By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
December 20, 2013
The Callaway Cavaliers came up one game short of playing in the Georgia Dome for a state championship.
A trio of Callaway players have made it to the Georgia Dome anyway, albeit one weekend after the championship games were played.
Brandon Sutton, Devon Rosser and Deon Smith are three of the seniors from across the state who are playing in the D.I. Scott Coalition Bowl today in the Georgia Dome.
Three players from LaGrange, and two players from Troup are also participating in the game.
Tavone Rivers, Benny Gray and Tay Glover will represent LaGrange, and Dikembe Billingslea and Brandon Heard will represent Troup.
There will actually be two high-school all-star games, one featuring a North Georgia all-star team against a Central Georgia all-star game, and that one will be played at 1 p.m.
A game pitting the East Metro Atlanta all-stars against the West Metro Atlanta all-stars will be played at 7:45 p.m.
The local players are playing for the Central Georgia team.
There will also be a series of youth football games played throughout the day.
The Callaway players will share the field one more time after helping the Cavaliers enjoy the finest season in school history.
The Cavaliers went 12-2, setting a school record for wins, and they made it to the state semifinals for the first time where they pushed Buford before falling 24-14.
Sutton, Smith and Rosser had a lot to do with that success.
Sutton, an offensive lineman who has committed to Kennesaw State, was a three-year starter, and he helped pave the way for an offense that was among the state’s best.
Sutton’s head coach, Pete Wiggins, said he is who “we want representing Callaway football.”
“He’s so positive on the field,” Wiggins added. “He picks up his lunch bucket and comes to work. He’s in every way a leader, in the weight room at practice. He’s such a positive young man.”
One of the men who Sutton blocked for was Rosser, a fullback in Callaway’s option offense.
Like Sutton, Wiggins said Rosser is one of the team’s hardest workers.
“When the weight room doors open, Devon Rosser is waiting,” Wiggins said. “In the weight room, he works as hard as any kid we’ve ever had. He’s a great leader out there on the field, and in the class room. He’s what you want representing your football team.”
Smith, meanwhile, was a foundation of a strong defensive line that had a stellar season.
Smith was one of the team’s leading tacklers, but he said he was just a part of the picture on the defensive line.
“We’ve got a lot of chemistry. We just work together,” Smith said. “We hold each other accountable. We play hard every down. We try to work hard day in and day out and get better.”
TROUP: Billingslea knew what his job was.
As a defensive lineman, Billingslea’s main task was finding the person with the football and putting them on the ground.
That’s a task Billingslea performed quite well.
He led the team in tackles, and was a key reason the Tigers won six games, finished third in their region and made it to the state playoffs.
Billingslea, a three-year starter, was part of a defensive line that was a strength of a potent defense.
“We push our line hard,” Billingslea said. “We work hard every day.”
Heard, meanwhile, was a stabilizing force in a defensive secondary that was hit hard by graduation following the 2012 season.
LAGRANGE: For two past two seasons, when the Grangers needed a big play on offense, they often turned to Gray.
Gray enjoyed an exceptional two-year stint as a LaGrange running back, and he was also one of the team’s top defensive players this season as a starting linebacker.
Rivers was also big-play threat for the Grangers who became the team’s go-to receiver this season.
Glover, meanwhile, was a three-year starter at linebacker, and during his senior season he did his best to help out a lot of the first-year starters.
“I know how it feels. I was in that position (as a first-year starter) two years ago,” Glover said. “It’s a lot to learn. I try my best to help them out and get them ready for what they’ve got to do, for what’s coming next.”