Callaway ready for challenge

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Daily News

It’s already been an historic season for the Callaway Cavaliers.

Last week, Callaway beat Douglass 8-0 for the first state-playoff win in the history of the school’s boys’ soccer program.

Callaway will try to keep the good times rolling today when it travels to Rome to face Model in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.

The girls’ teams from the two schools will play at 5 p.m., with the boys’ game to follow at 7 p.m.

It will be a big-time challenge for the Cavaliers.

Model, the champion from Region 7-AA, brings a sterling 15-2 record into the game, and it beat Social Circle 7-1 in the first round of the playoffs last week.

Callaway (13-5-2) has also had an outstanding season, although head coach Mike Petite said the team has had some let-downs that could prove costly against a team the quality of Model.

“We play periods of very good soccer. And we play sometimes where we’re not so good,” Petite said. “We allow teams to hang around and get a goal they shouldn’t have gotten. While we’ve been able to overcome a lot of that, it’s those little lapses that cost you. If we can put together 80 minutes, we have a good shot.”

The players are confident.

When the Cavaliers have been at their best, they’ve had some tremendous results.

At one point, Callaway went nine games without a loss, and that included a 4-2 home win over Lamar County.

Callaway and Lamar County finished tied for the Region 5-AA championship.

“If we play our game, we can beat anybody in the state,” said Wes Brooks, one of the 12 seniors on the roster.

Another one of the seniors, Noah Stephens, added that “I definitely feel like if we play Callaway soccer, we’ll win.”

The Cavaliers have succeeded this season in large part because of the prolific scoring of senior Ian Bryan.

Bryan, who joined the Callaway program as a junior, has scored a remarkable 30 goals this season.

Bryan said he’s grateful for the time he’s had at Callaway.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s been kind of a life-changing experience. I’m a different person from when I came. It’s been pretty awesome. The boys, they were like a family coming in. It wouldn’t have been half as great of an experience if I didn’t know them. I came in, and it was like I was one of them.”

Grayson Lambert, one of the four-year members of the varsity program, is proud of what he and his teammates have accomplished.

With fellow seniors Noah Stephens and Wes Brooks standing beside him during practice on Monday, Lambert said “it’s meant a lot when we look at the progress we’ve made from mine, Noah and Wes’ freshman season.”

“Coming in it was a three, four-win team,” Lambert added. “And slowly we’ve made progress, and we tied our record from last year (for wins in a season). Making it this far and winning that playoff game is so special.”

Last week, the seniors were able to celebrate that break-through state win, and Brooks said it was an immensely satisfying moment.

“It was really special,” he said. “We’ve worked hard enough to make it far in the playoffs. This is the first time in my four years that we’ve won one, and the first time in history. So it’s like we’ve been working up to this moment.”