Cavaliers ready for road test
Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Callaway Cavaliers have won six region championships during Pete Wiggins’ phenomenal stint as head coach.
The Cavaliers are hoping to increase that number to seven this season, and they could take a big step toward making that a reality with a win this week.
Callaway (4-1 overall), which opened its Region 5-AA schedule with a 34-6 win over Temple last week, will visit Bremen on Friday.
It will be the region opener for Bremen (2-2), which finished third in the region behind Callaway and Heard County last year.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game with Bremen on the road Friday night,” said Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach since 2005. “They’ve got a great football team. They’re well-coached, and they’ve got really good players. They play extremely hard. It’ll be a big test for us on the road Friday night up in Bremen.”
Bremen is led by Davis Russell, who has a 27-12 record since taking over as head coach in 2016.
The Blue Devils went 9-3 last season and reached the second round of the state playoffs.
Last year, Bremen hung tough with Callaway before losing 37-25.
In that game, Callaway running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby ran for more than 300 yards with three touchdowns, including two that covered 80 yards.
“They’ve got a great program. It’s going to be a physical game,” Wiggins said. “Last year, out of the 14 games that we played, the Bremen game was one of the toughest. We expect this year to be the same. They’re well-coached, they’ve got good players, and they’ve got tradition. It’s going to be a tough matchup.”
Callaway comes into the game riding a four-game winning streak, and it delivered a strong performance in last week’s 34-6 win over Temple.
Callaway moved the ball at will, despite playing the game without all-state running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who was out with an ankle injury.
Charlie Dixon, filling in admirably in Bigsby’s absence, had two touchdown runs, and he had 88 yards on 14 attempts.
The Cavaliers continued to make big plays in the air, with junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman completing 9-of-13 passes for 256 yards with three touchdowns.
Coleman threw touchdown passes of 33 and 34 yards to Antinez Blount, and Jalin Shephard caught a short pass in the second half and turned it into an 86-yard touchdown.
For the season, Coleman is 45-of-71 for 962 yards with nine touchdowns.
Blount had a monster game against Temple with four catches for 102 yards with the two touchdowns, and Jymere Jones had two receptions for 25 yards.
Callaway’s defense came through as well, with Temple’s lone touchdown coming midway through the fourth quarter when it was a 34-0 game.
Callaway got it done defensively despite playing most of the game without senior linebacker R.J. Williams, one of the team’s leading tacklers the past two seasons.
It’s a defense that, even though it returned just two starters from a year ago, has come through time and time again this season.
The Cavaliers gave up 45 points against the Troup Tigers, but they’ve allowed just 26 points in the other four games combined.
“Coming into the year, we knew we were going to have to find some guys on defense to step up,” Wiggins said. “Anthony Elliott continues to lead at defensive end. Ladarrious Williams really stepped up at outside linebacker for us. Charlie Dixon, for several weeks in a row has played both tail back and inside linebacker, and he’s done a really good job. Jalin Shephard keeps getting better at corner. I’m really proud of those guys. We’ve got a lot of guys that are stepping up that we’re really proud of right now.”
Callaway has been able to withstand injuries to key players, and Wiggins gives a lot of credit for that to offensive coordinator Matt Napier and defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard.
“I think that coach Napier and coach Hubbard have both done a great job on the offensive and defensive sides of establishing depth, and putting people in the right place,” Wiggins said. “I think with some of our injuries, we’ve had guys step up in crucial situations, whether it be at tailback, or inside backer. That’s helped us be better, and be successful.”
Wiggins also believes a willingness of the players to not be tied to one specific position is critical.
“We’ve had several guys that played multiple positions,” Wiggins said “The bottomline, it’s about helping our football team. They’re willing to do that to help us succeed.”
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
RECORDS: Callaway (4-1, 1-0 in Region 5-AA); Bremen (2-2, 0-0 in Region 5-AA)
LAST YEAR: Callaway beat Bremen 37-25