It’s hard to believe, but two of the most iconic high school football programs in Georgia have never met. That will change on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome when Buford and Washington County play for the Class AAA championship.
The dream matchup – No. 1 Buford (14-0) vs. No. 3 Washington County (13-0) – came about when both teams took care of their business on Friday night. Buford was taken to the limit by No. 5 Callaway before coming away with a 24-14 win, while Washington County ran over upstart Ringgold 37-0.
Now the two teams, which have combined to win 12 state championships and put nine players in the NFL, will get a chance to earn bragging rights. It promises to be a fun week for the online message boards.
Buford has won nine state championships and will be making its seventh straight appearance in the title game. The Wolves have won 27 straight games on the field (tossing out two forfeits due to a clerical error) and beat St. Pius in the championship game last year. Washington County has won three state titles, the last one coming in 1997.
Buford trailed 14-7 at halftime against Callaway. It was the first time the Wolves had trailed at the half all year. Things changed after halftime, as Buford allowed Callaway only 32 yards and one first down in the second half.
The Wolves were able to take advantage of their superior offensive line and rush for 352 yards. Joshua Thomas ran 20 times for 222 yards and three touchdowns and Thomas Wilson carried 14 times for 95 yards.
The Buford defense got a big play from lineman Shug Frazier, who intercepted a pass to set up the go-ahead score. Donte Gordon had a big fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter to end Callaway’s final hope.
The Cavaliers (12-2) were athletic and quick as promised. Quarterback Tez Parks ran for a 22-yard touchdown and threw a 45-yard pass that set up Eddie Culpepper’s 1-yard run late in the half. Parks finished with a team-leading 50 yards rushing on 13 carries and completed 2 of 6 passes for 85 yards.
Washington County turned Melvin Hill loose against Ringgold. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns scored on a 99-yard punt return. A.J. Gray threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Sanders and Danyale Wicker scored on a 2-yard run. Washington County scored all its points in the first half.
Ringgold (11-3) managed only 95 rushing yards. The Tigers, the only unranked team still in the playoffs, had its chances diminished last week when quarterback Slade Dale sprained his MCL. Dale wore a brace and was visibly limping; he clearly wasn’t the player who had carried Ringgold past the first round of the playoffs for the first time.