Buford has two major reasons to look forward to tonight’s big Region 6-AA crossover game at Lovett.
For one thing, it marks the final game of a brutal gauntlet the No. 2 state-ranked Wolves (3-1) have had to battle over the first five games of the regular season.
BUFORD AT LOVETT
Buford Wolves (6-AA, Div. A)
Coach: Jess Simpson
Last week: Beat Therrell 33-6
Lovett Lions (6-AA, Div. B)
Coach: Mike Muschamp
Last week: Had a bye
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Lovett won 28-21 last year
Directions to Lovett School: I-285 west to I-75 South, exit on west Paces Ferry Road and turn right. Take a right at the traffic light onto Paces Ferry Road and school is on the right before the Chattahoochee River.
2009: Lovett 28, Buford 21
2008: Buford 41, Lovett 0
2007: Buford 50, Lovett 0*
2007: Buford 21, Lovett 0
2006: Buford 42, Lovett 14
2005: Buford 21, Lovett 7
“We have played a really tough schedule, but that was by design,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “We feel a stretch like that will help us later in the season and in the (state) playoffs.”
The immediate side-effect of that tough scheduling stretch is that the Wolves come into tonight’s game quite bruised from the experience.
While Simpson would not name specific names, he said a few of Buford’s starters may not play tonight, and a handful of others will be playing through injuries.
However, the good news is that several Wolves have stepped up and produced when called upon.
For example, while Seon Jones (46 car., 262 yards, 3 TDs) and Dominique Swope (30 car., 137 yards, 1 TD) have led the running game, three other Buford running backs with at least eight carries have averaged at least four yards per carry.
And, of course, quarterback Alexander Ross (23-65-5, 528 yards, 5 TDs) has been steady all season.
In addition, the Wolves have nine defenders with double-digit figures in combined tackles and assists, led by 29 from Dillon Lee and 21 each by linebackers Nathan Staub and Andr’e Johnson.
“We’ve been able to develop some depth,” Simpson said. “I don’t know if we’re hitting all cylinders yet, but that’s a good thing. We wanted to be playing better as we get closer to the end of the season.
“We’re probably more banged up than we’d like to be. We’re just trying to fight through it.”
The Wolves will need all of their depth tonight, which leads to the second reason they are looking forward to meeting Lovett.
Buford returns to Conley-Oakley Field after the Lions (2-1 and ranked No. 9) ended its 32-game overall winning streak and 49-game region streak last year with a 28-21 win.
While a few of Lovett’s main weapons in that game are gone, several others return — most notably, senior running back/linebacker Zach Boden, who produced 150 all-purpose yards (103 on the ground) a year ago.
“They’re really talented in the skill positions,” Simpson said of Lovett. “But this is a different year and a different game. Last year, we didn’t play very well in the first half. ... We’ve just got to put all three parts of the game together.
“Our kids are used to playing in that kind of atmosphere. That’s why you play big games.”