1114BufordAUD2Buford senior Andrew Sachais talks about the team's transition into the playoffs
1114BufordAUD1Buford senior Cody Getz talks about its quest for another state title.
High school football playoff previews
BUFORD — When Buford High won its Class AA state title in 2007, Cody Getz took the time to celebrate by wearing his state championship ring a few times. Then it was time to put that memorabilia back in its case and tuck it away in his room.
For much of the Wolves’ team last year, that was the final time they would get to represent the program on the field. But Getz still had one more year left in his high school career, and it was time to start focusing on going out on top.
"That tradition is embedded in your blood playing at Buford ... region titles are alright, but there’s nothing better than getting fitted (for a ring) after the season," Getz said. "I want to be able to go out on a winning note with all my best friends with another title my senior year."
Getz is going to have that opportunity as Class AA’s top-ranked Buford (10-0) opens the state playoff against Heard County (6-4) tonight at Tom Riden Stadium in Buford. The task now is simple, make that five-game run through the postseason undefeated to try and garner the Wolves’ fifth state title since 2001.
"We’ve got five more games to win to show the state and our community what this senior class at Buford has," Getz said. "We want to show that last year wasn’t a joke, and this year isn’t a joke either."
Everyone at Buford considers the playoffs the start of a new season. Regular season records go out the door now. The Wolves’ ability to outscore opponents by an average of 38-7 in the regular season is old news. Buford’s home field advantage doesn’t guarantee anything more than avoiding a road trip.
"It doesn’t matter if you were 4-6 or 10-0 in regular season, because we’re all 0-0 now," Wolves coach Jess Simpson said.
Winning is something that has grown to be expected at Buford. The Wolves’ current 47-game regular season winning streak isn’t even a topic of conversation or point or pride for players or coaches. Simpson knows that winning games in regular season doesn’t automatically translate to postseason success. The Wolves’ 31-0 region record in Simpson’s four-year career only assures a No. 1 seed when the playoffs roll around.
Simpson’s only focus now is getting past Heard County in the first round of the playoffs. Coaching at Buford, he understands that any opposition would naturally like to come into the Wolves’ den and knock off the defending Class AA champs.
"It’s great to have the expectations like we have here at Buford," Simpson said. "But we know we’re going to get everyone’s Super Bowl-effort when they play us.
"It’s one that everyone circles on the calendar."
Tradition is one of the motivating factors for the Wolves’ seniors that are back from last year’s state title run. At the same time, they want to carve out their own legacy for the school to remember them by. They make it a point of emphasis to keep Buford football’s high standards alive and well.
"We want to leave our mark in the playoffs," Buford senior defensive end Andrew Sachais said. "Our goal is to leave Buford better than we found it."
Simpson notes one good thing that came from the regular season was the fact that the Wolves were challenged. He said when they had their backs against the wall, they were able to stand firm and not slip up.
Buford’s coach was pleased to see the way his program played in the second half of last week’s regular season finale against Greater Atlanta Christian. He said that the Wolves faced a gauntlet in the final four games of the regular season with a tough region stretch and a game against Thomson mixed in.
In that stretch, the Wolves survived a fourth quarter scare against Blessed Trinity when they had to drive the length field for a touchdown in the final two minutes to pull out the victory. Simpson said it was reassuring the see his program respond even on a night when it probably wasn’t playing its best.
"I’m proud of the kids and how they responded during that stretch," Simpson said.