As the Atlanta Falcons gear up to compete in the 51st Super Bowl it seems fitting to delve into the history of Buford’s own championship football team. Since 2000 the Buford High Wolves have carried home 11 state titles and amassed an overall record of 221 wins to just 14 losses. Though this is common knowledge to most in the area, what you may not know is the first Buford High football team to hit the gridiron formed over 70 years ago. This is the story of Ray Hadaway, a founding member of that very first team.
The team practiced and played home games on the Bona Allen Field. The boys built their own locker room to store their equipment and change into their gear. They were also responsible for striping the field for home games, using lime rather than paint. They marked the lines by hand since, as Mr. Hadaway puts it, “We didn’t have fancy equipment.”
Team practices consisted of scrimmages between the first and second-string players, this being prior to the weight-training and conditioning of modern football. Ray Hadaway played first-string Left End on offense and defense utilizing his size and speed to dominate on both sides of the ball.
Ray Hadaway kneeling with End Jack Browning and Back Joe Kelly on the Bona Allen Field.
The 1945 Buford Wolves played matchups against schools in Winder, Norcross and even as far away as Toccoa. They won 11 games and tied once, outscoring their opponents 207-19. Some of Ray’s highlights from that season include a 90-yard touchdown dash against Norcross and an interception nearly returned for a touchdown against Cornelia.
The Wolves remained unbeaten in 1946. Led by their new coach Tom Riden, Buford High won all 11 games at a combined score of 409-26. Ray Hadaway scored 88 points that season, second only to Back Joe Kelly who led the team with 106.
Ray Hadaway graduated from Buford High School in 1947 and left town in the mid-1950’s. Ray is 88 years old, lives in Florida and still loves the game of football. He follows the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and says the last game he attended was a Georgia-Florida game. He also says he will definitely be watching the Super Bowl next week!