Players believe in ability
Sports commentary By Kevin Eckleberry
The Callaway Cavaliers believe.
Does that mean they’re going to walk into Buford’s stadium tonight and come away with a win?
What it does mean is that the Cavaliers, who are enjoying the finest season in school history, think they can win.
They know they can win.
Never mind that the Wolves are beating everybody by an average score of 49-6, and that they’ve won each of their three playoff games by at least 30 points.
These Cavaliers are brimming with confidence, and that feeling is backed up by the fact that they’re playing outstanding football.
In their three playoff games, the Cavaliers are averaging nearly 50 points per game, and they’ve been getting it done on the defensive end, too.
In the quarterfinals last week, Callaway took on a St. Pius team that played for a state championship a year ago and won 35-21.
Callaway’s players have looked so comfortable on the state-playoff stage, and they seem to be embracing the challenge of playing a team everybody figures will win another state championship.
It is an epic challenge.
What Buford has done to teams this season is just silly.
The closest thing the Wolves have had to a competitive game came in the second week in a 38-14 win over Gainesville.
And that’s a Gainesville team that is chasing a second straight state championship of its own.
In the playoffs, Buford hasn’t come close to being tested.
In the quarterfinals last week, Buford charged out to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter and won 36-6.
The Wolves pummel teams with their power running game, and their suffocating defense barely gives up anything.
In three playoff games, Buford’s opponents have scored 13 points.
Many of these players were starters on last year’s championship team, so this is an experienced, talented team that also has the benefit of playing at home.
That’s what’s confronting the Cavaliers, and they’re fine with that.
The players I’ve talked to are embracing the challenge.
A lot of teams head into a game with Buford with a sense of unsureness.
That will not be the case with the Cavaliers.
Far from it.
Callaway has the talent to match up with anyone, and the players have absolute faith in themselves as well as the game plan the coaches have put in place.
It’s very possible Buford hasn’t seen a team with the sort of skill players Callaway possesses.
Whether it’s quarterback Tez Parks making a brilliant play, or running back Eddie Culpepper ripping off a long touchdown run, or wide receiver and defensive back Terry Godwin delivering a Sports-Center moment, or linebacker KeShun Freeman chasing down a ball-carrier, the Cavaliers have no shortage of guys capable of making an impact.
The Cavaliers aren’t just a team that delivers highlights, though.
This is a physical team that dominates the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
These Cavaliers are flashy, sure, but they can also pound you with their physical play.
Teams don’t reach this point by accident.
The Cavaliers are a well-rounded, well-coached team has earned its place in the final four.
So, who will it be?
Will Buford take another step toward a sixth state championship in seven years, or will Callaway stun the state and pull off an epic win?
The Cavaliers have to avoid getting blown out early, which most of Buford’s opponents have failed to do.
If the Cavaliers can keep it close, they’ve got some play-makers who could make the difference in a close game.
Callaway can make it happen, but it’s hard to pick against Buford, especially when it is playing at home.
I like Buford to make it back to the title game for the seventh straight season.
And if I’m wrong (which I hope I am), the Callaway coaches and players are more than welcome to let me hear about it when I’m talking to them next week in preparation for the championship game in the Georgia Dome.
And as always, I’ll be providing game updates on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LDNsports, and on Twitter @lagrangesports
Enjoy the game.
MY PICK: 35-27
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