4 Questions with Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins

Credit: Special to the AJC

Credit: Special to the AJC

Today’s interviewee is Callaway coach Pete Wiggins, whose team won the Class 2A championship last year. It was the first football state title for Callaway, which opened in 2005, and first for Wiggins, who is entering his 17th season with the Troup County school.

Pete Wiggins, Callaway head coach

1. What made the 2020 championship special for Callaway? “Our team grew each week and got better, more so than I’ve ever seen one do. From game one to the championship game, they got better. Then we put so much work over the years into building a program where there’s a belief that when we go on the field, we’ll win. That’s coming from the great coaches we’ve had over the years and the great players that bought into what we do and our community being behind us, supporting us through the ups and downs. Finally winning it was a great feeling of accomplishment.” [Callaway had been knocking on the door of a state title for years, winning at least 10 games each of the past six seasons and making the semifinals in five of the past eight years.]

2. What does the 2021 team look so far? “We lost a lot of dedicated, talented players from last year’s state championship team, so there’s lots of holes to fill, but in that, there are always opportunities. We’ve had teams before where we lost talent, and the next year’s team had to find an identity. We’re searching for that now, what we’ll hang our hat on on offense, defense and special teams. That’s a big deal to our being successful.” [Callaway had 22 players receive some all-Region 2 recognition last season, and 11 are back.]

3. What are your strengths, and biggest losses to fill? “We’ve got several guys on defense that have played several snaps. They’re aggressive, and they’re leaders, and we’re looking forward to what they’ve got. As far as losses, on offense, we lost our quarterback, Demetrius Coleman [now at UTC]. He was a three-year starter and played in three quarterfinal games and won a state title. That’s a big deal when you lose that type of leadership. He made a lot of plays running and throwing. On defense, just as critical a role is our inside linebacker position. LaQuize Gilbert was the AA [defensive] player of the year and a three-year starter. We lost two good cornerbacks, Jalin Shephard and Osay Rivas.” [Two players are competing for the quarterback job. They are sophomores Hunt McAteer and DeShun Coleman, Demetrius’ brother.]

4. What teams do you expect to contend in Class 2A this season? “At this point, I’m still worried about Callaway. We’ve got a ways to go to be where we need to be. But just from playing teams in 2A for a long time, I know Thomasville, Rabun County and Fitzgerald have always been good teams. I know that Coach [Mike] Muschamp and Lovett will be strong. In our region, every team will be good – Bremen, Heard, Haralson, Temple. Each week it’s a challenge.” [Region strength is usually coaches speak, but Callaway’s Region 5-2A is the only region in its class with five preseason top-25 teams, according to the Maxwell Ratings. Callaway’s lone loss in 2020 came to region also-ran Haralson County.]

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