The lights will be shining brightly, and the stands will be packed at Hogansville’s Hendrix Field Friday night.
For the past decade, Callaway has played its preseason game at Hendrix Field, which for years was where the Hogansville High football team played its games.
On Friday, the gates at the stadium will be open once again as Callaway and Greenville play a preseason game.
Callaway will open its season against LaGrange High on Aug. 22.
Pete Wiggins, who is heading into his 10th season as Callaway’s head coach, said the preseason game in Hogansville is always a great time.
“The stadium in Hogansville is a great atmosphere,” Wiggins said. “The city really gets involved. There’s a lot of excitement and emotion at the stadium when we play there on Friday night. It’s a great atmosphere for us to play in. The kids are excited, and we’re looking forward to it.”
For the past two years, Callaway played Shaw in the preseason game, but it had played Greenville for several years before that.
Wiggins said it’s great to have Greenville back on the schedule.
“Obviously the Hogansville, Greenville rivalry is very special to our community, and to Hogansville,” Wiggins said. “It just makes that game a little bit more special, and I’m proud we’re back playing Greenville again. Hogansville and Greenville are in each other’s back yards. It should be a big atmosphere for both sides. I know Greenville has a great football team, and it should be a tough match-up.”
Wiggins said his hope is that the Cavaliers go out and play a clean game Friday night.
“We’re looking for good fundamental football,” Wiggins said. “We want to run to the ball on defense, and play fast. Offensive-line wise we want to maintain our blocks for five seconds, and the backs run hard, and ball security is critical. And just minimize mental mistakes and just play Callaway football.”
The Cavaliers are in the midst of their third full week of preseason practice, and Wiggins said everyone is ready for Friday’s game.
“All of our kids have been working for a long time, and they’re ready to play,” Wiggins said. “We’re looking forward to Friday night so we can hit somebody else. We’re excited about it.”
The Cavaliers are heading into a new season with enormously high expectations.
The Cavaliers are coming off a stellar 2013 season.
The Cavaliers went 12-2 and made it to the Class AAA semifinals where they lost to Buford 24-14.
The Cavaliers did lose some key pieces from that team on both sides of the football.
The leading tackler in KeShun Freeman graduated, as did quarterback Tez Parks, whose dynamic presence helped the offense put up huge numbers.
A handful of other key seniors also left the program behind, and none of those players will be easy to replace.
The Cavaliers are still a tremendously talented team, though.
Leading the way is senior wide receiver and defensive back Terry Godwin, who is one of the state’s best players.
Also back is running back Eddie Culpepper, who had nine touchdowns in the playoffs last season, and he’ll be running behind a veteran offensive line.
The Cavaliers were hit especially hard by graduation on defense, but there are a handful of gifted players returning on that side of the ball, including standout linebacker LaBronze Zelaya.
The Cavaliers head into the season figuring to be one of the teams to beat in Class AAA, and that journey is about to get under way.
Wiggins said the coaches and players aren’t concerned with what might happen down the road, though.
He said the Cavaliers’ only concern is making sure they improve every day.
“We always go one day at a time, and try to get better with each game,” Wiggins said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 (ext. 232) or on Twitter @lagrangesports