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Callaway coach eager to get started

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Andre Johnson, Callaway High’s new boys’ basketball coach, is looking forward to getting his players in the gym.

While some basketball teams have already started summer workouts, Callaway’s players won’t get together until July following the Georgia High School Association-mandated dead week.

Johnson, who has been the boys’ basketball coach at Callaway Middle School the past two seasons, is replacing long-time coach Terry Hayes at Callaway High.

“We’re going to get them in, get going,” said Johnson, who is also a member of the football team’s coaching staff. “Hopefully we can go ahead and work out a little bit. I want to get them in the gym, just to see what they can do, and do some drills, and see where their head is. I want to get to know them. The juniors and seniors really don’t know me, but what helps is the younger guys kind of already know my system, so it’s going to help a little bit. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”

Johnson takes over a team that went 14-8 last season and finished second in Region 5-AA before falling to Model 62-60 in the first round of the state tournament.

Among the players returning are two seniors who have been starting since they were freshmen, Demetrius Coleman and Javontay Boddie.

“It’ll be good just to get our feet wet, to see how they operate,” Johnson said. “I need to see where your decision-making is, can you read the floor, things of that nature.”

For the past three weeks Johnson’s focus has been on helping prepare the football players for a new season.

Johnson has enjoyed getting to know the football players, as well as the coaches he’ll be working alongside.

“I honestly think I’m blessed,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t work with a better group of coaches then what I’m working with. This is by far the best I’ve been with.”

Callaway’s girls’ basketball players, meanwhile, have been getting together for summer workouts the past few weeks.

This week, the players were able to use a basketball for the first time.

Head coach Deyano Martin also coaches football, and because of Georgia High School Association rules he can only be an observer during basketball workouts.

Martin can be in the gym, but he can’t get on the court and lead things, so assistant coach Sam Cotton is running summer workouts.

“I can only be in one group, but I can be there and kind of see what’s going on,” Martin said. “It’s been working out good.”

Things have changed this week, with players permitted to begin using basketballs.

“It’s gone well,” Martin said. “We’ve been working out, doing a little shooting. We just started picking up a ball this week, so that was good.”

Callaway enjoyed a successful season, finishing third in the region tournament before losing to Rockmart in the first round of the state tournament.

Among the returning players is junior guard Gabrielle Johnson, who averaged nearly 20 points per game last season, along with junior guard Niakoe Burks and junior forward Camryn Stargell.