Cavaliers ready for next step
Published 10:46 pm Monday, November 18, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’ve been here before.
For the eighth season in a row, and for the 12th time in 13 years, the Callaway Cavaliers have advanced past the first round of the state playoffs.
Now the Cavaliers (10-1), who’ve won 10 straight games since a season-opening loss to the Opelika Bulldogs, will try to take the next step when they host the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
Fitzgerald, which beat Bleckley County 30-12 in a first-round game last week, will be the visiting team for the game that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
If the Cavaliers win, they’ll reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the fourth straight season, and they’d move one step closer to their first state championship.
The competition figures to grow tougher as the state journey continues for the Cavaliers.
Chattooga didn’t provide much opposition in last week’s first-round game.
The Cavaliers scored on their first play from scrimmage, and they never looked back on the way to a 54-7 victory.
Callaway led 47-0 at the half, and the second half went quickly with a running clock.
“Our kids, their effort’s high at practice, and I think it shows on Friday night,” said Pete Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach since 2015.
Despite playing in a steady and at times heavy rain in the first half, the Cavaliers had no trouble putting points on the scoreboard.
Auburn-bound running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby scored on a touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, and the Cavaliers were off and running.
“This will be the fourth time we’ve played in the rain. I don’t think it affects our kids,” Wiggins said. “We practice in it, and we talk about the little adversities that they’ll have to overcome to win a football game.”
Demetrius Coleman threw six touchdown passes, and Bigsby had a pair of scoring runs.
Jacob Freeman had three of those touchdown catches, Antinez Blount had two, and Jalin Shephard had one.
Coleman, who now has more than 2,000 passing yards this season, has thrown 28 touchdown passes in 28 games.
Coleman has spread the wealth to a talented group of receivers including Freeman, Blount, Shephard, Jymere Jones and Markus Morman.
“I’m blessed to have (receivers) like that, and in the backfield with Tank,” Coleman said.
Fitzgerald (8-3), the number three team from Region 1-AA, got an impressive road win to open its playoff stay.
Fitzgerald won its first seven games this season before losing two of three to close the regular season.
Fitzgerald, which had a bye week to end the regular season, overwhelmed Bleckley County to keep its season alive.
If Callaway beats Fitzgerald, it will play either Douglass-Atlanta or Jefferson County in the quarterfinals.
Two more wins and the Cavaliers are in the semifinals for the fourth time since 2013 and the second year in a row.
Three more victories and Callaway would make it to the state-championship game for the first time ever after three trips to the semifinals.
OF NOTE: This will be the second all-time meeting between Callaway and Fitzgerald. In 2009, Callaway lost to Fitzgerald 35-21 in the Class AA quarterfinals. Fitzgerald lost to Buford in the semifinals the following week.