The Buford Wolves for the second straight postseason game found themselves trailing 13-0, with halftime approaching, and looking adversity square in the eyes. Washington County’s players A.J. Gray, D.J. Sanders and Melvin had made explosive plays to give Washington County the lead and had their crowd into it.
Then, as if a light switch was flipped, there was Isaac Nauta running under a Taylor Mitchell perfectly thrown ball and streaked into the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown. Suddenly Buford was Buford again down 13-7 at the break.
“We talked about starting fast, believe in what we do, having a lot of poise and stealing the momentum in the third quarter and the kids did,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson said.
The Wolves did exactly that in the second half as the Wolves scored touchdowns on four of their six second half possessions earning their second consecutive title and tenth all-time. Thomas Wilson (118 yards rushing) and Joshua Thomas (94 yards rushing) each rushed for two touchdowns in the second half.
“Same ole Thomas Wilson. He makes play on special teams, defense and offense. If we’ve ever had a player do more in all three phases I can’t think of him right now,” Simpson said of Wilson’ effort.
In addition to his rushing yards, Wilson added 77 kick return yards, 29 receiving yards and 21 punt return yards for a total of 245 all-purpose yards.
Outside of two long touchdowns passes from A.J. Gray to D.J. Sanders, and a trademark Melvin Hill long punt return for a touchdown, Washington County had no answer for a Buford Wolves defense lead by Joshua Thomas (7 tcks). In addition to Thomas the Wolves had eight players finish with three or more tackles. Washington County entered the contest averaging 49.9ppg, yet were held to a season low 19, while Melvin Hill was shutdown with 22 rushing yards on the night.
“I was really proud of that front seven and how they defended the run tonight,” Simpson lauded about his defense.
It was the sixth title in seven years, ninth since 2001 including six undefeated seasons (the tenth overall), posting a Georgia record 707 points in a season. Jess Simpson became the fourth coach to win six state titles in Georgia. Playing above Class AA for the first time the previous two years, the Wolves won the state title both seasons in class AAA.
“You take it one day at a time. Being humble, realizing it’s not about me it’s about a bunch of people, great coaches, great community support and great kids and not being satisfied, “ Simpson said about their continued winning efforts. “We needed last week’s experience to be able to do this tonight”.
Despite the win, Buford (15-0) slipped in the national polls* to No. 44, down from No. 36 last week and finished No.1 in Georgia’s class AAA. The Wolves will make the jump up to Class AAAA next season where they will try and win a title in four different classifications and silence the murmurs of “are they as good as all the titles suggest they are.” If they are never satisfied, and Coach Simpson is on the sidelines, you have to think the Wolves will be contenders as the Buford Wolves are a machine of a program that produces champions year after year.