Stingy defense a key for unbeaten Cavs
HOGANSVILLE – For Callaway’s defense, it begins up front.
The Cavaliers, who will put their 7-0 record on the line with a road game against Temple tonight, have been a terrific defensive team all season, and a key reason for that has been the performance of the men up front who have dominated the line of scrimmage.
In seven games, Callaway has allowed 90 points, and many of those points have come in the second halves of games when the starters were on the sideline.
That trend continued last week against Heard County.
Heard County scored a touchdown on its opening possession, but it didn’t score again until the game’s final minutes when the backups were on the field.
The story was much the same in Callaway’s region opener against Lamar County.
Lamar County was blanked for most of the game, and with moments remaining it scored a touchdown to avoid a shutout.
Defensive linemen Lichon Terrell, Keegan Woods, Thomas Hodge and Jamie Sellers have played consistently well throughout the season, and they were strong against Heard County in last week’s 24-14 win.
Sellers was tops among that group with seven solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery against Heard County, and Lichon Terrell had six tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack.
Woods, a senior who also started last year, said new defensive-line coach Jamal Bruce has made a major impact.
Bruce, who played at Callaway before going on to excel as a defensive lineman at Duke, returned to his old school this season to replace Jason Sherrer as the position coach.
“The main thing this year is, we wouldn’t be where we are without coach Jamal Bruce,” Woods said. “He’s done a great job getting us in the shape we need to to make plays.”
Terrell, a junior, has been unblockable the past two weeks against Lamar County and Heard County.
While he wasn’t the leading tackler in either game, he has made a huge impact by his ability to get into the backfield and disrupt things.
“I just try to go hard every play,” Terrell said.
Terrell was a backup player a year ago, and he knew coming into this season the coaches were counting on him to be an anchor on the defense.
“I had to step up from last year,” Terrell said. “I had J.T. Wortham. I had to take his place, and step up as a junior.”
Also in the Heard County game, linebackers Jonathan Leonard and Qua Hines each had nine tackles, and linebacker Michael Freeman had seven tackles, and he also scored a touchdown on offense.
Dominique Copeland anchored things in the secondary for the Cavaliers.
The defense is complemented by an offense that is scoring close to 40 points per game.
In the Heard County game, quarterback Dylan Johnson, running back DJ Atkins and Freeman each had a touchdown run, and Noah Stephens made a 42-yard field goal.
While the Cavaliers didn’t have any passing touchdowns, wide receiver Braylon Sanders has found the end zone a bunch this season with Johnson getting the ball to him.
Callaway brings a 2-0 Region 5-AA record into today’s game, and if beats Temple, it will play Spencer next week for the region championship.
While Temple (5-2) is 0-2 in the region, it hasn’t lost a game outside of the region, so it’s far from a gimme game.
“The most important thing is the next game,” Woods said. “Temple, we’ve got to focus on them first before we worry about anything else.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports