Big night for Callaway running back

Published 2:43 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – After he crossed the goal line and handed the ball to one of the referees, Callaway’s Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby headed back toward his sideline and offered his version of a Jordan shrug.

To save you a Google search, the Jordan shrug refers to a moment in the 1992 NBA Finals when he was, as happened pretty often during his historic career, unstoppable.

After Jordan made his sixth 3-pointer in the first half against the Portland Trailblazers, he turned to the crowd and shrugged, as if to say even he couldn’t believe what was happening.

On Friday night in the opening round of the Class AA state playoffs, Bigsby had one of those shrug-worthy moments.

In the third quarter, Callaway had the ball deep in Douglass territory when offensive coordinator Matt Napier called for a running play.

Quarterback Kedrick Ramsey’s pitch was off-target and landed behind Bigsby.

At worst, it was going to be a turnover, and at best it appeared as though the Cavaliers were going to lose a lot of yardage.

Bigsby had another option in mind.

Bigsby reached behind him and scooped the ball off the Callaway Stadium turf with one hand around the 30-yard line, and he out-raced the Douglass for the touchdown.

Bigsby turned what was almost a disastrous play into a touchdown that helped Callaway roll to a 28-8 victory to reach the second round of the state playoffs.

That was part of a big night for Bigsby, who is having a special sophomore season.

Against Douglass, Bigsby had eight carries for 128 yards with two touchdowns, and he also had a long scoring reception called back because of a penalty.

Bigsby started the scoring for the Cavaliers with a 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

It was a simple play.

Bigsby took a handoff from Ramsey, and he burst through the middle and out-raced the Douglass defense for a 60-yard touchdown.

In the third quarter, Bigsby brought the fans to their feet with a spectacular play.

It went in the books as a 14-yard touchdown run, but it was so much more.

Bigsby never considered diving on the ball, which would have been a sure way to make sure to avoid the turnover.

“I know coach was going to be like, what are you doing?,” a grinning Bigsby said after the game. “So I just had to make a play.”

Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said it was a case of “an explosive guy making a play. That was an electrifying moment right there. It was special.”

Bigsby’s touchdown catch was another impressive play, although it was wiped out by a penalty.

Bigsby took a short catch from Ramsey and turned it into a 76-yard touchdown, once again showing off the sprinter’s speed that allows him to pull away from defenders.

“In the huddle, I said no matter what, throw the ball,” Bigsby said. “(Ramsey) said, I got you. He saw me open, and I threw it. I saw one man and open field, and I just ran.”

Bigsby finished the night with 128 yards on just eight carries with the two touchdowns.

Bigsby, who is closing in on 1,000 yards for the season, has scored 13 touchdowns, and he averages nearly 10 yards per carry.

Last season, Bigsby was used occasionally at running back as he learned to play the position on the varsity level.

As this season has gone along, Bigsby has become a bigger part of the offense, and he teams with DJ Atkins to give Callaway a formidable one-two punch at running back.

Against Douglass, Atkins ran for 70 yards on 15 attempts with a 9-yard touchdown, and he has nine scoring runs on the season.

Combined, Atkins and Bigsby are just short of 2,000 yards, and they’ve combined for 22 touchdowns.

Qua Hines, who has also been an effective runner this season, added 32 yards on five carries against Douglass, and he’s closing in on 500 yards for the season.

Bigsby, who like Atkins and Hines takes a lot of snaps on defense, is fine with whatever role the coaches have in mind for him.

“I just do whatever I’ve got to do to make the team better,” Bigsby said. “I feel comfortable. I feel good with my team. It feels like we’re brothers.”

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: As has been the case so often this season, senior linebacker Jonathan Leonard led the way in tackles for the Cavaliers in last week’s playoff win.

Leonard, who has reached 100 tackles for a second straight season, had a big night to help Callaway shut down  the Douglass offense.

Leonard had 11 tackles, including one for loss, and he also had a forced fumble.

Another member of Callaway’s linebacker unit, Tely Fanning, added eight tackles with two for loss.

Next on the tackle list were a pair of senior defensive linemen, Lichon Terrell and Jamie Sellers.

Terrell had five tackles, including three for loss, and Sellers had four tackles with a sack.

Terrell and Sellers have both missed time with injuries during the season, but they’re both a full strength now.

Callaway’s defensive line, as has been the case so often this season, controlled things up front.

“We try to dominate the line of scrimmage,” said Nathan Sapp, a member of Callaway’s defensive line. “Most of our opponents, they had big offensive lines. They gave us a big challenge. It helped us get better as a team.”