Avondale eager and ready for Buford

So the idea that Buford and Avondale can play a suspenseful football tonight doesn't add up.

But the Region 6-AA standings and the halls of Avondale High School show a different story. Avondale is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Region 6-AA. Buford is 3-1, 1-1.

Avondale coach Mike Carson, whom Buford fans will remember as the star running back on their 1978 state championship team, is making believers in other tangible ways.

One method was a dress code for players. They must wear ties to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and collared shirts and khaki pants on Mondays and Wednesdays. They also must sit at the front of the class.

"It's brought a sense of discipline and pride," Carson said. "Occasionally I'll walk through the halls and peep in a classroom to make sure they're on task and engaged in the instruction. We want to me model students that kids look up to."

Carson also has rallied a community that has a different makeup from the 1960s and 1970s, when Avondale dominated DeKalb County football. Avondale hasn't had a winning season in 20 years.

St. Philip AME Church is providing team meals before each game, saving the program $6,000. The school's alumni association has raised thousands of dollars the past two seasons and bought training equipment such as blocking sleds. It also bought 43 pair of shoes last season after noting that manyplayers on the 2007 team couldn't afford cleats.

"Those running off the field would exchange shoes with the kids going out," said John Plageman, a member of the alumni group. "It makes you feel good on the inside to see how far we've come."

Having better players helps, too. Running back Max Thompson (averaging 105 yards rushing per game) and noseguard Tyreek Phillips transferred this year from Canada. Their families were close to Avondale line coach Nicholas Kashama, also a Canadian.

Most observers don't think it will be nearly enough to win tonight, or even keep the game close. Avondale starts three sophomores and a freshman on its offensive line. Buford's defensive line features a pair of major Division I-A recruits in Kolton Houston and Du'Van Millsap.

But Carson isn't conceding anything.

"We've got an opportunity to do something that hasn't been done at this school in a long with this game," Carson said. "We've got the entire state of Georgia looking at us. Let's not miss this opportunity to show the state this is a better Avondale football program."

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily

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