Senior stands tall for Cavaliers
Published 6:19 pm Monday, December 2, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
With Anthony Elliott unable to play in last week’s playoff game against Douglass-Atlanta because of an injury, the Callaway Cavaliers needed some other players to step up and fill that void on the defensive line.
One of the players who was up to the challenge was Tate Johnson, a valuable member of Callaway’s offensive line.
Johnson has taken the occasional snap on defense during the season, but his role on that side of the ball figured to increase substantially last week with Elliott out of action.
In the days leading up to the game against Douglass-Atlanta, defensive-line coach Jamal Bruce let Johnson know he would likely be needed on defense.
“Coach Bruce said during the week just be ready,” Johnson said. “During the game, he put me in a play, and I guess he liked what he saw, so he kept putting me back out there. Eventually he kept me out there a lot. I just want to do whatever’s best for the team. Whatever I can do to help the team win, I’ll do.”
Johnson made some critical plays during the 41-20 victory, including a tackle behind the line of scrimmage late in the first half that helped thwart a potential Douglass scoring drive.
“Big Tate had to play a lot, and he changed the game,” said Dusty Hubbard, Callaway’s defensive coordinator.
Johnson also continued to make a massive impact while anchoring the right side of the offensive line.
All in all, it was a memorable night for the senior who has committed to Auburn.
“I thought Tate Johnson had a phenomenal game, one of his best games,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “He made a lot of big plays on the defensive side of the ball.”
With Johnson’s help, Callaway (12-1) won its 12th consecutive game while advancing to the state semifinals for the fourth time since 2013, and for the second straight year.