By Brandon Brigman
This year's new region alignment hasn't had much effect on Buford. Just like in years past, the Wolves have breezed through region foes and tonight they can claim their sixth consecutive region title.
But unlike many of the teams the second-ranked Wolves have played this year, Buford will face a tough Lovett team tonight.
"It's a great test," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "Coach (Mike) Muschamp is in his second year there and he's done a heck of a job. They're very athletic at the skill positions, so we will have our hands full."
A Lovett (8-1, 6-1) win would make a three-way tie at the top of Region 6-AA. Greater Atlanta Christian would benefit the most by a Lovett win as the Spartans would be crowned region champs. Lovett would move to No. 2 in the region because of its loss to GAC, while Buford would fall to the No. 3 seed.
The Wolves (9-0, 7-0) would fall to third because the tiebreaker is out of region wins against Class AA opponents. Buford did not play any out of region AA teams, beating Class AAAAA's East Coweta and Class AAA's Cartersville, while GAC beat Class AA's Greene County.
"It's obviously a huge game," Simpson said. "To get home field in the first and maybe second round of the playoffs is big. It's also a big deal to win another region championship."
Region losses are not common at Buford. The Wolves haven't lost a region game since 2000 when Commerce defeated them 18-14 in the regular season finale. Since then, Buford has won 42 straight region games.
"That's something we don't even talk about," Simpson said. "They know it's the next game and know it's for the region championship, but streaks and stuff like that we don't talk about."
Buford is no stranger to record streaks. The Wolves hold the state record for consecutive victories with 47 and currently have a 27-game regular season win streak.
Much of Buford's success has been because of the defense this year. Only one team has scored more than seven points against the Wolves. Cartersville put 25 points on the scoreboard against Buford, but Lawson McGlon's last-second field goal lifted Buford to a 28-25 win over the Class AAA power.
However, the defense could be without linebacker Jay Tee Swanson and strong safety Cody Vining, who are both questionable for tonight's game.
While the defense has done its part, holding opponents to 7.2 points per game, the offense has been just has effective.
Buford features the county's second-leading rusher in yards per game with Quentin Cantrell averaging 105.1 yards per game. Add Demetrius Murray's 85.6 yards per game and you have a backfield with two of the county's top rushers. The duo has combined for 26 of Buford's 54 touchdowns this season.
It's no surprise Buford features the top offense in the county. The Wolves have racked up 3,353 yards per game and are averaging 42.7 points per game.
"We've really gotten after it the last two or three weeks in practice," Simpson said. "We're starting to heal up and hopefully we'll be playing our best football at the end of the year." '