Cavs put up big rushing numbers

Published 1:38 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They were running free.

The strength of Callaway’s offense this season has been a big-play running attack, and it was on full display in last week’s 48-21 victory over Temple.

The Cavaliers ran for 459 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns in improving to 7-1 overall, and 2-1 in Region 5-AA.

Senior DJ Atkins, who is enjoying another phenomenal season after running for more than 2,000 yards a year ago, had 143 yards on nine attempts with two touchdowns against Temple.

Sophomore Cartavious Bigsby added 67 yards on six attempts with two touchdowns, and Qua Hines ran for 107 yards on just four carries with an 80-yard touchdown.

Jacob Freeman got into the act as well.

Freeman, a wide receiver, lined up at quarterback for a handful of plays, and he ran for 87 yards on three attempts with a touchdown.

Fullback Adrian Porter also found the end zone with a touchdown run in the second half.

“DJ had a great night running the ball,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “I felt like our offensive line was doing really well. They were really physical. Tank Bigsby had another big night. Qua Hines did a great job running the ball. And all three of those guys bring something different, but they all run really hard and it’s great effort when they get on the field.”

While Atkins, Bigsby, Hines and Freeman are no strangers to the end zone, it the first carer touchdown for Porter, a junior fullback.

“He works really hard,” Wiggins said. “He’s a 290-pound fullback. He comes to work each day. I’m proud of him.”

Callaway also got it done in the passing game, with Kedrick Ramsey completing 6-of-10 passes for 75 yards.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Region 5-AAAA schedule hasn’t done the Troup Tigers any favors.

By the time the regular season ends, four of the region’s seven teams will have had two weeks to prepare for its game against Troup.

Sandy Creek, Cedartown, Central-Carroll and Cartersville all had, or will have, an off week before playing Troup.

Troup beat Sandy Creek 71-16, but it lost to Cedartown 21-18 last week.

Troup hosts Central-Carroll on Friday before finishing the regular season against Cartersville next week.

Only LaGrange and Chapel Hill among the region’s teams didn’t have an off week before playing Troup.

“In a normal week, you’ve got about three prep days,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “So for you to go in and be able to install something totally different or new is really a challenge on that kind of week. When you have a bye week, you have seven or eight practices, now you can throw some new wrinkles in there. So we’ve been dealing with that pretty much all year.”

OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES: The LaGrange Grangers have had a difficult time finding any offensive consistency this season, and that was the case once again last week against Sandy Creek.

LaGrange was limited to 30 yards and four first downs in the 41-0 loss to Sandy Creek.

LaGrange was held to 22 rushing yards, and it managed just eight passing yards.

LaGrange was 0-for-9 on third-down conversion attempts, although it did get a first down on a fourth-down play.

LaGrange also committed a pair of turnovers, both on interceptions.

One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Sandy Creek, and it came early in the game.

After Sandy Creek scored an offensive touchdown to take a 7-0 lead, it got the pick six to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

“We threw a pick six, and it was downhill after that,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said.

The Grangers have been limited to a total of 26 points in nine games, and they’ve been shut out six times.

Since scoring 10 points against Cedartown, LaGrange has been shut out in three straight games.

CALLAWAY CONSISTENCY: When Callaway beat Temple last week, it improved to 7-1.

That means the Cavaliers have won at least seven games for 11 consecutive seasons, a streak that began in 2007.

If the Cavaliers get three more wins, they’ll reach double digits in victories for the seventh time since 2008, and for the third consecutive season.

Callaway won 10 games in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2015, it reached 12 wins in 2013, and it won 13 games last year.

Down the road, Callaway will look to keep another streak alive.

Callaway has won at least one playoff game for six consecutive years, and it will have an opportunity to add to that streak in two weeks when the playoffs begin.

Since 2008, the only year Callaway didn’t win a playoff game was 2011.

Four times Callaway has won two or more playoff games, and that includes the 2013 and 2016 seasons when they reached the semifinals.

In 2009, Callaway made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

BIG-PLAY TIGER: It has been a phenomenal debut season for Troup wide receiver Jamari Thrash.

Thrash was at LaGrange his first two seasons before transferring to Troup, and he has settled in and become a critical member of an explosive offense.

In eight games, Thrash has 36 catches for 844 yards with 10 touchdowns, and that puts him among the leaders in the state in each of those categories.

Four times this season Thrash had more than 100 yards in a game, and that includes last week’s game against Cedartown when he caught eight balls for 163 yards with two touchdowns.

Thrash’s best game came against Lamar County when he had seven catches for 223 yards with two touchdowns.

He had seven catches for 150 yards in the season opener against Hardaway, and four catches for 146 yards with two touchdowns against Chapel Hill.

Only once this season has Thrash not had a touchdown catch, and that came in a blowout win over Bowdon.

While Thrash is new to Troup, he said earlier this season that it didn’t take him long to “feel like family.”

“When I first came here, they brought me in and made me feel like I’ve been there all my high-school career,” Thrash said.

It helps that Thrash has Montez Crowe at quarterback. Crowe is among the state’s leading passers, and he has made great use of Thrash all season.

“He’s great,” Thrash said of Crowe. “He’s got a great IQ. He knows how to get the receivers the ball. He knows when to throw it, how to throw it, who to throw it to.”

Sophomore wide receiver Kobe Hudson has had an exceptional season as well.

Hudson has 25 catches for 567 yards with a team-leading 11 touchdowns.

Thrash and Hudson have combined for 61 catches and 21 touchdowns.

BRIGHT SPOT: Heading into a new season, the LaGrange coaches were trying to figure out what to do with Wesley Kuhn.

“He just came off the baseball team, and he’s got a heck of an arm,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. “We looked at him as a quarterback. We looked at him size-wise as a tight end.”

Kuhn has become a critical member of the team, but not as a quarterback or tight end.

Early in the season, Kuhn became the Grangers’ punter, and he has excelled in that role.

While Kuhn took over as punter, Logan Karcher became the long snapper, and those two have worked well together.

“He’s done a fabulous job,” Burks said of Kuhn. “We ended up getting another long snapper, Logan, and it was night and day.”

Burks said Kuhn’s ability to punt came to the attention of the coaches by accident.

“One day he was out there just messing around, and he kicked the ball, and coach (Marcus) Blandinburg looked and said, you’re going to punt,” Burks said. “We threw him right in the game.”