Buford shares the wealth
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
The Buford Wolves are scoring 49 points per game this season, and they’re not doing it by tricking people.
Buford is a running team, and it can count on a lot of different people to get the job done.
The Wolves have used 26 different players to run the ball, and the team has amassed 3,450 rushing yards in 13 games.
Four different players have run for at least 463 yards, including Joshua Thomas (725 yards) and Thomas Wilson (717 yards), the two leading rushers.
Those two players have also combined for 27 touchdowns.
Nine Buford players have run for 100 yards in a game, and 15 have scored at least one touchdown.
“It’s good for team chemistry and knowing they are going to share the ball,” Buford coach Jess Simpson told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “It’s also good for depth. If a guy gets hurt late in the year, it’s not over. It’s not a one-man show.”
Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said Buford’s offense isn’t a complex one, but it is obviously effective.
Buford scored 36 points against Carver last week, and that was a season low.
“They really only run five or six plays. They run the power, they run the belly, the toss. They don’t really try to fool you,” Hubbard said. “Their offense, it’s a grind-it-out offense. They make big plays, but it’s just not flashy. Very rarely do they get in the shot gun. A lot of the time they base out of the two tight-end set. It’s kind of old-school football. They hit you in the mouth, and they do what they do very well.”
Callaway’s defense has been meeting challenges all season, though, and the players aren’t shying away from this one.
“We’re ready for it,” said senior linebacker KeShun Freeman, Callaway’s leading tackler. “If we put our mind to it, we can do it.”
TWO-FOR-TWO: Buford will be at home Friday night after winning a coin flip for the second straight week.
Because Buford and Callaway are both number one seeds, they had to flip a coin to see who would host the semifinal playoff game.
The coin fell in Buford’s favor Saturday morning, so the game will be played at Tom Riden Stadium in Gwinnett County.
Buford also won a coin toss the previous week against Carver, which was also a number one seed.
A coin flip won’t be necessary for the championship game, since it will be played in the Georgia Dome.
GETTING IT DONE: Jess Simpson has enjoyed a remarkable level of success since taking over as the Buford football program in 2005.
In Simpson’s nine seasons at the helm, the Wolves are 121-8, and they’ve won five state championships.
The Wolves were knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006, but they’ve played for a state championship every year since then.
Under Simpson, Buford won state titles in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and they lost to Calhoun in overtime in the 2011 championship game.
The Wolves have gone unbeaten or lost just one game in eight of Simpson’s nine seasons, and even though they lost three games a year ago, they won a state title.
Simpson’s counterpart Friday night, Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins, is also enjoying a successful run.
Wiggins became the Callaway head coach in 2005, and the team finished with losing records the first two seasons.
The Cavaliers won eight games in 2007, though, and they haven’t stopped winning since.
Callaway has reached double digits in victories in four of the past six seasons, and Wiggins’ teams are 22-3 the past two years.
This year’s team is 12-1, setting a school record for wins.
Overall, Wiggins has a 74-31 record, good for a winning percentage of .705.
REMATCH: Callaway and Buford have played once before.
In 2010, Callaway and Buford matched up in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
Callaway was the number three seed from Region 5-AA that year, and it went on the road and beat Rockmart 30-8 in the first round of the state playoffs.
That win set up the showdown with Buford in the second round, and it was a tough night for the Cavaliers.
Buford won 52-14, and it went to capture its fourth consecutive state title.
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