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Suggs makes impact for Cavaliers

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

On a defense with a lot of new pieces, Keshawn Suggs played a critical role for the Callaway Cavaliers last season.

While Suggs wasn’t a full-time starter in 2018, he played a lot and was an impact player on the defensive line, so defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard knew how important he was going to be last year.

“He was one of the very few guys that had played a lot of reps in the position he was playing in,” Hubbard said. “We had some guys that had played, but we were moving them to different positions.”

With Suggs doing his part, a Callaway defense that was a question mark coming into the season turned out to be a strength of the team.

Callaway held 10 of its 14 opponents to 10 or fewer points, and it went 12-2 and reached the Class AA state semifinals before losing to Brooks County.

Suggs was a fixture at defensive end from the first game to the last, and his ability to get to the quarterback or make plays in the running game was critical to Callaway’s success.

Suggs even found the end zone with a fumble return for a touchdown during a 51-0 win over Jordan in the regular-season finale.

“Physically, he has a lot of talent,” Hubbard said. “He’s a big-bodied kid. He’s probably 6-2, 230 right now. He moves really good for that size. But what I think what kind of separates him from a lot of players is how knowledgeable he is with what we’re trying to do. He played a lot as a freshman. He got some varsity reps as a freshman, and increased that his sophomore year, and of course last year played the whole time. He just has a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do defensively. There aren’t any questions about where he needs to be. He’s been around for four years. The day-to-day stuff, he understands it. It’s nice having a veteran on the field.”

Hubbard believes it’s also an advantage for Suggs that he has only played one position throughout his high-school career.

“That’s one thing that’s been such a benefit for him is he has not moved positions in four years,” Hubbard said. “He’s been a defensive end since day one, and that’s all he’s had to worry about. That’s why he’s got such a good understanding and such a good handle on the position. There may be guys ready and capable of playing football, but you put them in a position and two years later their body has changed so much they don’t fit that position anymore. But he’s a guy that stuck with that position, and he’s a veteran there and he understands what it’s like to play on Friday night. Right now, that’s his biggest influence is his experience, how much he’s played.”

Suggs’ good work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The senior has made two preseason all-state teams, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution team that was released on Monday.

Suggs is one of three Callaway players who earned a spot on the AJC’s all-state team.

Jalin Shephard, a senior defensive back and wide receiver, and senior quarterback Demetrius Coleman also made the all-state team.

Earlier, Recruit Georgia released its all-state team, and Suggs, Shephard, Coleman, running back Charlie Dixon, defensive back Osiris Rivas, and linebacker Austin Thomas were recognized.

Four of those all-state players are a part of a defense that’s in a much different place compared to last year with so many starters returning.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of football,” Hubbard said. “That doesn’t always mean you’re going to be good. It just means you’ve got some guys that have some playing experience, and they’ve done it before. I would rather be in that boat than the boat we were in last year. At this point, going into the year, there’s no doubt we are a lot further along now than we were at this time last year.”