Cavs set for regular-season finale
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It wasn’t the final game.
That was the one consolation for the Callaway Cavaliers in the wake of Friday’s gut-wrenching 13-10 loss to the Heard County Braves.
Callaway had a 10-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but Heard County rallied and won it on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Alijah Huzzie to LeQuincy Shepherd with two seconds remaining.
It was a costly loss for the Cavaliers, who would have been the Region 5-AA champions with a victory.
The good news for the Cavaliers is that there is more football to be played.
Callaway finishes the regular season with today’s home game against Jordan, and after a week off, it will begin what it hopes will be an extended stay in the state playoffs.
Callaway can still finish anywhere from first to third in the region depending on what happens the next two weeks.
Callaway (7-2 overall) is 4-1 in the region, while Jordan (2-6 overall) is 1-2 in region play.
“We’ve had good days of practice (this week),” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “We want to go out and perform (today). Hopefully we can play fast on both sides of the ball, and execute, and keep preparing for the playoffs. Ultimately, the goal is to win in the playoffs, and to get better each week. I feel like our kids have embraced that.”
Callaway appeared to be on the verge of winning its seventh region title since 2008 after putting Heard County in a 10-0 hole.
It was scoreless at the half, and Callaway went up 7-0 on a 4-yard run by Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby in the third quarter. Hunter Williamson’s 40-yard field goal that just cleared the uprights gave Callaway a 10-0 cushion.
Heard County still trailed by 10 points with less than five minutes to play when Huzzie threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Beasley.
After Callaway went three-and-out, Heard County drove 80 yards for the winning score.
“I was really proud of our kids’ effort throughout the night,” Wiggins said. “It was a hard-fought game. Heard County’s got a great football team. I feel like we’ve got a great football team. It was a battle throughout the entire game. We had opportunities, and we just didn’t finish. To their credit, they made plays at the end that gave them the win.”
It was a discouraging loss, but the game is in the past and it’s time to move forward.
“The same goals that we’re trying to achieve are all still in front of us,” Wiggins said. “It may be a different direction in getting there, but our kids are positive and believe in what we do. So we’re looking forward to getting back on the field against Jordan, and then moving forward.”
Before today’s game, the team’s seniors will be recognized, and there are more than 20 of them.
Most of those players have been at Callaway since they were freshmen, and they’ve been a part of 39 victories, including six playoff wins.
“I feel like these seniors have done a great job this season with leading, and just working hard each day,” Wiggins said. “It’s a big class, and there’s high expectations, and each day we’re going to come out and continue to work toward a state championship. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Wiggins said that the seniors, and all of the team members, have grown and developed as players as the season has gone alone.
“It’s a family out here,” Wiggins said. “Not every day is perfect. There’s a lot of tough situations on the field. But we’ve always worked through them, and that’s what growing as an athlete, and a student, and a person is about. That’s what football teaches you. Losing on Friday night, a lot of times I feel like you can grow tremendously from that. It’s not fun to come up short on Friday night, but a good team, a good player has to move on.”