Class AAA: Buford 35, Washington County 19

By Stan Awtrey

For the AJC

Buford capped off its two-year run in Class AAA by setting a single-season scoring record and beat Washington County 35-19 to win a second straight state championship.

The Wolves finished the season with 707 points to eclipse the mark of 682 set by Dublin in 2007. Buford won its 10th state championship and their sixth title over the last seven years. Buford, which will move up to AAAA next year, went 29-1 on the field in two seasons of AAA competition.

“It was a special year, a special team,” Buford coach Jesse Simpson said. “Our senior leadership has been outstanding. It’s unbelievable the way they’ve prepared.”

Buford (15-0) has too many Thomases for Washington County. Thomas Wilson carried 14 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Joshua Thomas ran 15 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolves, who finished with 395 total yards. Thomas led the team with eight tackles and Wilson had six tackles.

Washington County (13-1) was led by quarterback A.J. Gray, who completed 16 of 30 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Eight of those passes went to D.J. Sanders for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

But Buford shut down the Washington County running game and allowed the Hawks, who boasted three 1,000-yard rushers, to gain for only 42 yards on the ground. Melvin Hill was limited to 22 yards on 10 carries and Gray, who was sacked four times, had 16 yards.

Washington County, inspired by a pregame pep talk from alumni Takeo Spikes, who played 15 years in the NFL, jumped out to a 13-0 lead.

The Golden Hawks scored on the first play of the second quarter when Gray, under pressure from Buford’s Donte Gordon, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Sanders, who had slipped past the secondary.

A Buford mistake enabled Washington County to score its second touchdown. Buford’s David Curry was forced to re-do a punt due to a penalty. Hill, who had called for a fair catch on the first punt, fielded the mulligan and turned it up the left sideline for an 86-yard touchdown. The kick was no good, but Washington County had a 13-0 lead, something that no team had enjoyed against the Wolves all season.

Buford finally scored with less than a minute left in the half. Taylor Mitchell fired a pass to Isaac Nauta on the right hashmark and the big sophomore tight end fought through a tackle and ran for a 43-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left, a play that may have changed the momentum of the game.

Buford took the lead on its first possession of the third quarter thanks to a Washington County mistake. The Golden Hawks had a 57-yard reception negated because of holding and were forced to punt two plays later. Buford returned the short punt to the 28 and scored on the first play when Thomas Wilson took a pitch off left tackle and ran untouched for a touchdown. An extra point by Matthew Bonadies gave the Wolves a 14-13 lead.

The Wolves went ahead 21-13 with a score on the first play of the fourth period. On third-and-3, Joshua Thomas took a pitch off left tackle and ran through a large hole for an 18-yard touchdown.

Washington County gambled on fourth-and-1 at its own 41 yard line with nine minutes left. Gray was going to keep the ball on a draw, but was slammed at the line by Clemson commitment Korie Rogers, with Thomas finishing the play. Two plays later Wilson scored on a 35-yard burst up the middle to give Buford a 28-13 lead.

Washington County wasn’t ready to quit. The Hawks struck again on a long pass from Gray to Sanders for 64 yards, but the two-point conversion run was stuffed by Thomas, as Buford held the lead at 28-19.

Buford iced the game by driving 78 yards in eight plays, with Thomas scoring from the 5.

Washington County  0 13 0 6  — 19

Buford                  0 7 7 21 –35

WC – D.J. Sanders 41 pass from A.J. Gray (Jed May kick)

WC – Melvin Hill 86 punt return (kick failed)

B – Isaac Nauta 43 pass from Taylor Mitchell (Matthew Bonadies kick)

B – Thomas Wilson 28 run (Bonadies kick)

B – Joshua Thomas 18 run (Bonadies kick)

B – Wilson 35 run (Bonadies kick)

WC – Sanders 64 pass from Gray (run failed)

B – Thomas 5 run (Bonadies kick)

155 comments Add your comment

hit a single

December 13th, 2013
8:45 pm

They said that Buford was a 12 month football program. Do they do anything with the coaches as a team outside the season other than weight liftting classes during the school day? Are there workouts of any kind before or after the school day?

