ATLANTA — At the turn of the century everyone was concerned about what Y2K would bring to the world. What they should have been worried about is what Buford High would do the world of Class AA Georgia football.
Faced with what was their most difficult task in a state championship, the top-ranked Wolves proved that they are indeed the team of the decade with a 45-21 win over Calhoun on Friday in the Class AA state title game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The win improved Buford’s record in the Georgia Dome to 7-0 and gave the Wolves (15-0) their fifth state title of the 2000s and their second one in as many years.
Only Charlton County (in 2004 and 2005) and Commerce (2000) have won state titles in Class AA this decade.
While this win wasn’t as dominant of a performance as in years past — the Wolves’ four previous titles were won by an average of 31 points — you could argue that Friday’s win against the Yellow Jackets was the most impressive.
"These guys were kind of the underdogs from a personnel standpoint," said Buford coach Jess Simpson, who now has as many state titles (two) as he does losses in his four-year tenure as the Wolves head coach. "This one’s sweet because these kids wanted to prove themselves so bad."
The Wolves certainly had to earn this title, as Calhoun showed no signs of adoration of its opponent and went toe-to-toe with a team that its head coach Hal Lamb called "the class of AA football."
When Buford scored, Calhoun answered. When Storm Johnson took an end around 32 yards for a touchdown to open up the third quarter and give Buford a 28-14 lead, most teams would have went down and taken defeat.
But the Yellow Jackets responded with a 59-yard score by Dustin Christian to prove to the Wolves, and to everyone in attendance that they were not going down with out a fight.
Unfortunately for them, neither was Buford. And for a team that desired to "leave it as they found it," the "class of AA" proved their worth.
"This was a complete team effort, and everyone came through," said senior Cody Getz, who rushed for a game-high 236 yards and four touchdowns.
They had to, because after all, this team wasn’t dominated by big names and 13 future college football players like the 2007 team. This year’s group was led by the 5-foot-7 Getz, who showed the people in the Georgia Dome that at Buford, it’s the size of your heart, and not the size of your body that wins championships.
"We play with a chip on our shoulders every play," Getz said. "We got a bunch of kids that wanted to win and did whatever it took to win."
Those words are scarcely muttered by Buford teams of the past, but this isn’t your daddy’s Wolves.
Which makes the win that much more scary for the rest of Class AA.
Some have said that this was a "down year" for Buford, and that this year’s version of the Wolves wasn’t as good as last year’s.
That may be true, but Buford doesn’t need a host of college-bound players in order to win titles. The Wolves have discipline, good coaching, talent and most importantly desire.
They strive to be the best football team in the state each year, and for the past eight years they have more than accomplished that goal.
"We may not have been as talented, but we out-hearted everybody," said senior Dallas Lee, the only senior expected to go to a big-time D-1 school (University of Georgia). "We just kept going and going until we won."
Most schools dream of winning five championships in 50 years. Buford has reached that mark in just eight. And with the way the program is built, there’s no reason to believe that Friday’s title will be the last for Buford this decade.