Losing a football game hasn’t been a common occurrence for the Callaway Cavaliers of late.
They’ve reached double digits in wins the past two years, and four times since 2008 they’ve won at least 10 games in a season.
When losses do occur, though, the Cavaliers have done a great job of climbing back on the horse and not letting one loss turn into a losing streak.
The Cavaliers haven’t lost two consecutive games in the same season since 2011, and head coach Pete Wiggins said it’s a matter of putting a loss in the rearview mirror and just moving on.
“Each day we try to get better, and we do feel like that with each game we learn, we get better,” Wiggins said. “That’s our goal. We’ll keep sticking with what’s got us here.”
The Cavaliers, who opened the season with a 20-14 overtime win over the LaGrange Grangers, lost to B.E.S.T. Academy 20-14 last week at Grady Stadium in Atlanta.
This week, Callaway will try to get back on the winning track when it hosts the rival Heard County Braves.
The game, which has been called the Pulpwood Classic since 2012, will be contested on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
The last time the teams played at Callaway Stadium, Heard County won a 43-37 thriller in 2012.
Last year, Callaway rolled to a 34-0 victory in Franklin to claim the Pulpwood Classic trophy for the first time.
“The communities are close together, and people know each other,” Wiggins said. “Both schools have a great tradition. It will be a big atmosphere, and I know both sides will be excited. It’s what you look for on a Friday night.”
Callaway and Heard County are both looking to avoid a second straight loss.
While Callaway was losing to B.E.S.T., Heard County was falling to a strong Fitzgerald team 43-27.
Heard County was ranked third in Class AA, while Fitzgerald was ranked eighth.
While Heard County has a lot of talented players, Duranta Dunson stands above the rest.
Dunson is a two-way player, and he is one of the state’s most prolific running backs.
Dunson ran for more than 2,000 yards last season, and that included a remarkable 463-yard effort in the first round of the playoffs against Jefferson last year.
Dunson got his senior season off to a fast start with 230 yards and two touchdowns against Fitzgerald.
Dunson was also his team’s top defensive player with 14 tackles from his safety position.
“Duranta Dunson is one of the best running backs in the state,” Wiggins said. “He’s a four-year starter. He’s played forever. He’s a very physical young man running the football, but also at free safety. He’s one of their top defensive players. He’s a heck of a football player.”
The Cavaliers have a standout running back of their own in senior Eddie Culpepper, who had 10 touchdowns during the playoffs last year.
Culpepper has scored touchdowns in each of the first two games this season, although Callaway’s offense as a whole has had a hard time putting points on the board.
The Cavaliers have moved the ball well, but they’ve been hurt by turnovers.
The Cavaliers had five turnovers against the Grangers, although they were able to overcome them with a strong finish.
Against B.E.S.T., Callaway was inside of the 5-yard line in the first half when it lost a fumble.
The Cavaliers got a touchdown run from Culpepper in the third quarter to go up 7-0, but B.E.S.T. rallied for the win.
B.E.S.T. got a phenomenal effort from Deshawn Waller, who ran for 210 yards and threw a scoring pass.
Callaway’s defense did a solid job, but B.E.S.T. was able to drive down for the winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.
“The effort was there,” Wiggins said. “We made some mistakes you can’t make.”
Facing another quality team, Wiggins said the Cavaliers will have to clean things up if they’re going to avoid losing two in a row.
“We have to minimize our mistakes, and execute on both sides of the ball and play Callaway football,” Wiggins said.
Callaway is in the midst of a difficult early-season schedule.
The Cavaliers will play Harris County next week before facing the Troup Tigers on Sept. 26.
Callaway opens Region 5-AAA play on Oct. 10 against Cedartown.
For the moment, though, the Cavaliers’ attention is focused entirely on the Braves.
“Hopefully we’ll go out and perform well and put points on the board, and defensively we’ll play fast and have great success,” Wiggins said.