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Game Preview: Buford vs. Lovett

POSTED: December 2, 2010 6:42 p.m.

Lovett at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Radio: 550-AM, 102.9-FM

Coaches: Lovett, Mike Muschamp; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Lovett, 10-3 No. 4 Region 6-AA; Buford, 12-1, No. 1 Region 6-AA

Key players: Lovett, RB Zach Boden (5-11, 195 Sr.), QB Hunter Budd (6-2, 187 Sr.), WR Thomas Patton (6-1, 180 Sr.). Buford, OL Vadal Alexander (6-6, 320 Jr.), QB Alex Ross (6-1, 190 Sr.), RB Seon Jones (5-9, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: There’s nothing like a region rivalry to stir up the intensity for a state semifinal contest. Buford already defeated the Lions 37-14 earlier this season as Jones ran for a new school-record 319 yards.

Since 2005, Buford has won six of the seven meetings between these two programs, none bigger than the Wolves’ 50-0 victory in the 2007 Class AA state title game.

This time around, these two schools are battling for a spot in the state championship game. The winner will face the Calhoun/Carver-Columbus winner for the championship at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Georgia Dome.

As for Muschamp, he’s excited about the opportunity to face Buford again.

“Any time you get to play the best team in the state, it is a great opportunity as well as a great challenge,” Muschamp said. “We always look forward to playing Buford because they are so well-coached and their kids play so hard.”

Buford, which is seeking its fourth consecutive Class AA state title, is led by its running game of Jones (940 yards) and Dominique Swope (660). As a team, the Wolves have rushed for almost 3,000 yards this season. At quarterback, Ross has passed for 1,560 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Simpson feels like this will be a great battle between two good teams.

“We’ve had some great games for region and state titles against Lovett, and this is another big challenge for us,” Simpson said.

Lovett is also versatile on offense between the running and passing game. Lions quarterback Hunter Budd has 1,700 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, while he’s also rushed for 500 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Budd missed out on its quarterfinal game against Brooks County with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but may be able to play Friday’s game.

Lovett’s running game is led by senior Zach Boden, who’s rushed for 1,304 yards and 18 touchdowns, along with 365 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas Patton is Lovett’s leading receiver with 435 yards (17.4 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

For Lovett, it will have three starting linebackers on the field that missed the first outing against Buford, including a pair of sophomores Corey Erdoes and John Coletti.

Buford advanced to the semifinals with playoff wins against Hart County, Callaway and Cook. Meanwhile, Lovett is in won against Region 8-AA champion Elbert County, Dade County and Brooks County.

The Wolves are two wins away from joining West Rome (1982-85 in Class AA) as the only team to win four straight state titles.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves have a defense geared to stop a solid running game.


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