It's just the common thought in high school football: Buford is supposed to be there.
It's a program that's built on tradition and not just any tradition -- a championship tradition.
That's why it's somewhat mind-boggling that it has been four years since the Wolves have added a new title banner to Tom Riden Stadium. Tonight, they'll get that opportunity when they play Warner Robins at Georgia State Stadium for the Class 5A state title. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. and can be heard live on AM 550 & FM 102.9 WDUN.
But Buford coach Bryant Appling isn't buying into the hype, although he recognizes the expectations are sky-high.
"It's definitely a fun place to be," Buford coach Bryant Appling said. "There are expectations everywhere and ours might be loftier than other places. I just want to have a chance to make our kids play the best football they've played all year long on Friday. If you're a coach and you start buying into we've had a great season no matter what happens, you're going to start taking a knee and let things slip past you and not have an opportunity to play as good as you can play in a playoff game or championship game. I just keep moving forward. I'm just concentrating on hopefully being the best we can be on Friday."
Expectations or not, the long-time Buford assistant coach has taken the Wolves back to the state championship in his first season as head coach. He said he's trying not to get caught up in all of the hype surrounding today's game and says coaching is more than just wins and loses.
"I worry about all that stuff, good and bad and all of the above after the game," he said. "I really can't concentrate on the last games or Jan. 7 to this point. I'm so wrapped in Warner Robins and playing this game, right now. We get all get into coaching to impact kids, to impact communities and just make better young men. That's why I always put my worth in as a coach in our program -- how many kids we turn out into good citizens, college graduates, grown men and good husbands and all the above. I'm going to concentrate more on that right now than I am wins and losses.
But we're all competitors and we all want to win. We all want a chance to win the last game of the season, so it's not like we're not thinking about that at all. The satisfaction of a good season ... whatever happens on Friday, I'll be able to sit and think about that this weekend. I try as hard as I can to try not to get caught up in the small victories. Like, If y'all lose this week, y'all had a great season. No one wants to ring that bell and put that on the wall, right now. Everybody just wants to concentrate on Warner Robins and trying to playing the best football that we've played all year long on Friday."
AccessWDUN's Jeff Hart contributed to this story.
NEED TO KNOW/CLASS 5A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
4:30 p.m. at Georgia State Stadium (Turner Field)
WARNER ROBINS DEMONS
HISTORY: 34th on the all-time wins list in Georgia (532-230-11) ... started playing football in 1953 ... 27 region titles, 4 state titles (‘76, ‘81, ‘88, 2004) ... 24 10-win seasons; 1 15-win, undefeated season; 1 14-win, unbeaten season (14-0-1)
2019 OFFENSE: 500 pts (35.71 ppg, 4th in 5A; 157 pts in playoffs, 39.25 ppg)
2019 DEFENSE: 187 pts (13.3 ppg, 6th 5A; 41 pts allowed in playoffs, 10.25 ppg)
2019 MISC: 11 turnovers, 19 takeaways (15 INT) -- plus-8 ratio
2019 TOP PLAYERS:
Jr. QB Jalen Addie (144-of-278, 2,297 yds, 23 TD, 7 INT; 571 rush, 4 TD)
Jr. RB Jahlen Rutherford (185 car, 1,290 yards, 5 TD)
Sr. RB James Smith (106 car, 934 yards, 1TD)
Sr. WR Marcayll Jones (41 rec, 773 yards, 2 TD)
Jr. WR Armon Porter (26 rec, 535 yards, 5 TD)
Sr. WR Ty'larrious Carr (29 rec, 424 yards)
Jr. DB Jatavious Bryant (4 INT, 1 FR)
NOTES: The Warner Robins offense has been near the top of 5A most of the season but has been rolling of late. The Demons posted a season-high 55 points last week and have scored 104 points (52 ppg) over the past two rounds. ... In the semifinals, Addie accounted for 4 TDs (2 rush, 2 passes) and Porter and Rutherford had 1 TD catch each. Smith ran for 2 scores. The Warner Robins defense also had two scoop-and-score fumble returns for TDs last week. ... The Demons are 4-3 all-time in the finals but have lost two straight finals (2017, 2018).
HISTORY: 19th on the all-time wins list in Georgia (610-252-16) ... started playing football in 1942 ... 29 region titles, 11 state titles ('78, '01, '02, '03, '07, '08, '09, '10, '12, '13, '14) ... 29 10-win seasons; 7 15-win, undefeated seasons
2019 OFFENSE: 489 pts (34.9 ppg, 5th in 5A; 130 pts in playoffs, 32.5 ppg)
--236.3 yards rushing per game; 105.1 yards passing per game
2019 DEFENSE: 179 pts (12.78 ppg, 6th 5A; 33 pts allowed in playoffs, 8.25 ppg)
--101.4 yards rushing allowed; 115.9 yards passing allowed; generated 103 negative plays (7.3 tfl per game)
2019 MISC: 12 turnovers, 20 takeaways (14 FR) -- plus-8 ratio
2019 TOP PLAYERS:
Jr. RB Gabe Ervin (156 car, 1,155 yards, 12 TD;
So. RB Victor Venn (89 car, 709 yards, 8 TD; 343 yards, 5 TDs last 2 weeks)
Jr. QB Jarvis Evans (73-for-122, 1,376 yards, 18 TD, 7 INT)
So. WR Jake Pope (14 rec, 345 yards, 3 TD)
Sr. WR Julien Lewis (11 rec, 214 yards, 4 TD)
Sr. DE Jackson Powell (62 TKL, 12 TFL, 8 sacks)
Jr. LB Tommy Beuglas (92 TKL, 5 TFL, 4 sacks)
Sr. DB T Lee (30 TKL, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FR, 6 PBU)
Sr. CB Jalen Huff (21 TKL, 5 TFL, 6 PBU)
NOTES: Buford is making its 18th state finals appearance, including 11 in the last 13 years. ... The Wolves are in their longest title drought (5 seasons, 2014) since going from 1978 to 2001 between titles. ... Buford is a No. 2 seed from Region 8-5A. The last two times the Wolves made the finals as a No. 2 seed (2009 and 2012) they came away with state titles. ... The Wolves are 11-7 overall in state finals and 10-5 since 2000. But they have lost two straight finals (2015, 2016) and are just 3-3 in their last six championship games.