0

No. 1 Wolves must fight through missing players

Most football teams, particularly at the Class AA level, would be frantic to be without their starting quarterback and tailback heading into the first round of the playoffs. But most teams aren't Buford. The 10-0 and top-ranked Wolves most likely will be without quarterback Twoey Hosch and tailback Demetris Murray for tonight's first-round game against Washington-Wilkes. But they are fortunate to have skilled players to fit in those spots. Hosch (915 passing yards) sprained his foot last week against Lovett and Murray (799 rushing yards) is out this week after getting two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the regular-season finale. "We think Twoey will be OK," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "He may play (tonight), but more than likely he'll play next week (in the second round)." Michael May showed last Friday that he can fill in for Hosch, completing 14 of 22 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns in a reserve role. Buford should be fine at running back, too, with speedy Cody Getz and powerful Storm Johnson leading the way. "Michael, with the exception of a few plays, did a great job last week," Simpson said. "You know what you're getting with him. He's poised and he's smart." While May doesn't have a ton of experience, he's surrounded by veteran teammates. That includes a typically stingy Buford defense led by Notre Dame commitment Omar Hunter at tackle and Georgia Tech commitment T.J. Pridemore at linebacker. Washington-Wilkes isn't the toughest of first-round foes - Buford's reward for being a No. 1 seed. The Tigers are just 5-5, but won three of their last four games to make the playoffs. They sport a very young team, one that will have to fight to give Buford - which has pummeled just about every team on its schedule - a competitive game. Their top rusher is freshman Eric Scott, who has rushed for 1,175 yards and 14 TDs in just eight games. They also have a freshman quarterback in Teverrius Jones (595 passing yards). Linebackers Dan Wylie (57 tackles) and Drew Wilson (86 tackles) lead the Tigers' defense. "That's the best team I've seen," Washington-Wilkes head coach Russell Morgan said of Buford. "We have some good players, but they are only 14 (years old)." Meanwhile, the Wolves are loaded with experience, and also enter the Washington-Wilkes game focused. "We've waited all year for this part of the season," Simpson said. "The regular season was obviously a little anticlimatic because we had a run there where we just overmatched some teams." Buford also is eager to erase the memories of postseasons past. The Wolves have lost to Charlton County in the playoffs three straight years, the past two in the quarterfinals, and haven't won a state title since 2003.

SideBar: WASHINGTON-WILKES AT BUFORD

Who: Washington-Wilkes Tigers (8-AA) at Buford Wolves (6-AA)

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Buford High School (I-985 north to Ga. Highway 20 exit, turn left. Turn right on Buford Highway to Robert Bell Parkway and turn left)

Coaches: Russell Morgan, Washington-Wilkes; Jess Simpson, Buford

Records: Washington-Wilkes 5-5; Buford 10-0

Last week: Washington-Wilkes beat Banks County 42-26; Buford beat Lovett 21-0

Winner plays: Callaway-Darlington winner

Buford Leaders:

' Rushing: Demetris Murray, 799 yards

' Passing: Twoey Hosch, 915 yards

' Receiving: Melvin Harris, 544 yards

' Tackles: T.J. Pridemore, 80

' Interceptions: Kody Case, 3; Josh Rudnik, 3

Game-by-game:

Washington-Wilkes Tigers (5-5)

at Warren Co.

L

33-13

at Thomson

L

34-6

Lincoln Co.

L

32-0

at Dawson Co.

W

34-6

Banks Co.

W

20-13

at Morgan Co.

L

31-12

Oglethorpe Co.

W

20-18

at Putnam Co.

W

18-12

Greene Co.

L

27-20

Banks Co.

W

42-26

Buford Wolves (10-0)

at Grove City*

W

34-7

Cartersville

W

40-0

Avondale

W

63-6

at Wesleyan

W

49-6

GAC

W

42-7

at Decatur

W

47-6

Holy Innocents'

W

55-14

at Walker

W

56-0

Cross Keys

W

58-0

at Lovett

W

21-0

*Herbstreit Classic in Ohio