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John Ford stepping down as Buford's football coach after 2 seasons
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Buford coach John Ford walks the sideline during the Class 5A state semifinals Friday Dec. 1, 2017, in Rome - photo by File photo

After only two seasons, John Ford resigned from his position as head football coach Wednesday at Buford High effective immediately.

Ford’s announcement, confirmed in a press release issued by the high school in the hours to follow, comes less than a week after Buford’s home state quarterfinal playoff defeat. The Wolves (10-3) were upset, 23-20, by Bainbridge at Tom Riden Stadium last Friday night, the first time the program has failed to reach the state semifinals since 2006. It also snapped Buford’s long-standing home playoff win streak of 35 games.

Ford went 21-5 in his two years at the school, guiding the Wolves to a pair of Region 8-5A titles and one state semifinal appearance in 2017. 

Buford athletic director Tony Wolfe spoke for the high school when he voiced his appreciation for the two years Ford gave to the program.

“He’s a quality man and obviously a good football coach,” Wolfe said Wednesday. “We are appreciative of what he did for us and our football program. The way he took care of our kids and loved our kids ... In terms of that, that’s what you want out of your football coach.”

Ford tweeted an extended message to express his gratitude and thanks for the players and coaches involved during his tenure:

“For the last 2 years it has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve an unbelievable group of young men and coach alongside some phenomenal coaches. To the classes of 2018 and 2019, I love you guys so much, and as talented as you are on the field, you are better young men who will make a lasting impact on the world. I am grateful to have been a small part of your journeys. To the classes of 2020 and beyond, my only sadness is that I won’t get to see you accomplish the great things I know you will. You are all made of the right stuff and I love you with all my heart. If I have taught you anything, I hope that it is life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. ... I am a better man and coach for these past 2 seasons and will forever be grateful and here for you guys. I starts with I love you, it ends with I love you....God Bless.”

It was clear a bar was set immediately following the departure Jess Simpson, who led Buford to seven state championships in 10-straight title game appearances as head coach. Simpson moved up the coaching ranks as a member of the Atlanta Falcons staff for the 2017 season before becoming the defensive line coach for the University of Miami in February.

Prior to his arrival, Ford compiled a 40-12 record at Roswell, leading the Hornets to state title-game appearances at the two highest classifications in his final two seasons. 

Buford looked as if it had picked up where it left off in Ford’s first season at the helm, though, came up short with a brutal 45-7 loss to reigning Class 5A champion Rome in the state semifinal last December. The Rome Wolves previously dismantled Buford in the 2016 Class 5A championship at the Georgia Dome.

“Obviously, being the head football coach at Buford is quite a task, and it’s a little different than at most high schools,” Wolfe said. “There’s high expectations … But I do think (coach Ford) enjoyed his time here greatly, and had an impact with our kids.”

Wolfe did acknowledge the next coaching search briefly came into discussion Wednesday, but indicated that the mental well-being of the players is always first priority. Wolfe said Ford met and spoke with the team early Wednesday to announce his decision.

“No matter what school you’re at, what your record was or sort of how it went ... the head coach is an important figure in student athletes’ eyes,” Wolfe said. The second step was checking on the kids to make sure they were fine.”

The hiring process is officially in the “infant stages,” said Wolfe, but will be carried out with great care as the school year progresses.

“We want to make a great hire, and we feel like it’s a very attractive job that we’ll get a number of applicants for,” Wolfe said. “We’ll take time to go through those applications and pick the absolute best person for our program and for our kids.”

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