Keith MacPherson, Sports Editor
Gainesville Daily Register
CALLISBURG — A year of experience has done Callisburg a lot of good.
The Wildcats have already matched their win total from a year ago two games into the season, using a 2-9 season as a way to grow up on the job.
"The kids are a little bit older," said first-year Callisburg coach Ritchie Pinckard. "We have more senior kids and a lot of younger ones that were thrown to the fire a bit last year. I think the system we have in place fits them well.
"The kids deserve a lot of the credit. They came in this year not wanting to lose. They've shown that to us these first couple of games."
Callisburg (2-0) has wins over Henrietta (28-0) and Valley View (34-23), displaying an explosive offense and a stingy defense at times.
Leading the way for the Wildcats has been Clay McKenzie. The do-everything-back has terrorized opposing defenses from multiple alignments including quarterback and running back.
On the year, McKenzie has 311 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. He had four tackles in the first half against Valley View alone.
"Clay is a tremendous athlete," said Pinckard, who will see his team host Tom Bean at 7:30 p.m. Friday for homecoming. "He has an incredible motor. He can make plays out of nothing. He just has a tremendous amount of athletic ability."
Pinckard was quick to give a lot of the offense's credit to the offensive line as well.
"We are doing a great job with our bigs," Pinckard said. "They've done a great job of opening up holes. We've been really happy with the job they've done for us."
The Wildcats are looking to return to the playoffs where they fell 28-0 to Eustace in the first round a year ago. While Callisburg looks to be on track for a postseason berth, Pinckard said his team still has a lot of work to do.
"We still have a lot of things to learn offensively and defensively," he said. "We are still kind of learning new things every day. I like where we are in a lot of areas but in others we still have a lot of ways to go.
"What I've been most impressed by is our attitude - that's been beyond where I thought it would be."
Callisburg will take that positive attitude into its next game as the Wildcats host Tom Bean (1-1) for homecoming. The Tomcats slipped by Wolfe City 15-14 for their first win last week after falling to Celeste 24-14 to open the season.
"They battled back and won a close one last week," Pinckard said. "They are a young team. They have a young staff, a lot of young kids playing. One thing about them is they will bring a lot of pressure. They are going to come in with nothing to lose, trying to be the team who ends our undefeated record and wrecks homecoming.
"They are very skilled and we will have our hands full."
With two weeks before Callisburg travels to Pilot Point to open District 5-2A Division I play, the Wildcats are looking to keep getting better.
"I want to see us to continue to grow," Pinckard said. "We have to continue to grow as far as mental preparation is concerned. We have to continue to learn our scheme as the games start to get tougher. We play in an extremely difficult district so we have to stop the mistakes we are making now."