BUFORD — Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Buford and Decatur meet tonight in an early-season region matchup. Both teams enter the game with one loss and some convincing wins. There are always high expectations in Buford, but Decatur is chasing a playoff berth for the first time since 2003, when it lost to the Wolves in the state semifinals.
BUFORD AT DECATUR
Buford Wolves (6-AA, Div. A)
Coach: Jess Simpson
Last week: Beat Lovett 37-14
Decatur Bulldogs (6-AA, Div. A)
Coach: Price Jones
Last week: Beat Therrell 31-15
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Buford won 28-0 last season
Directions to Decatur High School: I-285 east to Highway 78 west. Go to third traffic light, turn left onto Church Street to dead end. Turn right and school is on left.
Other than the road venue and a difference in the number of wins, this is the second year the Wolves and the Bulldogs will meet under these circumstances. Last year, they were both 2-1, this year they are 4-1.
What Buford hopes is that the results are the same.
The Wolves shut out Decatur 28-0 at home in last season’s game and went on to win their next 12 games and another state championship. Decatur sputtered from there to a .500 season and another playoff-less year. Buford’s only loss to Decatur came in 1990, the teams’ first meeting, and the Wolves have won 12 straight in the series.
The good news for Buford is its offense appears to be in sync. In last week’s win over Lovett they set school records for team rushing yards in a game with 506 and Seon Jones broke a 40-year-old record with 319 rushing yards.
“We had been close all year,” head coach Jess Simpson said of his offense. “We really hadn’t found our rhythm on offense. We hope (last week’s success) continues this week.”
But it’s more than just running the ball. Buford didn’t win three straight state titles with just a ground game and Simpson is hoping the passing game follows the lead of its rushing counterpart.
“We want to be able to throw,” he said.
Simpson and the Wolves expect to see a stacked defensive front from Decatur, which could open things up for the passing game.
“We’ll see a lot of man-to-man coverage, we’ll just have to make plays,” Simpson said. “With one-on-one receivers in the passing game we’ll just have to take our shots and make plays.”
On defense, Buford will face an option-based attack that it has not had much trouble with in the three years since Prince Jones took over the Bulldogs’ program.
Buford has not allowed Decatur to score since 2007 and has allowed just 19 points in the teams’ last six meetings. But Simpson remembers two seasons ago when the game was tight at halftime. By the end of the second half, it wasn’t.