Another big year for Callaway sports teams
HOGANSVILLE – They were not going to be denied.
On the final day of the 2014 regular season, the Callaway Cavaliers and Central-Carroll Lions played an epic, memorable football game.
It was the visiting Lions winning in dramatic fashion when they blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown as time expired.
That game was still very much on the minds of the Callaway players as they headed to Central-Carroll on a November night last fall for the Region 5-AAA championship game.
Once again, the two teams delivered a stirring game
As was the case the previous year, it was a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire game, but this time it was the Cavaliers who got to do the celebrating.
Quarterback Dylan Johnson scored a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining, and the defense made a stand to secure the 21-14 victory.
That was one of the many highlights during the 2015-2016 school year on the Callaway sports scene.
The year was highlighted by the region championships won by the football team and the boys’ basketball team, but there were plenty of other memorable moments as well.
Callaway has developed a stellar all-around athletics program, and that was on display once again during the most recent school year.
Here’s a look back at Callaway’s 2015-2016 year in sports:
GETTING IT DONE: Callaway’s football team had its hands full with a Central-Carroll team that was looking to win back-to-back region titles.
The Cavaliers found a way, though.
In a game that was played on a sloppy, muddy field at Central-Carroll, Callaway put together a late-game touchdown drive to win it.
“I’m so excited for these kids, and how far they came from Day 1, and the work ethic and great attitude that they have,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said following that game. “It’s just such a great representation of Callaway football.”
Fittingly, it was Cedric Maynard who put the Cavaliers in position to win the game.
Maynard had a remarkable senior season, running for nearly 2,500 yards, and it was his 71-yard run late in the fourth quarter that put the Cavaliers close to the end zone.
Two plays after Maynard’s run, Johnson bulled his way into the end zone to give the Cavaliers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Dre Martin, a senior who was a part of so many special moments over the years, had the game-clinching interception.
After a kneel-down play by Johnson, the party was on.
“It feels great,” senior defensive back Tyrek Frazier said. “We knew it was going to be a good game coming in. We fought tough, we had adversity out here, and we got the win. I’m proud.”
That win capped a 9-1 regular season for the Cavaliers, and they were riding high heading into the state playoffs.
After a 38-20 win over Hart County in the first round of the playoffs, though, Callaway met its match in the second round.
Westminster, which would go on to win the Class AAA state title, beat Callaway 45-20.
While the Cavaliers didn’t achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship, they gave their fans plenty to cheer about during the season.
Callaway went 10-2, claimed a region title and won a game in the state playoffs.
Wiggins said the final game was another example of the never-say-die attitude of the players, even if the outcome didn’t go his team’s way.
Wiggins said the players “never quit fighting.”
“They showed the same character that they’ve shown all year, and that’s a never-give-up mentality,” Wiggins added.
A lot of the season highlights were provided by Maynard.
In 12 games, Maynard ran for 2,415 yards on 252 carries, and he scored 26 touchdowns.
Maynard finished just shy of 2,500 yards, a number that only 15 running backs in the history of Georgia have achieved.
Considering Maynard didn’t have fewer than 100 yards in a game during the season, it’s a safe bet he would have reached 2,500 yards if Callaway had played another game.
Still, Maynard’s year was a fantastic one, and he made the most of his one and only season as the starting running back.
“My mindset was to achieve my goals, just see what I could do,” Maynard said following the season-ending loss.
A FOUR-PEAT: They left no doubt.
Under veteran coach Terry Hayes, the Callaway boys’ basketball team made it four region championships in a row by blowing out Rockmart 61-41 in February.
“That’s phenomenal. That’s history,” Hayes said. “That’s something you’ll tell your grandkids about.”
Callaway began its run of region titles by beating Douglass 74-64 in 2013, and it beat Jackson 82-67 in 2014 before making a run to the final four of the state tournament.
A year ago, Callaway outlasted Rockmart 69-63 in the region-title game before advancing to the quarterfinals at state.
“It feels good,” senior Ernest Patillo said following last season’s region-title game. “I’m proud to be a Callaway Cavalier, and I’m proud for coach Hayes. With all the hard work he goes through, we should be ready.”
The Cavaliers headed to the state tournament feeling they could make an extended run, but they ended up bowing out in the second round against a strong South Atlanta team.
Callaway hung tough and made a nice comeback at the end, but it was South Atlanta hanging on for a 79-73 win.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” Hayes said. “They fought their hearts out. We made a lot of mistakes we should haven’t made, but give South Atlanta credit. They earned it.”
In his final high-school game, Patillo came up big with 19 points, and fellow seniors Dre Martin and Joe Brown added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Patillo, Martin, Brown, starting guard Quantrez Cooper and key bench player J.T. Wortham are part of a senior class that enjoyed phenomenal success during their time at Callaway.
“They’ve been to a final four, the elite eight, and they went to the sweet 16 the last three years,” Hayes said of the seniors. “They went 20-4 (this season), they won four straight region championships. They accomplished a lot.”
MORE STATE SUCCESS: Winning in the playoffs is nothing new for the Callaway High baseball program.
After making back-to-back trips to the state quarterfinals, the Cavaliers reached the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs this year.
The Cavaliers came into the season with a lot of question marks because of the players they lost from the 2015 team, but they made tremendous strides as the season went along and continued to win big under head coach Dusty Hubbard.
