Game day for Cavaliers

Published 11:27 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – They’re rested and ready to go.

The Callaway Cavaliers opened the season with a 26-0 victory over LaGrange on Aug. 18, and they will have had two weeks off by the time they take the field for tonight’s showdown against Handley.

A year ago, Callaway didn’t have an off week before playing Handley, and it fell behind 21-6 in the first half before rallying to get the 42-28 road win.

This year’s game will be played at Callaway Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said the week off was a timely one for his team.

“I think an off week is always good,” Wiggins said. “I think we got extra reps. I think we were able to heal up some bruises. The kids are ready to play. They know the level of opponent that Handley is going to be, and we just have to go out and play hard-nosed, physical football.”

Callaway’s defense delivered a dominant, shutout performance against LaGrange, with senior linebacker Jonathan Leonard leading the way with 11 tackles, including four for loss.

Fellow linebacker Qua Hines added eight tackles, linebacker Jabari Smith had six, and defensive lineman Lichon Terrell had five tackles, with two for loss.

Jamie Sellers also had five tackles, and fellow defensive lineman Nathan Sapp had four tackles, including two for loss.

Kobe Jackson had an interception in the first half, and he had a pick six called back because of a penalty in the second half.

For Callaway’s offense, it was hit or miss.

LaGrange scored two touchdowns on offense.

In the first half, Kedrick Ramsey threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Williams.

Williams was double-covered, but he managed to come down with the ball around the 15-yard line, and he scored.

In the second half, Ramsey had a short touchdown run to cap a 48-yard drive.

Callaway also got a field goal from Noah Stephens in the first half.

Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier said the off week proved helpful for his unit.

“We’ve put more of the offense in, we’ve gotten the new guys more comfortable with our offense, and we’re just making progress like we do every year adding more things, being able to do different stuff, and understanding when they give us this what to do,” Napier said. “So they’ve done a great job, and it’s been a very productive off week, and a much-needed one.”

The offensive line should receive a lift with the return of John Curtis, who was unable to play in the LaGrange game because of a one-game suspension after he was ejected from the final game in 2016 against Benedictine.

“We’ll have John back,” Napier said. “He’s a baller. He’s a player, so we’re happy to get him back. So we should be ready to roll.”

A year ago, Napier’s offense wore down Handley’s defense as the game went along.

Many of the players responsible for that success are back, including most of the offensive lineman, as well as DJ Atkins, who ran for more than 2,000 yards a year ago.

In the fourth quarter, Callaway scored three touchdowns to pull away.

“We continued to pound on them, and we kind of took over in the second half,” Napier said. “I don’t think that’s a knock on them. It was one of those great games where two good football teams were going at it, and we were going back-and-forth, and we ended up with the last couple of punches to get the lead.”