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Saturday January 22nd, 2022 12:59AM

Football: Wolves' Appling going for history on Friday

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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BUFORD — Any coach will readily admit they’re only ever as good as the talent.

And while that may ring true for most, setting a tone on how your program is going to operate can greatly affect the success of the program as a whole. With that being said, Buford’s Bryant Appling has a chance to accomplish something no other head coach in the history of Georgia high school football has been able to: win three state titles in their first three seasons as a head coach.

Appling, who took over the perennial power Wolves in 2019, will guide Buford into Friday’s Class 6A state championship game against newcomer Langston Hughes at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard on WDUN AM 550.

It is the third consecutive state final for Buford (13-1) and second straight in Class 6A after winning the 6A title last season. The Wolves won the 2019 Class 5A championship in Appling’s first season.

For Appling, however, it has never been about himself.

“Honestly, I don't pay any attention at all to any personal stats and accomplishments,” he said. “For me, being able for THIS team and THESE seniors to have a chance to do something special is where my focus lies. I do know that I am blessed to be the head coach at an incredible school inside the best school system in the state.”

Appling credited the people behind the scenes and the fans for much of the program's success.

“We have unreal support from our city, the leadership of our schools, and our community,” he said.  “That's what I enjoy most about this opportunity; being able to give our team, our system, and our city something to be proud of.”

According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association (GHSFHA.org), Appling and Dublin’s Minton Williams (1959-60) are the only two coaches in the history of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to ever accomplish that feat.

Appling can stand all alone if the Wolves can get past Hughes on Friday.

“I think it says an incredible amount about the foundation laid before me and those who poured into my journey as a head coach, particularly Dexter Wood and Jess Simpson,” Appling explained. “We have the best coaching staff in the state who not only understand x's & o's but most importantly, the Buford culture and what we want our program to represent. We have always been proud of how our players work throughout the year and playing in Game 15 for the third year in a row says a tremendous amount about the effort, attention to detail, and commitment that they have made to Buford Football.”

Also according to GHSFHA, Irwin County’s Casey Soliday (2020) can join Appling and Williams as the only coaches to win two titles in their first two seasons. Soliday is leading the defending Class A Public champion Indians against Brooks County on Thursday at 8 p.m. 

However, Soliday, as an interim coach in 2019, guided Irwin County to the title that year for the late Buddy Nobles, who was credited for the win while battling cancer.

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