In the season’s first game, the Cavaliers were unable to get the Heard County offense off the field, and Callaway ended up losing 43-37.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, that game did not serve as an indicator of what was to come for the team, or the defense.
Callaway hasn’t lost a game since, and the defense is a key reason why.
The defense has been particularly potent of late.
In the past three games, the Cavaliers have given up a total of 17 points, and that included a shutout victory over Chapel Hill.
Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard felt the pieces were there from Day 1, but he felt it has just taken time for everything to fall into place.
In addition to there being a number of first-time starters, some other players were adjusting to new positions.
“There’s a familiarity with where we’re at,” said Hubbard, who has been the defensive coordinator under head coach Pete Wiggins for eight seasons. “We’ve finally got guys that have six or seven games under their belt playing their spot. And also, a lot of it has to do with getting some guys healthy.
“We had to figure out some good things as coaches, too. A big part of it was getting guys in the right spots. I think we kind of figured that out through practices and games. It’s helped us.”
The defense has no weak spots.
The defensive line, which features standouts J’Lynn Allen, Deon Bray and Deon Smith, has consistently put pressure on opposing offenses.
At linebacker, sophomore Lebronze Selaya has settled into his role as the team’s sam linebacker.
“He does all the checks, he makes all the calls,” Hubbard said. “That was tough on him early in the year. It took a little while to get used to it. He’s really developed into a good leader there.”
Keshun Freeman has also played linebacker this season, although of late he’s been spending a lot of time at defensive end.
“We’ve played Keshun Freeman a little more at end the last couple of weeks, his more natural position, and he’s really done well there,” Hubbard said.
The strongest part of Callaway’s defense may be the secondary.
Wilson Lindsey and Terry Godwin are having sensational seasons at defensive back, and Cortez Leonard has been terrific at safety, although he missed last week’s game against Haralson County with an injury.
“We’re trying to get Dre Leonard back healthy,” Hubbard said. “He didn’t play last week. We’re hoping he’ll be able to go this week. He’s had a bum shoulder. Pedy Leverette did a good job playing for him. If we get him back, we really like our secondary. We feel like that’s probably the strength of our defense with Wilson Lindsey and Terry Godwin.”
The defense will try to keep it going on Saturday when Callaway takes on B.E.S.T. Academy at 4 p.m. at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta.
It will be a different experience for all of the players who are used to playing at night.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had any guys that played in the afternoon,“ Hubbard said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge of the whole thing is being able to deal with the changes that are going on, playing on Saturday, playing in the day.
“That’s a big challenge for the kids. They’ll need to go up there and take care of business.”