Prep football notes: Coin flip sends Buford on the road for semis

Nathan Staub #33 runs for a touchdown in tonights game against Elbert Co. He is being run down by Demetrius Sanders #34

Nathan Staub #33 runs for a touchdown in tonights game against Elbert Co. He is being run down by Demetrius Sanders #34


Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson running back Wayne Gallman (4) rushes for a touchdown while West Forsyth free safety Trevor Guthrie (8) watches during the second quarter of the state football playoff game played Friday at Grayson. Grayson defeated West Forsyth 33 to 7.

Buford hasn't lost a lot over the past decade or so, but the Wolves did suffer one loss following Friday night's 49-13 win over Elbert County in the Class AA state quarterfinals.

They were on the wrong end of a coin flip with fellow region No. 1 seed Carver-Columbus early Saturday morning.

As a result, the top-ranked Wolves (13-0) will travel to Memorial Stadium in Columbus for Friday's semifinal game against the third-ranked Tigers (12-1), the site of their last loss -- a 14-0 setback Sept. 3, 2010.

With the exception of the last two state championship games, it will also be their first postseason game away from Tom Riden Stadium since a 38-28 win at Fitzgerald in the 2009 semifinals.

"Obviously, home field advantage is big for (Carver)," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "(Memorial Stadium) is a tough place to play, but we've been down there before. So, we have some idea of what we're going up against.

"You know what, I think our kids will be looking forward to traveling. Playing at home is great, and we know this is a huge challenge. But I think our kids will be ready to play."

Buford vs. Carver-Columbus rematch

The 14-0 loss in their last visit to Carver-Columbus didn't derail the Wolves from going on to win their fourth straight Class AA state championship last year.

Buford has won 26 straight games since that loss, which includes a 35-7 win over Carver in Game 3 this season.

The two teams will meet for the rubber match with a trip to the Georgia Dome in Friday's Class AA semifinals.

"It's hard to beat somebody twice. We've played them twice in the last two years, so there's a lot of familiarity there," Simpson said. "I'm sure they've gotten a lot better. It will be interesting to watch the tape and see how they've changed, where they've improved, what they are doing different."

Since losing to Buford, Carver has won 10-straight games, including Friday's 34-21 victory over Fitzgerald.

Buford's Mize continues success with pick six

On a defense filled with several college-bound seniors, Buford's Jaylen Mize is quietly making name for himself.

The junior intercepted a pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown in the Wolves' 49-13 win over Elbert County on Friday.

Mize's interception was his team-leading fourth of the season and it was the eighth score by the Wolves' defense this season.

"He's really stepped up and played big for us," Simpson said.

Grayson gets a second shot at Colquitt Co.

No one knew Friday night, but everyone hoped.

After Grayson dispatched of West Forsyth people across the field, in the stands and near the field house all asked the same question: Did Colquitt County win?

A win by Colquitt meant a home game for Grayson in the semifinals, but it also gives the Rams a chance at redemption. The Packers ended the Rams' season last year with a 31-24 win at Grayson in the same round.

Standout Robert Nkemdiche remembers the loss. When talking about his sophomore season weeks ago he brought up the Packers.

"Colquitt beat us last year so we let that one slip away," Nkemdiche said. "We went to the semifinals, we had a chance on this field, right here."

Thanks to their win Friday, they get a mulligan on that chance.

"It's been our motto the whole year to finish the mission," head coach Mickey Conn said. "So far our kids have done what we've asked them to do. They've done what they've had to do.

We are sitting in a position to get it done."

Gallman sparks both sides for Rams

Wayne Gallman considers himself a runner first.

Grayson's two-way player carried the ball nine times Friday night for 32 yards. He came within inches of scoring a touchdown but once the Rams got that close, it's no secret to anyone, even Gallman, that Robert Nkemdiche gets the ball.

"Even though I don't get that many carries I do the best I can," Gallman said. "Robert is always that short yardage guy. I can see why. Nobody is going to stop that. From one yard?"

And just like on offense, Gallman finds ways to shine from his linebacker spot. He picked up a sack for a 10-yard loss late in Friday's win over West Forsyth were he went through two defenders and reached the quarterback even as he retreated. The explosion looked like running through an open hole on offense, it just ended with a bang.

"They just let me right through," Gallman said.

Those runs and tackles are what Gallman does. He makes the most of his chances, running or otherwise. His attitude, shared among teammates, creates the success the Rams enjoy.

"It's like we are all connected" he said. "It all comes together out there when we are playing."

Falcons in elite company

Dacula can take consolation with a couple of items from Friday's 21-13 loss to No. 6 Walton in Friday's Class AAAAA quarterfinal at Raider Valley in Marietta.

For one thing, the Falcons (9-4) played the Raiders (13-0) closer than any other opponent has this season. The eight-point margin of victory was Walton's lowest all season, with the next lowest coming against another Gwinnett opponent -- a 12-point win over Peachtree Ridge in the Corky Kell Classic on Aug. 20 at the Georgia Dome. No other teams on Walton's schedule had come within 17 points of the Raiders.

In addition, with a 34-14 regular season loss to Region 8-AAAAA foe Grayson, the second-closest game the second-ranked Rams have played all season, half of Dacula's four losses on the season have come to teams in the semifinals.

Throw in a narrow 17-14 setback to Colquitt County in a preseason scrimmage Aug. 12 at Barron Stadium, and the Falcons have faced three-fourths of this season's semifinalists.

-- Staff writers Ben Beitzel, Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander contributed to this report