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
8:53 pm

#43 LB Korie Rogers is the real deal, congrats to Buford on getting Gwinnett County’s first state championship trophy tonight!

HS Fan

December 13th, 2013
8:58 pm

When are they going to investigate Buford program??????

WolfDawg

December 13th, 2013
9:10 pm

Congrats to the WACO team…

Sanders is a BIG time receiver.. You played with a LOT of heart.. Love your #26.. Great cover guy & returner.. QB had a nice arm.. But was NOT gonna run at all… No one runs the middle on the Wolves..

The 13-0 lead woke up the Wolves…

As for the Haters (not WACO peeps…. You have my respect!)….. If you have ANYTHING on Buford that’s illegal, take it to GHSA – or STFU!!! You look a LOSER.. But if that’s how you raise your children (to cry if you get your hinnie handed to you…. INSTEAD of working to be BETTER!) then stay a whinny loser & point fingers, instead of working to be BETTER!!!

Safe travels to WACO – hold your head up….. You represented!!!

WolfDawg

December 13th, 2013
9:12 pm

Good Luck Tucker –

JAB – Come on man!!! Show some love for your neighbors!!!

WolfDawg

December 13th, 2013
9:15 pm

PS – Dominated in AAA & more to come in AAAA!!!

Georgia’s Team of the Century & 6 outta 7 – NEVER done before in the State..

THanks Rob!! Looking for a slobber knocker tomorrow night at 8:30.. Love BOTH teams, but hoping for a 28-27 North W…. Either way, lookin for a great one!!!

The Truth

December 13th, 2013
9:17 pm

I love the Korie Rogers interview after the game. “”I’m from Buford, I was born there” glad they picked that guy to interview or GHSA would have all the material they need. Haaa. Buford line dominated and stuffed the run all night .Touchdown at the end of the half killed WACO but. Sanders was big time for WACO all night. Buford needs to recruit a corner for next year.

BufWolvesDen

December 13th, 2013
9:19 pm

HS im sure with all of you crying every year. …. they already have. …. just ain’t nothing to find

ron

December 13th, 2013
9:39 pm

When Buford was on defense I heard a lot of leather from their interior linemen. Great job guys.

rudbuck

December 13th, 2013
9:45 pm

I wasn’t rooting for either team, just love the game. Was reading the pregame comments on the preview, and there is one thing that people should stop doing and that’s comparing to all past history. It’s just that past history, talking about who is in the NFL, how many trophies blah blah blah. It’s not any of those teams playing the game, it’s today’s kids. History is fine, and these kids could add to it , which is fine, but concentrate on these kids. Son of Waco finally shut up, good for him. His best comment is no comment, after all the garbage he talked. Those guys in the NFL were the ones playing in tonight’s game. So what do you know o about them.

ron

December 13th, 2013
9:45 pm

Both teams had two-way players, I thought it hurt Waco more. AJ played well at quarterback, defensively he was a liability.
What happened to those 3 thousand yards + runners. Buford defensively has to be given their just do. Well done gentlemen.

AllDayWACO

December 13th, 2013
9:46 pm

Buford was great at wht they do and thats wear teams down and run the ball. The best team won! Great game Waco!! We will have our chance again next yr when we go back to the dome.

rudbuck

December 13th, 2013
9:46 pm

WEREN’T THE ONES PLAYING TONIGHTS GAME.

Grayram

December 13th, 2013
10:00 pm

Congrats Buford. That hit when Washington went for it on 4th down was impressive.

