What about Buford? There were a few questions surrounding how the Wolves would respond under first-year coach John Ford. Some were lingering after Buford got off to a poor start against Hillgrove in the Corky Kell Classic and were tied 17-17 at the half.
Any doubts seemed to vanish in the second half when the Wolves scored 31 unanswered points in the en route to a 48-17 win.
New quarterback? Freshman Aaron McLaughlin emerged from a three-way competition to earn the start. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in his debut. He hardly looked jittery on the big stage.
The Buford run game? Christian Turner, who wasn’t healthy until the playoffs a year ago, carried 11 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee commit Anthony Grant carried 10 times for 90 yards and one touchdown. Derrian Brown, who would be the first option for many teams, ran 10 times for 73 yards and returned a kickoff 68 yards for a near-touchdown.
The Buford defense? After giving up 17 points in the first quarter, the Wolves got serious. Hillgrove did not score another point and gained only 76 yards over the final three quarters. Junior linebacker Davin Bryant led the team with seven tackles, 1.5 for loss, shared a sack and forced a fumble.
Looks like the Wolves – despite all the changes – have once again simply reloaded and will be among a handful of teams in contention at the end of the year.
Other significant wins
- Warner Robins beat rival Northside 28-17 on the opening weekend. It was a big win for coach Mike Chastain’s club, which suffered a historical 52-point beatdown by the Eagles a year ago, and broke a three-year losing streak to Northside.
- Morrow hasn’t had a winning season since 1998. The Mustangs haven’t won more than three games since 2002. So beating a rival like Hampton in the opener was big. The 27-26 also avenged last year’s loss to Hampton. “It was a sigh of relief,” coach Jerome Weeks told the Clayton News-Daily. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s a great thing to get that monkey off our back so we can start this thing off right.”
- Columbia got a 7-0 win over King, giving new coach Brian Montgomery a win in his debut with the Eagles. It also ended a five-game losing streak to the Lions.
- Arabia Mountain pounded Stone Mountain 56-0. It was the most points scored in the school’s history.
Octavious Battle, QB, Carver: He threw for 220 yard (100 of it to Quintavious Monday) in the 50-18 rout of Lithonia.
Kareem Rogers, RB, Woodland: The veteran ran 10 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns as the Wolfpack easily won their opener against Union Grove.
Chris Rodriguez, RB, Ola: The preseason all-state tailback opened the season with 224 yards and five touchdowns in a win against Pike County.
Justin Talley, DE, Kell: He had 3.5 tackles for loss and eight overall tackles in an overtime loss to Tucker, the No.1-ranked team in Class AAAAAA.
DeAndre Wade, DB, McIntosh: Had two interceptions and forced a fumble in the 28-3 win over Decatur.
Jaeven West, WR, Warner Robins: Caught nine passes for 11 yards and one touchdown as the Demons knocked off rival Northside.