More playoff success for Cavaliers

Published 1:15 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Another year, another playoff win for the Callaway Cavaliers.

Callaway overwhelmed Douglass-Atlanta 28-8 on Friday night in the opening round of the Class AA state playoffs, continuing a run of success the program has enjoyed under head coach Pete Wiggins.

The Cavaliers (10-1) have won at least one playoff game in nine of the past 10 years, and they’ll look to keep it going next week when they visit the Rockmart Yellow Jackets in a second-round matchup.

“When you get to this point in your season, with all the time the kids have put in and all the hours, and all the time they’ve put in in the weight room, it means a lot,” said Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach since 2005. “What a great group of kids. The 17 seniors are just a great group of leaders, and the camaraderie gets stronger each week, and you can just feel the excitement. I’m proud of these kids.”

Callaway got it done with an over-powering running game, as well as a defense that didn’t allow a point until the closing moments.

Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, Callaway’s phenomenal sophomore running back, had touchdown runs of 60 and 14 yards.

Bigsby also scored on a 76-yard touchdown pass, but the play was negated by a holding penalty.

In the third quarter, Bigsby wowed the fans at Callaway Stadium with a remarkable individual play.

Callaway had the ball on the 14-yard line when quarterback Kedrick Ramsey’s pitch intended for Bigsby went awry.

Bigsby stopped on a dime, and with one hand scooped up the ball around the 30-yard line before out-racing the Douglass defense for the touchdown.

Players are generally taught to dive on a fumble, but fortunately for the Cavaliers, that’s not what Bigsby did.

“Tank is an explosive guy making a play,” Wiggins said. “That was an electrifying moment right there. It was special.”

Bigsby was glad to turn a near disastrous play into a touchdown.

“I know coach was going to be like, what are you doing?,” a grinning Bigsby said, knowing the prudent play would have been to dive on the ball to avoid the turnover. “So I just had to make a play.”

Another one of Callaway’s big-play running backs, DJ Atkins, had a 9-yard touchdown run, and Ramsey scored on a 1-yard keeper.

It was an impressive performance against a strong Douglass team.

“I’ve known coach (Rodney) Cofield for a long time,” Wiggins said. “When I was at Murray County, we played Booker T. Washington in the second round of the playoffs. He was the coach there. He has always done a great job wherever he’s at, and his teams are always physical. I thought it was a big challenge for us tonight coming in. It was two teams getting after one another in the trenches, and it was a really physical game. We just kept telling our kids, late in the second and the third quarter, our physicality will take over, and I felt like our kids did that. Our backs just kept pounding and running hard, and defensively we played really fast. I thought we tackled well and did a really good job.”

Douglass thought it had grabbed the early lead on a 74-yard scoring run by Juan Powell, but the play was wiped out by a penalty.

After a punt, the Cavaliers needed two plays to jump on top.

On a second-down play, Bigsby took a handoff and raced 60 yards up the middle, and Noah Stephens made the extra point to give Callaway a 7-0 lead with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, the Cavaliers struck again.

After a short Douglass punt, Callaway had the ball 31 yards from the end zone, and Ramsey capped the short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Stephens made the extra point, and Callaway 14-0.

In the third quarter, the Cavaliers made a stop on fourth down before driving for another touchdown.

Jacob Freeman’s 11-yard run put the ball inside the Douglass 20-yard line, and two plays later, Bigsby’s dramatic 14-yard run and the Stephens extra point gave Callaway a 21-0 lead.

Douglass fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Callaway recovered, and that led to another touchdown.

Ramsey completed a 25-yard pass to DQ Wilkerson at the 11-yard line.

After a holding penalty, Atkins did the rest.

Atkins followed up a 13-yard run with a 9-yard touchdown scamper, and Stephens’ final extra point gave Callaway a 28-0 lead with 3:50 to play.

With 1:22 to play, Powell scored on a 5-yard touchdown run, and the Astros converted the two-point play to complete the scoring.