AllDayWACO

December 13th, 2013
10:02 pm

Buford may have the best front 7 in the state!

brother of Waco

December 13th, 2013
10:03 pm

Great game on both teams! Buford definitely has depth!!! I’m proud of the hawks! We will see you in Macon! #hoopinseason

Big Fan

December 13th, 2013
10:12 pm

They do have amazing depth. That is some team. Year in and year out. How do they do it?

brother of Waco
December 13th, 2013
10:03 pm

Great game on both teams! Buford definitely has depth!!! I’m proud of the hawks! We will see you in Macon! #hoopinseason

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Da Coach

December 13th, 2013
10:14 pm

I watched that Buford game tonite and have followed them during the season. They need to quit hiding down in the lower classification and get some balls and play up. Like Marist does, Any public team that can recruit like Buford does, need to be made to play up, maybe even in the 6A classification. If they can dominate there, then they truly are a great team. Their season this year and for many of the past years was a joke, come play the Top teams in either 5A or 6A. You’re men playing amongst boys and there’s no glory in that.

Joker

December 13th, 2013
10:33 pm

Let the buford hating begin haha what are people going to say when buford moves up to 4A wins a title there then go to 5A win a title there then go to 6A and win a title. So quick to hate but never give them any credit for what they do. They train just as hard as any other school in the state. If you don’t like them winning, find someone to beat them just that simple!

rich

December 13th, 2013
10:35 pm

@ da coach….. so buford beats the defending 5a champs in the regular season and wins another state championship, but that doesnt matter …. and marist as you claim is some type of example for what (not winning)… how much money do you want to bet on marist v buford next year in the 4a championship ? my email is littlecat_littlecat1962@yahoo.com… i am happy to take any size bet on this .. maybe you “can get some balls and play up” ….. go wolves

BR549

December 13th, 2013
10:35 pm

That’s a good point Da Coach. If any team is going to play up, why not Buford? Congrats Buford.

BR549

December 13th, 2013
10:43 pm

@ Rich..Marist has been designated to play in AA and chose AAAA. So the Marist vs Buford thing has no legs.

Waterclock

December 13th, 2013
10:46 pm

So proud of the Wolves and hats off to WACO for making it a great game. All the cry baby commenters, it’s true, we fly in the Denver Broncos and suit them up in Wolves uniforms to play Friday nights. We’re caught. Ask yourself why kids aren’t coming to your school instead of making these wild accusations and then you can compete. If you want to petition GHSA to let your school play down a division or two, start the drive. Otherwise, be a sport and quit making all these undeniably false accusations.
Buford is a great program for many reasons. First, they have a community and administration behind them, the coaching is top notch and the kids play together as Buford Wolves from the time they start playing.
Thanks to the players, coaches, school administrators and city board for giving us a great program that is the envy of the state!

Bigdawg

December 13th, 2013
10:56 pm

Buford have fun.next year see how u do in 4AAAA

wolfbait67

December 13th, 2013
10:57 pm

this team belongs with the 2003/2007 BUFORD FOOTBALL teams as one of the best any in classification…I am a Wolf and believed this dearly…congrats to WACO on a well played game and a greatrprogram

rich

December 13th, 2013
10:59 pm

@br549… i agree there is no marist vs buford issue…i did not bring that up .(so no legs necessary) ..that could only be an issue next year potentially in the playoffs …. if marist wants to play in 4a vs 2a i am sure someone at the marist school has thought that through…… all buford can do is win the class it is playing in…. and maybe they won’t next year… i suppose that is why they play the games..go wolves

wolfbait67

December 13th, 2013
10:59 pm

4 AAAA here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BTW good luck to Charlton County on their game Saturday, they are due another ring…….we had great games in the past…………

Big Fan

December 13th, 2013
11:00 pm

Congratulations!
That’s all one has to do waterclock?

Buford is a great program for many reasons. First, they have a community and administration behind them, the coaching is top notch and the kids play together as Buford Wolves from the time they start playing.
Thanks to the players, coaches, school administrators and city board for giving us a great program that is the envy of the state!

