Special season ends for Cavaliers

Published 6:57 pm Monday, November 27, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry


QUITMAN – Some nights, you just tip your hat to the other guy.

The Callaway Cavaliers arrived in Quitman for Friday’s state-playoff showdown against Brooks County armed with plenty of confidence.

The Cavaliers brought an 11-1 record into the game, and they were coming off a 40-35 road win over a strong Rockmart team in the second round.

From the get-go, though, the night belonged to Brooks County.

The Trojans scored on the second play from scrimmage, and they never looked back on the way to a 31-0 victory.

While Brooks County advances to play Rabun County in the semifinals, a successful season came to a close for Callaway (11-2).

It was another banner season for a program that has thrived under head coach Pete Wiggins.

The Cavaliers made it to the final eight for the fourth time since 2009, and they reached double digits in wins for the seventh time in 10 years.

This group of seniors helped the Cavaliers win 41 games over the past four seasons while winning seven playoff games, including five the past two years.

“I’m really proud of our 17 seniors,” Wiggins said. “They’ve done a great job leading our team all season, and representing our team in the school and in the community.”

Those seniors were obviously hoping to have at least one more game to play, but the Cavaliers were over-matched against the Indians.

A Brooks County defense that has been dominant all season never allowed Callaway to find any offensive rhythm.

The Cavaliers, who were averaging close to 40 points per game, were limited to five first downs, and they never made it past the Indians’ 24-yard line.

The Cavaliers finished with fewer than 100 yards, and their normally high-powered rushing attack was held in check.

“I think the strength of their team is their defense, and it really showed tonight,” Wiggins said.

Callaway also had three costly turnovers, as well as some untimely penalties that set the offense back even further.

One of those turnovers came in the third quarter when the Cavaliers still had some hope of mounting a comeback.

The Cavaliers had the ball trailing 17-0 when they lost a fumble deep in their own territory, and the Indians scored on the next play to go up 24-0.

“I think we made some mistakes early that we haven’t made in the past,” Wiggins said. “Against good teams at this point in the season, you have to limit those kind of mistakes.”

Callaway’s defense made some big stops throughout the game, once even turning Brooks County away at the 1-yard line on a fourth-down play.

Callaway also had a pair of interceptions, one by Courtney Williams and the other by Kobe Jackson.

The Indians still found success on offense, though, accumulating more than 400 yards, and quarterback Mac Perry and Jonathan White both ran for more than 100 yards while combining for three touchdown runs.

The Cavaliers will now turn their attention to an offseason program that has been a key to their success under Wiggins.

While the seniors will be missed, Callaway will have a loaded roster once again next season.

Some of Callaway’s top players this season, including outstanding sophomore running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby and sophomore wide receiver Jacob Freeman, will return.

Some other players who saw limited playing time this fall, such as freshman quarterback Demetrius Coleman who figures to be the future at that position, will take on an increased role.

As for the seniors, many of them have made college commitments and will soon be signing their letters of intents.

Wiggins will miss them all.

“I’m really proud of this senior class,” Wiggins said. “We go to the final eight, and accomplish a great deal. We won 11 ballgames. This is a special group of young men. Even though we lost in the scoreboard, they’re winners in my book and in the game of life, and they’ll be successful on down the road. They’ll work hard and they represent our school really well.”