Cavaliers secure region championship
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was Callaway’s turn to celebrate.
For the past two years, the Cavaliers came into their rivalry showdown with the Heard County Braves with an opportunity to win the Region 5-AA title, only to fall short.
The Cavaliers weren’t about to let that happen again.
With intermittent showers coming down at Callaway Stadium on Friday night, Callaway overwhelmed Heard County 34-0 to not only capture the region championship, but reclaim the Pulpwood Classic trophy.
Callaway (8-1 overall) closes the regular season at Jordan on Thursday, and it will be at home for at least the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
“This is a huge win for Callaway High School to win a region championship, and to play as well as we did against a great team in Heard County,” said Pete Wiggins, who has led Callaway to seven region titles since 2008. “I thought the kids played physical, and we prepared really well. It was one of the best weeks of practice we ever had. The kids were focused coming into it, and we’re just really proud of their effort. I’m proud of our coaches. Our coaches put a lot into this, and I think that it showed tonight.”
A year ago, Callaway had the lead in the fourth quarter, only to watch Heard County rally for a 13-10 win.
That loss, which was such a painful one for the Cavaliers, was on the minds of the players as they charged onto the field for Friday’s game.
“We watched some of the film before the game, last year’s film, and it hurt,” said Jared Nation, a senior offensive lineman. “It got us all going. We watched them all rush the field, and it hurt. It got us all going. We wanted to win this so bad.”
Another senior offensive lineman, Tate Johnson, desperately wanted to be a part of the team that ended the two-year slide against Heard County.
“I was telling my group and my coaches all week, that I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to win a game as bad,” Johnson said. “I’ve played in two state championships (in Indiana), I’ve played in a semifinal (with Callaway), but the way all the events transpired last year and the events surrounding this game, I felt like we had to win it.”
While the Cavaliers ended up winning handily, it took them a little while to get going.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Cavaliers exploded for three second-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-0 lead at the half, and they added two more touchdowns in the second half to win going away.
Demetrius Coleman threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jacob Freeman and had a scoring run, and Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby had two touchdown runs.
Callaway’s defense, which has been dominant this season, pitched a shutout and didn’t allow Heard County’s offense to get anything established.
“I’m just excited about the win, and I’m proud of our kids,” Wiggins said.
The Cavaliers’ first two possessions ended with a punt and an interception, but they got things clicking when they got the ball for a third time.
The Cavaliers needed less than three minutes to drive 73 yards for the score, with Coleman finishing things off with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Blake Eubanks made the first of his four extra points to give Callaway a 7-0 lead with 6:52 to play in the first half.
Coleman, in addition to capping the drive with his scoring run, also had a 29-yard run on fourth-and-long that put the ball on the Braves’ 12-yard line.
Heard County fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Callaway recovered the ball at the 35-yard line.
Two plays later, Freeman put a move on his defender to get free, and Coleman dropped the ball into his hands in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown, and the lead was 14-0.
On their final possession of the first half, the Cavaliers drove 73 yards for another touchdown.
Coleman had a 32-yard run to put the ball into Heard County territory, and Jymere Jones caught a 15-yard pass to the 10-yard line.
On the next play, Bigsby went right up the middle for the 10-yard touchdown, and Callaway led 21-0 with 1:03 left in the half.
Heard County’s first possession of the second half ended with a failed fourth-down conversion, and Callaway’s offense went to work.
The Cavaliers covered 58 yards in four minutes, and Bigsby finished things off with a touchdown run on a play that didn’t go according to script.
The pitch from Coleman hit the ground, and Bigsby scooped the ball up and beat the Heard County defense for a 20-yard touchdown run, giving Callaway a 27-0 lead with 4:46 to play in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Coleman threw a screen pass to Freeman, who made a Heard County defender miss before racing to the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown.
Eubanks connected for his final extra point of the night to cap the scoring and give Callaway a 34-0 lead with 8:34 to play.
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