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Buford soaking up state title rewards

By Will Hammock

Sports Editor

will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com

Just two days after winning the Class AA state football championship, it was back to the school-day grind for Buford's players and coaches.

But this wasn't a typical school day.

"This is about the best Monday of my life," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "I feel giddy, man. It's just been awesome."

The Buford halls were filled with celebration on Monday as students and teachers gave congratulatory hugs and high-fives to the players and coaches who dispatched of Lovett in Saturday night's state championship game.

Simpson had a meeting about the Wolves' state championship rings before he hustled off Monday afternoon to coach practice for this week's Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Game. In between, he soaked up the atmosphere at Buford.

"It's been so much fun," Simpson said of Monday's mood at school. "It's just been a day of hugging kids and other faculty members. Just seeing the kids and how happy they are is great."

There was plenty to celebrate.

Buford finished off a 15-0 season with perhaps its two most dominating performances of the year on Saturday night, routing Lovett 50-0. The Wolves' title win was preceded by a 48-0 victory over Dublin in the semifinals.

Their starting defense didn't allow a first down against Lovett in almost three quarters, giving up only 16 yards and getting two huge turnovers (an interception by Jaytee Swanson and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Andy Kellogg). They finished the season allowing a county-low 4.4 points per game.

Meanwhile the offense overpowered Lovett on the way to a 408-rushing yard performance. Demetris Murray had 193 yards and a TD on just 14 carries while Tyler King added 75 yards rushing and three TDs.

The incredible finish gave Buford its fifth state football championship and fourth since 2001. But it was the first state title for Simpson as a head coach, as well as the first for all the Buford players and a handful of assistant coaches.

"I couldn't ask for more," Simpson said. "The guys just peaked at the end of the year. When you get 16-, 17-year-olds that focused, it's fun to watch. They refused to be distracted by anything, by people telling them how good they are. I'm most impressed with how focused they stayed.

"It's definitely a team to remember and a (senior) class for all time."