Cavaliers dominated the champs
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They ran the champs out of the building.
The Hapeville Charter Hornets won the Class AA state title a year ago, and they appeared to have a team capable of making it back-to-back championships.
The Hornets ran into a stumbling block on the way to a possible repeat title, though.
The Callaway Cavaliers may not have a state championship on their resume, but when they walk on a field, regardless of the opponent, they expect to win.
The Cavaliers had no doubt about their ability to play with the Hornets and possibly come away with the win, and turns out that confidence was well-placed.
The Cavaliers not only won, but they dominated the game in every way possible on the way to a 31-13 victory on Friday night at Banneker High School.
The game plan wasn’t a complicated one.
The Cavaliers felt they could batter the Hornets with their imposing offensive line and big-play running backs, and that’s what they did.
Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby ran for more than 200 yards with four touchdowns, and senior Qua Hines had a big night as well.
“That was the mentality all week (in practice). It was old-school Callaway football,” Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier said. “It was physical. We’re blessed to have Tank and Qua. We let those guys get as many touches as they can, and let the big offensive line get after them and be physical. Those guys kind of put it on their shoulders to take the game over, and they did that. It was impressive. They dominated.”
Just as impressive was the performance of a defense that shut down a Hapeville offense that has had no trouble scoring points.
Hapeville’s lone offensive touchdown came in the second half when it was trailing 31-7.
“We challenged the offensive line and the defensive line all week,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “I think those guys responded, and again, the physicality that they established up front from the first play was a difference maker.”
Here are some reasons why the Cavaliers made such easy work of the Hornets:
DOMINATING UP FRONT: A strength of Callaway’s team is an offensive line, and those men were at their best against Hapeville Charter.
Keiondre Jones, Keshawn Cameron, Adrain Porter, Austin Thomas and Tate Johnson controlled things up front, and tight end Tee Bonner was a big part of the blocking scheme as well.
“I know we came out with great physicality,” said Cameron, a senior. “We kept punching them and punching them, and did what we had to do.”
Taking advantage of those blocks were Bigsby and Hines, who had more than 400 rushing yards between them.
Bonner, a senior who has played multiple positions before settling in at tight end, knew how important he and the offensive linemen were going to be.
“It starts with us up front,” Bonner said. “We moved the ball real well. Tank doesn’t need a lot of room. Tank has a little crease, and he can make a big play. You just give him what he needs.”
Keiondre Jones, a senior who has committed to Auburn, knows that sooner or later there’s a chance one of the backs will hit on a big play.
“You know if you block for four or five plays, one of them is going to break,” Jones said.
ANOTHER MONSTER NIGHT: In the opening round of the state playoffs against Elbert County, Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby ran for more than 300 yards with four touchdowns.
Hapeville Charter’s defense figured to provide a much stouter challenge, but it was more of the same for Bigsby, who continues to show why he’s being recruited from big-time programs from coast to coast.
Bigsby had 26 carries for 238 yards and three touchdowns, including an 85-yard scoring run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Hapeville’s defense had no answer for Qua Hines, either.
Hines, who had 97 yards in the Elbert County game, burned Hapeville’s defense for 177 yards on 14 attempts.
“If we do our job, Tank and Qua, they’ll break it for big yardage,” Callaway offensive lineman Keshawn Cameron said. “That’s what we did tonight was open up the holes.”
SETTLING IN: Sophomore Demetrius Coleman made his third consecutive start at quarterback, and he looked comfortable.
Coleman completed 5-of-6 passes for 80 yards, and he didn’t have any interceptions.
Fullback Jabari Smith was Callaway’s leading receiver with three catches for 50 yards.
“He was on the money,” Napier said. “I don’t think he missed. He hit almost everything. He was as accurate as could be and made great decisions with the ball. He did exactly what we needed him to do.”
SHUTTING THEM DOWN: While Callaway’s offense moved the ball at will, its defense delivered an over-powering performance against a Hapeville Charter offense with weapons all over the field.
It started up front, with Callaway’s defensive front controlling the line of scrimmage, and the defensive backs offered blanket coverage on some talented Hapeville receivers.
One of those defensive lineman, Curmondre Bray, forced a fumble early in the third quarter that the Cavaliers recovered.
Moments later, Bigsby’s touchdown run and the extra point gave Callaway a 31-7 lead.
“The defensive game plan was to go in and have a strong, physical mentality, and take it to them, and hit them in the mouth all night long,” said RJ Williams, a junior linebacker. “We had to stop what they do best, and that was the run game. That was the game plan all week.”
SPLITTING THE UPRIGHTS: The Cavaliers took some momentum into the halftime break with Hunter Williamson, an outstanding senior place kicker, made a 33-yard field goal with seconds left in the second quarter.
The field goal gave the Cavaliers a 17-7 lead at the half, and they pulled away in the second half for the win.
Williamson, who also made four extra points, is 5-for-5 on field goals this season.