"Anything less than a [fifth straight Class AA] state championship is going to be considered a failure," said Paris Head, whose team is 9-0 heading into a Nov. 4 Region 6-AA play-in game against Blessed Trinity. Last Friday's win over Greater Atlanta Christian sealed the 6-AA Division A championship for the Wolves.
How dominant has Buford been? It is outscoring its opponents by a jaw-dropping total of 382-28. Many had thought No. 3-ranked GACS might provide a challenge for the top-ranked Wolves, but it was not to be. Buford's defense dominated, while the offense rolled up 21 first-half points in a 28-0 win that was never in doubt.
"I don't think the scoreboard really showed how much we dominated that game," said Head, almost apologetic for the closeness of the score. "We made a few mistakes on offense, a few mistakes on defense, but GACS is a pretty tough team."
For his part, Head (who plays safety, as well as occasional receiver and punt returner) contributed a 40-yard punt return and a 20-yard interception return, both of which set up scores. Both plays gave spectators glimpses of Head's blinding speed.
"I kind of baited the quarterback a little bit," Head said of his leaping interception. "I played off the receiver, and he threw it up there. I just kind of broke on the ball and picked it." It was the last time GACS would throw the ball his way.
In his four years at Buford, Head has only tasted defeat twice-- against Lovett his sophomore year, and last year against a Carver-Columbus team that featured running back Isaiah Crowell. This year, there doesn't seem to be another team in Class AA capable of stopping the Big Green Machine in its quest for a state title.
Many think this star-studded Buford team is the best team in Georgia at any level, and after seeing them toy with GACS, it's hard to argue. The team is impeccably well-coached, and Coach Jess Simpson has an embarrassment of riches in talent on hand.
Besides Head, a linebacker (Dillon Lee) is headed to Alabama, an offensive lineman (Vadal Alexander) is headed to LSU, and a fellow DB (C.J. Moore) is committed to Virginia. Others teammates will be making FBS commitments between now and February.
At Vandy Head says he will play cornerback and perhaps a little receiver. At Buford he plays safety, and his assignment vs. GACS was to cover the slot receiver man-to-man.
"My position is safety, but at Buford we run a lot of man coverage, so I'm down in the box a lot playing man and pressing guys," explained Head. It's pretty much the same thing as corner at the college level."
"I went up there for a visit, and it was just a good family vibe. All the coaches talked to me. They all treated me like I was one of their own. It just felt right. I prayed on it, talked it over with my family, and we all felt Vanderbilt was the best place for me."
Asked if had had any second thoughts about his decision, Head replied with a firm "No sir."
"I've been hitting the books, trying to keep my grades up. I know [Vanderbilt] is a tough school academically, but I'll be ready."