No-quit attitude for Cavaliers
Published 11:29 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He thought about quitting.
Callaway’s Tely Fanning loves playing football, but after suffering a second major knee injury in as many years, he had some soul-searching to do.
“It was tough. I didn’t even want to play again,” Fanning said, looking back on that moment during his freshman season when he had an ACL injury to the same knee for the second straight year. “My friends kept telling me they need me to come back, so I came back.”
That turned out to be a great decision for Fanning, and for the Callaway football family.
Fanning returned from the injury and was a key contributor as a sophomore on the 2016 team that went 13-1 and reached the Class AA semifinals.
Last season, Fanning moved into a starting role on the defense and had a standout season as a linebacker.
Fanning is now a senior, and he is one of the old guys on the defense, a veteran on a unit that features a bunch of new starters.
“Tely’s a tough kid. He plays hard,” said Dusty Hubbard, Callaway’s defensive coordinator. “He plays with great effort. Tely’s one of those guys that’s been around, and he understands our defense, and he knows where he’s supposed to be on every play. He understands what we’re trying to get done. He knows where he’s supposed to be, and that’s a big benefit.”
Fanning has been getting it done early in the season.
Fanning had 10 tackles in a 35-21 win over Opelika in the season opener, and he had 12 tackles, including three for loss, in a 14-0 victory over LaGrange.
Fanning had a handful of tackles in limited playing time in last week’s 50-0 road win over Cross Keys.
While Fanning has been making tackles, he’s also serving as a coach on the field, helping out his inexperienced teammates as they adjust to the life of varsity football.
“I’m going to get on to them,” Fanning said. “I’m going to tell them to come here and tell them I know you’re better than that. You can do better.”
Pete Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach, is happy to have Fanning on his side heading into Friday’s showdown against Troup.
“Tely is a great leader on our team,” Wiggins said. “He plays with speed. He works hard in the weight room. To see his attitude each day, and how he leads, is a great part of what we do. Tely comes out to practice and works hard every day. He works hard in the weight room, and the kids follow him. He’s a leader on and off the field.
“To see a young man overcome two ACL injuries, that doesn’t happen every day. It tells you a lot about his heart, a lot about his confidence in himself. The coaches believe in him. He’s just a stand-up guy on our football team.”
Fanning is part of a large senior class, and he’s enjoying one last chance to play alongside his teammates and friends.
“It’s special, because these are people I’ve been playing with since rec (football), people I grew up with,” Fanning said. “Now I’m playing high-school ball with them.”
As for Friday’s game against Troup, while there’s plenty of hype surrounding hit, Fanning said it’ll be important to turn the page regardless of the outcome.
Callaway opens its Region 5-AA schedule next week against Temple.
“It’s a good game to play in, but we’ve got region to worry about, the playoffs to worry about,” Fanning said. “So it’d be great to win it, but if we don’t, you move on.”