Callaway offense flying high
Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was an offensive clinic.
The Lamar County Trojans came into last week’s game against Callaway with an unbeaten record, largely because of a defense that had given up just 63 points in six games.
That script changed in a big way against the high-powered Cavaliers, though.
Callaway scored at will in the first half while scoring six touchdowns, and it added another score in the second half on the way to a 46-7 victory.
The Cavaliers, with junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman leading the way, had everything working offensively, and the Trojans were unable to find any answers on defense.
Coleman, who is having a brilliant season, had his way with Lamar County’s defense, completing 10-of-14 passes for 247 yards with four touchdowns.
For the season, Coleman has completed 63-of-102 passes for 1,451 yards with 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Coleman, throwing the ball around to a gifted group of wide receivers, averages more than 23 yards per completion.
Coleman stepped into the starting lineup for the regular-season finale last season, and he helped lead Callaway to the state semifinals.
Coleman has elevated his game this season, much to the delight of Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier.
“That’s why you get into coaching, to coach guys like Demetrius that are team players, that buy into what you want them to do,” Napier said. “He works so hard. He works in the weight room, and he works so hard in practice. He studies, and he knows the opponent. He just does everything from a coaching standpoint that you’d want your player to do. It’s always rewarding to see kids succeed regardless, but to see kids put into what Demetrius into it, and the time and the effort and commitment that he has to our team, it is a joy to watch him play, and for the people and the community to see the hard work pay off.”
Callaway continued to put up big numbers against Lamar County, despite the absence of wide receiver Antinez Blount, who has been the team’s top down-field threat.
Jacob Freeman, one of Callaway’s most heavily recruited players, had six catches for 92 yards with a touchdown.
Markus Morman had two catches for 96 yards with two touchdowns, and Jalin Shephard had a 42-yard scoring catch.
Those receivers, with position coach Dialleo Burks working closely with them, have all had phenomenal seasons.
“(Coleman will) be the first to tell you he’s got a really great group of receivers, but he’s also putting the ball in spots where a lot of people can’t,” Napier said. “He’s got arm strength, and his accuracy is the thing that kind of sets him apart from the average quarterback. If you’ve got a lock-down corner that’s going to cover somebody, we’ve got another receiver that can get open. Demetrius has done a phenomenal job of being able to find those guys, and those guys have done a great job of being able to run their routes the way we want. They’ve done a great job of making the plays on the ball when they have the opportunity. Demetrius has got a lot of confidence in every single one that they can make a play in any situation.”
Napier gives Coleman a lot of responsibility on game nights.
On a lot of plays Coleman has a run or pass option, and Napier is comfortable letting his quarterback make those choices.
Early in the second half last week, Coleman checked into a pass play, and that led to a touchdown pass to Freeman.
“I’ve given him the reins to be able to make that decision,” Napier said. “Sometimes for a coach it’s hard to give that stuff over to the players, but I think if you structure it right and it’s in place the right way and he understands when it’s time to do it, the benefit can be like they have this year.”
As if the Cavaliers weren’t already dangerous enough offensively, last week marked the return of all-state running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who’d missed most of three games with an ankle injury.
Bigsby was hurt early in the Troup game, and he didn’t play against Temple or Bremen.
In his return to action, Bigsby had five carries for 73 yards with a touchdown.
Charlie Dixon, who has excelled in Bigsby’s absence, ran for 43 yards on four attempts with a touchdown against Lamar County.
Leading the way is an offensive line that has gotten the job done.
The starters are Lathan Patterson, Austin Thomas, Zach Neighbors, Jacob Miles and Tate Johnson, and Sam Williams plays tight end, basically serving as another blocker.
Neighbors is the center, and Napier credits him with being nearly flawless on shotgun snaps.
“Zach Neighbors has been really consistent with the gun snap,” Napier said. “When you’re talking about the quarterback position and throwing the ball, it’s about timing, and if you have a consistent snap in the gun, it makes everything work better. You can really do it the way you practice it when that ball is right on the money every time. He has done as good as job as we’ve had as far as the accuracy of his snaps and the timing. It’s made everything smooth.”
Callaway’s offensive line was a bit of a question mark coming into the season after the loss of three starters, but that group has been strong.
“We lost a lot of guys. We lost some really talented guys,” Napier said. “Those guys come to work every day. They’re not the most talented group athletically and size-wise we’ve had, but they’ve done a good job of working hard and taking that underdog role and being grinders, and tough.”
Callaway will continue its season on Saturday with a road game against Spencer before hosting rival Heard County on Oct. 25.