No. 3 Buford vs. No. 1 Woodward Academy
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
Tickets: $15, per GHSA
Two electric rushing offenses will square off in the state semifinals Friday when No. 3 Buford hosts top-ranked Woodward Academy (13-0) for the opportunity to play in the Class AAAA state championship game.
The Wolves (12-1) have won seven state titles in the past eight seasons, including three in a row. They have made it to a state championship game each season since 2007.
Meanwhile, the undefeated War Eagles (13-0) are having their most successful season in school history, averaging just over 352 yards per game. According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, Woodward is seeking its first state title since 1980. The War Eagles fell in last year’s semifinal to St. Pius X.
Senior Elijah Holyfield (995 yards, 19 touchdowns) will be the main rushing threat for Woodward Academy. The Georgia commit is the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
Holyfield recently returned to action in late October after missing about a month due to a stress fracture in his foot.
The senior (124 yards per game) makes up for roughly 80 percent of Woodward’s rushing yardage.
Three different running backs (Christian Turner, Martin Mangram and Anthony Grant) have at least 550 rushing yards so far this season for Buford.
Five running backs combined for six touchdowns in last week’s 49-7 quarterfinal road win over Thomson. The Wolves have averaged 45.8 points per game.
After giving up 37 points against Class AAAAAA power McEachern earlier this season, Buford has clamped down on defense. Since Sept. 4, the Wolves have allowed just 25 points in the following 10 games.
Buford’s defense has pitched four straight shutouts since entering the postseason: Thomson scored its lone touchdown off of a blocked punt.
Woodward Academy will travel from College Park, which is around 48 miles away from Tom Riden Stadium in Buford. It is the War Eagles’ first road game since Oct. 30.