Class 6A Preview: Hughes vs. Buford
Class 6A Championship
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 1 Buford Wolves
Record/Region finish: 13-1, Region 8 champion
Coach: Bryant Appling
How they got there: d. Kell 38-14, d. Lovejoy 44-7, Lee County 27-0, d. Carrollton 21-6.
Top players: RB Victor Venn, S Jake Pope, DB K.J. Bolden, QB Ashton Daniels, WR/DB Isaiah Bond, OT/DT Sho Mitchell, TE Eddrick Houston, OLB D.J. Payne, S/WR Malik Spencer, LB Aubrey Smith.
Worth noting: Daniels, a Stanford commit, doesn’t have gaudy numbers, but knows how to step up in big situations. Victor Venn, a Colorado commit, leads the ground attack; he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns last week. The heart of the team, as usual, is the team’s mighty defense, which shut out Lee County in the quarterfinals and limited Carrollton to field goals in the semifinal game. The Wolves are fast, physical, well-coached and loaded. Bond and Pope are headed to Alabama, Spencer has committed to Michigan State and Smith has pledged to Colorado.
No. 3 Hughes Panthers
Record/Region finish: 13-1, Region 4 champion
Coach: Daniel Williams
How they got there: d. Glynn Academy 42-14, d. Shiloh 28-8, d. Northside Warner Robins 48-7, d. Dacula 47-28.
Top players: ATH Xavier Smith, LB Mike Watson, QB Prentiss “Air"Noland, RB Antonio Martin, OL Bo Hughley, OL Dontrell Glover, WR Armani Tookes, TE Jelani Thurman, DB Rodney Shelley, DL Josh Horton, DL Demarcus Brown, DB Terrance Love,
Worth noting: Smith was the Region 4 Player of the Year, plays both ways and can do everything – throwing, running, returning and playing in the secondary, where he has three interceptions. Watson has great quickness and leads the team with 165 tackles. Although best known for their defense, the Panthers have an all-state caliber back in Antonio Martin and prolific quarterback in Noland, who has thrown for 2,473 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Series: The only previous meeting between the two teams came in quarterfinals last year, with Buford winning 44-15.