Five games to watch: Buford opens title defense

It’s time to see what the big dog has. Defending AAA champion and No. 1-ranked Buford will host Elbert County in the season opener for both teams on Friday at Tom Riden Stadium.

Elbert County gave Buford all it could handle a year ago, as the Wolves emerged from the Granite Bowl in Elberton with a 14-3 win. Other than their loss to Gainesville, it was the toughest game the Wolves played until they reached the state championship game.

Buford’s defense should be strong again this season. Led by linebacker Korrie Rogers, the Wolves have plenty of playmakers back from a defense that didn’t allow a touchdown in nine games. The offense has depth at tailback and both quarterbacks (Taylor Mitchell and Montgomery Van Gorder) are back.

Elbert County went 5-5 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Blue Devils feature solid running backs in Rantious Reed and Tra Barnett and are expected to contend for the playoffs again this season.

Four other games to watch:

Rockmart at Cedartown: In this battle between two Polk County rivals, Rockmart will have to find a way to slow down Cedartown running back Nick Chubb. He ran for 363 yards in three quarters a year ago to help Cedartown to the 40-14 win. Cedartown leads the series 45-21-2 and has won the last two meetings.

Westminster at St. Pius: The No. 2-ranked Golden Lions have some holes, but there appears to be plenty of talent to offset the losses. Joey Connor takes over at quarterback for the unflappable Jack Spear and there are plenty of good backs to go around, including Branden Mitchell and Nick Ruffin. Dalton Wilson and Daniel Crochet are tackling machines. But the offensive and defensive lines must prove they can play against a schedule that’s front-loaded with good teams. St. Pius won it 21-3 last year on the way to winning the Region 6 championship.

Lovett at Blessed Trinity: The No. 7 Titans showed up and played some good defense in their 18-0 opening win over Westminster. Milton Shelton rushed for 50 yards and threw an option pass for a 93-yard touchdown last week. The junior, who ran for 894 yards a year ago, has the benefit of running behind a strong offensive line. The defense is led by junior linebacker Pat Jasinski, who has started since he was a freshman. A victory would be No. 100 in the career of coach Tim McFarlin.

Banks County at East Jackson: Neither team is expected to be a contender in their respective region, but enthusiasm is high for the opener since both schools have a new coach. The new Banks County coach is Biff Parson, who has long ties to the school. His father coached there for 10 years, but Biff attended Franklin County and went on to play professional football. East Jackson is coming off a winless season and turned to Gary Hughes, formerly the defensive coordinator at Dacula. Banks won last year’s game 46-30.

19 comments Add your comment

BullDawg Rick

August 28th, 2013
11:58 am

The Wolves reload – Their real test will be the Red Elephants of Gainesville with the best HS QB in the State of Georgia. Watson is the real deal… Buford is a team destined to provide some payback to Gainesville.

Tis a great time of the year!! Football is in the air!

Jusfellofftheturniptruck

August 28th, 2013
1:15 pm

I’m with ya Rick. Sept 6 at city park will be one for the ages. Great in season test for both teams.

Last year gville squeaked out a w even with 5 turnovers and 2 tds called back on penalties. Rumors are that this elephant team is better than last years team. Not so sure if that’s accurate. Should know more after west Forsyth and Buford.

If gainesville can limit mistakes, we may win by 10-14 pts. What do you think?

prof.jess

August 28th, 2013
5:41 pm

Buford should wion all of their games. They recruit(buy the best players in the area, if they want to come.

GnG

August 28th, 2013
6:54 pm

Didn’t take long for the Buford recruits crap to start. BTW, Gainesville is a City school just like Buford and goes by the exact same rules! So Gainesville recruits since they won state last year, just admit it!

Jusfellofftheturniptruck

August 28th, 2013
8:42 pm

Gville doesn’t recruit. Their best players are from gville and came up in the local football program together from park n rec thru middle school and into high school. People have been talking about Watson since he was a seventh grader.

