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CLASS AA PREVIEW: Calhoun vs. Buford

Courtesy of Rob Saye
Courtesy of Rob Saye

This game marks the fourth consecutive year that these two powerhouses have been matched up in the Class AA championship game. Buford has won the past three games by scores of 45-21, 13-10 and 31-24. Calhoun is looking to reverse that trend to avoid becoming the second school ever to lose four straight finals (Adairsville lost four straight from 1969-1972). Buford is gunning for its fifth straight Class AA title, while Calhoun looks to claim its first crown since 1952. The Yellow Jackets will look to stop Buford’s high-powered rushing attack, which produced four rushing touchdowns in the semifinal victory over Carver, while the Wolves will need to find away to shutdown Calhoun’s stellar offensive, which is putting up points at a torrid pace. It may become a defensive struggle as both teams have been able to keep the state’s top offenses in check throughout the season.

Buford 14-0, Region 6, Division A

With four consecutive Class AA titles under their belts, the Buford Wolves can be called the team of the decade. The team is gunning for not only its record fifth straight state crown, but also its seventh in the past 10 years. Since beginning its unprecedented run, the Wolves have lost just two games since 2007 and are currently riding the state’s longest active winning streak at 27 games. Buford coach Jess Simpson is aiming to become the sixth head coach with five GHSA state championships.

This season has been no different in regards to Buford’s dominance. After steamrolling through all of their opponents during the regular season, postseason play has not only continued that trend, but has taken it to another level. The Wolves have averaged just over 39 points per game during their run to the finals, all while holding opponents to an average of nine points a game. Including postseason play, the Wolves have not scored less than 28 points en route to another perfect season entering their matchup with Calhoun. The semifinal win over Carver was not without some struggle for Buford, as it trailed at halftime 13-7. It was the first time since its last loss against Carver in 2010 that the team had trailed at any point during a game.

Along with their stout defense, the Wolves’ running game has also given opponents fits. Four different Buford players rushed for touchdowns, including quarterback Sam Clay, who possesses strong rushing skills outside of being a pocket passer. Simpson will no doubt have his team ready to complete its goal of winning yet another Class AA crown and further cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats in GHSA coaching history.

Calhoun 14-0, Region 7, Division B

Calhoun’s train just keeps on rolling as the Yellow Jackets are back in the Class AA title game for the fourth consecutive season. En route to an undefeated regular season, Calhoun has dominated every game this season, with the closest competition coming in the second round of postseason play in a 43-30 victory over Brooks County. Despite reaching the title game, the Yellow Jackets have been unable to solve Buford, as they have fallen to the Wolves in each of the past three championship games. In its quest to the finals, Calhoun has averaged a staggering 44 points per game with the only serious competition coming in the aforementioned Brooks County game. The Yellow Jackets hope to ride this momentum and help solve what seems to be a curse against Buford, as they look to end Buford’s title streak at four. Calhoun coach Hal Lamb, who has been with the team since 1999, has achieved great success with the team since taking over the reins and has instilled a winning tradition at the school.

The Yellow Jackets pride themselves on a strong passing attack, led by quarterback Taylor Lamb, who happens to be Coach Lamb’s nephew. Lamb has been solid in and out of the pocket as he threw for 355 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers in Calhoun’s semifinal rout of Appling County. Along with a high-octane offensive attack which has scored 60 points or more twice this season, Calhoun also possesses a tough defense. Including postseason play, the Jackets’ D has allowed less than 10 points on eight occasions, including two shutouts. Calhoun will need much of the same in order to reverse the curse and finally solve Jess Simpson’s Buford squad.