BUFORD — A banner Friday night read "Let the Real Games Begin." If the Buford High football team’s lopsided victory at Tom Riden Stadium was indeed a real game, the rest of Class AA should be worried.
The top-ranked Wolves easily moved into the second round of the playoffs with a 56-6 that didn’t look that difficult. Buford (11-0) scored on eight of its first nine possessions and held the Tigers (5-6) to 93 yards of offense on the night.
Next up for the Wolves is a second-round date with Darlington, a 45-28 winner over Callaway, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Buford.
"Our coaches and the seniors do a good job of keeping us humble," said quarterback Twoey Hosch, who completed all four of his passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. "We needed to keep the momentum we have. We want to make sure we make a long run now that the playoffs are here. We had a pretty good run in the regular season but we want a longer one now."
It’s hard to pick which side of the football Buford dominated the most. The offense put up 35 points on nine plays in the first quarter alone and all 56 of its points in the first half. That’s even more impressive considering the Wolves scored more than that in just one game, and it matched their output against Holy Innocents.
But how can you argue with a defense that gave up 2.38 yards per play Friday? The same could be said about an offense that average 13.2 yards per touch. So it’s a matter of picking your poison, isn’t it?
"We wanted to come out quickly and get started early," said Buford lineman Omar Hunter, who forced a fumble Friday. "This week we didn’t watch any film. Our coaches told us to focus on Buford. And that’s what we did."
It was swift and quick. Hosch, playing with a severely brusied right foot suffered the previous week against Lovett, threw a touchdown pass in both the first and second quarters. Five different Buford players rushed for touchdowns.
Cody Getz got it started with a 50-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play of the game. Josh Rudnik’s fourth interception of the season and 30-yard return set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hosch to Melvin Harris. Lawson McGlon’s extra point made it 14-0 just 1:13 into the game.
Buford kept coming. After forcing Washington-Wilkes to punt on its next series, the Wolves went 66 yards in three plays with Storm Johnson punctuating the drive with a 57-yard touchdown run, the game’s longest play.
Kody Case recovered a fumbled punt for Buford on the next series and Tyler King scored on a 3-yard run on the ensuing play. The Wolves went up 34-0 on a 1-yard King run that followed a 34-yard completion from Hosch to Getz.
And yes, this was all in the first quarter. And yes, this was without starting tailback Demetris Murray, who was out of the game after receiving two personal foul penalties against Lovett.
"We weren’t expecting to be up like that," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "We had a really great week of practice. They responded to it the right way and that’s what we needed. We’re definitely starting to play really well."
Hosch hit Case for a 15-yard score in the second quarter for his second touchdown pass of the game. Alex Hunt had a 32-yard score and Jake Vaverka closed out Buford’s scoring with a 41-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.
The Wolves’ defense forced four turnovers, which was pretty staggering considering Washington-Wilkes managed just five first downs. Buford ran its scoreless streak to 15 straight quarters before the Tigers’ only score, a 12-yard run by Deon Jackson late in the fourth period.
But all the fumble recoveries, interceptions, tackles for loss and big plays will be hollow if the season doesn’t end in a state championship, Hunter said. Buford is looking for its first title since 2003.
"Nothing else matters," he said. "The first round doesn’t mean anything. The second round doesn’t mean anything. The third round doesn’t mean anything. The Dome and the semifinals don’t mean anything. Our goal is a championship."