It took 16 weeks and 15 battered and bashed opponents, but Buford finally won the game they wanted to win.
The Wolves, led by 22 seniors, finally added another state championship trophy to the case in their fieldhouse Saturday night after falling just short in the past three seasons.
To call this version of the Wolves a "team of destiny" would be taking away from just how good the team is.
Buford didn’t need any external force to push them to the Class AA title. There was no movie script leading the way. If destiny was on Buford’s side, the Wolves didn’t need it.
They’re just better than everybody else.
In the past two weeks, Buford absolutely punished the teams that stood in their way, beating Dublin on Dec. 8 and Lovett Saturday night by a combined score of 98-0.
Buford’s 678 points this year fell just four points shy of tying the state record for most points scored in a season.
During the past 3« months, Buford has done whatever it wanted to, like a school bully pushing around kids for their lunch money.
That didn’t stop Saturday night.
The Wolves didn’t want to allow a first down in the first half.
When Lovett had a second-and-1 in the first quarter, they were turned away twice without a first down. That would be as close as the Lions would get to moving the sticks in the game’s first 30 minutes.
The Wolves wanted to run against Lovett’s supposed tough rush defense.
Buford ran for 425 yards against the Lions. Running back Demetris Murray and fullback Tyler King looked like college players running over Pop Warner kids.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a Buford player or coach told me that they wanted it to rain, just to make Lovett feel even more unwelcome. It rained. A lot.
The only mistake Buford’s starters made that I or my colleagues could remember is a meaningless dropped pass.
The Wolves only gave up 20 points in the postseason. Their only close game came against Charlton County, who is used to turning the Wolves away in the playoffs.
Their defense hits hard. God help you if you are a quarterback in the open field. Their offense never slows down, even when teams know what is coming.
Those are the marks of a truly special team. I would venture to say that Buford is the best team in the state. King agreed.
"We executed. We are the best team in the state, so what can you say," he said. "All classifications."
Georgia High School Association announcer Phil Davis made it clear that Lovett shouldn’t feel bad. No one was going to beat this Buford team within state lines.
"There’s no stigma in losing to a Class AA school, if its Buford," he said. "They are one of the top five teams in the state. I would have love to have seen Buford and Lowndes (County)."
This team was the perfect blend of skill and attitude. With as much talent as Buford had on the field at one time, no player was above the overall goal of a state championship.
The players believed in the coaches and their gameplan and it paid off. The coaches believed in the players and their skill and it paid off.
There are lots of teams that preach family. This one defines it.
"They are just physical, hard-nosed kids that love to play the game," coach Jess Simpson said. "They play the game the right way. I knew when it started pouring in warm up and they started getting more and more excited that we were going to be alright."
Simpson, who is following Buford’s most successful coach, Dexter Wood, looked as relieved as anybody after the game.
It might have been because he could finally put "state champ" next to his name or maybe it was because a week’s worth of preparation and planning had finally paid off.
Whatever the reason, Simpson, who has been around some of Buford’s best teams as an assistant coach, knew what everyone in the stadium Saturday night should have realized after the first quarter: This team is special.
"I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team peak like this," he said. "That’s really what I’m most proud and excited about for our kids and coaches."