georgia Public Broadcasting, Propst said Wednesday. Friday's game will be broadcast live on WSB .... Wearing No. 41 for Grayson on Friday will be junior defensive back Marquise Motley. Motley is the grandson of Moultrie's Willie Gene Motley, who played on the 1961 William Bryant High state championship team, and is the son of Mark Motley, who played for the Packers and went on to play at Georgia Military and at the University of Maryland .... The Packers will leave the field house about 9:30 a.m. today and will have breakfast at the Georgia Baptist Convention Center in Norman Park before busing to Gwinnett County, where they will spend the night ... The other state semifinal between 13-0 Walton and 10-3 Lassiter is being dubbed the "Cobb County Super Bowl." The winner will be the first to represent Cobb County' in a state championship game since 2000. No Cobb County school has won a state title since 1967 .... Walton and Lassiter met earlier this season with the Raiders taking down the Trojans, 34-10.