Callaway’s Pete Wiggins in select company
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
There are nearly 400 men leading high-school football programs in Georgia, and less than 20 of them have been at their current school longer than Callaway High’s Pete Wiggins.
Wiggins, after three seasons as an assistant coach at Callaway, was promoted to the head-coaching position in 2015 after Claude Giddens stepped down, and he has remained in that position ever since.
On Sept. 11 when Callaway faces Troup, Wiggins will begin his 16th season as Callaway’s head coach, and only 14 current coaches in Georgia have a longer tenure at their school.
Marist’s Alan Chadwick leads the way with a remarkable 36 seasons at Marist, and Gerry Romberg has been at Marist 29 seasons.
Among the other coaches ahead of Wiggins on that list is Tim Barron, who has been Heard County’s head coach since 2003.
Only 20 coaches, including Wiggins, have been in the same position for 15 or more years.
All of those coaches have enjoyed plenty of success, and Wiggins is no exception.
Wiggins has led Callaway to a 138-47 record over the past 15 seasons while leading the team to at least the third round of the state playoffs six times since 2009.
For Wiggins, while the wins are nice, the joy of being on a football field and spending time with people who mean so much to him is by far the best part of the job.
“The older I get, I realize how special it is
to get the opportunity to have another day, to go out on the field, to work with these kids, to be around a great group of men in our coaching staff,” Wiggins said. “I’m very fortunate to be in a situation to have the coaches that have surrounded me throughout that time. I’m also very thankful for my wife (Amy), who has supported me all that time, and my family.”
One of the coaches Wiggins is close to is Dusty Hubbard, who has been a highly successful head coach of his own in baseball, and he has been Callaway’s defensive coordinator since 2005.
“In 24 years of coaching, coach Hubbard is one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Wiggins said. “He gets as much out of his players as anybody. Kids play hard for him, they’ll run through a wall for him. I think he and our defensive staff bring a great energy and a great expectation. It’s a physicality, and it’s an effort and speed to the ball.’
Wiggins grew up in Alabama before crossing the state line to play football at the University of West Georgia, and after graduating he began his coaching career in his home state at Highland Home.
After coaching at Murray County High in the northern part of Georgia, Wiggins came to Callaway in 2002 to become a part of Giddens’ staff.
Giddens stepped down following the 2014 season, and Wiggins accepted an offer to become Callaway’s third head coach.
The rest is history.
The Cavaliers had losing records in 2005 and 2006, but they’ve won at least seven games every year since 2007.
Since 2008, the Cavaliers have reached double digits in wins eight times, they’ve won seven region titles, and they’ve been in the state semifinals four times since 2013.
For Wiggins, part of the joy of coaching comes from “the relationships that you build with these kids, and coaches, and not only from Callaway, but also the teams you play. Even though they may be your biggest rival, there’s still lots of respect for other coaches that you play against, and other teams. I think that’s what makes football so special is that camaraderie that you gain on the field on Friday nights.”
Wiggins also enjoys the success former Cavaliers enjoy after they leave high school, and those players are always welcome at the school.
At a recent practice, numerous players who were once a part of the Callaway program were on the sidelines, and Wiggins has no doubt that helps motivate the current members of the team.
“To see that many guys come back, and want to watch practice, I think that’s a great testimony to where our program’s at, and it’s also a great example for young kids that are listening to what we have to say,” Wiggins said. “It’s a great example for them to want to lead as far as seeing some of those guys standing out there. So many of them are playing college ball at a high level, or if they’re just playing college ball anywhere that’s a great accomplishment. I think it’s cool for former players to come back, and for those young guys to get to be around those guys, and to hear their stories.”