Game day for Cavaliers
Published 11:19 am Thursday, September 26, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s time to turn the page.
The Callaway Cavaliers (3-1), coming off an impressive 56-45 win over the Troup Tigers, will jump into the next phase of their season on Thursday when they host Temple in their Region 5-AA opener.
Temple, led by Phillip Johnson who is among the state’s most productive running backs, brings a 3-1 record into the region opener.
Temple won its first three games before losing to Northwest Whitfield 31-7 last week.
“They’ve improved greatly over the last several years,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “I think a lot of that has to do with their head coach, Scotty Ward. He has done a great job. He’s a great ball coach. They work in the weight room, they’ve got a great plan offensively and defensively. So I think that’s a key ingredient in their success.”
Callaway, since losing to Opelika 10-7 in its opener, has been rolling.
In wins over LaGrange, Cross Keys and Troup, Callaway has scored a combined 181 points.
Wiggins’ hope is that each of those games will have Callaway prepared for region competition.
“Obviously we wish we were undefeated, but we feel like we’ve gotten better each week, and that’s from playing Starr’s Mill, and from playing LaGrange, and Opelika, and Cross Keys, and then Troup last Friday night,” Wiggins said. “We’ve played some really good football teams, teams that were well-coached with good players. That’s what it’s about going into region play. At this point, the season starts over. All that’s been done up until this point really doesn’t matter. We’ve tried to get better and play really good opponents, and hopefully that’ll carry us into region play.”
In Callaway’s final non-region game, it found itself leading Troup 40-13 at the half before things got tight in the second half.
Troup, with the help of two recovered onside kicks, scored three unanswered touchdowns and converted a pair of two-point attempts to get within three in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers didn’t panic and scored the next 16 points to put the game away.
Callaway scored eight offensive touchdowns, despite playing most of the game without all-state senior running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby.
Quarterback Demetrius Coleman completed 12-of-23 passes for 254 yards with scoring passes to Jymere Jones and Jalin Shephard, and Antinez Blount had five receptions for 137 yards.
Charlie Dixon led the running attack with 122 yards on 21 attempts with two touchdowns, and Bigsby had 47 yards with a touchdown before he left the game with an ankle injury.
Dixon will be called upon to be the primary ball-carrier once again this week with Bigsby likely unable to play because of a sprained ankle.
Temple is led by Johnson, who has 927 yards on 90 attempts and 12 touchdowns.
In the season opener, Johnson had an astounding 378 yards on 22 carries with five touchdowns.
With Johnson leading the way, Wiggins expects a major challenge from Temple, something he made sure to get across to the players when they got together after the Troup game.
“We stressed to the kids of the importance of mental focus in preparing for this game,” Wiggins said. “You’re coming off a tough game with Troup, an emotional game, and having to go into our first region where the season is starting over. Everybody is 0-0 right now. It’s a brand-new season. Temple has a great football team. Coach Ward will have his team ready, and they’re going to come down to Callaway Stadium expecting to win the game. We have to be ready to play. It’ll be a physical game.”
CALLAWAY VS. TEMPLE
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Callaway (3-1); Temple (3-1)
LAST YEAR: Callaway beat Temple 49-0