Complete effort for Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The rematch was no contest.
Last November, Callaway rallied from an early 14-point deficit to beat Douglass-Atlanta 41-20 to reach the semifinals of the Class AA state playoffs.
Those teams met again on Friday in Atlanta, and Callaway dominated every facet of the game on the way to a 35-0 victory.
While Callaway’s offense churned out plenty of yards and found the end zone five times, the defense tossed a shutout against a Douglass-Atlanta team with plenty of weapons.
Callaway improved to 3-0, and it is off this week before finishing its non-region schedule next week against Thomas County Central.
Here are some highlights from Callaway’s impressive win:
GETTING IT DONE: Last year, the Callaway Cavaliers had to play part of the season without all-state running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who missed significant time with an injury.
Fortunately for Callaway, Charlie Dixon filled in admirably for Bigsby, and the offense kept right on rolling.
Flash forward a year and Dixon is now the featured back, but he went down with a toe injury during a week two games against Hardaway.
Once again Callaway needs someone to step in and fill the void, and LaQuize Gilbert looks like he’s up to the challenge.
In a dominant 35-0 win over Douglass-Atlanta last week, Gilbert had 12 carries for a team-leading 92 yards, and he scored three touchdowns.
Zach Giddens, Callaway’s offensive coordinator, was glad to have Gilbert available with Dixon unable to play.
“(Gilbert’s) a phenomenal football player,” Giddens said on Callaway’s weekly radio show. “He’s an excellent running back. Overall, he can do a lot of things on offense, he plays inside linebacker, and he does a great job on special teams for us. He’s a really good asset, and really did a good job subbing in for Charlie.”
Gilbert had touchdown runs of 11 and 18 yards in the first half, and he added a 15-yard scoring run in the second half.
Gilbert also had a monster game on defense with a team-best 12 tackles, even though he was limited to about 30 snaps because of all the time he was spending on offense.
“The great thing about (Gilbert), he’s real consistent at what he does as far as a running back is concerned. He hits the hole really well, does what he’s coached to do,” Giddens said. “Once he gets to the line of scrimmage, he’s doing what he does. He can be a physical runner at times, he’s got a great cut as well and can make people miss. As far as defense is concerned, he does a great job flying around being physical. I’m just proud of him, and really excited for him.”
DEFENSIVE LEADERS: It was another lock-down effort by Callaway’s defense.
After giving up a combined 13 points in the first two games against Troup and Hardaway, Callaway kept Douglass-Atlanta off the scoreboard in last week’s 35-0 win.
While LaQuize Gilbert led the way with 12 tackles, fellow senior linebacker Austin Thomas added 11 tackles with one for loss, and he forced a fumble.
Defensive lineman Trey Stephens had seven tackles with one for loss, and defensive back Jalin Shephard had an interception.
SENIOR SHINES: Demetrius Coleman is best known for his ability to beat teams in the passing game, but he can get it done on the ground as well as he showed last week against Douglass-Atlanta.
Coleman had 11 carries for 63 yards, and he had a 2-yard touchdown run.
While Coleman wasn’t asked to throw much, he did complete 3-of-8 passes for 41 yards, and he tossed a 20-yard scoring pass to Treyon Tucker.
“He really competed his tail off,” offensive coordinator Zach Giddens said of Coleman. “I couldn’t be more proud of him as far as running the football, doing what we ask of him in the passing game. When things didn’t go well, he didn’t lose his cool. When things were really great for us, he didn’t get out of what he does. You can’t be more proud of that kid and the way he played, and the way he competes and shows up for practice each day.”
FRESHMEN EXCEL: During an intra-squad scrimmage, freshman wide receiver Treyon Tucker showed what he was capable of when he made an acrobatic touchdown catch.
That was a sign of things to come.
While Tucker didn’t have any catches in the first two games of the season, he had a breakout moment against Douglass-Atlanta with a 20-yard scoring reception from Demetrius Coleman.
Tucker got behind the Douglass defense, and Coleman found him standing alone in the end zone.
Jalin Shephard and Kevin Alfero had Callaway’s other catches.
Another freshman, running back Jordan King, also had a productive game against Douglass-Atlanta with 10 carries for 45 yards.
PERFECT NIGHT: Blake Eubanks continues to split the uprights.
Eubanks, Callaway’s junior place kicker, was perfect on all five of his extra-point attempts against Douglass-Atlanta.
UP NEXT: Callaway will complete its non-region schedule with a game at Thomas County Central on Oct. 9, and it will be the first time those teams have ever played.