Cavaliers gearing up for season

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Daily News

The Callaway Cavaliers have always prided themselves on having a formidable offensive line, and that’s a big reason why the program has enjoyed so much success over the years.

Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins believes a summer camp the offensive linemen go to has been a major contributing factor to the effectiveness of the unit.

The Mike Hodges offensive-line camp in Cochran is a regular part of Callaway’s summer routine, and this year’s camp was held last week.

Wiggins has gone with the players in past years, but last week it was offensive-line coach Robbie Adams who accompanied the linemen to the camp.

“It’s a very competitive camp,” Wiggins said. “There are a lot of kids there. And we feel like it’s a big part of the success of our team.”

The camp is part of a busy summer for Callaway’s football team as it gears up for a season that begins in less than two months.

Between the spring game and the official start of preseason practice in late July, Callaway’s players participate in a summer program that includes daily workouts at the school, position camps, and seven-on-seven competitions.

Callaway also has two 11-on-11 padded camps scheduled for July.

For the offensive linemen, the Hodges camp is a valuable tool, and Wiggins is grateful that his players have been able to take advantage of it over the years.

This year, more than 10 of Callaway’s linemen made the trek to Cochran for the five-day camp that wrapped up on June 14.

“We feel that it’s one of the foundations of our team,” said Wiggins, who is heading into his 14th season as Callaway’s head coach. “You get many reps, three times a day. It’s great coaching at that camp. Coach Hodges, he has a lot of discipline and a lot of skill. So, the kids benefit from it. We feel like it makes us better.”

Wiggins added that “it’s a great environment for kids to gain camaraderie, and to get a toughness throughout the week. Again, coach Hodges and the guys working it really push them and instill character and toughness in our kids.”

The previous week, the Hodges quarterback and wide-receivers camp was held in Cochran, and Callaway had 13 players participate in that.

“They got a lot better,” Wiggins said. “They were able to get reps against good competition, and I’m really proud of those kids.”

Last week, Callaway participated in seven-on-seven tournaments at the University of Georgia and Auburn.

Those tournaments not only give the players some valuable reps on the field, but it allows them to visit a college powerhouse and show what they can do under the watchful eyes of some of the country’s most well-known coaches.

At the Auburn tournament, Callaway had a successful run and made it all the way to the semifinals.

“I think the seven-on-sevens are valuable, just because of the amount of reps you get against usually bigger schools, and people that are well-coached and have really good ball-players,” Wiggins said. “You can’t replace those reps. Those kind of reps are hard to simulate at practice.”

Beyond the time spent on the field, Wiggins said “there’s a camaraderie when you go on a trip.”

“Kids are together all day for long periods of time,” Wiggins added. “There’s adversities they have to overcome, plus it’s hot. It’s practice, so there’s a camaraderie that comes with it in addition to getting skills from going against people that are better than you.”

Next month, the Cavaliers will face actual game conditions when they participate in a pair of padded camps, one at home, and the other on the road.

The most critical aspect of the summer, though, are the daily workouts at the school that mostly involve weight training.

Wiggins said the participation in summer workouts has been outstanding.

“We’ve worked hard to get this point,” Wiggins said. “The kids have been here at weight training each day. We’ve had over 100 every day. For a AA school, we’re real proud of that.”

Wiggins added that “we feel like the weight room, and the camps, they’re a big part of the success we’ve had.”

Callaway will continue the summer program through July 25 when teams can hold their first official preseason practice according to the Georgia High School Association.

Team can begin practicing in full pads on Aug. 1, and Callaway has a preseason game at Starr’s Mill on Aug. 10 before opening the season at home against Opelika on Aug. 24.

The Cavaliers are coming off another successful season under Wiggins. Callaway went 10-3 last season and reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs before losing to Brooks County.

Since becoming the head coach in 2005, Wiggins has guided the Cavaliers to an overall record of 115-42, and his teams have won six region titles and advanced to the semifinals in 2013 and 2017.

This summer, Callaway’s players are giving it their best to help make the 2018 season another big one.

“The kids work hard,” Wiggins said. “They come every day. They work hard, and they push one another.”