Photo: Lily McGregor Buford running back Joshua Thomas (26) shakes off the tackle attempt of a North Oconee defender during the Wolve's second round matchup with the Titans on Friday night in Bogart.
Buford at Carver
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium (I-85 south to I-185 south and take Exit 8. Follow signs for airport thruway. Turn left on Veterans Parkview. Turn left on 4th St. Stadium is on the right)
Coaches: Jess Simpson, Buford; Dell McGee, Carver-Columbus
Records: Buford 9-3; Carver-Columbus 11-1
Last week: Buford beat North Oconee 13-0; Carver-Columbus beat Rockmart 45-16
Winner plays: Thomson-Cartersville winner
Dontravious Wilson, 918 yards
Zavior Hoxie, 676 yards
Taylor Mitchell, 749
Montgomery Van Gorder, 679
Trey Neal, 359 yards
Mikey Bart, 205 yards
Bart, 48 tackles
Deion King, 42 tackles
Thomas Wilson, 3
Korie Rogers, 3
Terrance Wilson, 2
Buford Wolves (9-3)
at Elbert County W 14-3
Gainesville L 19-15
Hancock County W 43-0
Banks County W 63-0*
at West Hall W 61-0*
at White County W 49-14
Dawson County W 34-3
Fannin County W 51-0
at East Hall W 49-6
North Hall W 45-16
Cedar Grove W 41-27
at North Oconee W 13-0
Carver-Columbus Tigers (11-1)
at Spencer W 47-6
Shaw W 18-13
at Colquitt County L 33-0
at Tri-Cities W 32-20
Pike County W 32-20
Henry County W 47-0
at SW-Macon W 53-0
Central-Macon W 46-14
at Peach County W 26-17
at Jackson W 26-6
Dodge County W 42-21
Rockmart W 45-16
BUFORD -- After a season of news, Buford gets a taste of the past this week.
The Wolves travel down to Columbus to face Carver, the third such trip since the schools began playing each other in 2010. It's a familiar trip for the Wolves after a season in a new classification and a new region.
For schools separated by such a great distance, the Buford-Carver game has the feelings of a rivalry game. It's a rivalry Buford aims to take control of and one Carver wants to even as two games apiece.
"It will be a familiar environment in that we've been down there two times in the last two years," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "There is still not much that has changed between us or them."
Other than the faces.
In 2010, when Carver beat Buford, the Tigers were stacked with division I talent. They met early in that season to gauge where each team stood against the best in Class AA. Carver came out on top, but after an upset in the playoffs, Buford brought home the trophy without the rematch.
Buford took both games a season ago, rallying from behind in the semifinals at Carver last year.
And now it's a Class AAA quarterfinal game with the Wolves' ascent and Carver's return to the bigger classification.
"It's fun," Simpson said. "It's a great game."
There aren't many surprises for either team. Carver still runs the same spread offense and similar defense. Buford didn't change its style for Class AAA. It's just the faces.
Carver's offense is led by quarterback Torrance McGee.
"He starts them off," Simpson said, noting the presence of Florida-bound receiver Marqui Hawkins.
But the run-heavy Tigers also hand the ball off to a cadre of backs in Brandon Thomas, Noah Hickey, Danny Ryles and Mario Moore.
Simpson praised every part of the Tigers' team, but focused on the big and physical defensive front, anchored on the corner by sophomore Mekhi Brown.
"(No. 10) looks like he's 6-6, 225," Simpson said. "He looks like he could warm up with the Atlanta Falcons on Sundays and fit in."
In fact, he's 6-5, 200 pounds and has offers from Alabama and Florida State, among others.
"Their front seven are very dominant," Simpson said. "Well coached, physical, they have some pretty looking bodies over there. They are very aggressive on defense."
That may prove to be the biggest challenge for Buford, coming off a 13-0 win over North Oconee where the Wolves moved the ball, but struggled to score more than field goals.
"We might have played a little better up front than what went on," Simpson said. "The thing that was interesting was we moved the ball really well on offense, but we just couldn't capitalize on a few drives. It was closer than we wanted it to be, but it's the playoffs and that's the way it goes."
These games are supposed to be close and challenge, Simpson said. And Carver should prove the biggest one yet for Buford.
"They are just going to be Carver. That's what it's supposed to be," Simpson said. "The stakes get higher and it gets tougher."