BUFORD — Bryant Appling has just one goal in mind:
“Get back to playing Buford football the way we know how to."
For someone who has been a part of the Wolves coaching staff for the past 15 seasons, Appling knows just what that entails. On Monday Appling was named the new Buford head football coach after spending the past five seasons as the Wolves defensive coordinator.
Appling, who also knows about the pressure and expectations that come with managing one of the nations premier prep programs, said he is ready for the challenge.
“I know what comes with this job and I feel I am ready for it,” Appling said by phone. “I have learned under three great coaches and I am surrounded by great coaches that are still here. I can’t wait to get started.”
Appling applied for the job in 2016 after Jess Simpson stepped down but stayed on as defensive coordinator after John Ford was hired. This time around, Appling, who began his stint at Buford in Dexter Woods’s final season, was chosen from dozens of applications. Appling grew up in Decatur and played football at Lehigh University, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Appling later earned a M.A.T. from the University of Georgia and an Ed.S. from Kennesaw State University.
"We had about 60 applicants and we're extremely happy to have Coach Appling as our next head football coach," Buford Athletic Director Tony Wolfe said. "He is a great football coach, but just as importantly, a tremendous man of integrity who will lead our program with great pride and character. We're thankful to be able to promote a coach who loves and respects Buford and Buford football so much."
Appling will immediately assume all duties running the football program but has not decided on who will take over his duties leading the defense. Appling’s defense in 2018 held their opponents to an average of 192 yards per game, forced 21 turnovers, and allowed just 13.2 points a game on the season.
“I have some people in mind when it comes to staff decisions but right now I’m just trying to get situated,” he said. “We’ll look at those things very soon.”
It’s not often someone gets the keys to one of the premier programs in the nation. You could almost see the smile on Appling’s face through the phone. But he also knows every season is a new one.
“This is a dream situation. You have great support from the Board (of Education), the Administration, the community, everyone that cares about Buford football,” Appling said.
“But every year is a transition year when you look at graduations and then incorporating new players. Time will tell how good this upcoming group will be. But believe me, there is plenty of talent in that room just waiting to be developed.
“Our goal is to get Buford back to where it belongs: back at the top. And we’re ready to start working hard to do that.”