GwinnettDad

December 13th, 2013
11:06 pm

Congratulations Buford. And welcome to AAAA next season. But of course, they’ll be those that will continue to say that Buford isn’t a great program until they play AAAAAAA football.

Yeah, I know, there ISN’T an AAAAAAA football classification, at least not yet. But get the point?

wolfbait67

December 13th, 2013
11:09 pm

Big Fan: AMEN and ditto too …I will enjoy the ride to different football venues to follow my beloved Wolves when we move up to AAAA…R U looking over your shoulder to see the Big Bad Wolf coming…U better be , cause we are coming to your town…H*ll, let’s get it started…Merry Christmas and we will see U in AAAA next year, all U Buford Haters …Single A-no problem; AA-no problem; AAA- no problem…AAAA??????????????…but we will enjoy the ride, win or lose

GreenNGold

December 13th, 2013
11:37 pm

Congratulations to a great WACO team! You should have stuck around to hear #43 thank the Buford community for the opportunity to grow up and play for the Wolves.
It would appear that my predictions were 100%.
The first team to score in the second half wins the game.
WACO would NOT run against Buford.
Buford corners would be the weakness, Sanders showed the way when Gray had time to launch a pass.
Buford would run on your defense.
Buford wore your offensive and defensive lines out, I watched the white legs start showing up on the offensive line in the second quarter.
The first half WACO could slow and stop a Buford running back, but got knocked backwards in the second half, even though the defensive line didn’t play both ways.
Gray will have night mares about the Southern Crescent # 43 locomotive coming at him. That 4th and one hit was awesome and then again at the one!

MisterBob

December 13th, 2013
11:42 pm

A few years ago, my high school, Cook High, had a once in every two or three generations football team. Like many small town schools, the stars aligned on the talent front and it was Cook High’s time. Of course, Buford beat them in the playoffs as they almost always do to that year’s Washington County or Cook County. Did they win fair and square? Define fair. I’m sure Buford plays by the rules but is it fair when the talent pool to draw from year in and year out is so much greater than it is with most schools? I don’t think so. It really isn’t a level playing field. I don’t hate the Buford players or fans. They’re just regular people like all of us. It’s just so disheartening when your once in a lifetime team really never had a chance. I’m glad Buford is moving up again. Maybe they will win again there, too. But honestly, I hope not. At least, not every year. I don’t care what level a team plays on, from little kids to the pros, it’s just not good for the game when one team is the Globetrotters and the rest are the Washington Generals.

Wolf stars

December 13th, 2013
11:57 pm

Congrats to the wolves. WACO was game and put up a good fight, but as expected the power of Buford wore them down,

BTown Pearl

December 14th, 2013
12:04 am

Congrats to the Buford Wolves Football Team! State Champs again!!!!

Farsider

December 14th, 2013
12:30 am

A school with an open enrollment policy has the potential to win state every year, even at the highest class. Total enrollment would not matter. The number one ranked team in the USA–Booker T. Washington of Miami—has an enrollment of less than 1100 students.

Joker

December 14th, 2013
1:16 am

Buford could win a 6A title and people would still say there not good or they didn’t beat anybody, which is sad nobody likes to see buford win. Most hated school in the state

Middle Lion Backer

December 14th, 2013
1:16 am

The problem with Buford playing AAA this year and AAAA next two years rests squarely with the GHSA not allowing teams to play up in one sport. Why not let Buford decide to play AAAAA or higher in football? You have some very old people running the GHSA and they are slow to change. They let teams opt out of region football when they are not competitive so why not let teams play up in just one sport if they are really good? Think Columbia could play 6a basketball hell yes they could if they were allowed too and probably win the whole damn thing. So old guys at GHSA think outside the box please. CHANGE ! Oh yes before I forget great 3 quarter game tonight then sadly it was no longer a game. WACO way to hang in there you did yourself proud! Congrats to Buford’s coaches in the second half good adjustments but wonder had that WACO holding call not been made a much closer game.

