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State-playoff schedule is set

By Kevin Eckleberry

LaGrange Daily News

It’ll be a busy Saturday at Callaway Stadium.

On Monday morning, due to a shortage of available officials, the Georgia High School Association announced that all Class AA and Class AAAA state-playoff games would be played on Saturday.

That means that the Callaway Cavaliers and LaGrange Grangers will both play home games on Saturday, while the Troup Tigers will be in Savannah for their first-round game.

The change doesn’t impact LaGrange, which was already going to play its playoff game against New Hampstead on Saturday.

Callaway and Troup, conversely, were scheduled to play on Friday, so they’ve had to adjust their plans.

Callaway (7-1), which beat Heard County 30-17 last week to win the Region 5-AA championship, will play Banks County (1-9), the number four team from Region 8-AA, with kickoff set for noon at Callaway Stadium.

This is the 15th consecutive season the Cavaliers have qualified for the state playoffs, and they’ve won at least one playoff game every year but one since 2008.

The Cavaliers have made it at least as far as the third round of the state playoffs for four straight years, and they were in the semifinals in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

The Cavaliers have been close to breaking through and reaching the state-championship game the past two years, only to come up just short.

Callaway lost to Rockmart 28-22 in 2018, and it fell to Brooks County 39-35 last season.

In both games, Callaway had the ball inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in the closing moments with an opportunity to win it with a touchdown only to be denied.

Callaway begins this playoff run coming off an impressive performance against Heard County.

Callaway’s win, combined with a Bremen victory over Haralson County, gave head coach Pete Wiggins’ his eighth region championship since 2008.

“I’m extremely proud of our 17 seniors for their leadership, for their pure determination, and just pure effort, day in and day out through one hell of a season,” Wiggins said. “The adversities that this team has faced and been able to overcome is so special. I think it’s a great testimony to what these guys are about. It’s a great testimony to their character, to their work ethic and their belief in one another, our coaches, and our football team.”

Callaway’s first-round opponent is Banks County, which made it to the state playoffs as the fourth-place finisher in a region that only had four teams.

Banks County’s lone win came on Sept. 25 when it beat Lumpkin County 37-0.

If Callaway beats Banks County, it would host either Pepperell or Lovett in the second round.

Troup’s game has also been moved to Saturday, and it will play Benedictine at Memorial Stadium in Savannah.

Troup (6-4) is coming off a heart-breaking loss to Carver in the Region 2-AAAA championship game.

Troup had a 29-12 lead after three quarters, but Carver rallied for a 32-29 win.

Had Troup won, it would have been the region’s number one seed and would have been at home for the first round of the playoffs.

With the loss, Troup fell all the way to number four, and it has to travel to Savannah to face one of the state’s elite programs.

For Troup, playing on Saturday instead of Friday may end up being a good thing.

Troup is coming off an emotional, heart-breaking game against Carver that was played on Saturday.

Troup is also coming off a stretch where it played three games in eight days.

“I think that will help us,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “We played 77 defensive snaps on Saturday, on top of the other two games that we played. So I think that will help us.”

Troup was practicing Monday morning when the coaches and players found out their game had been pushed back to Saturday.

“We’re at practice, and then we get word that the game’s been moved to Saturday, so we’re trying to adjust to that,” Glisson said. “The kids were really upbeat, and excited, so we’re ready to get going.”

If Troup can pull off the road win on Saturday, it would play either West Laurens or Cairo in the second round.

Troup beat Cairo in the third round of the playoffs in 2018 to reach the semifinals where it lost to eventual state-champion Blessed Trinity.

With Troup losing, LaGrange was able to secure the number two seed from Region 2-AAAA, which means it gets to be at home.

LaGrange (7-3) will play New Hampstead (6-1), the number four seed from Region 3-AAAA, on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.

It’s the Grangers’ first state-playoff game since 2014, and they haven’t hosted a playoff game since 2009, so this is a big deal for a program that has struggled in recent years.

LaGrange heads into the playoffs on a high note after a dramatic 20-19 victory over Hardaway.

Hardaway had a chance to win it at the end, but LaGrange’s Montavious Martin blocked a field-goal attempt in the closing moments.

LaGrange closed out a successful regular season with its most impressive victory of the year.

“We felt like we had a good football team,” LaGrange head coach Matt Napier said. “To come out and be able to show what we showed tonight, it speaks a lot about these kids. I’m proud of them.”

If LaGrange beats New Hampstead, it would play Westover or Perry in the second round.

PLAYOFF GAMES

SATURDAY

Callaway vs. Banks County

WHEN: Saturday, noon

WHERE: Callaway Stadium

RECORDS: Callaway (7-1); Banks County (1-9)

HOW THEY GOT HERE; Callaway finished first in Region 5-AA; Banks County finished fourth in Region 8-AA

LaGrange vs. New Hampstead

WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Callaway Stadium

RECORDS: LaGrange (7-3); New Hampstead (6-1)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: LaGrange finished second in Region 2-AAAA; New Hampstead finished third in Region 3-AAAA

Troup vs. Benedictine

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Memorial Stadium (Savannah)

RECORDS: Troup (6-4); Benedictine (6-2)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Troup finished fourth in Region 2-AAAA; Benedictine finished first in Region 3-AAAA