Cavaliers Rock LaGrange, 37-6; Wiggins: “We Kept Grinding”
The stadium was electric and for good reason on Friday night.
Callaway and LaGrange High were playing. The Cavaliers and Grangers ushered in their seasonopening football game at Callaway Stadium with a loud crowd of 7,000 or so fans in the building.
This game was for bragging rights. It was also for keeps, and this rivalry still means something. Just ask Callaway head football coach Pete Wiggins. He hoped for the best, and he got it most of the evening as the Cavaliers routed La-Grange, 37-6.
After the game, Wiggins was wearing a football-eating grin from ear-to-ear. And why not? Callaway thoroughly outplayed the Grangers in every possible way.
“We kept grinding. We played fast and physical. We had some guys who stepped up. We played great on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball,” said Wiggins.
The Cavaliers owned the scoreboard and the line of scrimmage. Callaway was in charge with 274 yards. The Cavaliers had a balanced offense with 149 yards passing and 125 net yards rushing.
Callaway junior tailback D’jon Atkins, the guy with the swivel hips and the quick first step, had himself a season-opening eye-popping game with 118 yards on 18 carries. Atkins scored on a 2-yard run at the 3:02 mark of the second quarter.
But it actually was Cavaliers senior quarterback Dylan Johnson who scored the first touchdown of the game. Johnson played some option football, and he kept the pigskin for a 2-yard rushing touchdown with 3:33 remaining in the first period.
Callaway took a 6-0 lead and never looked back.
“We knew if we played together we had a good shot to win this game. Our offensive line played good, and our defense made that first stop (in the opening quarter). This was a real big game,” said Johnson.
He was pitching it around the ball yard a little bit, too. Johnson completed five of seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. One of those scoring strikes was a 75-yarder from Johnson to senior wide receiver Braylon Sanders with 11:03 left in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers broke the game open with a 20-0 lead. Also in the third stanza, Callaway junior place kicker Noah Stephens banged through a 29-yard field goal. And before the third quarter was over, Cavalier junior defensive tackle Jamie Sellers also recovered a fumble at the LaGrange High 36 yard line.
Callaway offensive tackle Keiondre Jones, a heavyweight at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, made his share of plays for the Cavaliers, too. Jones knocked the Granger defensive linemen on their heels. Jones had some help, too.
The Cavaliers were menacing along the line all night.
“It was a battle, and we finished. It was physical. We came out and fought. And we wanted it more (than LaGrange),” said Jones, the Callaway High sophomore.
The Cavaliers even scored on defense with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown from freshman MJ Robertson in the fourth quarter. And LaGrange finally avoided the shutout with junior tailback Cornell Kendrick’s 1-yard touchdown with 7:24 remaining in the fourth period.
Kendrick’s touchdown was set up by a 47-yard pass from Granger sophomore quarterback Nathan Cronic to wide receiver Jamari Thrash. But not even that made up for all the missed opportunities by LaGrange High throughout the rivalry game.
“We didn’t play our best. We didn’t play with any excitement. We had penalties all over the field. We had eight offsides penalties. We need to learn from these mistakes,” said Granger head coach Dialleo Burks.
Despite that, the Grangers did manufacture 218 yards of offense (129 rushing and 89 yards passing). Sophomore tailback Myles Johnson led the Grangers with 57 yards on 10 carries. La-Grange High also got 44 yards on 12 carries from senior quarterback Amad Ogletree.
Kendrick chipped in 34 yards on six carries as well for the Grangers.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer