ATLANTA — On Buford’s game banner the team had the saying “Continuing the legacy,” and they did just that when they managed to pull off the win for the GHSA AAAAAA State Championship title in overtime 34-31 over Lee County on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. This team added state title No. 13 for Buford football, the second-most titles in the state.

Buford set about “Continuing the legacy” in the GHSA Class AAAAAA State Championship game. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

For years, people said Buford wouldn’t be able to hang with the big boys in AAAAAA. The team just took that and let it fuel them this season. Despite an opening season loss to North Cobb, Buford knocked off opponent after opponent in its new classification, making it through to the final game against another powerhouse team, Lee County.

The two teams were evenly matched in almost every way and they continued to trade off “punches” the entire game. When one would score the other would come back to tie it up.

Buford fans were on the edges of their seats after Lee County scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard run by Chauncey Magwood to give Lee County a 31-24 lead with less than two minutes left. 

Flashing back to last year’s AAAAA State Championship game, Buford quarterback Ashton Daniels stayed calm and led his teammates on the 65-yard drive to tie up the game 31-31 with 46 seconds left on the clock after Daniels connected with Isaiah Bond for the score.

Lee County head coach Dean Fabrizio, knowing his star running back Caleb McDowell was suffering from leg cramps, chose to take a knee to force the game into overtime.

Alejandro Mata kicked a field goal in OT to secure the win for Buford. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

With Buford losing the coin toss, head coach Bryant Appling made the decision to play on the same end of the field that was good to them last year. It would be kicker Alejandro Mata who once played for Lee County who would put up the game-winning points when he made good on a 26-yard field goal in overtime. 

Lee County turned around and got down to Buford’s four-yard line. Buford junior Jake Pope saw McDowell running up the middle and was able to hit him, causing McDowell to fumble. River Wilson leaped on the ball recovering it for the Wolves to win the game and the state title.

This same intense back and forth went on the whole game. It would be Buford that scored first on a one-yard touchdown run by Daniels that was set up when Malik Spencer intercepted a Magwood pass in the end of the first quarter. McDowell answered back on a 95-yard punt return into the end zone for the touchdown for Lee County to tie it up 7-7.

Buford would score again in the first half when Daniels completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Bond. Lee County wouldn’t be left behind as McDowell rushed for 32-yards for the score to tie up the game at 14-14 going into halftime.

In the third quarter, it would be Lee County that scored first when Magwood connected with Nick Winngate for a 46-yard touchdown pass. It would be C.J. Clinkscales who broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run to pull Buford even with Lee County.

The fourth quarter saw Lee County make good on a 28-yard field goal attempt by Alex Collins, and Mata answered back with his own 23-yard field goal to keep the game tied until late in the fourth when Lee got the touchdown. Buford stuck it out and got the win in overtime.

The win gave Buford its first state title in Class AAAAAA adding to titles in six different classifications spanning from A to now AAAAAAA. Eleven of Buford’s 13 state titles have come since 2001. State titles came under Dexter Wood (2001, 2002, 2003), Jess Simpson (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and Appling (2019, 2020).

That is a lot of legacy and tradition to honor. Appling and his staff make sure to teach their players about the history of the program and honoring the legacy left to them by all the talented players and coaches who came before them.

This year’s group of players and staff never gave up, adding to Buford’s fabled legacy. No doubt they made those that came before them extremely proud.

2020 Buford Wolves varsity roster

Seniors: #1 Tommy Beuglas, #2 Amari Wansley, #3 Boyd Farmer, #9 Brandon Castro, #10 Cole Wright, #11 Nick Perry, #13 Malik Williams, #18 Caden Williams, #19 Timi Olawole, #20 Jake Hill, #21 Carson Garrison, #22 Gabe Ervin, Jr., #23 Jake Brittle, #25 Heath Slaton, #27 Dajuan Fields, #32 Mason McCranie, #34 Adrian Osorio, #38 Anthony Cherry, #40 Ayden Digiacomo, #47 Brett Rogers, #52 Caleb Archer, #54 Devon Birdwell, #56 Matthew Alexander, #57 Nickolas King, #59 Malik Cunningham, #64 Mack Green, #67 Chad Maiseroulle, #72 Jacob Smith and #77 T.J. Lowe; Juniors: #5 C.J. Clinkscales, #6 Victor Venn, #7 Victor Payne, #8 Ryland Gandy, #12 Ashton Daniels, #14 Jake Pope, #16 Will Harkness, #24 Isaiah Bond, #26 Zack Salo, #28 Tobi Olawole, #29 Dawson Andrew, #31 Eli Parks, #33 Nate Norys, #37 Jayvion Sims, #39 Jacob Galbraith, #41 Ben Martin, #43 Malik Spencer, #44 Aubrey Smith, #45 Joseph Hunt, #49 Je’Marcus White, #51 River Wilson, #53 Joseph Miller, #55 Luis Saenz, #58 Zach Pacheco, #71 Jackson Favors, #73 Sho Mitchell, #79 James Gonzalez, #80 Zach Johansen, #81 Wyatt Sullivan, #84 Davis Peek, #86 Josiah Wyatt, #87 Peyton Rinker, #90 Japhet Mubenga, #91 Carson Perry and #99 Alejandro Mata; Sophomores: #15 Andrew Davidson, #17 Dylan Wittke, #18 Aiden Wilson, #24 Ryan McKinnis, #30 Cole Taylor, #35 Tayshaun Pittman, #36 Alijah Williams, #40 Corbin Mewborn, #42 Ja’Quez Sims, #46 Christian Butler, #48 AJ Bond, #60 Ian Chandler, #62 Drew Avant, #65 Paul Mubenga, #66 Aiden Jeter, #70 Trevor Gutierrez, #75 Jeremiah Maxey, #80 Wyatt Getz, #82 Jordan Castro, #83 Jack Damron, #85 Eli McElwaney, #87 Braxton Guiney, #89 Christhoper Larrazabel, #93 A.J. Zamora, #97 Daniel Ortiz and #98 Miguel Perez; and Freshmen: #13 Kayden Suggs, #15 Kobi Blackwell, #27 Brock Walker, #29 Trelain Maddox, #30 Jaylen Neal, #32 Braylon Carstarphen, #35 Bryson Banks, #38 Tyshun White, #49 John Frazier, #61 Pierce Demarco, #63 Ryan Binstock, #68 Wyles McCammon, #76 Jeremiah Willingham, #78 Devin Forrester, #88 K.J. Bolden, #89 Eddrick Houston, #92 King Edwards and #94 Caleb Tetteh

2020 Buford Wolves coaches, staff and student trainers/managers

Head Coach: Bryant Appling; Assistant Coaches: Tyler Botts, JJ Chatmon, Stuart Chester, Gus Condon, Drew Dasher, Fyrone Davis, Clay Gant, Sean Gilbert, Brandon Gill, Andre Johnson, Justin Johnson, Ronald King, Devonte Mack, Kyle Manley, Michael May, Bryan Rogers, David Snell and Matt Winslette; Trainers: Chris Demaline, Marrisa Caldwell & Melissa Hopfensberger A.T.C.’s; Isabella Ascenzo, Katie Earl, Jordan Garrison, Courtney Martin, Julia Montville, Bree Smith and Aubrey Thompson and Managers: Natalee Bryant, Karicia Castellanos, Caden Nantz, Ella Patterson and Alli Taylor

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