Buford’s a different story. They have dudes and chicks from all over north Georgia. I don’t hold it against them for it. It is what it is. They are very good on a consistent basis in almost every athletic team they field, from varsity football to women’s softball. Dont hate just motivate when your chance to play em rolls around.

Go Big Red!!

Region 7-AAA

August 28th, 2013
10:02 pm

Jusfellofftheturniptruck… if Gainesville doesn’t recruit, then how did they end up with Blake Sims? It wasn’t “just” a transfer.

Jefferson

August 29th, 2013
6:04 am

Buford is waxed again.

itsonlywrite

August 29th, 2013
7:36 am

@Region 7-AAA … Blake chose Gainesville… but you know darn well that alot of the stars that have came from Gainesville are homegrown i.e. Deshaun Watson, AJ Johnson, etc. North Hall gets “transfers” too.

@Jusfellofftheturniptruck … this Gainesville team is really better than last years. Just missing defensive leadership…

Buford may have a tough time with Elbert before they come to City Park. Will be a good game no doubt.

#ELEPHANTNATION

GFY

August 29th, 2013
12:56 pm

Funny how the Buford fans immediately state other teams are recruiting….How many of the transfers in live acrooss the street at the apartment complex for a year or two?

Region 7-AAA

August 29th, 2013
1:20 pm

@itsonlywrite … Who brought North Hall into the conversation?

And of course Blake chose Gainesville. But how often does a family just pick up and move an hour away because their kid says so?

Jusfellofftheturniptruck

August 29th, 2013
4:39 pm

North hall ain’t got no room to talk. Wolff brothers were brought in all the way from North Carolina. Fabian Jackson and going back to tj Pitts. Y’all are the worst of all. Y’all won’t even play gville anymore in football.

Good thing too. Because we were regularly beating you guys by a ton. Stay out in the pasture and run that 100 year old offense. Y’all don’t want any and you know it.

Region 7-AAA

August 30th, 2013
2:21 am

Once again, who brought up North Hall?? Last I checked we were talking about Gainesville.

Region 7-AAA

August 30th, 2013
2:31 am

But, hey. If you want to bring North Hall into the mix why don’t we talk about the rest of Northeast Georgia while were at it. Sure North Hall recruits, that’s no secret. Every school in Hall County recruits, and not just for football. In 2007, 08 and 09 when North Hall, Flowery Branch and Gainesville hit the floor of the Georgia Dome, there were recruited players that got them there. White County has even recruited players, so has Dawson. Hasn’t really played out in their favor too much but why only hold it against the teams that matter???

Jusfellofftheturniptruck

August 30th, 2013
8:52 am

Umm. 7 aaa, what are you saying? Lots of words but no logic.

dave

August 30th, 2013
3:51 pm

well buford will beat gainesville this year….. gainesville better worry about tonights game they will be lucky to win that game…. this is my top 5 teams in state sandy creek norcross buford gainesville north gwinnett Calhoun…. i think sandy creek is the best team in ga

'Phants

August 30th, 2013
9:12 pm

@ dave….58-28. That’s awful lucky chief.

ORabidOne

August 31st, 2013
1:17 am

Hey DAVE, Sandy Crick can’t even beat a team that had a running clock put on um last week in Flaaawda!!!

Region 7-AAA

August 31st, 2013
2:21 am

Jusfellofftheturniptruck … Using the same logic you’ve been using in your previous posts, I figured it would seem familiar to you.

GoBIGRED

August 31st, 2013
12:52 pm

These comments are exactly why I dislike most of our fans. They turn the tables when the finger is on them. I’ve been going to Gainesville football games for over 30 years and let me tell you guys something. Gainesville was recruiting before anyone in this county. So turnip boy needs to accept that fact and not call out any other school before defending his own. Go Big Red! Hope we get them Wolves again this next week. It will be a stout test for sure.