“I told the guys, I’m as proud of y’all as any group we’ve ever had,” Hubbard said. “We’ve faced so much adversity. They’ve had people telling you all year you’re not as good a team as we’ve had in the past. And they just kept playing.”
Even in losing, Callaway did itself proud.
In the second round of the playoffs, Callaway hung tough with a powerful Blessed Trinity team that had won back-to-back state championships.
After losing the first game 2-0, Callaway’s season ended with a 5-2 loss.
In both games, Callaway either had the winning run or the tying run on base in the final inning.
“We played well against those guys,” Hubbard said. “We stood toe-to-toe with them. If we’d caught a couple of breaks here and there, it’s a different game. But that’s why they’re two-time defending state champions. They make the plays when they need to.”
HITTING THEIR STRIDE: The Callaway Lady Cavaliers had their struggles early in the basketball season, but once they hit their stride, they were off and running.
After beating Rockmart 47-43 in the third-place game in the Region 5-AAA tournament, Callaway had won six of seven games, and it was hoping to go on the road and pull off a win in the state tournament.
Callaway was competitive with Hart County, but it ended up falling 69-55.
It was, nonetheless, a successful season for Deyano Martin’s Lady Cavaliers, who finished second in the region in the regular season.
One of Callaway’s top players was senior guard Tanesha Johnson, who is set to sign a letter of intent to play college basketball later this week.
It was hardly a one-person show, though.
“That’s what I like about this team. There’s really no single person on the team to rely on,” Martin said. “Any of these girls can beat you. KiKi Owens can give you 13 one night, and Alexus Scott will give you 13. And then Chyna (Cameron) will give you 18, and Tanesha will give you 20 sometimes. And Zamari (Hardnett), she can have a big night. It’s spread out.”
SOCCER SUCCESS: It was a tremendous season for the Callaway Lady Cavaliers, who finished third in Region 5-AAA with a 7-3 record to qualify for the state playoffs.
Despite having a new coaching staff featuring Kristen Clonts and Shawna Yawn, things ran smoothly from Day 1, and the Lady Cavaliers made a strong run at a region championship before finishing second behind Central-Carroll and Rockmart.
“With all the changes, for them to overcome that and do better than they’ve ever done, is great,” Clonts said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Callaway should be poised for big things against next season with so many talented players returning.
While Callaway’s boys’ team didn’t make it to the state playoffs, the team did finish its region schedule with an impressive 3-0 win over Pepperell.
“That was probably the game of their lives,” Hembree said. “I haven’t seen that group put together a game like that all season. It was a team effort.”
One of the highlights of that night came when senior D’Angelo McCauley scored his first career goal, either on the junior varsity or varsity level.
“I’d never scored a goal. That was my first time,” McCauley said. “I thought at first it went over. But I saw with my peripheral vision that it went in.”
McCauley said that moment “really made it all worth it. I earned that.”
FINDING A WAY: The Callaway softball team, led by a strong group of seniors, returned to the state playoffs last season and gave top-seeded Morgan County a run for its money.
Callaway lost the first game 7-6 before dropping the second and final game 8-4.
“They’re just a solid ballclub that makes plays,” Callaway coach Ashley Summerlin said of Morgan County. “They made one error today, and we made a lot. We hung right there with them. We just didn’t make the plays, and they did. In the playoffs, when you play good teams, you give them extra outs, they take advantage of it, and they did.”
Still, as was the case so often during the season, Callaway made things interesting and kept fighting until the end, even when things looked bleak.
“That’s a testament to not giving up, and competing to the last out,” Summerlin said. “We did that this year.”
One of the team’s talented seniors, Keshonna Terrell, hit a three-run home run in the first game against Morgan County, and she had a bases-loaded triple in the second game.
The other seniors were Brittany Mitchell, Jessica Perkins, Molly Hubbard and Terriyunna Dunson.
Mitchell, Perkins and Hubbard have all signed letters of intent to play college softball.
RUNNING STRONG: Callaway’s cross-country teams each made it through to the state meet in Carrollton after strong performances at the Region 5-AAA meet.
The Lady Cavaliers, led by an eighth-place showing by Sierra Jones, finished third at region.
Mackenzie Scott (11th), Judy Kim (16th), Megan Scott (17th) and Lindsey Cho (18th) added top-20 finishes.
The Cavaliers got a ninth-place finish from Gabe Liranzo and a 10th-place finish from Chase Drake on the way to a fourth-place finish at region.
Callaway’s girls’ team won the county championship in October after placing three runners in the top eight, including Jones, who finished second.
PLACING AGAIN: For the second straight year, Callaway wrestler Justin Kiss earned a place on the awards podium.
After finishing sixth as a freshman, Kiss placed sixth once again to a cap a dominant sophomore season.
Kiss, who won an area championship, was unbeaten until he lost in the state sectional.
It was a successful all-around season for Callaway, with nine of its wrestlers making it to the state sectional.
Included in that group was Khaliq Swift, who won an area title.
Callaway’s second-place finishers were Andrew Thomas (170 pounds), Matthew Wingate (152 pounds), Ken Wilson (120 pounds) and Gabriel Liranzo (160 pounds).
Senior Brandon Boddie, who is in his first season wrestling, was third in the 220-pound weight class, and Jason Freiberg (132 pounds) and Nick Trammell (182 pounds) each finished fourth.
With so many talented wrestlers returning next season, the future looks bright for Callaway’s wrestling program.
“We’re only going to go anywhere but up,” head coach Josh Ghobadpoor said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports