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Cavaliers fall short in home debut

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The Callaway Cavaliers aren’t starting over, but it was nonetheless a new-look soccer team that hit the field for Tuesday’s home opener against Heritage School from Newnan.

The Cavaliers are coming off the best season in the history of the program, but most of the players responsible for that success have graduated.

There are a handful of veterans on the team, and they were mixed in with a bunch of new players for Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Heritage.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids, good athletes, and they’re learning,” Callaway coach Mike Petite said. “They’re just eating it up.”

After facing Sandy Creek in a preseason game, Callaway opened its season with a 2-1 loss to Central-Carroll last week.

Callaway has three more games, including Friday’s home showdown with Troup, before beginning Region 5-AA play on March 1 against Spencer.

Petite’s hope is that these early-season games will help his team round into shape before the all-important region games.

“That’s what these games are for, but it’s hard to remember that, and be patient,” Petite said.

Last season, Callaway went 13-6-2, and it shared the region championship with Lamar County.

Callaway beat Douglass-Atlanta 8-0 for the first state-playoff win in program history before falling to Model in the second round.

While many of the players from that team have moved on, there are a handful of returnees, including goal keeper Josh Cooprider.

Other returnees include Michael Everett, Tyler Lewis and Joe Neese.

“We’re returning four starters, essentially,” Petite said.

Petite said figuring out where everyone fits will be “a work in progress.”

“We’re tinkering with formations, we’re tinkering with players in different positions, trying to get guys opportunities on the field,” Petite said.

In Tuesday’s game, Heritage scored first, and Callaway tied it with a goal from Lewis. The rest of the game belonged to Heritage.

“There were a lot of good things, but obviously there were too many bad things for us to be successful,” Petite said.

Callaway’s girls’ team, which didn’t play on Tuesday, dropped its season opener to Central-Carroll 4-0.

Both Callaway teams will play on Friday against Troup, with the girls’ game set to begin at 5:30 p.m., and the boys’ game to follow.