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Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 9:37am

Football 2013: Bulldoggs hope changes bring success

By Jeff Hart Staff


MASCOT: Bulldoggs

TEAM COLORS: Red and black


HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: David Wagner, fourth season, 1-29


KEY LOSSES: RB Chad Platt, OL Colton Wheeler, OL Josh Harvey, OL Austin Stewart, LB Al Schotter, DE Pyree Tanner, DL Austin Stewart

OFFENSIVE STYLE: Spread -- Winder will attack through the air but will also push for a balanced offense.

KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 4 starters -- Sr. QB Hunter Cooper, Sr. RB Shandon Sullivan, Sr. OL Tyler Junius, Sr. WR Markesio Anderson

DEFENSIVE STYLE: 3-5 -– The Bulldoggs will go more aggressive in the hope that they can match up with speedy opponents Region 8-AAAAA.

KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 6 starters -- Sr. LB Solomon Sims, Sr. CB/FS Shandon Sullivan, Jr. CB/S Brayden Randell, Jr. LB Cole Baggett, Sr. DL Agustin Salas, Jr. LB Jeremy Ramsey

SPECIAL TEAMS: Jr. PK, P Collin Shannon

BIG STRENGTH: Defense -- The unit could be good with four of its top seven up front returning. Sullivan and Randell give the Bulldoggs good speed in the secondary. A talented sophomore class could be one to watch.

BIG QUESTION: Learning curve -- Implementing new systems may cause some growing pains. The offense in 2012 nearly doubled its output from the year before but the defense was overmatched in one of the toughest regions in the state, allowing 39 points per game.

KEY GAMES: The season opener with Jackson County could set a tone if the Bulldoggs can keep it close or pull off the upset.

TRENDING: The Bulldoggs have not posted a .500 or better record since 2007 and have not had a winning record since going 8-3 in 2003. Wagner has the numbers up but needs a few wins to keep things moving forward.

2013 SCHEDULE Aug. 30 vs. Jackson County
Sept. 6 vs. Monroe Area
Sept. 13 at Gainesville
Sept. 20 vs. Salem
Oct. 4 at Heritage, Conyers
Oct. 11 vs. Flowery Branch
Oct. 18 vs. Loganville
Oct. 25 at Cedar Shoals
Nov. 1 vs. Clarke Central
Nov. 8 at Apalachee
WINDER -- It’s been a rough three years for Winder-Barrow coach David Wagner, who has guided the Bulldoggs to one win over that span.

But if he's feeling any pressure, he's certainly not showing it. In fact, Wagner feels his program may be about ready to make significant strides beginning this season.

Wagner and his staff have changed from the wing-T to a spread offense and changed the defense to an attacking, 3-5 base in an effort to be more competitive in the rugged Region 8-AAAAA, home of Class AAAAA state champion Gainesville and perennial power Flowery Branch.

“We have a lot of good, speedy receivers, and I feel this will give us a better chance to be competitive,” said Wagner, who is set to begin his fourth season in Winder.

Senior Hunter Cooper will take over at quarterback and will benefit from the return of senior receiver Markesio Anderson, who suffered a broken leg just before the season began last year. Anderson was projected as the Bulldoggs' leading receiver as a junior.

“Markesio is the real deal. It will be good having him back,” Wagner said. “We’ve made some changes in personnel but we’ve had a real good summer and fall practice, and I like the progress we’ve made.”

On defense, the Bulldoggs’ switch to a 3-5 should help them bring in some more speed from the linebackers and secondary. They struggled against faster teams like Gainesville and Flowery Branch on the way to yielding nearly 40 points a game.

Senior Solomon Sims and juniors Cole Baggett and Jeremy Ramsey will anchor a solid linebacking group. Senior cornerback/safety Shandon Sullivan and junior cornerback/safety Brayden Randell will provide speed in the secondary. Senior Augustin Salas will anchor the line.

“I feel our defense is much faster this year,” Wagner said. “We were over-matched last year, but this year we feel we have more guys with speed that can hit. I think the (scoring) numbers will drop this year.”

Wagner said the biggest concern early on was learning two new schemes.

“We were asking them to learn a lot but they have picked things up pretty quick,” he said. “We’ve been very pleased with how they have done so far. The kids seem to have enjoyed the new schemes. Hopefully it will lead to some more wins.”

However, where those wins will come from will tell a lot about how much progress the Bulldoggs have made. They have six playoff teams on the schedule, including their first three opponents: Jackson County (Region 8-AAA), Region 8-AAAA champ Monroe Area, and Gainesville to open Region 8-AAAAA play.

“It’s a very tough schedule, no doubt,” Wagner said. “We’re hoping that we’ll be more competitive overall and catch up to the teams in the middle. I fully expect us to grab a few more wins.”
Associated Categories: Friday Game Night

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