State journey continues
Published 10:49 pm Monday, November 19, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
And then there were eight.
The quest for a state championship will continue this week, with eight teams in each of the state’s seven classifications still in the hunt for the title.
Among those teams are the Callaway Cavaliers and Troup Tigers, who are coming off impressive wins last week.
While Callaway thumped defending Class AA state champion Hapeville Charter 32-13, Troup overwhelmed Pickens County 53-14.
Callaway will be at home this week as it attempts to reach the semifinals for the third time since 2013, while Troup will hit the road for its first quarterfinal game since 2013.
On Friday night, Callaway (10-2) will host Washington County (10-2), which beat Brooks County in a 34-30 thriller last week to advance.
Also on Friday, Troup (11-1) will visit Cairo (10-2), which dispatched Thomson 38-14 to keep its season alive.
Callaway and Troup both had to survive road tests to reach this point.
Hapeville Charter was seeking to become a repeat champion in Class AA, but it was dominated by Callaway.
Callaway got four touchdown runs from Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby and a field goal from Hunter Williamson, and its defense put the clamps on a high-powered Hapeville Charter offense.
The Cavaliers have reached the quarterfinals for the fifth time since 2009, and they’re one victory away from their third trip to the semifinals since 2013.
Callaway, the number two seed from Region 5-AA, beat Elbert County 27-14 in the first round before delivering a masterpiece performance against Hapeville Charter.
“We’re playing well right now, but that comes from work ethic, it comes from kids believing in what we do, and believing in one another,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “We’ve got to go back and get ready for the next opponent, and keep working like we always have.”
Washington County entered the playoffs as the number three seed from Region 3-AA, and it has knocked off two higher seeds in the first two rounds.
Washington County held off Vidalia 31-25 in the opening round before earning another dramatic win last week.
For Troup, it’s been a suspense-free couple of weeks.
In the first round, Troup led by 21 points in the fourth quarter before beating Oconee County 42-21.
Last week, Troup led 41-0 at the half on the way to the blowout win over a Pickens County team that had been unbeaten.
Kobe Hudson, the Region 5-AAAA player of the year, headlined Troup’s high-octane offense.
Hudson completed 7-of-13 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns, and he also ran for 127 yards on seven attempts with three touchdowns.
Ja’Rell Smith, part of Troup’s talented wide-receiver corps, had two touchdown catches covering a total of 125 yards.
Trey Williams ran for 110 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns, and Tyree Carlisle had nine carries for 85 yards.
Troup also got a defensive touchdown, with Devon Hill picking off a pass and returning it 40 yards for a score.
“That might have been our most complete game of the season,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “They are not a bad football team, and the score will not indicate that. They are a very well-coached football team. We played very well tonight.”
Now, for the first time in 15 years, Troup is still standing after two playoff games.
“It’s good to be practicing on Thanksgiving,” Glisson said. “We look forward to that.”
Cairo, the top seed from Region 1-AAAA, has a pair of one-sided playoff victories to its credit.
Cairo blanked Henry County 44-0 in the first round, and it ran past Thomson 38-14 last week.