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Buford Wolves: The debate commences: Best ever?

Buford's had great teams, where does 2007's rank?

POSTED: January 1, 2008 5:02 a.m.
It didn’t take long for the question to be asked last Saturday night.

While Buford football players were celebrating their first Class AA state championship since 2003 in a constant rain and cold wind, coach Jess Simpson was fielding the question in a variety of forms.

Is the 2007 Buford football team the best in school history?

Like a seasoned professional, well-versed in talking with media, Simpson quickly took the politically correct path.

"We’ve had great teams here," he said. "I don’t know if it is the best. I know it is one of the best."

Without a definitive answer, however, the question is still being asked almost a week later.

"That’s what the fun debate is now in the Buford community," Buford athletic director and former football coach Dexter Wood said.

Wood was head coach for three of the teams that have an argument in that debate — the 2001, 2002 and 2003 undefeated state champions. Buford also won a state title in 1978, going 10-3-1 and beating Charlton County 7-6 in the state final.

Before this season, the 2003 Wolves team was widely considered the best Buford football team in program history.

"The common comparison is made between the 2007 team and 2003," Wood said. "But the 2001 and 2002 teams are pretty special to me, too."

The 2003 team went undefeated, capping off three years of perfect football (45-0), won their games by an average of 35.3 points and featured record-breaking running back Darius Walker.

No team in Buford history can compare to finishing on a 45-game winning streak. Also, Walker, who went on to play at Notre Dame, broke Herschel Walker’s record for touchdowns in a season.

The 2003 team also featured players like Zack Smith, Ryan Wood and Neal Brown, who went on to play at the next level.

The college success of players on the 2007 roster is still to be determined, but Wood thinks there will be some names making plays for big programs.

"Omar Hunter has received the same in terms of national publicity as Darius Walker," Wood said. "The future is unlimited for him."

Hunter, a lineman, has been recruited by the Fighting Irish. Players like T.J. Pridemore (Georgia Tech) and Demetris Murray (South Florida) also have the potential to be big in the college ranks.

"There are probably three or four more that have great potential," Wood said.

By the numbers, the 2007 and 2003 teams are in a class by themselves. Both teams scored more than 600 points and gave up less than 100 points in their respective seasons.

Judging strictly by numbers, however, the 2007 team beat 2003 in every category.

In 2007, the Wolves scored 45.4 points per game. In 2003, they scored 41.3 points per game. In 2007, the Wolves gave up 4.4 points per game, In 2003, they gave up 6 points per game.

This season, Buford recorded seven shutouts. In 2003, Buford recorded five.

Buford’s closest game in 2007 was a 21-14 win over Charlton County in the state quarterfinals. In 2003, Buford won 20-9 over Lumpkin County in its closest game. Lumpkin County lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Simpson is aware of the numbers, but what stuck out to him about his first state title team is how it finished.

"Coming down the stretch, I don’t know if a Buford team has ever peaked like this," he said. "They’ve gotten better each week for five weeks this late in the year. That is really what I’m most proud of."

The Wolves outscored their last two opponents 98-0 this year, beating Dublin 48-0 in the semifinals and Lovett 50-0 in the title game.

Only one state championship game in Georgia High School Association history was bigger blowout. Tift County beat LaGrange 59-6 in 1983 for the Class AAAA title.

"The 2007 team ended their run in a more dominating fashion," Wood said.

Since Wood has been involved with all of the last four state championship teams, as a coach or athletic director, asking him to pick one is almost like asking him to pick his favorite child.

Wood seems content to let the question remained unanswered. He’d rather enjoy having Buford back at the top of Georgia high school football.

"This is 2007’s moment," he said. "We don’t need to compare them to anyone else."



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