MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON . . . THE "GRANITE BOWL"
THE GRANITE BOWL
After 60 years of following the Jefferson Dragons I finally made it down to
Elberton to watch a game in the infamous "Granite Bowl."
I must admit it was a tremendously unique experience. It brought to mind what
it might have felt like to sit in some ancient Roman coliseum and watch a life
and death battle between gladiators and lions. The football game on this night
was indeed a life and death battle for the continuing opportunity for the
Jefferson and Elbert County teams to win the region 8-AAA championship.
Elbert County featured the much ballyhooed "Best athlete" football recruit in
the United States, Mecole Hardman. While Hardman displayed flashes of
brilliance, young Jefferson sophomore Colby Wood captured the spot light and,
I'm sure, the college coaches attention in attendance to view the much
sought-after Hardman. When the clock reached 0.00, the Dragon running back
had carried the pigskin 47 times for 289 yards and four touchdowns. He also
tacked on a fourth quarter interception for good measure. This very well could
have been the most running back carries in a game in Jefferson history. The
most I can ever remember for a Jefferson back is 42 carries by Johnny Spence
against Murray County in 1970.
The Jefferson Dragons came into the game the number three ranked team in
Class AAA, while Elbert County sat right behind them at number four. Jefferson
did nothing to diminish that ranking. Now only baseball and football nemesis
Blessed Trinity and old state playoff rival and defending state champion
Calhoun are ranked above the Dragons.
In the years I have watched the Dragon gridders I have seen all their great
backs in action. Players like Billy Ricks, Jeff Davis, Gary Duke, Jack Kelser,
Johnny Spence, Bobby Gooch, Todd Berry, Rufus Sims, Marc Mason, Kevin
Crosby, Matt Childress, Lucas Redd, Tristian Jackson and Sammie Williams all
stand out in my mind as the most elite running backs I have viewed over my
many years of Dragon watching. At this point, even as a sophomore, Colby
Wood is close to the top of the pack based on his remarkable first six games
It's hard to imagine what his impact can be to the Jefferson program the
remainder of this campaign and for the next two years.
Could this be the best Jefferson team ever? I think it might be a little early to
make that proclamation, but I do feel the offensive and defensive lines are
probably the most consistantly good that we have ever had. They don't take
many plays off. Opponents have not been able to consistantly drive the ball on
the defense and have been unable to stop the punishing Dragon running game
due to their tremendous up-front blocking.
Now Morgan County, East Jackson, Oconee County and Hart County lie in wait
to make their effort to derail the Dragons march into the state playoffs. Oconee
County in Watkinsville could turn into a trap game if the Dragons should
overlook them while looking ahead to the following week when Hart County
comes to Jefferson in what could very well be a region championship game. I
don't think Coach Hall and his staff will allow this to happen, but caution needs
to prevail. A region championship can be a great advantage with a game
against a number four seed rather than a number two or three seed. One only
has to look back at 2013 when we went into the playoffs as a number two seed
and had to meet a very strong Lamar County team in the quarterfinals. As a
number one region seed we could have very well made it to the finals that
Look for Jefferson to remain at number three in the state rankings with Blessed
Trinity and Calhoun at numbers one and two. Here's hoping we get the chance
somewhere down the road to meet these two fine programs head on.
Congratulations to the Dragons for their great win over a very good football team.
You continue to make all of us old Dragons proud to be a forever Dragon.