Game day for Cavaliers

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – The Callaway defense will spend a lot of time chasing Emmanuel Mann tonight.

Mann is the outstanding quarterback for the Jordan Red Jackets, and he will lead his team against Callaway in the regular-season finale for both teams, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.

Mann has thrown for 885 yards in nine games, and he’s also the team’s leading rusher with 759 yards.

Mann has accounted for 20 touchdowns, 10 through the air, and 10 on the ground.

Last week, Mann was sensational.

Mann threw for 126 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and he ran for 202 yards on 18 attempts with two touchdowns.

Mann has the full attention of Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard, who has spent the week getting his players ready for the challenge.

“When he got in the open field, he was the best athlete on the field,” Hubbard said.

Jordan (2-7 overall) is 1-3 in Region 5-AA, and it has plenty to play for today.

If Jordan wins, it will earn one of the region’s four playoff spots.

Even though the Red Jackets have managed just two wins, they have been competitive in most of their games and have hung tough against some quality teams.

Jordan is under the direction of second-year head coach Justin Newman.

“You look at Jordan, they beat Temple, and they play Heard County and they’re moving up and down the field. In the first half some turnovers hurt them,” Hubbard said. “And then they play Upson-Lee and get beat by two. And you know how good Upson-Lee is. So they’ve got players, and they’re so much better-coached than they were in the past.”

Today’s game will have no impact on where the Cavaliers finish in the region.

While Heard County won the region championship, Callaway (8-1) finished second and it will be at home next week for the first round of the state playoffs.

Callaway’s hopes of winning a third straight region title were dashed with the loss to Heard County on Oct. 13.

Callaway followed that up with blowout wins over Temple and Spencer to secure the number two spot.

Before the Heard County loss, Callaway hadn’t lost a regular-season game since the first game in 2015.

Bouncing back from a loss is something many of the players hadn’t had to deal with before the Heard County game.

“What happens to you is, your kids don’t know what it’s like to come back from a loss,” Hubbard said. “If you lose the last game, you don’t have to do that. You’re not practicing the next week. We had to learn how to do that. And some of our kids hadn’t lost a regular-season game. And they responded pretty well, but that was a learning curve. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. I think now, two, three weeks out, they’ve put that (Heard County) game behind them. You’ve got to look straight ahead. You can’t look backward.”

For Jordan, the challenge tonight is trying to find a way to slow down a powerful Callaway running attack.

Callaway’s tandem of DJ Atkins, Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby and Qua Hines have combined to run for nearly 2,000 yards.

Atkins has 788 yards on 106 carries with six touchdowns, Bigsby has run for 707 yards on 76 attempts with 10 touchdowns, and Hines has 370 yards on 38 carries with four touchdowns.

Gabriel Moultrie has gotten into the act as well with 160 yards on 14 attempts with a touchdown.

A year ago, Atkins got nearly all of the carries, and he ran for more than 2,000 yards.

This season, Atkins has continued to churn out the yards, but he has plenty of help.

“The big thing is we feel like we can run three or four backs out there that are really good,” Hubbard said.

Callaway has also been effective in the passing game with Kedrick Ramsey enjoying a successful senior season.

Last week, Ramsey threw touchdown passes of 41 yards to DQ Wilkerson, five yards to Jacob Freeman, and 20 yards to Nathan Sapp.

Defensively, linebacker Jonathan Leonard led Callaway last week against Spencer with eight tackles, and he has more than 100 tackles in nine games.

Defensive linemen Lichon Terrell and Destin Patrick each had six tackles, including two for los, and Tely Fannin had six tackles as well.

“There’s no doubt that last week was the best week we’ve had getting off blocks,” Hubbard said. “And we made some changes. We made some changes at free safety. We made some changes at inside linebacker. And we feel like those changes are going to make us better. There’s some learning curve there. And I think they handled that well, and we’re better now for it.”

After today’s game, Callaway will prepare for what it hopes will be another extended playoff run.

In the first round, Callaway will play Douglass, which finished third in Region 6-AA.

If Callaway wins that game, it would likely play Rockmart in the second round.