JAB

December 14th, 2013
1:29 am

WOW! Buford is really that good. It was my first time seeing themplay and I can see wht they havw won so many championships lately…111

@Middle Lion Backer, I really think that Buford will comfortable playing up in AAAA, but they don’t go any further, because it is all gwinnett County teams and i think that the county will put a stop to kids playing at Buford if they were to move up to AAAAAA with the other Gwinnett County teams…

ron

December 14th, 2013
1:32 am

The Waco people will have excuses as soon as they get home,they should be commended for their fan support.

Son Of Waco

December 14th, 2013
2:33 am

Buford wore our linemen down and didn’t let us run the ball. That should not shock anyone who knew their linemen outweighed ours by 60+ pounds per player. So running the ball on their front 7 would be impossible which it was. Oh yes #43 was the spy on our Qb and he let him know it all game

What I’m most sad about is that our coaches should have known that we couldn’t run on Buford, so a game plan to get Melvin the ball in space with passes should have been applied with more detail. But we came and dominated the first half of football, but in the 2nd half their depth and size beat us.

Another fan base left with respect for WACO and we left with respect for them.

Black1324

December 14th, 2013
3:46 am

Still in a weak region next year!

Unbiased observer

December 14th, 2013
4:38 am

Middle Lion Backer-isn’t Dexter Wood one of the very old people running the GHSA?

ron

December 14th, 2013
5:06 am

All week long one kept hearing about Waco’s speed on offense featuring three 1000 + rushers, and how slow Buford’s defensive line is. Now they want to blame the coaching staff saying poor preparation knowing Buford outweighed Waco’s offensive linemen by 60 pounds each and screens or tossing the ball to their backs in the flat should have been in the game plan.

ron

December 14th, 2013
5:14 am

Waco blowing so many opponents away during the season, players playing both side of the ball wasn’t used to playing an entire game. It definitely took it’s toll, AJ played well at times offensively, defensively one could see the fatigue.

ron

December 14th, 2013
5:25 am

Not sure about Waco’s Sanders academic standing, he’s definitely a terrific athlete. Loved his concentration as a receiver,he’s SEC material without a doubt. I understand he’s committed to Middle Tennessee. Nothing is a given until signing day, some scouts need to talk to this young man who is outstanding on both sides of the ball.

Suwanee 0wns

December 14th, 2013
6:12 am

Congratulations 2013 Buford Wolves on an outstanding season and another State Championship.

Washington County was clearly a special team and a strong opponent.

Wolf Nation

December 14th, 2013
6:59 am

WACO, nothing but respect for you. Great fans, coaches and players. Your team played hard all game.
Wolves! Great year! Thank you to the coaches, players and administration for all the hard work and sacrifices.
Another title for the Town of Titles!
Amazingly enough we will be loaded next year!
Thank you Korie Rogers for an incredible high school career!

Ball fan

December 14th, 2013
7:02 am

@middlelionbacker….GHSA next year will allow a school to play football at one level with all other sports at another level. I believe there are 3 schools playing up a level in football and playing down for all other sports. Main reason was due to travel distances and costs.

Love the game

December 14th, 2013
7:08 am

I live 20 minutes from Buford and I know personally two outstanding football players who don’t live in Buford, never have, and never will. They live in my neighborhood and went to Buford in 9th and 10th grade to play football. When Buford plays on a level playing field like they’re supposed to, they will get respect….I have no respect for a bunch of grown men who have rigged a system where they will ALWAYS have better players than their opponent and more of them. Buford city council has redrawn their city boundaries on more than one occasion to limit the population of the city thereby limiting the numbers at the school which allows them to play down in the smaller divisions while adding only gifted athletes to the school’s enrollment. Call it what you will but the rest of the world calls it cheating…

Jefferson

December 14th, 2013
7:14 am

Legal all star team.