Injuries don’t derail Cavaliers

Published 11:26 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Daily News

Two of Callaway’s top players have missed time with injuries this season, and the team hasn’t missed a beat.

Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, Callaway’s all-state senior running back, injured an ankle in the Troup game on Sept. 20, and he ended up missing most of three games.

Another one of Callaway’s most valuable players, senior linebacker R.J. Williams, was injured in the Temple game on Sept. 26, and he hasn’t played since, missing three full games.

Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they had two capable players ready to step in and fill the void left by the absence of Bigsby and Williams.

Charlie Dixon, a starter on defense as a linebacker, has been terrific at running back, whether he’s been sharing the load with Bigsby or getting most of the carries.

Austin Thomas, a starting offensive lineman, has moved over to defense to play linebacker with Williams unavailable.

Head coach Pete Wiggins, who’ll lead his team onto the field against the rival Heard County Braves on Friday night, is thrilled with what Thomas and Dixon have given the team.

“I’m really proud of Austin Thomas and Charlie Dixon,” Wiggins said. “Both of those guys have taken a lot of reps, both on the offensive and defensive side. Austin on the offensive line and inside backer, and Charlie Dixon playing tailback and inside backer. Those two kids have done a great job leading our team, and carrying the load when we’ve had injuries. They’ve helped us pull through in a lot of big games.”

Injuries are an unfortunate reality in football, and teams have to find ways to overcome those losses.

“That’s part of being successful, that’s part of being a good football is having guys step up,” Wiggins said. “We’ve had guys get better as players, but also get better as leaders, and that’s what you’ve got to have to be a good football team.”

Dixon showed off his versatility and ability to make an impact on both sides of the ball in Saturday’s 40-0 victory over Spencer.

Dixon shared time with Bigsby at running back, and he also started at linebacker while helping Callaway hold an opponent to 10 or fewer points for the sixth time in eight games.

Late in the first half, Spencer had the ball deep in its own territory when Dixon’s play-making ability was put on display.

Dixon intercepted a pass, and he raced 26 yards for the touchdown, giving Callaway a 34-0 lead at the half.

In the Troup game when Bigsby got hurt, Dixon ran for 122 yards on 21 attempts, and he scored two touchdowns in a 55-45 win.

Dixon added 88 yards with a touchdown against Temple, and he had 43 yards on just four carries in a win over previously unbeaten Lamar County.

Thomas, meanwhile, is a second-year starter on an offensive line that has helped the Cavaliers average 41 points per game.

In the past three games while Thomas has been starting on defense, Callaway has given up a combined 21 points.

MAKING PLAYS: A stalwart on Callaway’s defense since day one has been senior defensive lineman Anthony Elliott.

Elliott was a linebacker in 2018, but he was moved to the defensive line this season.

Elliott has been among Callaway’s leading tacklers in nearly every game, and he’s been a critical member of a defense that has only given up more than 14 points one time in eight games.

In Saturday’s 40-0 win over Spencer, Elliott had six tackles with a sack, and he also blocked a punt that gave Callaway the ball on the 1-yard line.

Tre Stephens, like Elliott a first-year starter on the defensive line, had five tackles against Spencer.

BIG NUMBERS: With junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman leading the way, Callaway continued to make big plays in the passing game against Spencer.

Coleman completed 11-of-22 passes for 187 yards with a touchdown, and he also had a scoring run.

Antinez Blount had two catches 69 yards with a 53-yard touchdown, and Jacob Freeman caught four passes for 61 yards.

Coleman averaged an impressive 17 yards per completion, and that’s actually below his season average.

In eight games, Coleman has completed 74-of-124 passes for 1,638 yards with 16 touchdowns, and he averages 22 yards a completion.

“He’s doing a great job with his leadership in the huddle, and the way he runs our offense,” Wiggins said. “He’s a special football player.”

HE’S BACK: Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, in his second game back after injuring his ankle in a game against Troup on Sept. 20, made the most of his seven carries against Spencer.

Bigsby ran for 130 yards on seven carries with touchdown runs of 64, 21 and six yards.

Bigsby was enjoying a strong start to the season when he had to leave in the first half of the Troup game with an ankle injury.

Bigsby didn’t play against Temple or Bremen, and he returned for the Lamar County game and rushed for 73 yards on five attempts with a touchdown.

COMING UP: Callaway (7-1 overall, 4-0 in Region 5-AA) will visit Heard County (3-4, 3-0) on Friday night, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.