Cavaliers keep things normal
Published 12:09 pm Thursday, September 19, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s the next game.
For Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins, that’s the attitude heading into Friday night’s showdown with cross-town rival Troup.
While there is plenty of anticipation surrounding the game that features two teams ranked near the top of their respective classifications, Wiggins wants to make sure it’s business as usual.
“For us, it’s the next game,” Wiggins said. “It won’t make or break our season. It didn’t last year. So, we treat it as the next opponent.”
It is, Wiggins acknowledged, “a great opportunity in a big situation. The schools are close, they know one another. They’ve got a great program. They’re a big school. It’s a big challenge for us. But it’s the next opponent for us. We want to go out and execute, and we want to win the ballgame, and we expect to win the game.”
Callaway brings a 2-1 record into the game after opening with a 10-7 loss to Opelika before overwhelming LaGrange 56-10 and Cross Keys 69-0.
Callaway scored at will against Cross Keys, with senior running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby leading the way.
Bigsby ran for 181 yards on five carries with three touchdown runs.
Junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman also had a big night, completing 8-of-9 passes for 115 yards with three touchdowns, and he had added a 48-yard scoring run.
Two of Coleman’s touchdown passes when to Markus Morman, and Jymere Jones also had a scoring catch.
Freshman running back Amarion Truitt got into the act with two touchdown runs.
Jalin Shephard found the end zone twice, once on a 71-yard scoring run, but both plays were wiped out by penalties.
Defensive lineman Anthony Elliott, who is having a big senior season, led Callaway with five tackles, including two for loss.
Senior linebacker R.J. Williams and Jabari Smith each had a sack, and Vantavious Hines returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Davion Johnson had an interception, and Eli Freeman had a fumble recovery.
“I thought the guys executed very well,” Wiggins said. “I thought we remained focused on the goal, and that’s to get better each week. I believe we did that. It would be easy against a team that’s not as talented to lose focus, but I felt like our guys stayed into the game, and we were able to continue our execution for four quarters, even when we had a lot of younger guys. I was real proud to get playing time for a lot of guys that are our scout team.”
Now, Callaway will try to find a way to beat a Troup team that is flying high.
Troup beat Ridgeland 59-24 and Columbus 68-13 before hanging on to beat Harris County 27-21 last week.
Troup’s offense is led by senior quarterback and future Auburn Tiger Kobe Hudson, one of the state’s top two-way threats.
Hudson has thrown for 640 yards with nine touchdowns while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, and he has run for 411 yards with four touchdowns.
“Everything starts with Kobe,” Wiggins said. “He’s one of the most talented players that I’ve seen. His ability to use the entire field makes it very difficult on the defense. He throws the ball as well as he runs it. He makes good decisions, and he makes them fast. His ability to get rid of the ball is very special. Even when there’s not an open receiver, he has the ability to make a very positive gain out of nothing. I think it all starts with Kobe.”
Hudson is surrounded by play-makers on offense, including running back Trey Williams, who has 479 rushing yards on 60 attempts with four touchdowns and seven catches for 57 yards.
Wide receivers Zy Varner and Mark-Anthony Dixon have provided big plays in the passing game.
Varner has six catches for 235 yards with three touchdowns, and Dixon has caught six passes for 157 yards with three touchdowns.
Tight end Luke Purnell leads Troup with nine catches for 120 yards with two touchdowns.
“Their tight end/H back (Purnell) is a very solid player. He’s a great blocker, and he’s a big part of the offense,” Wiggins said. “I think the receiving corps is very solid. They’re talented, they’re fast, and they catch the ball. Once they get the ball in space, they’re very dangerous. Their running back, Trey Williams, he’s really special. He runs downhill. Offensively, they’ve got a lot of weapons. They’re talented. It’s going to present a lot of problems for a defense.”
Wiggins also has a tremsendou appreciation for Troup’s defense.
“They’re very fast on defense, and they run to the ball extremely well,” Wiggins said. “That’s a key ingredient to playing very sound defense. Their defensive line, they’ve got good size with their interior guys, and their defensive ends are very athletic. They’re physical, they run to the ball. Their linebackers are good football players. They run to the ball. They bring a physicality. On the back end, they’re great cover guys. I think their defense is really good, and it’s going to present us a lot of problems.”
It’s a big-time challenge, and Wiggins is looking forward to getting on the turf of Callaway Stadium and seeing how things play out.
“There’s great anticipation for the game,” Wiggins said. “It’s what Friday nights are supposed to be.”
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Callaway (2-1); Troup (3-0)
LAST YEAR: Troup beat Callaway 37-20
ALL-TIME SERIES: Troup leads 5-4