Heard, Callaway lead way in Region 5-AA
Published 1:18 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017
By Kevin Eckleberry
HOGANSVILLE – It has all the makings of a two-team race, but there is a lot more to Region 5-AA than just Callaway and Heard County.
Callaway and Heard County are the two premier teams in the region.
They’ve combined for a 10-1 record, and they’re both ranked among the top teams in every state poll.
There are four other teams in the region that are hopeful of making some noise over the next five weeks, though.
While Heard County and Temple have already played, the region schedule really heats up this week with a pair of games.
Among the teams opening their region schedules this week are the Callaway Cavaliers, who will host Lamar County on Thursday.
Between now and Nov. 2 when the regular
season ends, the region’s four representatives for the state playoffs will be determined.
Callaway (5-0) has won back-to-back region championships, and it won the Region 5-AA title a year ago with an unbeaten record.
Heard County (5-1) figures to be a strong contender for the crown, and it will host Callaway next week in a massive matchup.
Spencer (3-2), which was one of the region’s four playoff teams a year ago along with Callaway, Heard County and Lamar County, has had some solid results through the first half of the regular season, and Temple (4-2) went 4-1 in non-region play before falling to Heard County.
Jordan (1-4) and Lamar County (0-5) both struggled in non-region play, and they’ll look to get their seasons turned around with the start of region competition.
Here’s a look at each of the teams in Region 5-AA:
The Cavaliers lost to the LaGrange Grangers in the opening game of the 2015 season, and they haven’t lost in the regular season since.
With its dramatic 28-27 win over Harris County two weeks ago, Callaway has won 24 consecutive regular-season games.
A year ago, the Cavaliers enjoyed the first perfect regular season in school history, and they went on to finish 13-1 while reaching the state semifinals for the second time in four years.
This year’s team is halfway to a second straight unbeaten regular season.
While there were some key losses from last year’s team, the Cavaliers have continued to thrive this season.
It’s an offense that features a powerful running attack led by DJ Atkins, who ran for more than 2,000 yards a year ago.
Senior Kedrick Ramsey has been superb in his first season as the starting quarterback, and an offensive line anchored by junior Keiondre Jones has been dominant.
Callaway’s defense has been stingy as well, and it will only get better when defensive lineman Lichon Terrell returns from injury.
Senior linebacker Jonathan Leonard is Callaway’s leading tackler, and he had 17 tackles in a win over Upson-Lee while also returning an interception for a touchdown.
Senior Noah Stephens is nearly automatic on extra points, and he has also specialized in pinning teams deep with his well-placed punts.
The Braves have one of the state’s best quarterbacks in Emory Jones, and he is surrounded by some gifted players on both sides of the football.
In a region win over Temple two weeks ago, Jones was 12-of-19 for 338 yards, and that included a 69-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Moreland.
Aaron Beasley headlines Heard County’s rushing attack, and he had 132 yards on 10 carries against Temple.
While Heard County had nearly 500 yards last week, the defense limited Temple to 178 yards, and Tray Dunson had two sacks.
A year ago, Jones was injured in the first half of the game against Callaway, and he didn’t return in the 24-14 loss.
With Jones on the field, Heard County figures to offer any team a big-time challenge.
Heard County played Temple on Sept. 22, and it will have had two straight weeks off before playing Callaway.
“You know there are certainly pros and cons,” Heard County head coach Tim Barron said of having two straight weeks off. “It gives you a good chance to heal up but it will be a challenge to stay in game shape. That’s something you can’t recreate in practice.”
If there’s a team that could challenge Callaway and Heard County for region supremacy this year, it could be Spencer.
Spencer won its first three region games a year ago before dropping hard-fought contests to Callaway and Heard County, and it went on to win the school’s first playoff game since 1993.
Quarterback Dy’Javius Nathan headlines the Spencer offense, and 295-pound Jalen Bradley anchors a strong offensive line.
Spencer’s defense has been stout.
Outside of a 36-0 loss to Crisp County, Spencer hasn’t given up more than 21 points in a game.
For the second straight season, Temple thrived in non-region play.
A year ago, the Tigers were 5-0 against non-region opponents, and they went 4-1 in those games this season.
Last year, that fast start did not carry over into region play, with Temple posting a 1-4 region record to miss the playoffs.
Temple is hoping for a better result this year, although its first three region games are tough ones.
Temple has already lost to Heard County, and its next two region games are against Spencer and Callaway.
Senior quarterback Trey Johnson, who is in his first season as a starter, is a two-way threat.
He has completed 24-of-50 passes for 504 yards with six touchdowns, and he’s also run for 314 yards with seven touchdowns.
DJ Winters headlines the rushing attack with 580 yards on 70 carries, and he has scored six touchdowns.
It’s been tough going for the Trojans, who lost all five of their non-region games under new head coach John Flath.
The Trojans have given up 38 or more points in four of their games, and that included a 62-10 loss to the Troup Tigers.
Jonah Stout is a play-maker at quarterback, and Kareem King his a talented and veteran running back.
Defensively, Lamar County hasn’t been able to stop anyone.
The Trojans are giving up an average of 41 points per game.
It’s been a long time since Jordan’s football team has enjoyed any significant success, and this year’s team is off to a 1-4 start.
Jordan did open the season with a win over Brookstone, but it has lost four straight since then.
Jordan does have an elite quarterback in Emmanuel Mann, and he’s gifted enough to earn interest from some big-time college teams, including Alabama.
Mann has thrown for seven touchdowns this season, and he has run for four more.
In a 31-29 loss to a strong Upson-Lee team, Mann threw for 247 yards and ran for 102 more.
Against Manchester, one of the top teams in Class A, Mann ran for 82 yards.
Overall record first, followed by region record
Heard 5-1, 1-0
Callaway 5-0, 0-0
Spencer 3-2, 0-0
Jordan 1-4, 0-0
Lamar 0-5, 0-0
Temple 4-2, 0-1
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Lamar County at Callaway, 7 p.m.
Jordan vs. Spencer
Heard County and Temple are off