If there was any question about the strength of the Buford football program, it was answered on Friday night. The No. 1-ranked Wolves overpowered Gainesville, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAAA, in a battle of reigning state champions.
The 38-14 win accomplished several things for the Wolves:
a. It further established them as the overwhelming choice to repeat their championship
b. It served as revenge from a year ago when Gainesville upset Buford at Tom Riden Field.
c. It served as the starting point for the write-in campaign to get the Wolves moved into Class AAAAAA when they can find some real competition.
Now that Buford has gotten past its two opening games, coach Jess Simpson’s team – barring another clerical mistake — may not get a real challenge until the season finale against North Hall.
“This was important to our football family and our town,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “We had a bad taste in our mouth (after losing to Gainesville last year) and wanted to redeem ourself and I’m so tickled to death for our kids. I don’t know that a lot people thought we could get it done tonight.”
Buford ran the ball at will. The Wolves rushed for 374 yards, with Joshua Thomas carrying 13 times for 139 yards. The Buford defense limited Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson to 204 yards and one touchdown. The second Gainesville score came in the final two minutes against the reserves.
Here’s what else we learned on Friday night:
Turnovers doom Thomson: The No. 10 Bulldogs had five turnovers – losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions – in a 23-14 loss to Lakeside Evans. Thomson was also flagged for 103 penalty yards. The mistakes allowed Lakeside to overcome a 14-0 deficit.
St. Pius can win on the road. The No. 2 Golden Lions went to Watkinsville and hung on to beat North Oconee 28-23. It’s the second straight week St. Pius has gotten out to a lead and had to hang on in the fourth quarter.
North Hall can light up the scoreboard. The Trojans used 13 different ball carriers and ran for 355 yards. Andrew Smith carried 10 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Zac Little rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Up next: Next week’s game with reigning Class AA champion Jefferson.
Peach County needs more seasoning. Coach Chad Campbell has warned that his Peach County team is young. Baldwin exposed the youth and inexperience on Friday when the Braves turned Kentavious Thomas loose for 252 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 win. Peach had beaten Baldwin four straight times.
Not this time. A year ago the No. 3 Purple Hurricanes had a tough time shaking its rival and won 24-20. That was the third straight meeting between the two teams that were decided by eight or fewer points. This time Cartersville rolled to a 42-7 victory and improved their advantage in the series to 39-5.
Who’s up next? With Peach County and Thomson likely to go bye-bye in the rankings after losing this week, who are the next teams most likely to step up and fill those voids. Top candidates are Hart County, Ringgold, Woodward Academy and Pierce County.