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Callaway, Fitzgerald meet for third time

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It’s time for round three.

The Callaway and Fitzgerald football programs have played twice before, both in the state playoffs.

In 2009, Callaway reached the third round of the state playoffs for the first time ever, and it lost to Fitzgerald 35-21.

A decade later the teams met again, this time in the second round of the playoffs, and Callaway won 50-31 at Callaway Stadium.

Those two proud programs will meet again on Tuesday, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

The winner will put the finishing touches on a special season with a state championship, and both programs are hungry.

While it has been more than 70 years since Fitzgerald won its lone title, Callaway is seeking the first championship in the 24-year history of the program.

Fitzgerald (14-0) brings an unbeaten record into the game, and it dominated Jefferson County 24-0 last week to earn its title shot.

For Fitzgerald, this is nothing new.

Fitzgerald reached the state-championship game in 2015 and 2016, and it fell short both years, losing to Pace Academy and then Benedictine.

For Callaway, this is uncharted territory.

While the Cavaliers have made plenty of deep runs in the playoffs over the years, this is the first time they’ve made it to the championship game.

Callaway (11-1) earned its elusive title shot with a 41-17 victory over Rabun County last week in the semifinals.

“I’m really proud of our kids for their focus throughout the playoffs,” said Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins. “I think the preparation we’ve had on the field, and off the field, has been at a high level. I think our coaches have worked extremely hard, and we feel like we’ve had good plans going into each game. But the preparation from our team is a great part of our success. We practice at high levels, and I believe the effort the kids have played with on Friday nights has reached higher levels in each game that we’ve played. We always talk about the great players find a way to play at higher levels against really good teams, and I think that our guys have done that.”

CALLAWAY CAVALIERS VS. 

FITZGERALD PURPLE HURRICANE

WHAT: Class AA state-championship game

WHEN: Dec. 29, noon

WHERE: Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta

RECORDS: Callaway (11-1); Fitzgerald (14-0)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Callaway finished first in Region 5-AA and beat Banks County, Lovett, Thomasville and Rabun County in the state playoffs; Fitzgerald finished first in Region 1-AA and beat Oglethorpe County, Northeast, Fannin County and Jefferson County in the state playoffs