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Callaway, Hardaway meet for the first time

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The Callaway Cavaliers have faced close to 80 different teams since they started playing football in 1996.

This week, Callaway will add a new opponent to that list.

On Friday night, Callaway and Hardaway will meet for the first time, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.

Both teams are coming off impressive opening wins.

While Hardaway overwhelmed Americus-Sumter 33-3 on Sept. 10, Callaway began its season with a 27-7 win over

Troup last week.

The game is the continuation of a challenging non-region schedule for Callaway, which also plays Douglass-Atlanta and Thomas County Central before opening Region 5-AA play.

“Hardaway’s got a great football team,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “Coach (Michael) Woolridge has done a great job building the program since he’s been there. They’ve got a lot of really good-looking players. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re well-coached, and they’ll be a really tough opponent Friday night. It should be a great atmosphere. I know they’re confident coming off a really big win over a good Americus team.”

Hardaway dominated Americus-Sumter in every way imaginable.

Americus-Sumter was limited to fewer than 100 yards offensively, and it averaged a paltry 2.2 yards per rush attempt.

Hardaway, meanwhile, had nearly 500 yards of offense while finding the end zone five times.

Quarterback DJ Lucas completed 10-of-14 passes for 11 yards with two touchdowns, and Sayvion Fuller and Kentavious Day combined for 259 rushing yards on 23 attempts.

“Watching the film against Americus, they are really fast on defense,” Wiggins said. “Any time you hold an opponent out of the end zone, it speaks a lot about your football team. They’re very fast, and they’re physical on defense. They believe in what they’re doing. It should be a physical football game up front in the trenches on both sides. Their offensive line is big, and they move well. They’ve got a great scheme. It’s going to be a tough opponent Friday night.”

Callaway had a strong defensive effort of its own in dispatching Troup 27-7.

Troup’s only touchdown came after it began a possession at the 10-yard line when Callaway punter Jalin Shephard lost control of the ball and was tackled for a loss on fourth down.

Senior linebacker Austin Thomas led the Cavaliers with 11 tackles, LaQuize Gilbert had eight tackles, and Ladarrious Williams had seven tackles.

Offensively, senior running back Charlie Dixon led the way with 23 carries for 113 yards with two touchdowns, and quarterback Demetrius Coleman threw a scoring pass to Jalin Shephard.

“I was really proud of several of our guys for stepping up and starting to establish what we can hang our hat on as a football team, and that’s offensively and defensively,” Wiggins said. “I thought Charlie ran the ball really hard, and I thought Demetrius Coleman was very composed. From a defensive standpoint, a lot of guys played a lot of snaps, and they played fast and they played physical, so there are a lot of things we have to do better, but the effort was there and we were pealed with that. Anytime your effort’s where it needs to be that’s always a positive and you can fix mistakes.”

Wiggins added that “I thought our special teams performed well. Our kickoff team was able to win the field-position battle, and our kickoff return was successful. We had a fumble on a punt, but overall I was pleased with our special teams.”

While Callaway ended up beating Troup by 20 points, it was a competitive game.

It was a seven-point game midway through the third quarter when Osiris Rivas returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

Dixon’s second touchdown run of the game in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.

“The game against Troup was very emotional. It was a physical game,” Wiggins said. “You enjoy that for one night, and then you have to move on and put it behind you and move on to the next one. There are a lot of things that we’ve got to do better than we did last week. We showed the players that on film, and we worked on it in practice, and hopefully we can make strides to being a better football team this week.”

CALLAWAY VS. HARDAWAY

WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Callaway Stadium

RECORDS: Callaway (1-0); Hardaway (1-0)

LAST GAME: Callaway beat Troup 27-7; Hardaway beat Americus-Sumter 33-3