Class AAA Scouting Report

Class AAA

Buford (11-3) vs. St. Pius (12-2)

Overview: The Buford Wolves are one of the most successful programs in the state. They’ve won eight state championships (1978, 2001-03, 2007-10) and have reached the title game for the sixth consecutive season. St. Pius has won a dozen games in three of its last four seasons. The Golden Lions won the state championship in 1968 under legendary coach George Maloof, after whom their stadium is named.

Buford season: Buford moved up in classification from AA to AAA this year, but hasn’t missed a beat. The Wolves have lost only one game on the field, that a 19-15 decision to Gainesville, which is playing for the Class AAAAA title. Buford had to forfeit two games because an ineligible player competed in a total of four plays at the end of games the Wolves won by a combined 124-0. It caused Buford to enter the playoffs as a No. 2 seed from Region 7. Buford was ranked No. 3 in the final poll.

St. Pius season: The Golden Lions lost twice during the regular season, falling 21-14 at No. 1 Thomson and 20-14 at then No. 10 Woodward Academy. They beat five ranked teams during the regular season, the showcase being a 50-14 win over North Oconee. St. Pius is coached by alum Paul Standard, who won his 100th game this season. St. Pius, which finished first in Region 6, was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state and finished No. 7 in the final poll.

Buford strength: The Wolves are an exceptional defensive team, allowing only 7.2 points per game. Buford has allowed 20 or more points only once all season and have five shutouts. The Wolves have allowed only 17 points over the last three games. They are especially tough against the run, where opponents are gaining only 3.2 yards per attempt. The defense has 32 takeaways – 16 fumbles and 16 interceptions – and have caused 105 plays that have resulted in negative yardage.

St. Pius strength: The Golden Lions run the option and do it better than most. They’ve scored 174 points in four playoff games, including last week’s 31-6 semifinal victory over North Hall. St. Pius has rushed for 4,238 yards, a 6.5-yard average, and 55 touchdowns. Fullback Ryan Braswell has rushed for 1,531 yards and 30 touchdowns and tailback Branden Mitchell has 829 yards and seven TDs.

Buford’s top players: Center Josh Cardiello (6-2, 280) has committed to Georgia. Defensive end/tight end Mikey Bart (6-3, 245) has committed to South Florida. Outside linebacker Korie Rogers (6-2, 200) is a three-star recruit. Bart and Rogers have combined for 17 sacks.

St. Pius’ top players: The Golden Lions don’t have any highly recruited players. Nick Glass, a D-I prospect, unexpectedly left the program two weeks ago. Weakside linebacker Daniel Crochet (6-3, 193, Jr.) has the nose for the ball (73 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five intereceptions) and is starting to net more attention. Junior Thomas O’Leary is outstanding as a kicker and a punter.

On Buford: ”They are a balanced football team that can beat you in any of the three phases. The first thing that hits you is the physical size of their kids in uniform. Most schools will use one back and feature him but they use several and make use of each ones skill set. If you move the ball on them they will become a pressure scheme defense. This was a rebuilding year for them and bingo they are right back in the championship game.” – North Oconee coach Terry Tuley, whose team lost to Buford 13-0 in the second round.

On St. Pius: ”Very scrappy hard-nosed kids. Size-wise will not match up with most opponents. Offensively they will take what you give them out of the wing T. In our game we gave them the triple option and they rode it to 50-plus points. Adjust quickly on defense so must have several weapons to have at your disposal. Lost a good secondary player before the North Hall game, didn’t seem to matter. Excellent kicking game that is there when they need it.” – North Oconee coach Terry Tuley, whose team lost to St. Pius 50-14 on Sept. 7.

AJC pick: Buford 31, St. Pius 17

15 comments Add your comment

Golden Lion 2

December 13th, 2012
8:57 am

As I have mentioned before we are just like the Service academies, not as fast, not as big physically, and not the list of the star recuirts on our team as on others that is why we run the option. What you get from St. Pius is a highly disiplined team, with a great football IQ, and that never say die attitude in a group of players that will produce on the field.
Congrats to Buford on a great year and your Coach shows character for his self reporting and admitting his error this year. That said quite frankly you guys could play AAAAA or AAAA and you would still be in the finals.
Go Golden Lions !

