Cavaliers fly high in win over rival
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
For many teams, losing a running back of Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby’s ability would have been tough to overcome.
Friday’s showdown against the Troup Tigers was still in the early stages when Bigsby left the game with an injury, and he didn’t return for the Callaway Cavaliers.
As the Cavaliers made resoundingly clear, though, they are far from a one-man team offensively.
With junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman leading the way, the Cavaliers moved the ball up and down the field, and by the time they were done they’d found the end zone eight times on offense.
A Charlie Dixon touchdown run in the fourth quarter put an exclamation point on the impressive victory as Callaway won 56-45.
Callaway improved to 3-1 heading into Thursday’s Region 5-AA opener against Temple.
“I’m really proud of our coaches, and our fans,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “What a night for Callaway football.”
Coleman, who became the starting quarterback late in the 2018 season, was exceptional.
Coleman completed 12-of-23 passes for 254 yards with two touchdowns, and he also had a scoring run.
Coleman averaged better than 21 yards per completion, and he completed passes to five different players.
Coleman’s favorite target was senior Antinez Blount, who has been making big plays down the field all season.
Blount had five catches for 137 yards, an astounding average of 27.4 yards a reception.
While Blount didn’t have any touchdowns, a handful of his catches helped the Cavaliers get into the end zone.
Jymere Jones also had a big night for the Cavaliers with three catches for 59 yards, with one touchdown.
In the second quarter, Jones outjumped his defender in the end zone for the touchdown, giving Callaway a 33-14 lead at the time.
Jalin Shephard had a 13-yard touchdown catch in the second half, and Markus Morman had one reception for nine yards.
Senior wide receiver Jacob Freeman had two catches for 27 yards.
Coleman said having so many options at wide receiver is “very nice.”
“If somebody’s doubling on one, you go to the other one,” Coleman said.
The Cavaliers, even without Bigsby, still ran the ball effectively.
Before he exited the game, Bigsby had six carries for 47 yards with a 17-yard touchdown.
With Bigsby unavailable, Dixon got his chance to shine, and he came through in a big way.
Dixon, a senior who also plays extensively on defense, ran for 122 yard on 21 carries with two touchdowns.
Dixon had a 6-yard touchdown run in the first half, and a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“Charlie Dixon stepped up and played really hard when Tank went out of the game,” Wiggins said.
The Cavaliers led 40-14 at the half, but by the time they got the ball for the first time in the second half, their lead had been trimmed to three.
The Tigers scored on their opening possession in the second half, and they recovered an onside kick and found the end zone yet again. After recovering a second onside kick, the Tigers scored their third touchdown of the third quarter, and the Cavaliers’ lead was 40-37.
When the Cavaliers finally got the ball in the third quarter, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown, with Coleman capping the drive with a 13-yard scoring pass to Shephard.
With a once seemingly safe lead nearly gone, Coleman encouraged his teammates to keep pressing the accelerator.
“You just have to keep going,” Coleman said. “I just told them to keep doing what we’re doing, and don’t let up.”
Callaway’s next possession ended with a 23-yard field goal by Blake Eubanks.
Dixon’s touchdown run and the Eubanks extra point made it a 56-37 game with 7:14 to play.
“Even with the lead, we knew the caliber of team we were playing, so we couldn’t let off the gas,” Wiggins said. “The guys never doubted what they were doing, and they kept their focus, and we were able to put the ball in the end zone.”
Not to be overlooked was the performance of an offensive line that controlled things up front.
Tate Johnson, Austin Thomas, Jared Nation, Zach Neighbors and Lathan Patterson helped the Cavaliers accumulate nearly 500 yards of offense.
“It’s a team effort,” Wiggins said. “So many guys stepped up and made plays. There were so many young kids. I’m proud for our team, proud for our school. It was a tremendous night.”