File Photo Buford tailback Andre Johnson (32) rushes for a touchdown during the Wolves' game against GAC earlier this season.
It's that time of year again in Buford. Playoff time.
For the Wolves it seems Week 11 is as certain a game week as Week 1. The postseason comes as an extension of the regular season. The real season after 10 weeks of warming up. And boy, what a warm up these past 10 weeks were.
Buford didn't lose a game for the first time since 2008's regular season, winning by an average of 42 points. The Wolves' worst offensive output came in a 28-0 win over Greater Atlanta Christian and they allowed more than seven points just twice. Buford's defense shut out half of its opponents. The Wolves lead all of Gwinnett County in team defense and offense. Yet their leading rusher, Andre Johnson, doesn't crack the top 10 in yards and Buford has thrown for less than 1,000 yards. On defense, no player has more than two interceptions, no one defender sniffs the top of the county chart in tackles.
They are that dominant from every position.
Head coach Jess Simpson always says Buford works each week by focusing on how to improve where it can and concerns itself with its opponents only as needed. It's a philosophy that works for the Wolves, who haven't lost a playoff game since 2006 and are chasing their fourth straight Class AA state title.
And after their regular-season warm-up, that chase, begins tonight.
The Wolves host upstart Temple from Region 5-AA. The Tigers are a program that have improved each of the past five seasons under head coach Seth Rogers. Rogers inherited a young team and has seen his win totals grow from 0 to 1 to 2 to 4 to 6 this season. Six wins are the most in a season for Temple. The Tigers' first season was in 1989.
"It's taken some time to get our kids to buy into what we are doing," said Rogers, who was an assistant at Temple for two seasons before rising to the head job the same year the schools moved from Class A to AA. "We still feel like we have a long way to go."
But Rogers won't diminish his team's accomplishments this season. It's the school's first trip to the playoffs since 2005.
"It's a great reward for our kids," Rogers said. "We are excited. We know we have our hands full with our opponent."
Temple runs a pro-style one-back and runs it well. Six-foot, 220-pound junior running back Jermaine Hutchinson has more than 1,300 yards on the season and quarterback Myles Simmons has more than 800 yards passing. Then there is two-way player and senior Deijohn Tyler, who has played every snap during is four seasons at Temple and has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards. On defense, they are led by junior Theo Potts and his 61 tackles.
Rogers knows they'll need all of them and more tonight in Buford and he's treating this playoff week just like any other this season.
"We don't do anything differently," he said. "I can promise you they know who Buford High School is. You'd have to be crazy not to know. We're excited.
"I'd rather be going to play Buford High School than counting helmets this week."