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Callaway players make all-state team

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Recruit Georgia released its Class AA preseason all-state team this week, and the Callaway Cavaliers are well-represented.

Three Callaway players were first-team selections, while three other Cavaliers earned honorable-mention honors.

Making the first team were Charlie Dixon, Jalin Shephard and Keshawn Suggs, while Austin Thomas, Demetrius Coleman and Osiris Rivas were honorable-mention picks.

Among the first-teamer is Dixon, who is expected to be Callaway’s primary running back this season following the departure of Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who is now at Auburn.

Dixon got significant playing time last season, particularly when Bigsby missed most of three games with an injury.

Dixon was also a key contributor as a linebacker on last year’s team that went 12-2 and reached the state semifinals.

“Charlie Dixon, he played a lot snaps last year at tailback,” said Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins. “He’s got a lot of experience. He’s going to carry the ball a lot this year.”

Dixon won Callaway’s ironman competition where the players

compete in a handful of different events, and Wiggins said he also provided outstanding leadership at the start of full-contact practice.

“He had a great day in practice,” Wiggins said. “We stressed that as far as talking to the kids and having senior leaderhship. I thought Charlie did a good job of stepping up and being vocal and helping lead our practice.”

Also making the first team is Jalin Shephard, a senior defensive back who will be a part of the wide-receiver rotation as well.

In addition to what he’s done on offense and defense, Shephard is also an electrifying kick returner who had a critical touchdown during a playoff win over Douglass-Atlanta last year.

“He’s just so valuable,” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said of Shephard. “He can do just about anything you ask him to do. He’s a sure tackler on defense, he understands our system. This will be his third year starting. He’s just so valuable to have on the back end of the defense.”

Callaway’s other first-team player is Keshawn Suggs, a who is part of an experienced and talented group of defensive linemen.

Suggs is one of four starters returning on the defensive line, and he helped Callaway’s defense shut down opponents for most of the 2019 season.

Earning an honorable-mention nod is Austin Thomas, a versatile player who began the 2019 season as an offensive lineman before being asked to fill in at linebacker because of injuries.

Thomas excelled on defense, and he’s slated to be a starting linebacker this season.

Another honorable-mention pick is Osiris Rivas, a play-making defensive back who is one of 10 returning starters on defense.

Demetrius Coleman makes a strong case to be a first-team quarterback, but that spot went to Rabun County’s Gunner Stockton, who is one of the state’s top players.

Coleman had a phenomenal junior season, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards while helping the offense score more than 40 points per game.

“We’re fortunate to have Demetrius Coleman at quarterback, a three-year starter,” Coleman said. “With the time off, and the time that we’ve been out of school and out of practice to have the luxury of a quarterback in returning in his third year as a starter. He’s very poised, has great character and a lot of athletic ability to lead our football team.”

ALL-STATE PLAYERS

FIRST TEAM

Charlie Dixon (running back)

Jalin Shephard (defensive back/wide receiver)

Keshawn Suggs (defensive line)

HONORABLE MENTION

Austin Thomas (linebacker/offensive line)

Osiris Rivas (defensive back)

Demetrius Coleman (quarterback)