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Emotional win for Cavaliers

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

A football team is a family.

The players spend so much time together, and develop such a close bond, that they often consider themselves to be brothers, even if they’re not related by blood.

It was with that in mind that Jacob Freeman, a junior quarterback for the Callaway Cavaliers, decided to abandon his usual number two jersey for Saturday’s home game against Spencer.

In every other game this season, the number 28 belonged to Jalin Shephard, a sophomore defensive back for the Cavaliers.

Sadly, Shephard’s father recently died, and he was attending the funeral on Saturday while his teammates were playing Spencer.

When Freeman trotted onto the field for Callaway’s first offensive possession, he was wearing the number 28 jersey.

For Freeman, it was a way to let his friend and teammate know that he was thinking about him.

“It was just let him know that even though he’s not here, he’s still with us in heart,” Freeman said following the game. “The funeral is actually right now. He didn’t get to play. And our other quarterback, Demetrius (Coleman), is with him right now. I just had to show him that he’s still loved.”

Freeman, who has enjoyed an exceptional debut season as Callaway’s quarterback, did the number 28 proud.

Freeman threw a pair of touchdown passes and had a scoring run to lead Callaway to a 30-7 victory over Spencer in a Region 5-AA game.

Callaway (7-1 overall) improved to 4-0 in region play, and it can win the region championship with a victory over Heard County on Friday.

The Spencer game was originally going to be played on Thursday, but it was postponed because of Hurricane Michael.

Callaway played the game two days later than expected, and head coach Pete Wiggins was pleased with the way the players dealt with that distraction.

“I was really proud of the guys and their preparation, and the way they handled a crazy week with the game cancellation on Thursday,” Wiggins said. “It changed our routine, having to be at the school early on Saturday, and having to play at noon. I thought that our kids handled that well.”

The game was decided in the first half when Callaway surged to a 30-0 lead, and Spencer avoided the shutout by scoring with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got a lot of things we can do better,” Wiggins said. “The second half, we had mistakes that we’ve got to clean up. But again, the execution in the first half, I was really proud of our kids.”

The Cavaliers punted the first time they had the ball, but they scored on their next five possessions.

Freeman had a 12-yard touchdown run, and he threw scoring passes of 53 yards to Nathan Sapp and eight yards to Markus Morman.

Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby added a 6-yard touchdown run, and Hunter Williamson made a 40-yard field goal.

Defensively, Callaway didn’t give up much in the first half.

Spencer hit on a 45-yard pass on a trick play to start the game, but it didn’t have another first down for the remainder of the half.

“I thought that we played very well in the first half,” Wiggins said. “I thought we executed in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams.”

The Cavaliers started their second possession at their own 5-yard line, and they promptly went 95 yards in 10 plays for their first score.

Bigsby had a 26-yard run to midfield, and a few plays later, it looked like the Cavaliers had scored on a 29-yard run by Freeman.

A holding penalty wiped out that play, but Freeman ended up scoring anyway on a 12-yard run, and Williamson’s extra point gave Callaway a 7-0 lead.

Following a Spencer three-and-out, Callaway took over at its own 29-yard line.

Two plays after a Bigsby 17-yard run, Freeman found Sapp for a 53-yard touchdown pass, and the lead was 13-0 early in the second quarter.

The Cavaliers’ next possession began at their own 33-yard line following a short punt, and it took them three plays to score again.

Freeman hooked up with Jymere Jones for a 14-yard completion, and Charlie Dixon followed that up with an 11-yard run.

On the next play, Morman caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Freeman, and Callaway led 20-0 with 6:35 left in the half.

After a Williamson 40-yard field goal gave the Cavaliers a 23-0 cushion, the Cavaliers drove 52 yards for their final touchdown of the game.

Freeman tossed a 17-yard completion to Dre Potts, and Dixon and Bigsby followed with runs of 13 and 16 yards, respectively.

Bigsby finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, and Williamson’s third extra point extended the lead to 30-0, and that’s the way it remained until Spencer’s touchdown in the game’s closing moments.

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