Buford's Montgomery VanGorder
North Hall head coach Bob Christmas, whose team played both Buford and St. Pius this season, breaks down Friday's Class AAA state championship football game.
Their size is one thing that stands out. They're very good up front. They're big and athletic up front, and that's one of the big advantages I see them having over St. Pius. They've got a very good running back. We actually did not face their top running back (Dontravious Wilson, who was hurt), so their depth is another big thing about them. They're always going to have fresh bodies in there. There may be other teams with quality players on the first team, and then it falls off dramatically after that. With Buford, that quality goes two or three deep. They've got a lot of quality players.
ST. PIUS X'S DEFENSE
I was real impressed (with them). I think they do a great job. I thought they were very active. I think their strength are their linebackers, who are very athletic and mobile. Their defensive linemen are not real big. You're going to see them do a lot of digging with them. We were bigger up front than they were, but they're going to try to get up under the offensive line and create a pile and make their linebackers make plays. And they're very good at doing that. They're very active and get around the ball well. And their linebackers have pretty good size. (Dalton Wilson) and (Daniel Crochet) stand out in my mind. (Crochet), I thought, was the best, but there's really not that much difference. (Eric Long) is their Mike backer. He's a smaller kid, at least in height. But he's a real tough kid. They've got three really good linebackers, and of course, the (Nick) Ruffin kid is at one of the corners. Their secondary is physical.
ST. PIUS X'S OFFENSE
They execute what they do very well. Their quarterback (Jack Spear) was bigger than what I thought he was looking at him on film. Their fullback (Ryan Braswell) runs very hard. They didn't hurt us with their halfbacks, but I know the Ruffin kid is very good. Up front, their line is not real big, but they run the veer, they run the loop scheme. They'll fold. They'll flop the line, both strong side and weak side. They execute their offense very well, but don't match up well size-wise with Buford.
They're very good up front and very big up front. Their linebackers are big and physical. I think they're actually better defensively than offensively. Three things really stand out to me about them -- their size, their physicality and their depth.
KEYS TO BEATING BUFORD
Not beating yourself. You have to go in there and don't beat yourself, and St. Pius does a good job of that. If you get behind against Buford, you can't panic and get out of your comfort zone and start taking chances. If you do, it's going to backfire. You have to stick to your game plan and try to survive first quarter without beating yourself. I think that's the key.
KEYS TO BEATING ST. PIUS X
I think the key is don't let them control the clock. That's what they want to do. We played them in (the second round of the) playoffs back in 2009, and I think we had maybe four snaps in the second half. I think they had two drives that took up a whole quarter. Do not let them sustain drives and put together a string of first downs.
PLAYERS YOU HAVE TO STOP ON BUFORD
Josh Cardiello is one. Their three technique is a handful on defense. And their linebackers, (Korie) Rogers and (Deion) King, are both very good. You've got to block their linebackers. That's absolutely a key to beating them. They've got great instincts. Thomas Wilson is also a big player for them.
PLAYER YOU HAVE TO STOP ON ST. PIUS X
Their linebacker (Daniel Crochet). He's very rangy. He covers a lot of ground. He has excellent instincts. It's hard to flow him out of position with misdirection. He's a very good linebacker.
Well, since no one's putting a gun to my head, I'm not going to make one. But the keys I mentioned (are important). If Pius sustains long drives and does not beat themselves early, they've got a chance. If you match up personnel, Buford wins.