Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Top-Ranked Buford Ready for the Dome

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Top-Ranked Buford Ready for the Dome

Article excerpt

Byline: Lawrence Dennis, Times-Union sports writer

Buford is on familiar artificial turf tomorrow morning at 9 (GPTV stations) in the Class A Georgia High School Association state semifinals at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

Its opponent, Clinch County, will be making its first appearence under the roof and on the fake grass.

But Wolves coach Dexter Wood, whose team beat McIntosh County Academy 26-6 in the Dome last year only to lose 27-19 to Commerce the following week in the state title game, said the venue really doesn't matter.

"There's some nervousness when you go out there," said Wood, whose Wolves have been No. 1 in The Associated Press state poll most of the season and are 13-0 after beating Johnson County 21-6 in last week's quarterfinals. "The different shoes [for the artificial turf] and the fact it's inside make it different. But once the game begins, it's still a 100-yard field. Clinch County will find that out."

What the No. 10 Panthers from Homerville, who have registered two upsets in a row in the playoffs -- 14-10 over No. 2 Athens Academy last week and 20-6 over previously unbeaten No. 4 Claxton in the second round -- probably already know is that Buford is going to be their toughest test of the season.

The Wolves have steamrolled over every opponent this year, piling up 505 points while allowing only 106. That included a 31-6 rout of perennial Class A state power Lincoln County at mid-season and a 41-0 romp over defending champ Commerce on Nov. 9 in a rematch of their 2000 title game.

"That was our biggest win of the year," Wood said of the victory over Commerce. "They lost a lot of people from last year, but they've got a quality program, and any time you beat them, you're doing something."

The Buford coach said he saw much in Clinch County that reminded him of his own team, which like the Region 1-A runner-up Panthers, play in a four-school region, 8-A.

"They're a lot like us," he said. "They've got some big-play guys, but they just play a sound game."

Wood's big-play guys include senior quarterback Lorne Sam, who was injured last week in the victory over Johnson County. …

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