CALEDONIA — The Caledonia High School football team snuck into the playoffs after a frustrating regular season in 2020. But the Cavaliers gained some valuable experience and battled through tough conditions and hope they built a foundation for 2021.
“It was a crazy season, but our kids persevered, and our kids stayed safe, that was the biggest thing, you know,” Cavaliers coach Michael Kelly said. “We still had a good season. It may not have looked that way looking at the wins and loss record (3-6), but I thought us staying safe and adhering to our school and district’s policies and telling these mommas and daddies we’re gonna keep these kids safe, and that’s what we did. We were fortunate enough to just play the games, they could have easily been canceled, but I was proud of our kids and hopefully we can learn from those losses and have a good year this season.”
Caledonia hung in tough in their losses, notably with one-possession losses to Heritage Academy (28-21) and Shannon (34-28). If the Cavaliers want to make a run in 2021, they will have to fill in gaps defensively and give themselves a chance to win games they lost by more than 1 possession.
In their wins, Cavs outscored their opponents 126-30, running away with the game each time.
While Caledonia’s class of 2021 was not very big, Kelly said it’s hard to overlook their impact on the field and in the locker room. One of the Cavs’ biggest losses was offensive tackle Alex Matthews, a three year starter whom Kelly said made a big impact on and off the field. Defensively, Kelly pointed to linebackers Brandon Chrest and Loren Cox as leaders and productive players lost to graduation.
Kelly had a hard time narrowing down the list of players he projects to make a big impact this season. This year’s seniors were freshmen when Kelly and his staff arrived, and he said he’s glad to see how they have progressed over the past few years.
The first name that rolled off Kelly’s tongue was Darrius Triplett, a hard-working running back who has been nominated for the all star game and has received looks from college coaches. Kelly also mentioned Tyshawn Graham, a tackle who has amassed a lot of playing time over the past three years and should be a leader, and senior fullback Darquez Williams.
Kelly is looking for Antwuan Adkins to make a solid contribution to the defensive line. Adkins has played since he was a freshman thrown into the fire right off the bat. Kelly said Reed Frady, who handles kicking and punting duties, will be another important player.
Kelly is looking forward to getting his boys back on the grass and back to competing, but he will have to wait at least two extra weeks after the school went to virtual learning because of a COVID outbreak. That’s especially disappointing to the Cavaliers because their opener against rival New Hope was scheduled for a Thursday night to set it apart.
When the Cavaliers get back on the field, Kelly said they will be ready to take on the division one game at a time, and he is excited to welcome Corinth and Tishomingo County to the district this year.