Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins is a firm believer in the “one game at a time” mentality, and that’s not going to change just because the state playoffs have arrived.
Callaway heads into the playoffs with a 9-1 record and a number five ranking in Class AAA, and the team has the potential to make a deep playoff run.
The only thing Wiggins is concerned with at the moment, though, is finding a way to beat Henry County.
Callaway earned its state bid by winning the Region 4-AAA championship, while Henry County (3-7) is the fourth-place team from Region 2-AAA.
Those two teams will meet at Callaway Stadium today at 7:30 p.m.
While Henry County’s record is unimpressive, it has played an extremely difficult schedule that includes games against four teams in higher classifications.
Henry County also plays in a stout region that includes state powers Peach County and Carver.
“Henry County has a lot of play-makers,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “They’re coached up very well. We’ve got to go out, and we have to play our style of football.”
After going 1-9 last season, Morris Starr stepped in as the new Henry County head coach, and while the record wasn’t significantly better, the team has been competitive in most of its games.
The Warhawks had won two straight games before losing their regular-season finale to Pike County.
In those two wins, the Warhawks scored a combined 92 points.
Quarterback Marquez Souder headlines the Henry County offense, and running back Derrick Powell is also a big-play threat.
The 5-foot-11 Powell has a combined 1,000 yards, and he has scored 13 touchdowns.
While just making the playoffs is a big step for Henry County, Starr said no one is satisfied.
“We’re really just trying to approach it as seeing how far we can go,” Starr told the newspaper in McDonough . “I tell my guys, only one team in the state at every level that wins its last game, and that’s the state title game. I tell them if they want to win their last game, they can’t lose. I feel like our guys have bought into what we’re doing. We’ll see how bad they want to defend the name of Henry County High School.”
The Warhawks are facing a monumental challenge, though.
The Cavaliers are a terrific all-around team.
The Cavaliers are averaging 38 points per game with their option offense.
Quarterback Tez Parks is having a strong season, and fullback Devon Rosser and running backs Eddie Culpepper and Cedric Maynard have also had big years.
Wide receiver Terry Godwin continues to shine and show why he’s one of the state’s most heavily recruited players, and an offensive line anchored by senior Brandon Sutton has been dominant.
Callaway’s defense has been up to the challenge as well this season.
The Cavaliers showed what they’re capable of defensively in a season-opening 34-0 win over Henry County, and they haven’t slowed down since.
The Cavaliers have held six of their opponents to 14 or fewer points with two shutouts, and they’ve giving up just 13 points per game.
Senior linebacker KeShun Freeman, who has verbally committed to Georgia Tech, has had a monster season.
Freeman has more than 100 tackles, a number that would be a lot higher, but he along with the other starters has left a lot of blowout games early.
“He had a couple of games where he didn’t play a lot and he didn’t get to double digits (in tackles),” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said. “If he’s had games where he’s been in for more than 20, 25 defensive plays, he’s pretty much at double digits.”
Freeman was expected to be the leader of the defense this season, and he hasn’t disappointed.
“He’s a great kid,” Hubbard said. “You don’t get to coach many like him. He’s so smart. Everything he does, he tries to do his best at. He’s just a joy to coach.”
The man that plays next to Freeman at linebacker, junior Labronze Zelaya, has also had a big season with around 70 tackles, and defensive lineman Deon Smith is also around the 70-tackle total.
The Cavaliers seem to have it all working at the moment, now it’s time to go out and keep it going in the playoffs.
“They believe they’re going to win when they get on the field,” Wiggins said. “They’ve worked hard. They’re confident in what we do, and they believe in what we do. They can play fast on Friday night, and that’s what it’s all about. We’ll just keep doing what we do, and hopefully we can get a win.”