Dixon has big game for Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s been a frustrating season at times for Callaway’s Charlie Dixon, whose time on the field has been limited because of a turf-toe injury as well as quarantine procedures.
When the team needed him most, though, Dixon was ready for the moment.
In back-to-back wins over Temple and Heard County that secured the Region 5-AA championship for Callaway, Dixon ran for nearly 400 combined yards with six touchdowns.
It’s the sort of performance Callaway fans had grown accustomed to seeing from Tank Bigsby at running back the past few seasons.
With Bigsby now at Auburn, Dixon has taken over as the featured running back, and as he’s shown the past two weeks, he’s capable of putting up Tank-like numbers.
“We already knew he could run like that, and he’s showing the world and everybody else,” said Demetrius Coleman, Callaway’s senior quarterback.
After losing to Haralson County 36-29 on Nov. 10, Callaway was 1-1 in the region, and it was fighting just to make the playoffs, much less win a region title.
Just four days after the Haralson game Callaway went on the road to play Temple, and Dixon had the best game of his high-school career.
In a 41-20 win, Dixon carried the ball 27 times for 211 yards, and he had four touchdowns.
That win set up a massive showdown with rival Heard County, with first place in the region on the line.
Once again, Dixon was up to the challenge.
Dixon had 28 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and he helped Callaway beat Heard County 30-17.
“It means a lot to me,” Dixon said of his ability to deliver in the biggest game of the season. “I had to show my leadership skills and that I can put the team on my back when it comes down to it.”
Dixon helped the Cavaliers win their second consecutive region title, and this one will no doubt hold a special place in the hearts of the players because of how unusual this year has been because of Covid-19.
“With the predicament we were in, nobody knew what could happen,” Dixon said. “We’re truly honored and blessed to be in this situation.”
ON TARGET: In the win over Temple, Callaway quarterback Demetrius Coleman only threw the ball four times, and he completed two of those passes.
The passing game was a much more prominent part of the offensive game plan against Heard County, and Coleman made sure that decision paid dividends.
Coleman completed 10-of-14 passes for 145 yards with two touchdowns, and perhaps just as importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions.
Jalin Shephard had a 41-yard touchdown catch, and Andrew Locke had a 20-yard scoring reception.
Shephard and Coleman are both seniors and three-year starters, and the two have an on-field connection that opposing teams haven’t had much luck defending.
“It’s like a routine play for us,” Coleman said. “He does that every day in practice.”
Locke, meanwhile, has seen his role increase this season following the departure of the four leading receivers from a year ago.
Locke made a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch on a perfectly thrown ball by Coleman.
It was a complete performance by an offense that has averaged more than 40 points a game in the four region games with first-year offensive coordinator Zach Giddens leading the way.
“It’s believing in each other, believing in the o-line, and believing in the running backs, the wide receivers, everybody,” Coleman said.
DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Senior linebacker LaQuize Gilbert has been one of Callaway’s most important players this season, and he showed his value once again in the 30-17 win over Heard County.
Gilbert had 13 tackles, including three for loss, to help Callaway beat its arch-rival and win the Region 5-AA championship.
Gilbert has not only been Callaway’s leading tackler, but he has also been a key offensive player as a running back.
Another one of Callaway’s defensive leaders, defensive lineman Trey Stephens, had nine tackles with two sacks, and defensive back Jarvis Parks had seven tackles with a fumble recovery.
Senior defensive back Osiris Rivas added an interception.
FINDING THE RANGE: Blake Eubanks, Callaway’s junior place-kicker, made a 39-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3 in the first quarter.
Eubanks went on to make three extra points in the 30-17 win over Heard County.