It doesn’t matter what the numbers say. Unless North Hall can beat Buford on Friday night, the Trojans won’t be considered the legitimate Region 7-AAA champion. A win, however, would make North Hall bona fide in the minds of the state’s football fans.
North Hall has already clinched first place in the region. That much was determined last week when the Trojans beat Banks County to win its first league championship in five years. But the only reason that was able to occur was the two forfeit losses incurred by Buford because of a clerical error that allowed a reserve to participate in two plays of two games.
Those two losses denied Buford a chance to win the region championship on the field. Now the Wolves must be content with beating North Hall and taking a little of the shine off the team from Gainesville.
North Hall players said they’re treating the game just like the region championship was on the line.
Buford’s defense will be pushed like it hasn’t been since the second week of the season, when the Wolves lost to Gainesville. In the seven games since that 19-15 loss, Buford has allowed a combined 23 points.
North Hall’s powerful running attack is led by Kevin Christmas, Zac Little and T.J. Tate. Quarterback Bradley Brown is a threat to keep it and isn’t afraid to throw it; he had two touchdown passes to Taylor Ryder a week ago against Banks County. North Hall has scored no fewer than 42 points in each of its last six games.
Buford has dominated the series. The Wolves lead it 6-1-1, including both meetings in 2008 and 2009.
Other important games this week:
St. Pius at Decatur: The No. 7 Golden Lions will win the Region 6 championship if they defeat the Bulldogs. Pius bounced back strong last week against Blessed Trinity but will have to score a road win to nail down its third region championship over the last four years. St. Pius leads the series 10-3-1, but the schools haven’t played since 1999.
Cedar Grove at Blessed Trinity: The winner of this game will be the No. 2 team from Region 6 – if St. Pius defeats Decatur – and be eligible to host a first-round playoff game. Perhaps even more important, the winner will avoid a first-round match against mighty Buford. BT must stop Cedar Grove quarterback Johnathan McCrary, who moved into third place on the career passing list with 8,453 yards. McCrary has completed 75 percent of his passes this season for 2,355 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Cartersville at Ringgold: No. 6 Cartersville has already won the Region 5 championship. But last week the Purple Hurricanes used their secret weapon – their defense – to score three touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Sonoraville. Cartersville is trying to complete its first undefeated regular season since 1999, when it won the state championship.
Dodge County at Swainsboro: The playoffs start this week for these two teams. The winner advances to state at the No. 4 seed from Region 3-AAA, while the loser stays home. Swainsboro leads the series 5-3, but Dodge won last year’s game 13-9 to break a three-game losing streak.