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Fourth, and goal: Buford makes history with overtime win

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
 Vadal Alexander (74), Tyler Burge (51) and Rick Legrant (6) help carry offensive coordinator Christian Honeycutt off the field at the Georgia Dome after their 31-24 win over Calhoun on Friday. This is the fourth straight year that the Wolves have taken home the Class AA state championship. 

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips Vadal Alexander (74), Tyler Burge (51) and Rick Legrant (6) help carry offensive coordinator Christian Honeycutt off the field at the Georgia Dome after their 31-24 win over Calhoun on Friday. This is the fourth straight year that the Wolves have taken home the Class AA state championship. 

ATLANTA — Some came to the Georgia Dome on Friday night to witness a chance at history. Others came to watch their children or grandchildren.

For some, it was to yell and support their friends and classmates, while virtually all of those in attendance were there simply because their Buford Wolves were on the football field again.

Complete coverage of Buford's fourth title in SPORTS.

Facing Calhoun in the Class AA state championship game, droves of people from the Buford area and beyond showed up decked out in gold and green. Whatever their motivation for attending, it was the players on the field that ultimately brought them together — and made them happy after the Wolves won the state championship with a 31-24 overtime win.

“I bleed gold and green,” said Josh Holderfield, a ninth-grader at Buford. “I’ve been coming to Buford games since I was in the first grade. It’s so much fun to come to. All the city of Buford is going to be here.”

The community support was evident as Buford green lined one side of the Dome from goal line to goal line. Many of those seats were purchased earlier in the week when 4,000 tickets went on sale at the school.

“When we got to the school, there was a line as long as you could see (to get tickets),” Wolves backer Larry Duval said. “And it wasn’t students, it was the adults.”

Duval, who has been attending Buford games for more than 10 years, said that Buford football is more than just games on Friday nights.

“It means the whole world to the people of Buford because, at Buford, we’re a family,” Duval said. “It’s been that way for years.”

Family ties were one thing that brought Al and Ellie Schluntz to the game. Their grandson, Andrew Sciara, is a freshman running back on the team.

“I think it’s an excellent program,” Al Schluntz said. “It gives the kids an opportunity to move on to college and it’s exciting to see my grandson play sports.”

That family feeling was most evident during overtime as the vocal crowd hit a feverish pitch, reaching its peak when the defense stopped Calhoun on fourth-and-10 to capture the title.

That state title was the fourth straight for the Wolves, who became just the second team in state history to win four straight championships in football. West Rome completed the feat first with titles from 1982-1985.

“You wouldn’t believe what our city commission and our community does to support us,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. “I’m in a really special place. When you put on that gold helmet, (the community) expects you to play a certain way. They expect you to live up to that standard and we did tonight.”

The title was the eighth overall for the Wolves, with the first coming in 1978. However, state championships eluded the Wolves until 2001 when then head coach and current athletic director Dexter Wood started Buford’s run of seven championships in 10 years.

“I don’t know if I can put that into words,” Wood said of the relationship between Buford football and the city. “It’s part of our identity and who we are. It reflects the kind of folks we are and what is expected of us. (Tonight’s crowd) is the testament to that.”

Buford running back Dominique Swope, who previously played at Sequoyah, has seen the difference having thousands of people screaming their heads off for you can make.

“It feels great, it’s overwhelming,” said Swope, who scored the go-ahead touchdown in overtime. “Everybody in the community loves Buford football. It shows how hard work can pay off.”

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