Cavaliers take care of business in region opener
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was worth the wait.
The Callaway Cavaliers were supposed to begin their Region 5-AA schedule last week against Haralson County, but the game had to be postponed.
Callaway made its long-awaited region debut on Friday night against Bremen at Callaway Stadium, and it was an impressive effort for the home team.
With quarterback Demetrius Coleman throwing three touchdowns, two to Jalin Shephard and one to Carlos Billingslea, Callaway eased to a 26-16 to remain unbeaten at 5-0 while taking the first step toward a second straight region championship.
It has been a challenging few weeks for the Cavaliers who have been dealing with Covid-19 issues, and they were missing some key players on Friday night, but they delivered an inspired performance against a strong opponent.
“I’m really proud of our football team,” said Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins. “I’m proud of the composure and the work ethic and just staying steady, staying the course of what we talked about every day.
“With all the adversities this football team has faced throughout the season, and over the last two weeks, and to come in here and beat a really good football team in Bremen, I’m really proud of our guys.”
Coleman, a third-year starter who has been through so many big games over the years, led the way.
In addition to the three touchdown passes, Coleman also made some drive-extending plays in the running game, and he didn’t have any turnovers.
“Demetrius Coleman had a big night tonight leading our team,” Wiggins said. “He kept his composure. I think he just gets better every week.”
It helped that Coleman had Shephard to throw the ball to.
Shephard, who had the game-winning catch with seven seconds left in a 16-14 win over Thomas County Central, was unstoppable on Friday.
Shephard had touchdown catches of 71 yards and 25 yards, and he also had a 16-yard scoring run.
“That’s like my brother,” Coleman said of Shephard. “I know what he can do. If he doesn’t catch it, I’m surprised.”
Billinsglea also showed what he can do when he out-jumped the defender for the ball in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown catch that gave Callaway a 26-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Running backs LaQuize Gilbert and Kier Jackson, meanwhile, did a nice job of filling in for Charlie Dixon, who was unavailable.
Callaway’s defense got the job done as well.
The Blue Devils had 10 points in the first half and moved the ball effectively, but they didn’t score again until there was a less than a minute left in the game and the outcome had been determined.
“It was just a phenomenal effort,” Wiggins said. “We talked about guys raising their effort in big games. It felt like they did tonight.”
Callaway showed off its quick-strike ability to score the game’s first points, with Shephard getting behind the Bremen defense and catching a 71-yard touchdown pass from Coleman.
The extra-point attempt was unsuccessful, and Callaway led 6-0 with 5:57 left in the opening quarter.
Bremen answered with a scoring drive of its own that was capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Will Rainwater to Seth Childers, and the extra point gave Bremen a 7-6 lead with 10:38 left in the first half.
The Blue Devils extended the lead to 10-6 when Andrew Hopson hammered home a 50-yard field goal with 5:27 left in the first half.
Back came the Cavaliers, with Coleman capping a 65-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Shephard to give the home team a 12-10 lead.
Cameron Smith picked off a pass on Bremen’s ensuing possession, and Coleman complete a 34-yard pass to Billingslea as time expired in the first half.
The Cavaliers picked up right where they left off when they went 65 yards in nine plays for another touchdown on the opening possession of the second half, with Shephard scoring on a 16-yard run.
Coleman’s keeper on the two-point attempt gave the Cavaliers a 20-10 lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, following a Bremen fumble on a punt return, Billinglsea made his Randy Moss-type catch in the end zone, and Callaway led 26-10.
That’s the way it remained until Cameron Holloway scored on a 2-yard run with less than a minute left, and the two-point try was unsuccessful.
The Cavaliers recovered an onside kick, and they ran one kneel-down play and the clock ran out.