Class AAA: A championship shootout for Buford, Waco?

The Class AAA championship game between No. 3 Washington County and No. 1 Buford has all the makings of a real shootout.

Washington County (13-0) has scored 649 points. Seven times the Golden Hawks have scored at least 50 and they’ve averaged 41.2 in four playoff games.

Buford (14-0) has scored 672 points, leaving the Wolves only 10 points shy of matching the state’s single season scoring record set by Dublin in 2006. Buford scored at least 50 points in five games and put up 70 against East Hall.

They’ve taken different offensive routes to reach this point. Washington County has made a successful transition to the spread offense, while Buford has stuck with the traditional smash-mouth style.

Washington County coach Joel Ingram began learning about the innovative spread attack about four years ago. He would read an article or hear a coach at a clinic, and add another aspect to his game plan. He opted to sell out on the spread attack two seasons ago.

“We’ve got guys who can play in the spread,” Ingram said. “I wanted to put them in situations where they could be successful. We try to execute what we can do.”

The quarterback who make the Washington County spread so effective is junior A.J. Gray. He has rushed 139 times for 1,308 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s completed 90 of 130 passes for 1,682 yards and 14 touchdowns, with only four interceptions.

The Golden Hawks have two senior running backs that have surpassed 1,000 yards. Melvin Hill has rushed 181 times for 1,771 yards and 33 touchdowns and Danyale Wicker has carried 162 times for 1,569 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Buford has worked its offensive magic by successfully rotating two quarterbacks and without the benefit of a 1,000-yard rusher.

The quarterback tandem in Taylor Mitchell and Montgomery VanGorder. They shared the job last year and took the team to a championship. Their numbers are almost identical: Mitchell has thrown for 775 yards and nine touchdowns and VanGorder has thrown for 745 yards and nine touchdowns. Van Gorder has thrown two interceptions, Mitchell only one.

Buford’s most productive runners are Joshua Thomas (946 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Thomas Wilson (812 yards, 16 touchdowns).  But 26 different players have carried the ball for the Wolves this year, 15 scored a touchdown and nine accumulated more than 100 yards.

And while the offense for each team gets the headlines, the defenses may wind up being the deciding factor. Both schools have been outstanding there all season. Buford has allowed just 92 points with four shutouts. Washington County has given up 143 points with three shutouts, including last week’s 37-0 victory over Ringgold.

The defenses have created turnovers and helped create scoring opportunities and short fields for the offense.

Washington County’s Logan Hunt has 10 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and four blocked punts, Marcel Johnson has four sacks and two forced fumbles  and D.J. Sanders has seven interceptions.

The Buford defense is especially tough against the run and has allowed fewer than 770 yards on the ground. The defense is led by linebacker Korie Rogers, a five-star recruit and Clemson commitment, and lineman Donte Gordon, who is one of the top pass rushers in the state.

21 comments Add your comment


December 11th, 2013
12:07 pm

This ought to be a good one.


December 11th, 2013
12:51 pm

Ditto RexDogma –

Aside from the North – Norcross game, because there’s no secrets to either team.. This game is probably the most intriguing game on the Championship slate, especially since they have never played.

The reason I give a TD edge to Buford is there’s not ONE dominate player on the O… “26 different players have carried the ball for the Wolves this year, 15 scored a touchdown and nine accumulated more than 100 yards.” Aside from that, the O line goes 8-10 deep with NO drop off. By the fourth 1/4 WACO will be gasping while the Wolves will be thriving. & as good as AJ Gray is, the duo of VanGorder & Mitchell have thrown for more TD’s & less INT’s…

Let’s not get started on the Wolves D.. The Hawks run a nice spread that gets their speed out in space… But I doubt they have yet to play a team that plays so well, disciplined in spacing & not over pursuing runners. There will be no cut back running on Buford’s D.. Hence 31 – 24 Wolves!

Great game in the making!!!

Bark at the Moon!!!


December 11th, 2013
1:00 pm

Dome presences is a HUGE advantage for BHS. That is an environment that you cannot simulate in practice. Being awe struck can cause a slow start that you cannot overcome.


December 11th, 2013
1:43 pm

Should be a great game. Looking forward to it!


December 11th, 2013
1:47 pm

Buford’s been to the Dome lately more than WACO, but let’s not forget that the coaching staff have been in this atmosphere before. I doubt WACO will be awestruck by playing in an indoor stadium.

waco fan

December 11th, 2013
2:27 pm

This game will be determined by defense. I do not expect high scoring by either team

Son Of Waco

December 11th, 2013
3:02 pm

What they say if you got 2 Qb’s you have no Qb.. We was just in the dome in 2006, so yeah we will be in awe of everything.

I watched the Callaway game and seen some over pursuit, undisciplined plays with that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Buford players getting beat in space on that first TD, but I guess the film lie. Please Buford fans speak facts

Man I doubt SPX, Marist or any other top private school can say they can go 3 deep in every position like Buford, it’s almost like we playing a 6A school. Guess if WACO win this will be one for the lil guys.


