Staff Photo: John Bohn Buford Andre Johnson (32) rushes for the first touchdown of the game against Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in a varsity football game played Friday in Roswell. Buford Darrian Smith (26) assists in blocking.
Jess Simpson can count on one hand the number of teams that have beat him as Buford's head coach.
The list is short with Charlton County, Lovett and Carver-Columbus.
This year's talented seniors were just sophomores when the Wolves had a shocking 28-21 loss to Lovett two years ago. No. 1-ranked Buford hosts No. 6 Lovett Friday and the game is not necessarily for revenge, but a reminder of that awful feeling two seasons ago.
"They are a program we respect," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "This a game we don't take for granted and I'm sure losing to them plays a little role."
The Lovett loss snapped Buford's 32-game winning streak at the time and was the first region loss since 2000.
The Wolves have rebounded nicely since the rare loss, going 26-1 with a pair state championships.
The two programs are no stranger to each other. This is the seventh time in five years they've met. Buford won 50-0 in the 2007 Class AA state championship game to start its current four-peat of titles.
Lovett is off to a 3-0 start this year, but will face its first major test with Buford.
"They really spread the ball around," Simpson said. "The quarterback distributes to a lot of different players. They are really multiple, 50-50 run-pass, so it makes it hard to defend."
Buford has played with a mercy rule running clock in all five games this season.
The offense is averaging nearly 45 points a game, while the defense has allowed just two scores. Both TDs were in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Simpson credits the offensive output with the emergence of first-year starter Sam Clay at quarterback.
"I've been very happy with how he's played," Simpson said. "He's playing quarterback at a high level."
Clay played sparingly behind record-setter Alex Ross last year. The left-hander has taken command of the QB spot by completing 69 percent of his passes for 449 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
"He's a kid that's waited his turn. He's gotten an opportunity and taken advantage of it," Simpson said.
Clay is no stranger to success. The Georgia Tech baseball commitment led the baseball team to the state championship in the spring. His success has carried over into the football season.
"He's taken the leadership role," Simpson said. "You have to have that with your quarterback, regardless of age or grade."