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Callaway set for rematch with Douglass-Atlanta

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It’ll be a different sort of Friday night for the Callaway Cavaliers.

When Callaway travels to Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium to face the Douglass-Atlanta Astros, there won’t be any fans in the stands.

Before the season, the Atlanta public-school system decided that fans wouldn’t be permitted to attend high-school games in the city, so Friday’s game will be played with empty bleachers.

“We’ve talked to the team about it each day, just to prepare them for what it may feel like,” said Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins. “The moms and dads, the family members, will not be able to see the guys play, but with all the circumstances we’re happy for the opportunity. We’re happy just to have a game.”

Callaway’s first two games against Troup and Hardaway were played at Callaway Stadium with fans in the stands, and while Wiggins prefers that, he understands that every school system is different in how it is approaching the season in the age of Covid-19.

“We have to respect what Atlanta public schools have in place,” Wiggins said. “I hate it for the mommas and daddies who won’t get to see their sons play, and that’s going to be tough. It might be the first time that’s been the situation where their son had a ballgame and they weren’t in the stands watching, but in the big picture, we have to respect the rules, and we have an opportunity to play, and hopefully good things will happen on the field for us.”

The game will be a rematch of a showdown from the third-round of last year’s state playoffs.

Douglass-Atlanta surged to a 14-0 in the first half, but Callaway rallied for a 41-20 victory to reach the state semifinals for the second straight year and for the fourth time since 2013.

Douglass-Atlanta, which is 0-1 after falling to Wesleyan 19-7, is led by head coach Rodney Cofield, who has a career record of 143-89 .

“Douglass is going to have a great football team, and coach Cofield has done a phenomenal job during his time there,” Wiggins said. “They put a physical, fast, well-coached team on the field each year. It was a really tough game last year in the quarterfinals, and we know it’ll be the same this year. A lot of their team is the same as last year. They’ve got a lot of returning players, so it’s going to be a big challenge going to Atlanta Friday night.”

Callaway started the season with hard-earned wins over Troup and Hardaway.

In a 27-7 win over Troup, Charlie Dixon ran for a pair of touchdowns, Demetrius Coleman threw a touchdown pass to Jalin Shephard, and Osiris Rivas returned a kickoff for a score.

In a 17-6 victory over Hardaway, Dixon had a scoring run, Shephard had an electrifying 87-yard touchdown pass, and Blake Eubanks made a 35-yard field goal.

Callaway’s defense, which was expected to be a strength of the team coming into the season with nearly every player returning, was dominant against Troup and Hardaway.

This week’s game will be another major challenge for Callaway, which has one more non-region game against Thomas County Central before opening its Region 5-AA schedule.

“It’s the third week in a row where we’ve played a school in a bigger classification, so again, it’s a big challenge for us, and we’ve got to play physical and sound football to have success Friday night,” Wiggins said.

CALLAWAY VS. 

DOUGLASS-ATLANTA

WHEN: Friday, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Lakewood Stadium (Atlanta)

RECORDS: Callaway (2-0); Douglass-Atlanta (0-1)

LAST MEETING: Callaway beat Douglass 31-20 in the third round of the 2019 state playoffs