Cavaliers gear up for summer workouts
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
In a non-coronavirus world, the Callaway Cavaliers would be heading into the busy summer schedule after wrapping up their two weeks of spring practice.
The coronavirus is very much a part of our world, though, so like every other high-school team in the state, the Cavaliers have had to make adjustments on the fly.
For more than two months now the athletic facilities at Callaway High have been closed, and the players and coaches have been unable to hold face-to-face meetings.
Everything has been done remotely since the middle of March, with coaches taking advantage of technology to meet with the players.
It has been challenging time, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Beginning on June 8 following a decision by the Georgia High School Association, sports teams in Georgia can began to hold summer workouts, although there are a bevy of restrictions in place.
It is, nonetheless, a welcome move for teams as they prepare for a football season that is supposed to begin in a little more than two months.
Callaway has a preseason game on Aug. 7 at Darlington, and it opens the regular season on Aug. 21 against Opelika.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be back,” said Pete Wiggins, who is in his 16th season as Callaway’s head coach. “I think that athletics and sports is such a factor in making a kid successful, it’s a factor in making me successful. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for sports and athletics. So, just to have the opportunity to get back in the weight room, and to condition, I think it’s a very positive step.”
The Cavaliers were getting ready for spring practice when the schools in Troup County were shut down on March 16.
What was at the time a temporary closure eventually became a permanent one, with schools eventually shut down for the remainder of the school year.
Callaway’s football team adjusted the best it could, with Wiggins and the other coaches offering remote instruction to the players.
“We have communicated each week with our kids, with phone calls, and we sent out individual workout plans early on when school first let out,” Wiggins said. “I think the kids have an understanding that they have to work on their own, and they have to keep that commitment going.”
Wiggins added that the coaches and players met regularly through Zoom meetings, with the team making the best of an unusual situation.
Now, everything is about to change, with the players set to report back to the school, and Wiggins and his coaches have been meeting to prepare for their arrival.
“We’ve had lots of conversations, and several meetings with our staff,” Wiggins said. “We’re putting that plan together now.”
At the start, at least, there will be a lot of limitations on what the players can do. Most notably, teams won’t be able to use a ball, and social distancing will have to be maintained, which means no scrimmaging.
While it will no doubt be a challenging situation, teams will be able to at least return to work.
“The first thing you hope is that everything goes good, that nothing happens, and you don’t have any outbreaks,” said Dusty Hubbard, Callaway’s defensive coordinator and a member of the staff since 2005. “You feel like it’s more of a trial run. And then maybe they lift some of this stuff and start allowing you to bring in more kids, and then you have another trial period before you’d be able to start practice. Hopefully by then they’ll have a better idea of how it’s going to be.”
Callaway is coming off another exceptional season under Wiggins, who has 138-47 record in 15 seasons at the school.
Callaway went 12-2 last season and reached the state semifinals for the fourth time since 2013.
The Cavaliers have been in the state playoffs every year since 2006, and they’ve won at least one playoff game every year but once since 2008.
The Cavaliers made it to the state semifinals in 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019, and they advanced to the third round in 2009 and 2017.
Aug. 7 – Callaway at Harris County (preseason game)
Aug. 14 – Callaway at Darlington (preseason game)
Aug. 21 – Opelika at Callaway
Aug. 28 – Callaway at Troup
Sept. 4 – Hardaway at Callaway
Sept. 11 – Callaway at Douglass (Lakewood Stadium)
Sept. 25 – Callaway at Dothan
Oct. 9 – Callaway at Haralson County
Oct. 16 – Bremen at Callaway
Oct. 30 – Callaway at Temple
Nov. 6 – Heard County at Callaway