By: By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
August 25, 2013
It was a mismatch.
From the game’s opening moments, all the way until the final snap, the game belonged, solely and completely, to the Callaway Cavaliers.
They were the superior team in every way imaginable, and that fact was expressed on the scoreboard, with the Cavaliers rolling to a 34-0 victory over the rival Heard County Braves.
Callaway’s offense was as dynamic as expected, with Tez Parks leading the way from his quarterback position and running back Devon Rosser doing all sorts of damage as well.
The Cavaliers moved the ball with ease, with Parks and the running backs taking advantage of huge holes opened up by the offensive linemen.
Callaway’s defense, which was pushed around in last year’s 43-37 loss to Heard County, was spectacular.
The Braves not only didn’t score, they didn’t come close to putting points on the board, didn’t even sniff the end zone.
It was so different from a year ago when the Braves and Cavaliers opened the season at Callaway Stadium.
That was a remarkable, back-and-forth game, with Heard County pulling off a fourth-quarter rally to win the inaugural Pulpwood Classic.
This year, there was no suspense.
Callaway took control early and never looked back, never let Heard County get even a hint that it could compete.
“I was very proud of our guys,” said one of the men responsible for Callaway’s success, senior defensive lineman Keshun Freeman. “They went out and worked really hard. Everyone was familiar with the job they had to do. Everybody was in the right place at the right time.”
Things started unraveling for Heard County from the start when it fumbled the ball away on its first possession.
The Cavaliers only needed a few plays to take the lead, with Parks scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run, and Hunter Milliman made the extra point.
Callaway padded its lead in the second quarter, with Dre Martin’s blocked punt setting up another touchdown.
Martin also had a sack on third-down to force the Heard County punt attempt.
Two plays after the block, Park did the honors again, beating the Heard County defense for a 15-yard touchdown with 7:09 left in the half.
On the extra-point attempt, the Cavaliers showed that even when things go wrong, they can turn it into something positive.
Parks was the holder on the extra point, and he was unable to get the ball down.
Parks rolled out, and he found J’Lynn Allen in the end zone for the two-point conversion, and the Cavaliers were up 15-0, which was the score at the half.
The Braves had the ball at the end of the first half with a chance to put something on the board, but once again the Cavalier defense was up to the challenge.
On a pass play, Callaway’s Terry Godwin put a big hit on the receiver, and Michael Moss came up with the interception.
Callaway’s offense ran one kneel-down play after that, and it was halftime.
“They established a pretty good drive there right before the half,” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said. “Terry makes a great hit on the guy and makes him cough it up, and we pick it up. That was a big momentum turner, them not getting any points. Even if they get three before the half, they get a little bit of momentum. That took a little wind out of their sails.”
Despite everything that had gone wrong, the Braves were within two touchdowns, and they had an entire half of football left to play.
The Cavaliers had no intention of taking letting the Braves think they had a chance on this night, though.
The Cavaliers nearly added to their lead on their first possession of the second half.
They made it to the Heard County 5-yard line, but a penalty backed the ball all the way back to the 21-yard line.
On fourth down, the Cavaliers went for it, and Parks threw a jump ball toward the end zone, and Godwin went up and came down with it.
Godwin was tackled inches from the goal line, though, turning the ball over to the Braves.
The Braves couldn’t take advantage of that break, though, and they had to punt after Freeman’s third-down sack.
After that, it took the Cavaliers all of one play to score.
Rosser took a handoff from Parks, and he beat the Heard County defense for a 54-yard touchdown run, and the Cavaliers were up 21-0 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
Heard County’s next possession ended in another three-and-out, and the Cavaliers took over at their own 35-yard line.
Parks and Rosser both ripped off long runs to give the Cavaliers first-and-goal at the 5-yard line.
On second down, the Braves looked like they might catch a break when the snap was mishandled and the ball came loose, but lineman Harley Taber was on the spot, and he fell on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.
With 42 seconds left in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were up 27-0, and any doubt concerning the game’s outcome had been removed.
The Cavaliers put an exclamation point on the rout with another touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Cedric Maynard got into the act with a 22-yard run, and Rosser and Parks had nice runs as well to put the ball on the Heard County 30-yard line.
On the next play, Parks took off, and 30 yards later he was standing in the end zone with the final touchdown.
Milliman converted the extra point, and the Cavaliers were up 34-0 with 8:59 left to play.
Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins emptied the bench, and the only issue was if the back-up defensive players could preserve the shutout, and they did.
Parks and Rosser combined for nearly 300 rushing yards and four touchdowns to lead the offensive effort, and the men up front made sure they had plenty of holes to run through.
Defensively, Freeman led the way with 12 tackles, and fellow defensive lineman Deon Smith had eight tackles, including three for loss.
Linebacker Labronze Zeleya chipped in with eight tackles from his sam linebacker position.
The Cavaliers finished the game with 10 tackles for loss, including three sacks, and they forced four turnovers.
“We did talk about whoever won the turnover battle was going to win the game,” Hubbard said. “And we did a good job, especially in the first half, of getting turnovers.”
The Cavaliers now turn their attention to another big game.
They’re off this week, and they’ll make their season debut at Callaway Stadium on Sept. 6 when they face the rival Troup Tigers.
As much fun as Friday was, Freeman said no one is satisfied.
It was, after all, simply the first step on a long journey.
“Our goal this year is to go all the way,” Freeman said. “We’ve been working hard in practice, and even sometimes after practice. Me, Ricktez, and some of the other seniors we’ll get together and do some extra running, and extra practices by ourselves. This year, we’re really working on being a better team, and being brothers, and not just teammates.”