Hayes said he should have the numbers pared down to his final selections by Friday, exactly a week before the team opens its regular season Dec. 7 at Troup before hosting LaGrange a day later.
The Cavaliers are coming off a 12-15 record in 2011-12 which included a 6-4 mark in Region 5-AA.
The team’s overall win numbers did not improve from the 2010-11 season, although last year’s team did return to the state tournament after a one-year hiatus.
Last year marked the return to the bench for Hayes, who had been the only coach the Cavaliers had ever had before he was replaced by Greg Moultrie before the 2009-2010 season.
Moultrie left after two seasons, clearing the way for Hayes’ return.
Hayes, who led Hogansville High to a state championship before that school’s closure, graduated from Troup High School in 1979 and Fort Valley State in 1983.
He teaches physical education and health at Callaway Middle School.
Hayes will be looking to replace a pair of horses who were instrumental in the core of last season’s inside game, including 6-foot-4 Ricky Parks, now a tight end at Auburn, and 6-1 Albert Trammell, who played linebacker at Point University.
As for this season, the tallest player looks like it’ll be freshman Joe Brown who stands 6-3.
“He’s still growing,” Hayes quipped.
Without a whole lot of size, Hayes said “we’ll be relying on our quickness, our aggressiveness and pressure defense.”
Hayes said his obvious goal is to improve in the win column over the previous two seasons and to make a return trip to the GHSA state playoffs.
Last year, Callaway entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed before losing to Greater Atlanta Christian 64-48 in the first round of the state tournament.
“We played pretty well,” Hayes said of the playoff appearance. “We played better the second half than the first half. They were just pure shooters.”
Hayes is confident this season’s team can better last year’s record.
“We’ll win more than we did last year,” Hayes said. “First I want to win more and probably go a little further in the playoffs.”
This year, the Cavaliers face a new group of region opponents after moving up to Region 4-AAA including B.E.S.T., Central Carroll, Rockmart, Haralson County, Douglass, Jackson (Atlanta) and Chapel Hill.
“We’re moving to a different region this year and I really don’t know what’s going on,” Hayes said. “They projected that Douglass to be No. 1 and B.E.S.T. to be up there.”
Although the entire team is not set, some players from last season’s team that are returning include Tyrell Tigner, a senior guard who was the team’s leading scorer last year, Nehemiah Jones at small forward, Brandon Bridges at shooting guard, and several players off the bench including Terry Godwin, who just completed a successful season on the Cavalier gridiron, as well as Patrick Strickland, Pedy Leverette and Kel Kyles.
Leverette and Kyles, like Godwin, were football standouts.
Hayes said the team’s style of play will most likely be based on quickness that will help overcome its lack of height.
“We’re real small and real quick,” Hayes said. “The people returning already know our style, an up-tempo, pressure type of game. One thing I want try to get the team to know is to know when to slow it down and when to speed it up. That’s one thing I’m working on for our first game against Troup.”
Callaway expects a tough game against Troup in the season opener and will be looking to play extra hard on defense to stop the Tigers’ offense.
“They will be quick, they will play man-to-man full-court pressure,” Hayes noted. “I expect a tremendous game from them.”
Callaway has a busy stretch coming up that includes an appearance in a tournament it is hosting from Dec. 27-29.
Callaway plays Rockmart in its region opener on Jan. 4.