Thursday May 26th, 2016 8:39AM

Buford, North Hall ready to settle things on the field in 7-AAA showdown (Video)

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Trying to compare what Buford and North Hall football have done to the rest of Region 7-AAA this season is a bit like arguing over who was the better Heisman Trophy winner.

Both teams have dominated region play in 2012 -- like so many Herschel Walkers and Tim Tebows dominated their own collegiate competition.

Lucky for us, these two behemoths actually get to settle their debate on the field on Friday.

The only drawback is that there will be no region title up for grabs when the ninth-ranked Trojans (8-1, 6-0 Region 7-AAA) travel to face the third-ranked Wolves (6-3, 4-2) at Tom Riden Stadium -- in a game that will be broadcast live on WDUN AM 550.

Earlier this week, Access North sports editor Morgan Lee caught up with members of the Buford and North Hall football teams to talk about Friday's key showdown. To watch a feature on the contest, simply click "play" below.

Preview: Buford vs North Hall from WDUN TV on Vimeo.

Buford's forfeiture of two lopsided region victories due to briefly fielding an ineligible player will keep the Wolves from challenging North Hall for the 7-AAA crown. Just don't expect that to change anything about the game on the field come Friday. And while Buford's players admit disappointment at not being able to play for a league title, they are still plenty hungry to show what they can do against North Hall -- which claimed the 7-AAA championship last week (the program's first region title since 2007).

"A lot of guys from other schools were asking us if we were mad about the forfeits but after that happened we actually held a team meeting and were talking about how that will give us an opportunity to go out and play some road playoff games," Wolves defensive back/receiver Jaylen Mize said. "We're excited about this. We've bounced back from a lot of adversity this year."

Indeed, Buford has battled through multiple injuries and far worse than forfeits over the past year, including the deaths of assistant coach Ryan Daniel and former player Devin Durden, as well as 16-year-old basketball player Adam Smith.

"The whole Buford community is closer than ever right now, and the football team is just part of that community," Wolves junior linebacker/fullback Deione Bledson said. "We want to play hard for them."

Buford has impressed throughout the 2012 campaign but has downright dominated in 7-AAA, winning games by an average margin of 47.3 points per game.

North Hall isn't far behind, however, notching region victories by an average of 42 points. And, after leading the program back to a region crown and storming into the state playoffs after a two-year absence, the Trojans are eager to show that they can make more than an impression against a Buford team that has won seven state titles since 2001.

"We feel like we're even with them this year," Trojans offensive lineman Avery Easton said. "We know it's going to be a tough game down there, but we feel like we can play with anyone right now."

Easton and his fellow linemen will be at the heart of the showdown this week, as both teams like to control the line of scrimmage and clear the path for their dominating run games.

The Trojans' re-vamped offense, which now attacks out of the wishbone, is averaging 368.3 rushing yards per game -- spread out between five backs (including two quarterbacks) with over 400 rushing yards apiece. Kevin Christmas paces the group with 677 yards (and 6 TDs), while TJ Tate has 632 yards and a team-high 11 scores to his name. Zac Little has also rushed for 490 yards and 7 TDs, while starting quarterback Bradley Brown is third with 592 yards and 10 rushing TDs. Back-up signal caller Andrew Smith, who also takes significant snaps has 440 yards and 7 rushing scores.

The Trojans face a Buford defense that is allowing just 92.6 yards rushing and 5 points per game.

North Hall's defense has also been plenty stout, yielding just 96.9 rushing yards and 11.6 points per game. They will battle a multiple-I Wolves offense that is rushing for 285 yards and passing for 110.2 per game -- quarterbacks Taylor Mitchell (485 yards passing, 4 TDs) and Montgomery VanGorder (488 yards, 6 TDs) are combining to keep opposing defenses off balance.

Something's got to give.

Buford will be missing leading rusher Dontravious Wilson for the contest. The senior, who has rushed for 866 yards and 12 TDs, is out due to a knee injury -- he also missed the Gainesville game earlier this season. The Wolves' second leading rusher is Zavior Hoxie with 466 yards and 5 scores.

"For the guys, it's just like, who's the next one to step up," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "That's the kind of year it's been with injuries, and the guys have just rolled through it. It's been brilliant to see how they've handled things."

The Trojans certainly expect Buford's best shot on Friday, and North Hall -- which battled injury woes for much of the 2010 and '11 seasons -- knows that the Wolves will be motivated for the contest.

"I think it's going to be a dogfight," Tate said. "We just have to keep hitting them in the mouth every play and see what happens from there."

North Hall also knows it would only add to their burgeoning confidence to claim a victory at Buford -- especially at the dawn of the state playoffs, which begin the following Friday (Nov. 16).

"We've won the region on paper; now we've got to go win it on the field," Kevin Christmas said. "If you can beat Buford that makes a huge statement to the rest of the state."

It's safe to say that much of the state will have at least one eye on what happens on Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium -- as two greats look to settle a very intriguing argument.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
-- RADIO: 550 AM
-- NORTH HALL (8-1, 6-0 Region 7-AAA): Defeated Banks County 42-7 last week. The Trojans are ranked No. 9 in Class AAA.
-- BUFORD (6-3, 4-2 Region 7-AAA): Defeated East Hall 49-6 last week. The Wolves are ranked No. 3 in Class AAA.
-- HISTORY: Buford won the last meeting 35-7 in 2009. The Wolves lead the series 6-1-1.
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 3 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 3 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 3 years ago )
Boys basketball: Dawson County storms to Battle of States crown, 13-0 mark
The Dawson boys basketball team extended their perfect start to the season to 13-0 -- their best opening in over 40 years -- on Saturday, claiming the Battle of the States tournament title in the process, 62-22 over Murphy, N.C., in Hiawassee.
11:17PM ( 3 years ago )
Girls basketball: Chestatee stumbles to losses in tournament play
The Chestatee girls basketball team dropped a 50-47 decision to Allatoona on Saturday at the Allatoona Christmas Tournament in Acworth.
8:19PM ( 3 years ago )
High School Sports
High school season over, Branch grad Shewbert still eyeing big things in coming weeks
Jake Shewbert was just a few hundred meters from the finish line, a second state championship in as many days hanging in the balance, when the pain ripped through his body.
5:56PM ( 9 hours from now )
VIDEO: Baseball playoffs yielded highlights worth watching -- again
Check out the best highlights from the recently completed state baseball playoffs...
5:51PM ( 9 hours from now )
Lanier Olympic Center set for another big weekend, as collegiate rowers descend on Gainesville
For the second weekend in a row, the Lake Lanier Olympic Center will buzz with activity, as athletes pack into the venue in pursuit of glory.
By AccessWDUN Staff
5:35PM ( 8 hours from now )
Five legendary figures comprise 2017 NASCAR HOF class
Two phenomenally successful contemporary car owners, a champion driver-turned-beloved-broadcaster, a driver with a prolific winning history and the man described as NASCAR racing’s “original car owner” are the newly elected members of the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Kyle Ray Named to 2016 USTFCCCA All-Region Team for NCAA DIII Outdoor Track & Field
Piedmont College freshman pole vaulter Kyle Ray has been named to the 2016 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Region team for the 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field season.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:10AM ( 8 hours ago )