Cavs’ Wilkerson has memorable game

Published 6:18 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – One of the many bright spots for the Callaway Cavaliers during the first two weeks of the season was the performance of punt returner DQ Wilkerson.

Inheriting the punt-returner role from Braylon Sanders, Wilkerson excelled in the first two games against LaGrange and Handley (Ala.).

In both of those games, Wilkerson appeared on the verge of taking the ball to the end zone a few times, but he was unable to make that happen.

That changed last week against Columbus.

Wilkerson had not one, but two punt returns for touchdowns in the 42-13 victory over the Blue Devils at Callaway Stadium.

Wilkerson’s first punt return for a touchdown gave the Cavaliers a 28-7 lead in the first half, and he had another one in the second half that put his team on top 37-7.

Both of Wilkerson’s punt returns covered more than 70 yards, and he used his speed, elusiveness and vision to make it happen with the support of some terrific blocking.

“I was just dreaming about running one back,” Wilkerson said. “And I did.”

After the first touchdown, Wilkerson got greedy.

“That made me hungrier,” Wilkerson said. “I wanted to get out there and get another one.”

Wilkerson is a key player for the second-ranked Cavaliers.

He is a starting defensive back and a vital member of a defense that has only allowed seven points.

Wilkerson is also a wide receiver with big-play ability, as he showed in a quarterfinal game against Screven County last year when he had a touchdown catch in the second half as Callaway rallied for the win.

“DQ is so valuable to our team,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “He plays a lot of plays on offense, and he doesn’t come off the field on defense. And then he has all these plays on special teams. He had a great night.”

A year ago, Sanders was the primary punt returner for the Cavaliers.

With Sanders having graduated and now at Ole Miss to begin his collegiate career, Wilkerson was asked to take over that important role, and he worked hard in the offseason so he’d be ready to go.

Wilkerson worked closely with special-teams coach Deyano Martin.

“They told me I’m the next one up, and I’ve been practicing,” Wilkerson said. “I worked on it the offseason, just catching punts, and knowing when to fair catch it, when to run, and I’ve had coach Martin working with me.”

Wilkerson’s punt returns were part of an exceptional special-teams effort for Callaway.

In the second half, Noah Stephens had a punt that went out of bounds at the 2-yard line.

Moments later, Columbus’ quarterback was tackled in the end zone for a safety.

Stephens also made all four of his extra-point attempts in the first half, and Hunter Williamson made two extra points.

Stephens also consistently put the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, and Lawrence Thompson did a solid job punting as well.

“I felt like our special teams changed the momentum and made some big plays,” Wiggins said. “I’m real proud of those kids.”