Another region title for Cavaliers

Published 10:32 pm Monday, October 28, 2019


Daily News

Another year, another region championship for the Callaway Cavaliers.

Under head coach Pete Wiggins, winning region titles has become the norm.

The Cavaliers won a region title in 2008, Wiggins’ fourth season as head coach, and they’ve continued to pile up the championships since then.

When Callaway overwhelmed Heard County 34-0 on Friday night at Callaway Stadium, it was the program’s seventh region title since 2008.

While all of the region titles have been important, this one really meant a lot to the players and coaches because of how things played out the past two years.

In 2017 and 2018 Callaway headed into the Heard County game with an opportunity to win the region title, only to be denied in two close games.

This year, Callaway left nothing to chance.

The Cavaliers dominated the game in every way possible on the way to the shutout win, while winning their first region title since 2016.

Callaway also won region championships in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, and the program won one in 2001 under head coach Sonny Cummings.

Tate Johnson, a senior offensive lineman for the Cavaliers, said every member of the team was laser-focused on taking care of business against the rival Braves.

“I thought Troup week prior to this week was the best practice we had,” said Johnson, who has committed to Auburn. “But, this week, it was different. Every single guy down to the freshmen was so focused, and we knew we what had to do, and everyone was bought in, and we got the job done.”

While the Cavaliers won the game easily, that’s not the norm in a rivalry that has included mostly tight games over the years.

“We’ve had a lot of great games (with Heard) over the years,” said Wiggins, who improved to 8-7 against Heard County. “Every game’s going to be physical, every game’s going to be emotional. Anytime you can get a win in this atmosphere is very special. I’m proud of our fans, and these seniors. We’re looking forward to moving on down the road.”

After a few shaky possessions to start the game, the Cavaliers caught fire and didn’t look back.

Demetrius Coleman threw touchdown passes of 33 and 22 yards to Jacob Freeman, and the junior quarterback also had an 11-yard scoring run.

Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, Callaway’s outstanding senior running back who will be joining Johnson at Auburn next season, had touchdown runs of 10 and 19 yards.

Callaway’s defense continued to get it done with its third shutout of the season, and its second in a row.

Senior linebacker R.J. Williams, looking strong after missing a few games with an injury, led the Cavaliers with 11 tackles, including three for loss, and he forced a fumble.

Defensive lineman Anthony Elliott had seven tackles, including three for loss with two sacks, and he also forced a fumble.

Ladarious Williams added eight tackles.

Jabari Smith, a senior defensive lineman, said it wasn’t just about winning the game, but of setting the table for what could be an extended stay in the state playoffs.

“We wanted to send a message, make a statement,” Smith said.

The Cavaliers have advanced to the state semifinals three times since 2013, and it lost to the Rockmart Yellow Jackets in that round last year.

Callaway appears poised to make another deep playoff run in the coming weeks.

Callaway will visit Jordan on Friday in the regular-season finale, and it will host a state-playoff game on Nov. 8.

If Callaway makes it all the way to the state-championship game at Georgia State Stadium, it will play five playoff games.

The Cavaliers have never made it to a state-championship game.

“I can’t wait (for the playoffs),” said Jared Nation, a senior offensive lineman. “We’ve got six games to play.”

The man at the helm is accustomed to leading the Cavaliers to successful seasons.

Wiggins is 134-46 in his 15 seasons as head coach, and in addition to the seven region titles, he’s led the Cavaliers to the semifinals three times, and to the quarterfinals on two other occasions.

Since 2008, the Cavaliers have won at least one state-playoff game every year but one.

Eight times since 2008 Callaway has won at least 10 games, and this team can reach double digits in victories with two more wins.

Since the start of the 2015 season the Cavaliers are 53-9, and they’re 9-4 in the playoffs during that span.

The one thing the Cavaliers haven’t done is win it all.

This team will be one of the favorites to make that happen.

“I want to get it more for (Wiggins) than anything,” Johnson said. “He deserves it.”