The No. 3-ranked Callaway Cavaliers will start their championship pursuit tonight against rival LaGrange in a non-region game. Although the Cavs lost record-setting quarterback Tez Parks, there’s no reason to believe coach Michael Wiggins’ team won’t be lighting up the scoreboard again.
Callaway (12-2 last season) has two exceptional backs in Cedric Maynard and Eddie Culpepper, a game-breaker who scored 10 touchdowns in four playoff games last year. Plus, there’s Super 11 pick Terry Godwin, who had 24 catches for 585 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.
Godwin, who has verbally committed to Georgia, is just as good on defense. A lockdown corner, he had five interceptions last season, even though the opposition generally avoided his half of the field. The Cavs also return linebacker Labronze Zelaya, a three-year starter.
Callaway and LaGrange have met only twice, with LaGrange winning both. The teams haven’t played since 2003.
Ringgold at Northwest Whitfield (Saturday): No. 8 Ringgold (11-3 in 2013) reached the Final Four for the first time a year ago with its high-powered offense. Do-it-all quarterback Slade Dale graduated, but the Tigers have two excellent running back threats in Kile Sholl and D.J. Goins. Defensive tackle Zach Morris is a Duke commitment who had a surgery in the summer to fix an old injury but is not expected to be slowed by it.
Northwest Whitfield leads the series 20-7 and has won the last four meetings. Northwest won 54-22 in 2007, the most recent meeting.
Savannah vs. Beach: Normally this game wouldn’t carry much interest until basketball season starts. But this is the debut for Savannah coach Tim Welch, who took over for Tim Jordan, the basketball coach, who took the job on a one-year interim basis and went 1-9. Welch has a pedigreee; he was offensive coordinator at GISA’s Memorial Day and helped the school win three titles in six years.
Numbers have been promising for Welch, who will be trying to produce the school’s first winning season since 1995. He be trying to change the direction of the series with Beach; the Bulldogs lead the series 23-20 and have won 15 of the last 16 games. Beach won 34-20 in 2013.
Jefferson at Rabun County: The No. 5-ranked Dragons will make their Class AAA debut against Rabun County, an old foe they’ve beaten 15 straight times. But last year’s game was different; Jefferson needed overtime in order to walk away with a 26-20 victory. The wakeup call helped the Dragons to a 10-3 season.
Jefferson must find a way to slow down Rabun’s Charlie Woerner, nephew of former UGA great Scott Woerner. He can play any skill position on offense; he rushed for 1,112 yards, had 417 receiving yards and scored 23 touchdowns. But his best position is defensive back, where he was an all-state selection.
Jefferson has an experienced defense returning. Nine players are back, including linebackers Trent Sorrells and Maverick McKinney. The defense stuffed West Hall during a scrimmage.
Laney at Dublin: The Wildcats move up in classification after winning their first region title in 10 years. But it won’t be easy to duplicate last year’s 10-3 record, give the loss of 19 regulars.
Laney is leaning heavily on what coach Lemuel Lackey calls his “Three Amigos.” The trio of juniors includes Vicen’te Thompkins, who is moving from wide receiver to quarterback, safety/running back/receiver Andre James and receiver Dayne Washington, who has run a 4.49 and is a deadly punt returner.
The series against Dublin has been beneficial to both teams. Laney has won the last two meetings, 26-0, but Dublin leads the series 8-3.