Making YoUR kiDs BeLieve an Y- thing is possible could be the most difficult task a head coach in high school football faces.
But at Callaway High School, the Class AAA
school in Hogansville, the coaching staff has
been able to turn a group of kids into believers
thanks to motivation from “Positive Pete.”
Head coach Pete Wiggins took over a pro-
gram in 2005 that had tasted the playoffs
twice in its 10 years of existence and was still
in search of its first playoff victory.
Wiggins started the ball rolling thanks to a
positive attitude toward the players, coaches
and the community which resulted in the program’s finest season in school history in 2013.
“Coach Wiggins was very inspirational, he
always had something positive to say,” former
Callaway linebacker, and current Georgia Tech
freshman, Keshun Freeman said. “He wouldn’t
let us get down on ourselves because he knew
the potential that we had.”
The Cavaliers went 12-2 a season ago, reaching
the state semifinals where they went toe-to-toe
with eventual champion Buford, giving the Wolves
arguably their toughest game of the season.
They didn’t pick up the victory that day, but
perhaps because of Wiggins’ inspiration, there
was a group of guys that went into the game
believing they could pull off the upset, even if
they were the only ones who believed that.
“Going into the game our kids believed they
could win, and they competed extremely hard
and were confident and we practiced hard pre-
paring for that game,” Wiggins said. “You talk
about big time games and big time opponents
and if you believe that you can do something,
our kids now believe that they can.”
Born and raised in Ranburne, Alabama, Wig-
gins’ coaching style and life is based on what
he learned from his high school coaches and
his father, who he calls the greatest role model
in his life.
From that he makes an extra effort to have
an individual relationship with each player
on his team, more than just a coach-player
“I enjoy the relationships you build with kids
and I believe football prepares kids for the future,
prepares them for a job down the road in a sense
of establishing a work ethic,” Wiggins said. “I just
feel like that really prepares kids for life after high
school in whatever they choose to do.”
Wiggins served as offensive coordinator for
four seasons before being named head coach
10 seasons ago. He admits it was a struggle for
his team at the beginning, when they failed to
finish above .500 in his first two years.
But the team reached the playoffs in 2006,
despite losing in the playoffs first round yet again.
“Obviously early on there were some hard
times, but to get that work ethic established,
our kids came to work every day and it’s paid off
for us,” Wiggins said.
It started slowly, but built steadily. The 2007
season marked the school’s best regular season finish with a runner-up in the region.
In 2008 the Cavaliers finished an undefeated
region schedule to claim the school’s first
region title and then collected their first playoff victory with a first round win over Greater
Callaway made it to the state’s quarterfinals
in 2009 and has reached the playoffs every
year since with a pair of double-digit wins in
2012 and again in 2013.
“We’ve had a lot of great kids over the years
that have bought into what we do and have
established a tradition and a work ethic to be
successful,” Wiggins said.
No season was the work ethic more evident
than 2013 when Callaway reached the semifinals to face powerhouse Buford.
The Cavaliers finished with the most wins in
school history and through it all Wiggins kept
preaching the positives.
“It was really one of the best groups that
I’ve ever been a part of,” Wiggins said. “To go
12-2 and have some big wins in the playoffs,
but obviously to play Buford as well as we did,
I was just real proud of our boys. They believed
in what we do and they believe in one another.”
It’s obvious by talking to him why he’s been
such a positive for Callaway, but it’s what his
former players say that truly captures what Wiggins has meant to the program and community.
“Our senior year,” Freeman recalled, “he told
us, ‘Y’all always said you were going to be the
best and you’re showing that you are the best
because you always had that mentality.’ He was
always inspirational and I can’t think of a time
he was ever negative.”
Michael ‘Pete’ Wiggins
9 SEASONS: 74-32 ( 69. 8 WIN PCT.)
FOUR REGION TITLES, ONE STATE
2013 - Callaway: 12-2 - State Semifinals
2012 - Callaway: 10-2 - Region Title
2011 - Callaway: 7-4
2010 - Callaway: 8-4
2009 - Callaway: 10-3 - Region Title
2008 - Callaway: 10-2 - Region Title
2007 - Callaway: 8-3
2006 - Callaway: 5-6
2005 - Callaway: 4-6
BY RYNE DENNIS