Cavaliers hope to bounce back

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – They haven’t been here for a while.

When the Callaway Cavaliers fell to Heard County last week, it ended a regular-season winning streak that had reached 25 games.

Before losing to Heard County 35-28, Callaway hadn’t dropped a regular-season game since the season opener against LaGrange in 2015.

Callaway didn’t have much time to reflect on the loss, not with some critical games still to come, beginning with Friday’s showdown with the Temple Tigers at Callaway Stadium.

While Heard County leads the region with a 2-0 record, four teams are tied for second place at 1-1, and Callaway and Temple are two of those teams.

If Callaway (6-1 overall) wins its final three regular-season games, it will finish no lower than second, meaning it would host a state-playoff game.

If Callaway loses to Temple, it would be fighting just to secure one of the region’s four playoff spots.

“You never want to lose a football game, but the character of our team will be tested in how we respond,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “And I feel like we’ve had two really good days of practice this week, and Sunday was a good day of film, and the attitudes are where they need to be. So I feel good about our football team.”

The Cavaliers had their chances last week.

In a back-and-forth game, Callaway tied it with five minutes remaining on a Cartavious Bigsby touchdown run and a Noah Stephens extra point, but Heard County reclaimed the lead with two minutes remaining.

Callaway’s fate was sealed when Heard County’s Alijah Huzzie picked off a pass with less than a minute to play.

Heard County ran two kneel-down plays, and Callaway’s regular-season winning streak was no more.

“We have to put that behind us, and we have to move on,” Wiggins said. “That’s the way life is. You can’t dwell on it too long. You learn from it, you learn from your mistakes and get ready for your next opponent, because they’re coming fast.”

There were some highlights during the Heard County game.

Bigsby had 118 yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns, and DJ Atkins ran for 107 yards on 20 attempts.

Callaway’s offensive lineman dominated the line of scrimmage and had 20 pancake blocks.

Callaway also turned the ball over five times, which was bad news against a Heard County offense that was chewing up big chunks of yardage.

Heard County finished with nearly 400 yards, including nearly 300 yards on the ground.

Most of those yards were accumulated by quarterback Emory Jones and running back Aaron Beasley.

Beasley had three touchdown runs, including the game-winner, while Jones had two scoring runs.

“We made mistakes on the night with penalties, with turnovers,” Wiggins said. “Our kids played hard throughout the game. It was a very physical game. But we have to learn from it, and get better, because there’s a lot of football left to be played.”

Temple is coming off a big 17-13 win over Spencer that put it in position to compete for one of the region’s top two spots.

Running back DJ Winters headlines Temple’s offense.

Winters has 707 yards on 97 carries with seven touchdowns, and four of them came against Armuchee.

Against Spencer, Winters had a season-high 27 carries for 127 yards.

Quarterback Trey Johnson has run for 317 yards on 84 carries with seven touchdowns, and he has also thrown for 525 yards with six touchdowns.

“Temple’s got a really good football team,” Wiggins said. “They’re physical. Coach Scotty Ward does a great job. It’s his second year. And they believe in what they do. They play fast on defense. Their offense is explosive, and they’re going to come down here bringing a tough football team, that we have to be ready for.”

After the Temple game, Callaway closes the regular season with games against Spencer and Jordan.

“Coming off of this past Friday night, we have to put it behind us, because another team is rolling in,” Wiggins said.