It’s playoff time for Cavaliers
Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2016
HOGANSVILLE – They’re starting over.
The Callaway Cavaliers enjoyed a perfect regular season and won the Region 5-AA championship.
The slate has been wiped clean, though.
Callaway, along with every other team in Georgia, is starting anew with an 0-0 record as the state playoffs get under way.
Callaway will begin what it hopes will be an extended stay in the playoffs today when it hosts Model (7-3), the fourth-place team from Region 7-AA.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
“At this point in the season, everybody starts over, and everybody’s 0-0,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said after Thursday’s practice session. “You have to stay focused, and we had a good week of practice. Our kids are excited, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.”
This is familiar territory for the Cavaliers.
Under Wiggins, Callaway has advanced to the state playoffs 10 straight years, and since 2008, only once has it has failed to win at least one playoff game.
This Callaway team appears poised to make some noise in the coming weeks.
The Cavaliers, who are ranked in third in Class AA, bring a 10-0 record into the playoffs, and they’ve won every game by double digits.
Callaway is taking nothing for granted this week, though.
While Model is a fourth seed, it has had a solid season and has some impressive wins to its credit.
Model is a veteran team led by senior quarterback Kyler Eldridge.
“Model’s got a good football team,” Wiggins said. “They’re well-coached, and they’ve got a lot of seniors. The quarterback’s one of the best players we’ve seen this year. He’s a two-way player and plays quarterback and linebacker, and he reminds me a lot of the young man we faced against Wesminster last year.”
Wiggins added that “their three losses came to really solid opponents, and they beat a really good Northwest Whitfield team. They play physical. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Callaway wrapped up an unblemished regular season with a 42-21 win over Jordan last week.
The Cavaliers have won every game by at least 10 points, and that included a 36-14 win over Spencer on Oct. 28 that secured the region championship.
Perhaps Callaway’s most impressive win to date came on Aug. 26 when it went on the road and beat a strong Handley (Ala.) team 42-28.
The Cavaliers trailed by seven points in the fourth quarter before scoring three uanswered touchdowns.
Callaway features an explosive offense that averages more than 36 points per game, as well as a stingy defense that has limited opponents to barely 12 points a game.
Callaway has also excelled on special teams.
Noah Stephens gives the team a major weapon in the place-kicking department, and Dylan Johnson, who is also the quarterback, has been terrific when called upon to punt.
Wiggins said he appreciates the leadership shown by the seniors, who have helped Callaway win 39 games over the past four years.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Wiggins said. “It’s been a special season. That group of kids, they’re great leaders, and they are great leaders in our school. It’s a great group of kids.”
It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point, and Wiggins said the opportunity to participate in the playoffs is the pay-off.
“All those hours you spend preparing, and to get to Friday nights in the playoffs, it’s very special,” Wiggins said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports