By Alicia Couch Payne

Buford senior Evan DiMaggio is expected to once again be the lead tackle for the Wolves this year. Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

I had the opportunity to sit down with Buford High School senior Evan DiMaggio recently at the new Buford High School’s Athletic Building. I sat across from a quiet guy who radiates calm confidence. Evan is expected to once again be the Wolves’ lead tackle this year, as well as, be a leader on the wrestling team. 

Evan is the middle child of Patrick and Nicki DiMaggio. His older sister, Ashley was a 2014 BHS graduate and recently graduated from the University of Georgia.  His younger sister, Emily is a rising 8th grader at Buford Middle School where she loves cross country, chorus, and musical theatre. Evan and his siblings were raised at Lake Lanier in Buford.  He attended West Hall until the 4th grade when he started attending Buford City Schools. 

Evan enjoys physical activity and has always played multiple sports. He started playing football for West Hall when he was six. During 4th grade, Evan began playing football for Buford. In the 8th grade, he stopped playing basketball to focus more on football. Having grown up on the lake, fishing has long been a favorite past time of his and has capitalized on this by joining the school’s bass fishing team.

Evan picked up wrestling in the 9th grade and has done quite well for the Wolves.  He wrestles at the 220 lbs. weight class. Evan won his weight class at last year’s Mount Mat Madness Tournament in Baltimore and received second-team all-county honors. He also made it to the finals of the state tournament barely losing out on the title in the final match. Buford Head Football Coach Bryant Appling said, “I definitely feel that his success in wrestling last year and his experience in a big moment (state championship match) will be a key asset for him as he leads our team this season.” 

Wrestling has made Evan more agile and has contributed to his mental toughness. “It’s just you on that mat and if you get in a bind, you can’t panic. It’s up to you to get yourself out of the situation,” stated Evan.

With the start of the high school football season less than a month away, the Buford Wolves varsity football team has been practicing nonstop for the upcoming season. The Wolves are currently ranked no. 2 in the state’s class AAAAA preseason rankings just behind Bainbridge who knocked them out of the running for a state title last year.  The Wolves will be looking to leaders like Evan to keep the momentum going throughout the season. “Evan has used this summer to develop into a leader on our football team,” Coach Appling commented.While soft-spoken, he is highly respected among his teammates and coaches.”

Coaches look to him to once again be the lead tackle for the team. When asked what makes him such an effective tackle, Evan said it is his size, physicality, sense of responsibility, and being able to zone in on his targets is what makes him excel at his position. He is not one to shy away from hard work and it shows with him having the most tackles for Buford in 2018. 

With a new coach having taken the helm for the Wolves football program, Evan believes that Buford is finally getting back to the fundamentals that made Buford so good in the past. Coach Appling demands that his players lead by example on and off the football field. Mentoring the younger players, leading by example is extremely important to Evan and is a job he takes seriously. He said he tries to always hold everyone accountable on the same level whether the person is a senior or a freshman as Coach Appling has told the team to do.

Recently, Evan announced his commitment to play football for Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He said it all started when Furman’s inside linebacker coach messaged him and brought him to the campus for a tour. Greenville, the Furman campus, residents, and the coaching staff made Evan feel like Furman was a place that he could call home.

Evan works just as hard in the classroom as he does on the field. He is an A/B student with a 3.4 GPA. He takes mostly honors and advanced placement classes with AP History being his favorite. Coach Sean Gilbert who taught Evan in AP World History is the teacher that he said has been one of his favorite teachers during his time at BHS. Evan claims that Gilbert is a really good teacher who is an interactive instructor and one who really cares about his students even beyond his classroom doors.

As the 2019 high school football season gets underway, look for Evan to set the tone for the defensive line for the Wolves. No doubt he will be aggressive right out of the gate. Evan is most looking forward to a rematch against Archer High School. He is looking for redemption as Archer handed Buford their biggest loss of the 2018 season. No matter how the 2019 season turns out, one thing is for certain, Evan will be there as a quiet leader among his peers carrying on the traditions of Buford.

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