Callaway ready for challenge Thomasville presents in AA semifinals

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The road to back-to-back state championships has been a long one for the Callaway Cavaliers — literally.

Following a two-and-a-half-hour road trip to Bleckley County and an hour drive to South Atlanta, Callaway (10-2) will now head on a three-hour drive to Thomasville.

The challenge that awaits figures to be a large one, as the No. 2 ranked Bulldogs (12-1) have won eight in a row, including a playoff victory over No. 1 Rabun County last week. Only one of those victories came by a single score, and that one came to Fitzgerald, who is on the other side of the AA bracket, and played in the state title game last year.

“It’s on the road. They’ve got a lot of tradition. It’s a tough place to play, so that’s a big challenge for us Friday night,” said Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins of Thomasville.

“But, we have the opportunity, and that’s all you can ask for at this point.”

Callaway has had a tough playoff journey, but the Cavaliers have come through over and over. They won their playoff opener against Pepperell by a single touchdown after the defense came up big late in the game. Then, they went to Bleckley County and dominated in a 21-point victory. On Friday, they rallied from a halftime deficit to score 25 straight to defeat South Atlanta.

“As the game wore on, I felt like our front on both offense and defensive side of the ball established the line of scrimmage, established a physicality that helped us win the game,” Wiggins said of the victory over South Atlanta.

The Cavaliers have been led by quarterback DeShun Coleman, who Wiggins said is following in his brother, Demetrius’, footsteps, as a great leader for the Cavaliers.

“He’s had a lot of weight on his shoulders,” Coleman said. “When you’re the quarterback of a football team, I mean, that’s a very difficult position in a lot of ways obviously. You’ve got to be a playmaker, but you’ve got to be a very strong leader in good and bad times. And I think that he’s done a great job of that.”

The Cavaliers’ running game — as it’s done so many times — took control of the game Friday night against South Atlanta. Amarion Truitt, Kier Jackson and Quay Whitfield all had their moments as Callaway rallied.

“There’s a continuity between that group, and I think that goes hand-in-hand as far as having success running the football,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said the Cavaliers have played in a lot of big games over the years, which is what happens when a team makes deep playoff runs year after year. And the expectations are high.

“There’s an expectation of success and so many of our guys have played in very big ball games against really good teams against really good players,” he said. “This is what we expect. This is what we want as far as being in a game like Friday night with Thomasville is what you work for. It’s what you practice for, so it’s a great opportunity for our program.”

The game kicks off Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.