Week 11 capsules
After Thursday’s walkthrough at Buford High School, coach Jess Simpson gathered his players for one last team debriefing and sounded off a few closing points. Perhaps the most important one of all, emphasized the magnitude of this week’s region title game with Loganville.
“Seniors, police this stuff,” he said on the importance of setting an example for the underclassmen for this week’s game.
“The biggest game you seniors will play is tomorrow night.”
But the 10th ranked Wolves (7-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAAA) have been in this position before — many times. They seek a staggering 28th region title overall and the top playoff seed when they clash with the Red Devils (7-1, 4-0) tonight at Tom Riden Stadium.
However, Simpson doesn’t care for numbers. Any success they have been blessed to have has never come from looking back.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and that’s why today in the present is so precious.’ … that’s where we live every day,” Simpson said. “The truth is, the biggest and most important game of our season is tomorrow. So our kids know that. If you want to be a No. 1 seed and get the play at home in the playoffs, you gotta win (Friday) night.”
The Red Devils have not strayed from Simpson’s line of sight as winners of six straight, including four shutout victories. The defense under longtime coach Mike Humphrey’s has only given up an average of 10.8 points a game as well. The Devils seek their first league title since 2008.
“You do the cliches of ‘one week at a time.’ But certainly, you know what’s going on in your region, and you know what’s going on in the state,” Simpson said on Loganville.
The Wolves have yet to drop a region game on the field since 2009. They are also winners of seven-straight since dropping their season opener to the top-ranked Roswell of the Class AAAAAAA. That could be attributed to the current senior class, a group Simpson calls the strength of the program.
That group includes the likes of Anthony Grant (91 carries, 788 yards, 13 touchdowns), TD Roof (275 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), Mic Roof (58 completions, 812 yards, five touchdowns, five interceptions), and Garrett Scoggins, who anchors the offensive line. Linebackers TD Roof (3 TFL, 3 sacks) and Jake Simpson (28 tackles, INT) lead the defense.
“The seniors are stepping up, we’re leading,” Scoggins said. “The young guys are gonna follow us up, and we’re gonna play a good game against Loganville.”
Humphreys hopes his kids can rise to the occasion.
“They have a great tradition,” said Humphreys, who has spent 13 years overall with Loganville’s program as a head coach and a defensive coordinator. “Great players, great coaches and they’re used to playing in these kinds of games. And our guys are learning now how to play these kind of games. So you know, they’re definitely at an advantage as far as that goes.”
Sound tackling and slowing down Buford’s steady run game will also be on the the list of tasks. The Wolves behind Grant have averaged 263 rushing yards and 41 points a game, with 36 touchdowns on the ground alone.
“Anthony Grant is a great running back and he’s not by himself,” Humphreys said. “They can sub in and out, and the talent level doesn’t drop much. So we’ve talked to our kids about, they’re not gonna try to trick us. They’re gonna come right at us and be physical. We kinda gotta match the physicality.”
Humphey’s has described this season to be a “pleasant surprise,” considering he has replaced six starters on defense and has had to rely on a predominantly young offensive line. The Red Devils have won more games under Humphreys than in the previous three seasons combined.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect (last year) when the kids started playing together, started playing with confidence as the season progressed, and it’s the same this year,” he said on the turnaround.
On offense, the Red Devils too thrive on a stout running game (188.4 yards per game), fronted by senior Darryl Giles Jr., who has rushed for 970 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. The offense as a whole has averaged 21.8 points per game. Starting quarterback Cameron Perkins-McLeod has thrown for 801 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 289.
“Their quarterback’s obviously got a good arm. They’ve got some speed on the outside,” Scoggins added. “They’re deep. ... if we do what we’re supposed to do, and do what our coaches planned, then we’ll be able to come through.”