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Buford preps for semis rematch

The teams are the same. The round is the same. Even many of the faces will be the same.

And Buford players, coaches and fans certainly hope the result will be the same when the Wolves take on Fitzgerald in a Class AA state semifinal Friday night.

The Wolves defeated the Purple Hurricane 44-21 in last year's semis en route to their second straight state title.

One thing that will be different this time, however, is the venue.

Friday's game will take place at Jaycee Stadium in Fitzgerald instead of Buford's Tom Riden Stadium.

According to Buford coach Jess Simpson, however, his players won't mind making the approximately 325-mile trip to south Georgia.

"We're really excited about going down there," Simpson said Saturday, a day after the Wolves' 26-0 quarterfinal win over Cook. "I think they just want to play in a great environment like Fitzgerald. They want a challenge."

The No. 3 state-ranked Wolves (12-1) will certainly get one in Fitzgerald (13-0), which comes in ranked No. 2 after holding off Callaway 35-21 in last week's quarterfinals.

While the Purple Hurricane's biggest gun from last year -- Jamea Thomas -- has gone to Georgia Tech, many of their other top weapons from last year return, including 1,000-yard rusher Nick Williams, quarterback Kaleb Nobles and receiver/running back Trenton Pruitt.

They will try to test a Buford defense that posted its eighth shutout of the season last week and held Cook, one of Fitzgerald's foes in Region 1-AA, to just 118 total yards -- including only 21 on the ground -- led by linemen Mitchell DeWalt (7 total tackles, 11/2 sacks) and Kolton Houston (6 tackles, 1 sack).