Ante rising for Buford

For the second straight week, Buford coach Jess Simpson alluded to the specter of Carver-Columbus when talking of his Wolves’ playoff opponent.

Carver’s 14-0 Week 2 win over the Wolves is the only blemish on another double-digit winning season in Buford and a reminder of the three-time defending Class AA state champions’ vulnerability.

Callaway at Buford

Who: Callaway Cavaliers (5-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: Pete Wiggins, Callaway; Jess Simpson, Buford

Records: Callaway 8-3; Buford 10-1

Last week: Callaway beat Rockmart 30-8; Buford beat Hart County 52-22

Winner plays: Cook County-McIntosh County Academy winner

Buford leaders:

Rushing: Seon Jones, 819 yards

Dominique Swope, 532 yards

Passing: Alex Ross, 1,324 yards

Receiving: Dillon Lee, 323 yards

Paris Head, 321 yards

Tackles: Dillon Lee 35

Rick LeGrant and Andre Johnson, 33

Interceptions: Dillon Lee 4

But unlike the first-round foe Hart County, the second-round allusion to Carver is much more tangible. Callaway also played, and lost, to Carver.

“They were going toe-to-toe with them,” Simpson said.

In the end, Callaway lost 39-12 to Carver, but the Cavaliers kept it close at halftime. And they scored on Carver, something Buford failed to do.

But all of that happened weeks ago. No team plays a season in a vacuum where nothing changes. That is a good thing for Callaway, which also shares Lovett as a common opponent with the Wolves. The Cavaliers lost to them as well, 41-21. Buford beat Lovett 37-14.

Those numbers partially explain why Buford will again play at home tonight, but Simpson’s harkening back to the Carver loss tells of the rising challenge faced each week in the playoffs. His team now can’t have a game like it did against Carver. It can’t lose. At least if it wants consecutive state title No. 4.

And in Callaway, the Wolves should get a real challenge. Or at least more so than its recent foes.

The Cavaliers have a senior class of 14 players, including all-state running back Marquis Terrell.

“He’s a big-time player,” Simpson said.

The Cavaliers run an I-formation offense that morphs into an option and spread attack. It’s that extreme multiple offense that Buford must prepare to face.

“It’s two totally different offenses,” Simpson said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge. We are trying to figure out how to prepare for two totally different offenses because they do them both so well.”

Also seniors are linebackers Jeffery Cameron and Golden Sutton. The pair help lead a fast defense that Simpson said can match his Wolves’ physicality.

“(Cameron) is one of the best we’ve seen,” Simpson said. “Their defensive line is like a bunch of big linebackers and their linebackers and safeties ... well, you kind of have to see it to understand, but it’s fast.”

It all shows up in person in Buford tonight. But that’s the fun of the playoffs, especially for the oft-overwhelming Wolves.

“Every week, when you are in the playoffs, it’s going to get better,” Simpson said of the competition, again alluding to Callaway’s speed. “Certainly these guys have opened our eyes. We’d have a hard time playing tag, much less playing tackle.”