Pick six helps Cavs prevail
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s the next-man-up mentality.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of life in football, meaning players need to be ready to step onto the field, regardless of where they are on the depth chart.
Demetrius Coleman was slated to be a starting cornerback for the Callaway Cavaliers, but he was unable to go in last week’s season opener against Opelika.
Markus Morman, a junior, got the ball instead, and he ended up delivering one of the biggest plays of the game in Callaway’s 35-21 win.
Callaway was leading 28-14 in the fourth quarter, but Opelika was on the move.
Cade Blackmon, Opelika’s outstanding senior quarterback, put a pass up in the middle of the field.
It appeared as though the receiver was going to make the catch, but Morman ripped the ball away for the interception.
Morman stayed on his feet and got to the left sideline where he had nothing but green turf between he and the end zone.
With a convoy of teammates beside him to provide support, Morman raced all the way for a 95-yard interception return, basically ending the competition portion of the game.
“He caught it, but I just ripped the ball out of his hands, and I just took it home for a touchdown,” Morman said.
That was one of two key Opelika turnovers in the second half.
On the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half, they lost a fumble that was recovered by Destin Patrick.
Callaway turned that into a touchdown.
Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby had a 20-yard touchdown run to cap a 40-yard drive, and the Cavaliers had their first lead of the game.
“I thought the biggest point of the game was the turnover right after the half,” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said. “And then we go down and score, and they started to have to chase a little bit.”
STRONG START: A year ago, linebacker Jonathan Leonard finished with more than 100 tackles to lead the team in that category.
Leonard has graduated and is now playing college football, so someone new will be Callaway’s tackle leader this season.
A host of linebackers are candidates to be that guy.
One of those players is RJ Williams, a junior linebacker who led the team in tackles.
Williams had 13 tackles, including six solo stops, and he also had a fumble recovery.
Sidderian Shealey, a senior linebacker, also had a big game with 11 solo tackles.
Tely Fanning, another senior linebacker, had 10 total tackles, with five solo stops.
Fanning made one of night’s biggest tackles.
The Bulldogs had the ball at midfield trailing by seven when Fanning made a terrific open-field tackle on a screen pass.
Opelika had to punt, and Callaway promptly drove 65 yards for the touchdown to go up 28-14.
PINNING ‘EM BACK: Nathan Sapp is best-known as a big-play defensive lineman who has been chasing down opposing quarterbacks since his sophomore season when he helped the Cavaliers reach the state semifinals.
Sapp’s role has expanded this season.
Sapp was Callaway’s punter for last week’s season opener, and he twice pinned Opelika inside its own 10-yard line.
Callaway’s opening possession bogged down at midfield, and Sapp got a punt away that rolled to the 3-yard line before it was downed.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers went three-and-out, and Sapp was brought in to punt at his own 38-yard line.
Sapp’s punt went over the returner’s head, and the ball didn’t stop rolling until it reached the 6-yard line.
Sapp’s first two punts were for 47 and 56 yards, and they both forced Opelika to begin a possession in the shadow of its own goal line.