Step one is in the books.
The Callaway Cavaliers used an explosive offensive performance to roll past Henry County 62-26 Friday night in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
The Cavaliers scored touchdowns on three of their first six plays, and they continued to pour it on as they won a playoff game for the fifth time in six years.
Eddie Culpepper and quarterback Tez Parks each had three touchdown runs, and Parks also threw a scoring pass to Michael Moss.
Devon Rosser and Tyreke Frazier also had scoring runs, and Terry Godwin returned a punt for a touchdown.
It didn’t take the Cavaliers long to seize control.
After a Henry County fumble, Rosser scored on a 22-yard touchdown run, and Chase Freeman’s extra point gave the Cavaliers a 7-0 lead.
Henry County, which has a potent offense of its own, drove for the tying touchdown, and it was 7-7 with 8:52 left in the first quarter.
It took the Cavaliers all of one play to reclaim the lead, and this time they didn’t give it up.
On first down, Culpepper went 57 yards for the touchdown, and Callaway was on top 14-7.
After a Godwin interception, Callaway had the ball on its own 23-yard line.
On third down, Culpepper struck again, this time for a 70-yard touchdown run, and Callaway led 21-7.
Culpepper’s first two carries went for 127 yards.
Culpepper said the offensive linemen did a great job of opening up holes for he and the other running backs.
“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.”
Culpepper also said the fast pace of the offense under offensive coordinator Matt Napier works in Callaway’s favor.
“Coach likes to keep the team going fast,” Culpepper said. “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.”
Callaway’s next touchdown came courtesy of Godwin, who collected a punt deep in his own territory quarter and raced into the end zone for the touchdown, and it was a 28-7 game early in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, another long return by Godwin set the Cavaliers up at the 12-yard line, and two plays later, Parks’ 4-yard keeper and the extra point made it a 35-7 game.
After a Henry County touchdown made it 35-14, the Cavaliers came right back and scored again.
Parks found Godwin for a 22-yard completion, and two plays later, Culpepper scored on a 3-yard run with 2:42 left in the half, and Callaway took a 41-14 lead into the locker room.
Callaway’s first-half offensive performance was spectacular.
The only possession that didn’t yield a touchdown came on an interception at the Henry County 16-yard line.
“We’ve got several guys that are very explosive,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins. “It starts up front. I felt that Brandon Sutton did a great job, along with the other offensive linemen.”
The 20-minute halftime break didn’t slow down the Cavaliers, who got a 44-yard touchdown run from Parks early in the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Cavaliers did it through the air, with Parks tossing a 38-yard tochdown pass to Moss, and it was a 55-14 game with 5:04 left in the third quarter.
Henry County scored a touchdown late in the third quarter to make it a 55-20 game, and early in the fourth quarter, Frazier’s 44-yard scoring run capped the scoring for Callaway.
Henry County scored the game’s final touchdown with 2:27 remaining.
Wiggins felt the Callaway defense did a nice job against a potent Henry County offense.
“They’ve got a great offense. Our defense did a great job running to the ball and putting us in good situations,” Wiggins said. “They’ve played a lot of great competiton, and they’ve scored points on everybody they’ve played.”
Callaway will be back at Callaway Stadium on Friday for a second-round game.