Calallen linebackers Calloway, Burch continue tradition of defensive success
Calallen linebackers Colten Calloway and William Burch have been standing side by side in the face of opposing offenses since middle school.
And although neither possess the ability to read minds, playing together for that long has helped the senior duo learn what the other is going to do next on nearly every defensive possession.
"It's all about trust when we're on the field," Burch said. "I'm going to trust that Colten is going to be there and he's going to trust me on his side of things. If he misses a tackle, I'm going to be there to back him up. If I miss, he's going to be there for me."
"Me and William are basically brothers," Calloway added. "We read off each other and it's a natural flow in the backfield."
Longtime Calallen defensive coordinator Steve Campbell labeled Calloway and Burch as the best two linebackers in South Texas and for good reason.
Both have helped staple a Calallen defense that has held opponents to eight points a game, including three shut outs in the Wildcats' first six games of the season.
"I think the reason our defense is so good every year is because of the coaching staff," Burch said. "We have a strong coaching staff and a great defensive coordinator in coach Campbell. We are very disciplined here at Calallen."
Burch and Calloway became aware of the Wildcats' defensive prowess when they first joined the team as sophomores.
Now, both have developed into the leaders on the same Wildcats' 3-4 defense that has held opponents in check for more than 30 years.
"We've run the same defense for 35 years and it comes up from the junior high program, and that's what we know here," Campbell said. "There's consistency and continuity throughout our program."
Calloway is poised for another breakout season after compiling 125 stops, five sacks and 25 tackles for loss as a junior.
The All-South Texas first-team selection was also named Calallen's defensive player of the year in the team's run to the District 15-4A Division I title.
"All of us are locked in on one goal and it meshes everyone together," Calloway said. "It helps us focus on the game so we can all do our job right. We put a lot of trust in our defense."
Burch is off to a good start in his final season after finishing with six tackles for loss in last week's district-opening win against Tuloso-Midway.
On the season, Burch has 47 total tackles.
"They play well together and they communicate well with each other," Campbell said. "They also communicate well with the guys up front. They get everyone where they're supposed to be and they have a good football IQ."
Calallen has also had help defensively from quarterback Terik Hickmon, who has two interceptions on defense.
Campbell said Hickmon will be used on defense for the rest of the season.
"He's an extremely talented athlete and one of our best defensive backs," Campbell said. "We've had to use him against the 6-foot-7 Kerrville Tivy receiver and he made plays none of our defensive backs could have made."
The Wildcats claimed their first district title since 2018 last season, which was the 23rd in the Phil Danaher era.
Burch and Calloway believe Calallen is poised for another in 2021.
The Wildcats are 5-1 this season –– their lone defeat coming against San Antonio Cornerstone in non-district play.
Burch said the team has adjusted from the loss and is turning its attention to Friday's district clash with Miller at Wildcat Stadium.
Calallen won last year's meeting 34-27 after grabbing its first lead with six minutes left in the game.
"Against Cornerstone Christian we were outplayed," Burch said. "Now going into Miller, they have an explosive offense. We're going to try and shut the run down and when they air out the ball ... I have all my faith in Steve Campbell to help us handle it."
Rey Castillo is a sports reporter for the Caller-Times and a graduate of Texas A&M-Kingsville. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @reycastillo361.