The answer is simple: Go line up and play just like on any other Friday night.
That will be the task at hand for the Golden Lions when they tussle with Buford for GHSA Class AAA supremacy at the Georgia Dome Friday — St. Pius X’s first title game appearance in nearly half a century.
Coach Paul Standard‘s bunch punched their ticket to the party with last week’s 31-6 win over North Hall in the state semifinals. Senior fullback Ryan Braswell ran for 131 yards and two scores while the St. Pius defense throttled the Trojans’ high-powered wishbone attack.
The Golden Lions will next attempt to do the same to Buford, making its sixth straight appearance in the GHSA final and 11th in 13 seasons. By contrast, St. Pius last got this far 44 years ago.
The marquee game-within-the-game will likely be the St. Pius linebacker corps against the Wolves’ running game, featuring a massive O-line and the talented tandem of Dontravious Johnson and Joshua Thomas.
On the flip side, Buford defenders might have their hands full with the Golden Lions’ formidable option attack, keyed by Braswell and the steady hand of lefty quarterback Jack Spear.
The Wolves, coming off last week’s win over previously undefeated Cartersville, will no doubt be a tough out for St. Pius. Buford obviously has the advantage in terms of championship game experience, having been here so often.
As the Golden Lions’ season attests, though, their ability to rise to the occasion — regardless of the caliber of opponent — might give them a slight edge.
Kick-off time: 5:30 p.m.
Marist fell short in its bid to return to the Class 4-A championship game in heart-breaking fashion, falling 28-27 to Ridgeville last week.
The War Eagles’ potential game-winning field goal bounced off the upright in the closing seconds, allowing Ridgeville to escape with the win.
The Panthers (13-1) blocked a Marist extra point and later pulled ahead on a halfback option touchdown toss with less than a minute to play to set up the game’s dramatic finish.
War Eagles quarterback Myles Willis led the way in defeat, accounting for one rushing touchdown and another passing. Griffin King also had two scores.
In the end, Marist was denied the opportunity to play for another state crown by a team that will be making its first appearance in the championship game.