By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
November 25, 2013
Friday nights have become showtime at Callaway Stadium.
The Callaway Cavaliers have hosted two consecutive state-playoff games, and if you’re a fan of offense, then Callaway Stadium has been the place to be.
In the two games combined, the Cavaliers have scored 111 points, an average of 55.5 per game.
The Cavaliers put 62 points on the scoreboard in their playoff opener against Henry County, and that number likely would have been considerably higher if the starters had remained in the game longer.
Last week against a Pierce County team that had only lost one game all year, the Cavaliers scored 49 points, although six of those points came on an interception return by Terry Godwin.
Only one Class AAA team in the state has scored more playoff points than the Cavaliers.
Washington County has scored 56 points in each of its two victories, giving it a total of 112 points, one more point than Callaway.
The Cavaliers have, predictably, been getting it done with an option offense that has been unstoppable.
Running back Eddie Culpepper has done a lot of the damage.
The junior has been electrifying in the two playoff games with seven touchdowns, many of them from long distance.
Against Henry County, in the first quarter alone, Culpepper had touchdown runs of 57 and 70 yards.
Later in the game, he added a 3-yard scoring run.
Against Pierce County, Culpepper kept it going with touchdown runs of 23, 40, 14 and seven yards.
Four of Culpepper’s touchdown runs have come in the first quarter, and the Cavaliers have scored 42 of their points in the opening quarter.
The Callaway offense, under the direction of offensive coordinator Matt Napier, has been operating at a quick pace, and the Henry County and Pierce County defenses have been unable to respond.
“Coach likes to keep the team going fast,” Culpepper said after the Henry County game. “He doesn’t want to give the defense a break, a chance to get a breath. We work all practice, every day to get ready for that.”
Senior quarterback Tez Parks, who is so at ease running the offense, has scored four touchdowns on the ground, and he also threw a scoring pass to Michael Moss against Henry County.
After the win over Pierce County, Parks used a racing analogy to describe the offensive attack.
“We call it NASCAR where we move the ball really fast,” Parks said. “As soon as they blow the whistle, we run the play.”
Fullback Devon Rosser has also churned out long runs in the playoffs, and he had a 22-yard scoring run against Henry County, and although he didn’t score against Pierce County, he had runs of 25 and 39 yards that set up Culpepper touchdowns.
Running back Cedric Maynard has also delivered his share of highlights, including a remarkable play during the Pierce County game.
In the fourth quarter, with the Cavaliers already up 42-14, Maynard took the ball from Parks, and it looked like he was hemmed in near the right sideline.
Maynard somehow managed to elude the tackle attempt, though, and after reversing his field, he out-raced the Pierce County defense and scored on a 49-yard run that was Barry Sanders-esque.
In the blowout win over Henry County, Tyreke Frazier had one touchdown run.
The Cavaliers haven’t utilized the passing game much in the first two games, mainly because they haven’t had to because of the success of the running game.
While Culpepper, Parks and company have been the ones crossing the goal line, the offensive linemen have been pushing opposing defenders out of the way.
“My linemen, they do an incredible job blocking,” Culpepper said. “I think them each week. Without those guys, I couldn’t do the things I do.”
Wiggins said Culpepper always makes a point to let his linemen know how much he appreciates them.
“Eddie runs really hard, and he comes over and hugs all those offensive linemen,” Wiggins said.
The Callaway offensive explosion, by the way, isn’t a new phenomenon.
The Cavaliers are scoring 41 points per game, and they’ve scored at least 30 points in 10 of their 12 games.
In their past four games, Callaway hasn’t scored fewer than 47 points.
DEFENSIVE PROWESS: While the Callaway offense was running all over Pierce County Friday night, the defense was more than holding its own.
Pierce County, led by quarterback Tyler Harris, came into Friday’s averaging close to 40 points per game.
Through the first three quarters, though, the Bears had only scored seven points, and Callaway led 35-7.
Pierce County did score a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the outcome wasn’t in doubt by that point.
As has been the case throughout the season, senior linebacker KeShun Freeman led the way for the Cavaliers with 12 tackles.
Defensive lineman Deon Smith added eight tackles, and Dante Lindsey added eight tackles.
For the season, Freeman now has a team-high 133 tackles, Smith has 82 tackles, and Labronze Zelaya has 79 tackles.
Callaway’s defense is giving up 14 points per game this season.
BIG MOMENT: On a night where the offense provided numerous highlights, one defensive play stood out.
Trailing 6-0, Pierce County was driving for a possible touchdown in the first quarter.
The Bears were inside the Callaway 10-yard line when Harris threw a pass toward the goal line, and Terry Godwin stepped in front of the intended receiver and came up with the interception.
Godwin caught the ball in stride, and he didn’t look back.
Nearly 100 yards later, Godwin was in the end zone with the pick six, and Callaway led 14-0.
“He turned the game around,” Culpepper said. “That was a game-changer.”