It was a fun night at the stadium
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – This spring had a different feel to it.
When the players on the Callaway and Troup football teams got together for their first spring-practice session two weeks ago, they knew they had a game to prepare for, and that was a major change from previous years.
The Georgia High School Association gave teams in the state the go-ahead to play spring games this year.
Since Callaway and Troup aren’t playing in the regular season, it seemed like a perfect fit to have those teams meet in the spring game, so the two schools made it happen.
On Friday night, with plenty of fans on both sides in attendance to witness the event, Callaway and Troup walked onto the turf at Callaway Stadium for a spring showdown.
In the first half when the starters were on the field, Callaway scored a touchdown on its first possession and took a 7-3 lead to the break.
In the second half, when it was mostly the reserve players for both teams, Callaway scored two touchdowns and outscored Troup 14-0.
For both teams, it was the culmination of a productive two weeks of spring practice, and they’ll head into their summer conditioning programs before reconvening for preseason practice the last week in July.
Lichon Terrell, Callaway’s outstanding senior defensive lineman, said the spring definitely felt a bit different with a game to prepare for.
“It was like getting ready for a game,” Terrell said. “It was more intense.”
While the outcome of the spring game obviously has no bearing on what will happen when things begin for real this fall, there’s no doubt both teams took it seriously.
Troup quarterback Montez Crowe said his team may have been a bit too pumped up in fact.
“I think we came out here and we wanted to win so bad, and we didn’t execute like we should have,” Crowe said. “Those are problems that we can fix. Stop trying to go out and prove ourselves, and just go out and play the game.”
The coaches for both teams were able to empty the rosters and get everyone some playing time as the game went along.
A handful of current eighth-graders even got on the field, including Callaway’s Demetrius Coleman, who played most of the game at quarterback in the second half.
Coleman threw a touchdown pass and had a scoring run.
“I was really proud of our coaching staff being able to get so many kids in,” Wiggins said. “We worked hard over the spring. We started back on Jan. 4 with our after-school program, and we had 51 workouts leading up to spring starting. The kids have busted their butt, and we just have to keep on working through the summer getting ready for August.”
Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said the spring game was fair approximation of what a game will feel like when the season kicks off.
“That was about as close to a real game in a scrimmage setting as you can get, taking out the special teams,” Glisson said. “It was fun. And they’ve got a good football team. No doubt about that.”
Callaway got the ball first in Friday’s game, and it was senior Kedrick Ramsey at quarterback as he takes over the departed Dylan Johnson.
The first play of the game went to Callaway’s sensational senior running back, DJ Atkins, and he ripped off a 9-yard run, and fellow senior Travis Traylor followed with a 17-yard run.
After two plays netted a loss of one yard, Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier called for a screen pass, and Ramsey dumped the ball off to Atkins, who raced 22 yards for the first down.
On the next play, Cartavious Bigsby scored on a 14-yard run, and Noah Stephens’ extra point gave the Cavaliers a 7-0 lead.
On Troup’s first possession, Terrell got pressure on Crowe on fourth down to force an incompletion, and Callaway got the ball back.
The Cavaliers got back-to-back 14-yard runs by Atkins and Traylor, but the Troup defense stood firm and forced a punt.
Jonathan Leonard sacked Crowe on first down, and Troup ended up punting the ball to Callaway.
A few minutes later, it looked like the Cavaliers may have scored again.
After Atkins had runs of 11 and 21 yards, Bigsby went up the middle for what appeared to be an 11-yard scoring run.
Bigsby lost control of the ball right at the goal line, though, and the officials ruled it a fumble, and Troup took over at its own 20 on the touchback.
The Tigers promptly embarked on their lone scoring drive of the night.
On third down, Crowe found JaRell Smith for a 22-yard completion, and the Tigers were in business at their own 44.
On the next play, Crowe tossed the ball downfield, and Will Horton came up with the nice 45-yard catch in traffic, and the Tigers had the ball at the Cavaliers’ 15-yard line.
The Tigers couldn’t advance the ball any further, and Cal Foster made a 34-yard field goal, and Callaway’s lead was 7-3 with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
On Callaway’s next possession, Troup’s defense stood firm, with Devon Hill making a nice play on a completed pass on third down.
Courtney Williams caught a screen pass from Ramsey, but Hill hit him immediately for a 7-yard loss, and Callaway had to punt.
Troup went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, and Callaway went to work.
Ramsey completed a 12-yard pass to tight end Everett Duffy for a first down, and Bigsby had a 14-yard run to the Troup 31.
Troup’s defense stiffened, and an incomplete pass on fourth down to get the ball back.
The Tigers found themselves facing a third-and-20 situation from their own 16, but Crowe threw a dart to tight end Kenly Bridwell for a 24-yard completion.
Back-to-back 5-yard runs by Jackson Davis and Crowe gave the Tigers a first down at midfield, but they couldn’t move the ball any further.
Time ran out after a punt, and the Cavaliers had a 7-3 lead at the break.
In the second half, Wiggins and Glisson both began to substitute freely.
The offensive standout of the second half was Coleman, who was a terrific player for the Callaway Middle School football team.
After recovering a fumble late in the third quarter, Callaway had the ball at the Troup 41-yard line.
Coleman had an 11-yar run for a first down to the 14-yard line, and two plays later, the soon-to-be freshmen found Sidderian Shealey in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.
Hunter Williamson made the first of his two extra points, and Callaway had its second touchdown of the night.
On Callaway’s next possession, Callaway’s Charlie Dixon showed off his big-play ability with a 73-yard run to the Troup 7-yard line.
On third down, Coleman kept the ball, and he scored on an 8-yard run, and Williamson’s extra point capped the scoring.
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