CALHOUN, Ga. -- Tyler King says he enjoys a good challenge. The Calhoun High School senior center should have the time of his life Friday afternoon in the Georgia Dome.
For the fourth consecutive season the Yellow Jackets have Buford standing between them and a Class AA state championship, and for the fourth consecutive time the biggest challenge facing Calhoun will be along the offensive line. While the Wolves bring a defensive front seven leaded with future collegiate talent, the Jackets have King and four linemen making their first title game starts.
If it were a fight, Las Vegas odds would be off the chart. King will have none of it. He hears talk of Buford studs Kurt Freitag, Vadal Alexander, Nathan Staub, Dillon Lee and Dequan Clark and how no team has managed to handle them all season and it makes him ... smile?
"It's going to be the hardest challenge this year, without a doubt," said the 6-foot-2, 270-pounder, easily the largest Calhoun lineman. "They've got three and sometimes four D-I college players on the front line and they're all big and strong, but this is a team game and I feel confident we can play with them."
The game will feature a distinct contrast in styles. While Buford wants to use its size and strength to make teams wilt, Calhoun counters with an Oregon-paced offense built on precision and technique. The Jackets know they can't line up and face the Wolves head on, but that's rarely been a part of the game plan this year. So while the Wolves easily outsize the Jackets up front, King for one believes that can work for Calhoun.
"They're just numbers, and with them being that big they will be slower than we are, so we have to stay low and keep moving, which is a big part of what we do," King said of the line that also consists of guards Thomas Haynes and Chaz Horton and tackles Ruben Sanchez and Reed Allen, the defensive end who has replaced the injured Jackson Brumlow.
"If we don't communicate, our quarterback [Taylor Lamb] will get killed, but we do that well. We're not the biggest guys, but we're going to do everything we can to get the job done."
In four playoff games the Jackets are averaging over 40 points, and they scored 51 last week against Appling County. Though he knows his unit is outmanned, Calhoun coach Hal Lamb believes it has the guts to get the job done.
"They've played well," he said. "We're not very big up there except for Tyler, and now with Reed up there, and it does concern us because Buford is very big along the front. We've put up a lot of points and I think we're in the right offense for our line because we can't line up and smash people."
After seeing the offensive game plan, King for one has a good feeling about Friday.
"We've got some packages for them and some people that can come in and play up front that haven't played much there," he said. "Their technique is so good. They outweigh us all and they will bull-rush you and try to run you over. Numbers-wise, they're a better football team, but I feel we will win this one because we're more dynamic across the field."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...