The man applauded his defense, congratulated his offense and shook every hand that he could on another winning night in Cavalierland.
Pete Wiggins, the Callaway High football coach, was giving his team the official seal of approval after Thursday night’s 4212 Cavalier win over Columbus Jordan. With the state playoffs only days away, Callaway High stepped it up one more notch.
The Cavaliers were intimidating as they got out to a 35-0 first half lead while a college football recruiter from Duke watched from the sideline. It was just another night in the life of Callaway football, the program with the “Blue Collar” format and the high energy players.
Wiggins saw a lot of good and a lot of hustle from the first minute of play to the final seconds of the Region 5-AA game at Callaway Stadium.
“We are determined, and these kids are confident. Our defense played fast and physical. And we made some big plays on offense,” said Wiggins, whose Cavaliers will take a 9-1 record into the Class AA state playoffs.
But in this regular season finale, Callaway High enjoyed the moment and played some ramrod defense. The Cavaliers dictated and dominated. Callaway High decided what tempo this game would be played at.
Yes, it was fast and punishing. Jordan junior quarterback Emmanuel Mann, a player who is being recruited by Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Ohio State, had little time to react and even less time to think. Thanks to the Cavalier defense, which came off the ball like a bull out of shute No. 2.
“I can’t lie, that is a good defense. Callaway has a foundation, and they have players who are buying in. They want to win. Callaway is a family,” said the 6-foot-1, 170pound Mann.
Just for the record, he was tackled five times in the Red Jacket backfield on the night by the Cavalier defense. Callaway junior defensive end Nathan Sapp sacked Mann for a 6-yard loss at the 5:02 mark of the first quarter.
Cavalier senior linebacker Jonathan Leonard had the second sack of the evening with an 11-yard loss at the Red Jacket 28, also in the first period of play. And in the second quarter, Callaway High got two quarterback sacks from senior defensive lineman Lichon Terrell, the Western Kentucky commit.
Columbus Jordan lost 10 yards, courtesy of the 6-foot-1, 270-pound Terrell. The Callaway High defense also scored some points in the first half on Jonathan Leonard’s 19yard fumble return for a touchdown with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers stretched their lead to 21-0. Callaway High also scored in the first half on a Kedrick Ramsey 7-yard touchdown run and a D.J. Atkins 26-yard romp to the end zone. Atkins, the senior running back, would score again in the second period on a 3-yard burst.
Callaway High sophomore tailback Cartavious Bigsby also put some catsup on the first half cheeseburger with a 47-yard touchdown run with 2:17 left in the second quarter. Junior place kicker Hunter Williamson went 5-for-5 on extra point kicks as well for the Cavaliers in the first half.
Before the night was over, Callaway High senior offensive lineman John Curtis would even catch the first pass of his distinguished high school football career.
“We were playing with tenacity. We were feeling good, and we were excited,” said Curtis. “We’ve got some raw talent in Hogansville. We are just as talented as any other team that is going to the (state) playoffs. We can’t lose anymore.”
Losing was the last thing that the Cavaliers figured on doing against Columbus Jordan (2-8 overall, 14 in the region). The Cavaliers posted, licked and stamped this football night with 323 yards and 19 first downs.
The Jordan Red Jackets were a long way down the road from that with 198 yards and 15 first downs. Columbus Jordan didn’t score until the 3:43 mark of the third period on junior running back Quintavious Hill’s 12-yard scamper for a touchdown. The Red Jackets were on the short end of a 35-6 score.
But Jordan would get into the end zone for the second time on a Mann 39-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Leonard Hill in the fourth quarter. Callaway High had the last touchdown in this region rout, however, as Cavalier freshman quarterback Demetrius Coleman took the ball in on a 4-yard dash with 15.7 seconds left in the game.
Coach Pete Wiggins had long ago emptied his bench. The Cavaliers got some experience and a win. The Jordan Red Jackets fell a few athletes short of staying in the game with the 10thranked Cavaliers.
“They showed why they’re a playoff team. Callaway is really good. They are big, and they can run,” said Jordan head coach Justin Newman, the former minor league pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds organization (2007- 08).
Atkins, the Cavalier offensive sparkplug, had another fantastic night on the plastic turf with eight carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Cartavious Bigsby was running toward the Thursday night lights as well.
Bigsby had a 77-yard game on six carries for the Cavaliers. It was all for the team, including every shifty move from Atkins, one of the most electric running backs in the state. “We win because of teamwork. We’re hungry. We feel confident, and we want a (state) championship,” said Atkins.