BUFORD -- The Buford coaches, aside from winning, had one request for Friday night.
They didn’t want the score of the Charlton-Fitzgerald game announced over the loud speaker.
Not that it was a given that Class AA No. 1 ranked Buford would beat Darlington, which they did 41-0, but the coaches wanted their players thinking about the present and not the possibility of a rematch with Region 2-AA champion and Class AA No. 2-ranked Charlton County.
"We’ve preached from day one that it was going to be about us," Buford coach Jess Simpson said, "and not the opponent. We don’t care, we are just glad to be playing one more week."
Thanks to a Charlton County 26-12 win over Fitzgerald on Friday night, Buford and Charlton County will face each other in the playoffs for the fifth straight year. A coin flip will determine where the game will played.
"I feel really good about Charlton and I wanted Charlton to win," Buford senior tight end and linebacker T.J. Pridemore said. "It doesn’t matter where we play, we are just excited about the game and taking that next step."
This year’s crop of seniors at Buford has been knocked out of the playoffs by Charlton County each year they’ve been in high school.
"We feel blessed to get another chance at them," Simpson said. "This group really wants to win."
Whether the game is played at Buford or at Charlton County has yet to be determined because both teams are undefeated and No. 1 seeds. A coin toss will determine who gets to play host to the now-heated rivalry.
The Wolves are in the Class AA state quarterfinals for the ninth year in a row thanks to standout performances by senior Demetris Murray, who ran for 126 yards and four touchdowns, and junior Cody Getz who had 128
all-purpose yards and a stingy defense which shutout its opponent for the fifth time this season.
"This defense is a good group and a special group," Simpson said. "When they play together and play with one heartbeat they can be special."
Buford’s first score came on its second possession of the game thanks to a 41-yard punt return to the Darlington 2-yard line by Getz.
Senior fullback Tyler King scored two plays later on a 1-yard run.
The Wolves, after opening the game with a three-and-out, scored on their next six drives.
"I felt like our whole offense played better as the first half went on," Simpson said. "We got better every series."
Getz brought the score to 13-0 when, after a sack of and fumble by senior quarterback Twoey Hosch, he took an end around 47 yards on third-and-25 to the end zone.
Getz finished the game with one rush for 47 yards and a touchdown, a punt return for 41 yards and a kickoff return for 40 yards.
"(Getz) is great in the return game," Simpson said, "but he’s got ten guys holding up for him in those returns that are great at that."
Murray accounted for the Wolves next four scores. Well, Murray and the Buford offensive line.
"Our offensive line really played well tonight," Simpson said. "And I think we proved that we are definitely not a one-man show."
Murray scored on rushes of 47, 7, 41 and 17 yards, the second of his four scores coming after a 52-yard setup run by sophomore fullback Jessel Curry, the final score coming the play after a Getz 40-yard kickoff return to Darlington’s 17-yard line.
After Murray’s last touchdown and the subsequent extra point, which made the score 41-0, Simpson pulled his starters, a moment which has become a trend for the Wolves.
"The good thing about our starters not playing much in the later parts of the games recently," Simpson said, "is that we are not missing a lot of them and they are healthy. Games are easy for our kids because of what we do on the practice field Monday through Thursday and it’s about playing out best not who gets to play the most."