Huge sports year for Callaway
Published 12:17 am Saturday, June 1, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
What a year.
When the Callaway High baseball team fell to Rockmart in the state semifinals, it put the finishing touches on a spectacular 2018-2019 year for the school’s teams.
The final standings in the Georgia Athletic Directors Association Director’s Cup were released last week, and Callaway finished second in Region 5-AA, and 10th among all Class AA schools in the state.
Points are given to teams and individuals that make it to state, and the more successful a team is, the more points it receives.
Callaway finished with 649 points, and 13 different teams were represented.
Callaway’s football team and baseball team both made it to the state semifinals, and that was good for 83 points apiece.
In football, Callaway beat Elbert County, Hapeville Charter and Washington County to reach the semifinals for the third time in six years.
Callaway had the ball at the end with an opportunity to win it, but Rockmart held on for a 28-22 win.
“I’m proud of our seniors, the leadership that they displayed all year, the character that they’ve had through hard times, through good times, right up until the last play,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said after the heart-breaking loss. “And I can’t say enough about ‘em. I love these boys, they give everything they’ve got to our program, to our school, to each other. They left it on the field tonight. I’m proud of our football team, our coaches, our community.”
The season also came to a tough end for Callaway’s baseball team.
In the winner-take-all game three of the semifinal series, Callaway had a 5-2 lead in the seventh and final inning, but Rockmart rallied to win 7-5 and advance to the championship series.
It wasn’t the ending the Cavaliers were hoping for, but head coach Dusty Hubbard said the players gave it all they had.
“They’re going to fight you until the end,” Hubbard said. “That’s the thing I’ll say about them. And it may not always result in a win. It may not. But we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. I’m just really proud of them.”
It was an historic season for Callaway’s boys’ tennis team, which made it to the third round of the state tournament for the first time ever.
Callaway beat Rabun County and Gordon Central before falling to Thomasville in the quarterfinals.
“At practice, it can be the best kid practicing against the worst kid, and it doesn’t matter to them,” said Jacob Brannen, Callaway’s head coach. “They just work hard. They do their part, and me and (coach Drew Cantrell) try to do our part.”
Callaway’s track and field did its part, with the boys’ and girls’ teams accounting for 102 points between them.
Callaway placed in 10 different events in the state meet that was held in Rome.
“I’m so glad they got to experience this,” Callaway coach Melissa McDonald said. “I’m so glad we were able to come and be a part of this.”
Callaway’s 1,600-meter relay team of Antinez Blount, Tely Fanning, Larry Davis and Osiris Rivas finished third.
Also finishing third was Callaway’s 400-meter relay team of Markiya Harris, Leijorey Sanders, Aniyah Simpson and Niakoe Burks.
Callaway’s top individual performance came from Aniyah Simpson, who finished third in the 400-meter run with a time of 1:00.16.
Also for Callaway, Markiya Harris was fifth in the 200-meter dash (25.78), and freshman Niakoe Burks was sixth in the 100-meter dash (12.64) after posting the best time in qualifying.
On the boys’ side, Curmondre Bray capped his high-school career by finishing fifth in the 200-meter dash (22.63).
Osiris Rivas also came through with a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter run (50.58), and Larry Davis was seventh in the 800-meter run (2:04).
In the field events, Callaway had two state placers.
Niakoe Burks finished fourth in the high jump (16-11), and Blount was sixth in the high jump (6-0).
While some competitors didn’t finish as high as they’d hoped to, McDonald stressed to each of them that there was no reason to be disappointed.
“Nobody’s a loser here,” McDonald said. “There are people at home that didn’t make it out of sectional. It was a good showing. And to hear them say stuff like I’m going to ask this person to run next year, it’s overwhelming.”
Callaway’s wrestling team also had a stellar season.
Callaway made it to the state duals for the first time in the history of the program, and it finished with a 1-2 record.
Callaway beat Lamar County 54-28 for its first-ever state win.
At the traditional state finals, Callaway had two state placers, with Anthony Elliott finishing third, and Laquize Gilbert placing fourth.
Callaway’s boys’ basketball team earned 70 points by making it to the third round of the state tournament.
Callaway beat Banks County and Chattooga County on the road to reach the quarterfinals before losing to Laney.
Callaway finished third in the region before getting hot in the state tournament and beating two higher-seeded teams.
“We just wanted to get to the playoffs,” Callaway head coach Terry Hayes said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to believe, and they did.”
A handful of other Callaway teams advanced to the state playoffs, including both soccer teams.
Callaway’s boys’ team fell to Social Circle in the first round, and Callaway’s girls’ team lost to Oglethorpe County.
Also making it to state was Callaway’s softball team, which lost to Social Circle in the first round.
Callaway’s girls’ tennis team advanced to state as well, and it lost to Elbert County in the first round.
Callaway’s girls’ basketball team lost a tough one in the first round of the state tournament, falling 47-45 to Elbert County.
Also, Callaway’s boys’ cross-country team made it to the state meet.
Football – 83
Baseball – 83
Tennis – 70
Wrestling – 70
Basketball – 70
Track – 42
Soccer – 25
Cross country – 18
Track – 60
Softball – 53
Basketball – 25
Tennis – 25