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High school football notebook: Buford comfortable playing in spotlight

POSTED: September 3, 2011 7:24 p.m.

So far this season, it’s been easier to catch Buford playing on TV than Georgia Tech.

While the Yellow Jackets, like many college teams opening with FCS opponents, were relegated to a pay-per-view broadcast in their 2011 debut, the Wolves are getting ready for their third televised game of the year.

In the last two weeks, Buford’s games have been broadcast on ESPN3.com and CSS. On Friday, the Wolves can be seen on ESPNU when they host Yulee (Fla.).

So far, Buford, which has won four straight state titles and is ranked No. 1 in Class AA, has shown no qualms with playing in the spotlight. After shutting out Blessed Trinity and Gainesville by a combined score of 91-0 to open the season, the Wolves scored a decisive 35-7 win over No. 2 Carver-Columbus on Friday.

The Buford defense, which features a handful of Division-I recruits, has been every bit as good as advertised. The Wolves entered the Carver game giving up a scant 97.5 yards per game and 2.0 yards per rush attempt. Though their shutout streak came to an end on an 87-yard Tiger touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the Wolves gave up only 131 yards, unofficially.

They’ll get another test in Yulee, which features highly touted running back Derrick Harvey. The 6-foot-3, 232-pound junior has verbally committed to Georgia.

TEST LOOMS FOR VIKINGS

The Vikings rolled to a 41-17 win over Johnson on Friday, moving to 2-0 for the first time since 1999. Their 88 points so far this season is the most any East Hall team has scored in back-to-back weeks since the Vikings had 35 on Union County and 55 on Lumpkin County in Sept. 2005.

Now, the challenge for Bryan Gray’s squad is to get to 3-0, a feat not achieved by any East Hall team since Wayne Bradshaw’s 1990 group, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.

It won’t be easy. In the way stands Elbert County (2-0), defending 8-AA champs.

The Blue Devils defeated East Hall 48-13 last season and have already beaten Stephens County, an expected contender in Region 8-AAA North, and Wesleyan, the seventh-ranked team in Class A.

Senior running back Jamond Witt has led the Vikings, rushing for nearly 200 yards through two games. He also added touchdowns on a kickoff return and an interception in Friday’s win.

East Hall has also gotten solid contributions from Austen Mahaffey. Unofficially, the junior running back has 15 carries for 155 yards and two receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns.

FALCONS IN FULL FLIGHT

Quarterback Kanler Coker and receivers C.J. Curry and Casey Osborne have had big impacts, but the running game has been far from an afterthought. Led by Jeremy Haley, who topped the area and set the school’s single-reason rushing record with more than 1,500 yards last season, the Falcons totaled more than 300 yards on the ground in Friday’s 64-7 win over Winder-Barrow.

Perhaps more than the stats, it’s what opposing coaches are saying about the Falcons (No. 4, Class AAAA) that makes the biggest impression.

"They’re just a high-powered team; they have guys that can hurt you from anywhere" Winder-Barrow coach David Wagner said after Friday’s game.

"There are times when you have good calls on both sides of the ball. They had somebody who could make plays — that was the bottom line."

A week earlier, after his team lost to the Falcons 56-7, Madison County coach Randell Owens had similar comments.

"They’re a championship team on paper, and they played even harder in the game," Owens said. "Coach Shaw and his staff do a great job."

: It hasn’t taken long for Flowery Branch’s revamped offense to hit its stride, as no team in the area has matched the Falcons’ output thus far: 120 points and more than 1,000 yards of offense.: With a second straight blowout win, East Hall is off to its best start in years — 12 years, to be exact.



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