Metro Fan

December 13th, 2012
12:18 pm

SPX may score enough points to win because their defense will keep the game close, but they will have to make some plays throwing the ball…


December 13th, 2012
12:53 pm

Are you serious AJC? Do research and look at Nick Ruffin. I would think he is a very highly recruited D1 Prospect.

real state

December 13th, 2012
3:40 pm

Enter your comments here


December 13th, 2012
3:44 pm

Are you serious AJC? There are several D1 prospects on the Golden Lion side of the ball….however I am not going to tell you who they are, cuz that is a SECRET! At this point it will just help the Wolves! Good luck Golden Lions! North Hall did not think we had any either.


December 13th, 2012
3:57 pm

Or maybe you won’t tell us because there aren’t any… lol

BullDawg Rick

December 13th, 2012
6:47 pm

First of all – Congratulations to BOTH teams for making it to the Dome!!

Now for a few nuggets that fans of both teams are well aware of:

Pius is a one dimensional team on offense.. Runs the ball & goes a good job doing so..

Buford’s strength is defending the run..

Buford can run & throw the ball well.

The Wolves will win this game be 21..

Merry CHRISTmas to All!!

Have a safe trip to & from the Atl (OK, both team are from the metro area.. :) )

Golden Tiger

December 13th, 2012
7:25 pm

SPX has always had QB’s that could throw and playmaking receivers.

Their total commitment to the option has brought them a ton of success, usually with undersized players – with the exception of the big “O” line on the ‘06 team that went toe-to-toe with NWR in the Dome Semi’s, and possibly the ‘09 team that lost in the Quarters to Peach Co. They will need to open it up some against Buford to match up.

But they will definitely show up to play.


December 13th, 2012
9:50 pm

From the AJC, AAA Preview, Jack Spear ’s passing is no par with Bufords”Buford is an effective passing team, too. They average 115.3 yards per game through the air and have completed 63 percent of their passes, 18 of them for touchdowns. Taylor Mitchell (842 yards, seven TDs) and Montgomery VanGorder (753 yards, 11 TDs) share the responsibilities. Amazingly they’ve had only one of their 175 passes intercepted.

Overshadowed has been senior Jack Spear, a lanky lefty who has been the answer at quarterback. Spear has rushed for 811 yards and five touchdowns and thrown for 757 yards and eight touchdowns.”


December 13th, 2012
10:03 pm

Oh wait the article demonstrates SPX has thrown for 8 TD’s and 757 yards! Please Buford everyone keep making assumptions about the SPX team! See ya in the Dome also know as Bufords house, but really? Buford lost there last year in the 2AA finals? And honestly the Pius kids can practically see the Dome from their backyard! On another note,despite all the hype of the Bufords “accession” to dominate AAA, the fact is they never played Thomson, WACO, had their hands full with Cedar Grove and barely escaped North Oconee. Other than Gainsville, Buford played a light schedule in 3 AAA and they lost to Gainsville. Many at SPX had hoped to be in this game with a deserving Thomson, but we are even happier to be facing Buford in the Dome. :)


December 14th, 2012
4:08 am

Just because the Pius kids can “practically the see Dome from their backyard” doesn’t mean jacks**t. Get over yourself kidsballcoach, you’re a disgrace to the SPX community. Show some class. Good luck to both teams!

Region 7-AAA

December 14th, 2012
4:06 pm

Barely escaped North Oconee… I don’t think you saw that game, did you kidsballcoach????
Buford dominated that game defensively.

Vampire Bill

December 14th, 2012
8:55 pm

How lame the AJC is in reporting scores. Geez.. Buford wins and still no score reported.


December 14th, 2012
9:13 pm

come on Urnial Constipation ….report something…….no seriously, thank you for the job y,all have done this season in promoting and reporting high school sports………if the schools involved had a reporting # then they could not whine about not having anything to report…….only as a team, can we get what we want…..Merry Christmas…………… all


December 17th, 2012
8:12 am

I would think the ajc would know that Nick Ruffin on Pius Team is a very highly recruited D1 prospect with offers from SEC and ACC schools and invites to both the US Army All American and Under Armor combines…….Additionally, there are SEVERAL very solid and strong contributors that too have the potential and very well may play at the next level. Pius may not have won, but there was a tremendous effort and definitely didn’t get run over. Great season Gold Lions, you are the champions!!! It’s great to be a Golden Lion, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ll see you next year, ya’ll come back now, ya hear?