Hard work pays off for Cavaliers
Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s all been leading to this point.
The Callaway Cavaliers began their offseason strength and conditioning program in early January, and they’ve been going mostly non-stop since then.
The hope was that when the playoffs came around, the Cavaliers would be in position to chase a state championship.
On the eve of Callaway’s playoff opener against Elbert County, Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins believes his team has a chance to make some noise in the coming weeks, and perhaps make it to Atlanta for the state-championship game.
The Cavaliers (8-2) have had some bumps in the road this season, most notably a heart-breaking loss to the Heard County Braves that cost them a region championship, but everything they hoped to achieve remains a possibility.
“The goal is to get better each week, and I feel like we’ve done that,” said Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach since 2005. “Obviously we want to be 10-0. Going 8-2 is not good enough for us. But, that’s where we’re at. At this point, we have to continue to grow. Ultimately, everything we want is still in front of us.”
Callaway won its first four Region 5-AA games, and it headed to Heard County with an opportunity to sew up the region title.
Callaway appeared to be in position to make that happen after surging to a 10-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but Heard County scored two late touchdowns to win 13-10.
Callaway bounced back to beat Jordan 56-0 in the regular-season finale, and it has had two weeks to get ready for the playoffs.
“Things happen for a reason, and I feel like we learned from adversities of losing two games, and again, losing two games here, we don’t accept that,” Wiggins said. “So, we have to grow from it, and that’s what our guys will do, that’s what our coaching staff will do. We’ll continue to demand from each other and ourselves, and we look forward to doing that down the road in the playoffs.”
The Cavaliers feature a high-powered offense that is averaging close to 35 points per game.
Leading the way is junior running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who has run for nearly 1,500 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Junior Jacob Freeman has been the starting quarterback in nine games and he has been terrific, and sophomore Demetrius Coleman started the Jordan game and threw for 227 yards with three touchdowns.
Callaway’s defense has been outstanding, limiting opponents to less than 11 points per game.
Elbert County comes into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak, and it has won those games by a combined score of 125-24.
Elbert County is led by head coach Sid Fritts, who has a career record of 174-52-2.
In his nine seasons at Elbert County, Fritts has a 75-29 record, and three times he has led the team to the state quarterfinals.
“Elbert County’s got a great football team,” Wiggins said. “First of all, their coach, Sid Fritts, I’ve heard his name since I’ve been here. He’s a legendary guy, and he’s won a lot of ballgames. I told our staff in the meeting Sunday, anybody that can win 174 ballgames is doing it right. He’s had 10 quarterfinal appearances and two semifinal appearances at multiple schools. He’s always been successful. Obviously they’ve got great leadership on the coaching staff, and their team is really talented. They’ve got explosive kids. They’ve got big kids. And they’re physical.”
Wiggins added that “the three teams that they lost to are really good. All of them have very successful records. Two of them have nine-win seasons, and the other one’s a AAAA team that has an eight-win season. So the three teams they lost two are very good. So we expect a very competitive ballgame. We know that they’re going to be well-coached, and we just have to go out and minimize mistakes as far as penalties and turnovers, and play our brand of ball, and hopefully good things will happen.”
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
WHAT: First round of Class AA state playoffs