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Former Cavalier earns multiple awards

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

HOGANSVILLE – He’d hoped to find some ways to help pay for the college expenses that are on the horizon, and he accomplished that mission.

Keegan Woods, who was a standout defensive lineman for the Callaway Cavaliers as well as a super high achiever in the academic realm, earned a number of scholarships, including one presented by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta.

Woods said there was a lot of time and effort that went into applying for the different scholarships and awards, and that hard work clearly paid dividends.

“So many times, I had to stay home and do scholarship stuff when I’d rather be out doing other stuff,” said Woods, who will be attending Georgia Southern.

Woods said the George Morris scholarship from the Touchdown Club of Atlanta meant a great deal since it was given by folks who don’t know him, so there was no hint of favoritism.

Dori Cook, who along with Woods graduated last month, was also a recipient of a Touchdown Club scholarship.

“To reach out and apply to one in Atlanta, and they still choose me, that was pretty special,” Woods said.

Woods earned a handful of other scholarships, including one named in honor of Dernell Stenson, the former LaGrange High baseball great who was murdered while playing professional baseball in 2003.

Also, Woods was a finalist for the Vince Dooley Award, which meant a lot to him since he’s a life-long fan of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Dooley won more than 200 games during his time as Georgia’s head coach, and he led the team to a national championship during the 1980 season.

Ten boys and 10 girls were chosen as finalists, and they were invited to attend a banquet where the scholarship winners were announced.

“It was good to be up there and get recognized,” Woods said. “I’m a Georgia fan, so I know coach Dooley.”

Woods was also one of three Callaway football players recognized during the Sportsvision banquet in December, which recognizes exceptional student-athletes from across the area.

Woods was named the student-athlete of the year for the Chattahoochee Valley area.

Woods, whose father Eric Woods is the assistant athletic director at Callaway, was part of an exceptional group of seniors on the 2016 Callaway High football team that went 13-1 and reached the final four of the state playoffs before losing to Benedictine.

Many of those seniors will be attending college on athletic scholarships, and they were all high academic achievers as well.

Woods, who played football and tennis at Callaway, said the seniors pushed each other.

“Ever since we were little kids, I knew we were all going to do something great,” Woods said. “We held each other to a high standard.”

Woods was a starting defensive lineman the past two seasons, and he helped the Cavaliers enjoy the best season in school history last fall.

Woods was on the field for the quarterfinal game where the Cavaliers rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win 35-34.

Woods and the defense made some critical stands in the fourth quarter to help spur the comeback.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Woods said.

The season came to an end for Callaway the following week against a powerful Benedictine team that went on to capture the state title.

“Once I realized we weren’t going to win, I wasn’t sad,” Woods said. “It was a great season.”

While many of Woods’ teammates will continue to play sports in college, he’s looking forward to taking a different path.

“I love football, but you’ve got keep branching out and doing different things,” Woods said. “I didn’t want to go to a school I wasn’t fired up about just to play football, and end up on a completely different path.”