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High School Previews: Buford, Worth Co. clashing in 2nd round in test of run games
High School Previews: Buford, Worth Co. clashing in 2nd round in test of run games
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Read a preview of Gainesville at No. 1 Stockbridge, our Game of the Week, here

 

Class AAAA

No. 3 Buford vs. Worth County

Class AAA

No. 5 Jefferson at No. 2 Blessed Trinity

Dawson County vs. Spencer

Class AAAAA

Gainesville at No. 1 Stockbridge

Records: No. 2 Region 8-AAAAA Gainesville (8-3); No. 1 Region 4-AAAAA Stockbridge (11-0)

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Stockbridge

Class AAAA

No. 3 Buford vs. Worth County

Records: No. 1 Region 8-AAAA Buford (10-1); No. 2 Region 4-AAAA Worth County (8-3)

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Game notes: The Rams and Wolves are going to lock up in a game that will be decided on offense by who has the most effective running game. Buford, the three-time defending state champion, and Worth County have averaged about the same amount (7 yards) per run attempt in 2015.

The Wolves have rushed for 2,798 yards and scored the vast majority of their touchdowns on the ground (52). Led by Anthony Grant (642 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Martin Mangram (537, 18 scores), Buford has a backfield with great depth. Thirteen different Wolves players have rushed for at least one score.

The Rams, who are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007, have churned up 3,936 yards and 43 rushing touchdowns. Worth County has a three-headed backfield, which predicates its success in running misdirection plays. Justin Hope (1,315 yards, 16 TDs), Chris McDaniel (1,290, 12 TDs) and Dontavious Buford (1,020 yards, 12 TDs) have kept the Rams’ run game going, as they’ve scored at least 35 points in each of their last five outings. 

Even though Worth County is strong in the run game, it hasn’t faced a defense like Buford’s.

The Wolves’ stingy defense has given up just 476 run yards this season (less than 2 yards per attempt).

With the combination of stout defense and a deep running attack, the Wolves have had most games under control by halftime — if not after just one period. Buford has outscored its 11 opponents 147-23 in the first quarter, and stretched that edge to 349-30 at the midway point in games.

These playoff runs are nothing new for the Wolves, playing the second round every season since 1999. Buford has a 32-game home playoff winning streak. It’s last playoff loss at home came against Charlton County in the quarterfinal round of the 2006 playoffs. Last week against Locust Grove, the Rams earned their first postseason victory since 2007 (vs. Burke County).

The winner tonight faces the Grady/Thomson winner on Nov. 27.

Class AAA

No. 5 Jefferson at No. 2 Blessed Trinity

Records: No. 2 Region 8-AAA Jefferson (10-1); No. 1 Region 4-AAA Blessed Trinity (10-0-1)

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell

Game notes: The Dragons and Titans met for just the first time in 2014. It was a game that has stuck with Jefferson ever since. In the second round of the 2014 postseason, the Dragons lost 28-21 to the Titans in overtime. This season sets up to be another matchup, which should be just as close.

Jefferson and Blessed Trinity both have capable weapons on offense. Led by 2,000-yard rusher Colby Wood, the Dragons have scored at least 35 points in each of the last four games, including a 49-0 first-round win against Pepperell at Memorial Stadium. Jefferson also has solid complimentary backs in the form of Zack Boobas (460 yards) and Darrian Hill (390 yards).

Though far more likely to run the ball, the Dragons can also throw it with sophomore Bryce Moore (68 of 118 passing, 947 yards).

Blessed Trinity also has an explosive playmaker with senior running back Milton Shelton, who has carried the ball 180 times for 1,505 yards and 23 touchdowns. Shelton’s best numbers this season came just last week with 235 yards and two touchdowns in the 40-14 first-round win against Cook. He’s rushed for 150 yards, or more, five times so far this season.

The Titans are able to keep the opposing defense from completely keying in on Shelton. Blessed Trinity quarterback Conor Davis (6 foot 3, 215 pounds) has hit on 71 of 124 throws for 1,314 yards and 15 passing scores. Davis’ favorite receiving target is freshman Ryan Davis, who has 25 catches for 546 yards. 

The only blemish for the Dragons this season was a 36-35 double-overtime loss against Oconee County. Postseason success has been steady in recent seasons for Jefferson, the 2012 Class AA state champions, who have played in the second round each of the past four seasons.

Meanwhile, Blessed Trinity’s tie was 13-13 against Cedar Grove on the final night of the regular season. This is five consecutive seasons the Titans have played in the second round of the postseason.

The winner tonight moves on to face the Dawson County/Spencer winner on Nov. 27.

Dawson County vs. Spencer

Records: No. 1 Region 7-AAA Dawson County (8-3); No. 2 Region 3-AAA Spencer (8-3)

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Game notes: The Tigers have been a tremendous success under first-year coach Sid Maxwell, winning their first postseason game last week since the 1999 season. Dawson County advanced in the Class AAA bracket with a 63-40 shootout win against Rinngold last week. The reward for doing so as the No. 1 seed is another home playoff game.

Meanwhile, the Greenwave Owls have also been a tough out this season, last losing to Central-Macon on Sept. 25.

Spencer is in the postseason and also second round for the first time since 1993.

Dawson County has a balanced offensive attack, rushing for 1,701 yards and passing for 1,556. Tigers quarterback Coey Watson, a sophomore, has completed 110 of 195 throws with 12 passing scores. His favorite targets to throw the ball are Tucker Maxwell (608 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Justin Young (39 catches, 541 yards).

Meanwhile, Hunter Mitchell has picked up most of the rushing yards for Dawson County with 123 carries for 920 yards. 
The winner tonight advances to face the Jefferson/Blessed Trinity winner on Nov. 27.

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