December 11th, 2013
7:19 pm

Don’t sell yourself short SOW. Buford may have the luxury of rotating many fresh legs in throughout the game, but that will not be enough against a tough D, and WACO has just that, much like the year Calhoun won.
And fast just gets faster on turf. I can’t wait to see three 1,000 yd. rushers at work.

Dr. Shorty R. Feldman MD Esq

December 11th, 2013
8:10 pm

Washington County’s fans have traveled to the Atlanta area a few times just this season. They are incredibly devoted and players and fans are fully familiar with the GA Dome. Starstruck won’t be a problem, but the Golden Hawks need to play their smartest, most error-free game of the season to ruin Buford’s run. It’s exciting for two vaunted teams to meet for the first time. Only then can we see how they compare. Go, Hawks!


December 11th, 2013
9:39 pm

Son of Wacco Lil guys finish last 2…. Lol


December 11th, 2013
9:45 pm

Your battle cry is Calhoun did it. Be sure to tell your boys that you forget that Buford and Calhoun met in the Dome more than once and Buford added the top prize to that Texas sized trophy case more than once…


December 11th, 2013
10:18 pm

The Calhoun thing is tired…. We lost once in four tries.. In OT no less…

This is a different season.. The O is fixing to break the Georgia HS scoring record (need 10 points & will have that by start of second 1/4) & the D is very tough…

Washington Co has a very good team & this will be one for the ages.. But since we play here more than any other venue except TR, we’ll make this another homecoming game…

Bark at the Moon!!

PS – Dr. you are correct sir… The Hawks will have to play error free for this to be a game.. 2 TO’s & yer toast – so yes fine sir, bring the aspirin!!!


December 12th, 2013
3:44 pm

@all the WACOs – We like winning!
Buford (22) vs NGHS (5) 22-5-1 last time played 1999
Buford (5) vs Norcross (2) 5-2-0 last time played 1997
As you would expect Buford won both of the last games played.
Overall records for Buford and WACO! :-)
WACO 377-232-11 .617%
Region titles 14 State titles 3 NFL Players 6; Total weeks ranked #1 50; Different Opponents 94; All State Players 93/153
Not bad WACO…
Buford 536-242-16
Region titles 24 State titles 9 NFL Players 3; Total weeks ranked #1 174; Different Opponents 157; All State Players 165/242

Mountain Man

December 12th, 2013
4:17 pm

Son of WACO They do recruit. Just like I said I talked to Buford Def. coach Dad at Saint Simon Island 2 years ago. he said was at what they call a coaches clinic in Texas. So you know what that means.I also kept talking about the QB living in North Hall school area and him going to Buford while his little Brother was at middle school at North Hall.They were worried that they were going to be check out till they moved little Brother to Gwinnett School. That sounds like that were worried. They still need to be check out. For some reason they took a look at Grady but will not check out buford.


December 12th, 2013
9:41 pm

Texas sized trophy case and Texas sized mouths from the faithful. Sounds like the Calhoun thing is still a bit of an open wound for the boys. Once in four, overtime, tired blah,blah, blah. The point is, Buford is not invincible, and I will say it again, spend the money Buford does and have the luxury of recruiting from a 1,000,000 pop. county and everyone could do it. Will be interesting to see how Buford fairs finally moving out of the easiest region in the state, all classes, which rendered them virtually injury-less year after year going into the playoffs. And if the boys really want to blow smoke, do it to your AD in encouragement to move up to 5a. Marist seems to have no problem moving up two.

Wolf Nation

December 12th, 2013
10:08 pm

Panglossian… If we did recruit how could the AAAAAA championship be two Gwinnett County teams? If we did recruit the high school teams in driving distance should be terrible. Don’t forget not only are Norcross and North Gwinnett only a few miles away; Parkview, Brookwood, Mill Creek, Dacula, Collins Hill, Central, South and Archer are also in Gwinnett County. They must “recruit” too because they are great teams. But the question is recruit from where? Everybody here is good.
Could it be all of our homegrown boys are hard working and well coached players?
Instead of making excuses and accusations, why don’t you simply tell us about your players and coaches? We believe in ours!


December 13th, 2013
8:31 am

Mountain Man you don’t know what you are typing about at all. The QB that lives in North Hall is Gummy VanGorder, Brian VanGorder’s so. He is a tuition kid. He is perfectly legal. He sat out his sophomore year when he came over, as the ghsa requires. I’m pretty sure even NH people recognize that he would not have fit that great in their offense & they are pretty happy w/ Andrew Smith under center for them.

Also, his little brother started going to Buford Middle School in the 6th grade because his mom wanted him to go there…no other reason. Where he goes to school has no affect on Gummy. Good try though…keel digging.


December 13th, 2013
10:09 am

*Brian VanGorder’s soN *keep digging. Posting using iPhone problems.


December 13th, 2013
3:09 pm


December 13th, 2013
8:17 pm

Yea…… Go Wolved


December 13th, 2013
8:18 pm