0105CoachGalvanWest Hall coach Rod Galvan's interview with Times reporter Corey Wilson after Friday's Hall County Duals matches.
BUFORD — In the week leading up to their Class AA state championship game against Lovett, the Wolves’ practice field took on the appearance of a college coaches’ conference.
Coaches and scouts from colleges all over the nation scattered the sidelines to get a glimpse at some of Buford’s players.
Some of the bigger names making appearances were Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and Southern California coach Pete Carroll. Schools like Florida, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Methodist also had representatives on hand.
"Big schools and small schools," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "All these college teams are done and these guys are out recruiting."
Simpson made time to meet with every coach and scout when he had a free minute during practice.
Those free minutes are hard to come by, however.
"You don’t want to be rude, but we’ve got a lot to do," Simpson said.
"You just wish it wasn’t on one of the biggest weeks of your coaching life."
Buford’s players are no strangers to attention from Division I-A programs. Simpson estimated that during spring practice this year, he had close to 80 coaches come to see his players.
"I think they are used to the attention," Simpson said.
One last time
For the 22 seniors on Buford’s roster, tonight marks the last time any of them will wear a Wolves uniform.
"That has been the most fun thing about this week so far," Simpson said about the last week of practice.
"They had fun, ran around and smiled. You could tell they were savoring it."
Instead of dreading afternoon practice, the players, especially the seniors, made the best of it. Players spent much of their down time and water breaks joking.
When they weren’t running into their fellow teammate, they were sharing one last laugh with them.
"It’s going to be sad," senior fullback Tyler King said.
"But what a way to go, though. If we had to pick, this would be the way we went."
Even the hard-nosed coaches might need a Kleenex when the buzzer sounds at Tom Riden Stadium tonight.
"This is it," Simpson said. "It’s sad for the coaches because we are getting ready to let go of 22 great seniors."
While Buford’s players and coaches enjoyed last week’s 48-0 dismantling of Dublin in the Georgia Dome, one special spectator was ready to see a game with a little more excitement.
"From a spectator standpoint, I wouldn’t say it’s been fun," said Buddy Curry, father of Buford sophomore Jessel Curry. "You of course want to see your team win. This season has been rewarding, but 90 percent of the games are so one-sided."
Buddy Curry spent eight seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons between 1980 and 1987, so he is no stranger to one-sided affairs.
In its 14 wins this season, Buford has beaten teams by an average of close to 40 points.
He thinks that tonight’s championship matchup will be a little more interesting, but will hopefully have the same result.
"I expect it to be a good ball game," he said. "I think it will be one of the tougher games of the year."
Secret to success
Buford has been close to a state title every season since its last championship in 2003.
This year, however, the Wolves look poised to add another trophy to their already large trophy case.
Before one practice this week, King let his team’s key to winning slip.
"This senior class, we are really close," he said. "We care about each other and we have each others’ back no matter what.
"You know people say ‘We are a family’ and stuff, but we really mean it. We really are a family."
Just don’t tell Lovett.
Tonight will mark the sixth time Lovett and Buford have played each other. Buford owns the overall record 3-2. Lovett has not beaten Buford since 1971. ... The Wolves last state title came in 2003, former coach Dexter Wood’s last year. Buford went 15-0 that year and beat Charlton County in the final 31-3. ... Coach Jess Simpson is 38-2 overall at the helm and is 30-0 in the regular season. ... This season, Buford’s offense has scored 628 points, 44.8 points per game, 89 touchdowns, 65 rushing touchdowns and 21 passing touchdowns. All of those are the most a Buford team has scored since 2000.