Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:37am
Football 2012: Winder-Barrow desperate to break losing skid
By Jeff Hart Staff
WINDER -- If ever a program could use a confidence boost, Winder-Barrow is it.
The Bulldoggs have lost 24 straight games dating back to the 2009 season, and third-year head coach David Wagner knows what a win would do for his program. Winder opens on the road against Jackson County, a team they have not played since 2007 and are 7-1 against lifetime, all wins coming since the 2000 season.
“Most programs focus on the first game as a way to get ready for the region, but for us, it’s everything right now,” Wagner said. “Jackson County has been struggling as well so I expect both teams to be hungry for a win. Our seniors have just two wins and our juniors have not won a game so it would be huge for us. A win is all we really need. I feel we have put things together to be good, we just need some confidence that we can win games.”
After Jackson County, the Bulldoggs face on of the toughest schedules in the state with seven teams having made the playoffs over the past two seasons. Winder opens region play at home against Gainesville, faces road games at Monroe Area, Flowery Branch, and Clarke Central, its only off week coming between games against Salem and Heritage. The Bulldoggs finish at home against rival Apalachee.
“It’s a brutal schedule but we’re going to get prepared and do the best we can,” Wagner said. “We’re taking the underdog approach and hopefully we can improve enough to get a few wins. But getting that first (win) is key.”
The Bulldoggs should be improved on offense with three returning starters on the line in seniors Colton Wheeler, Josh Harvey, and Austin Stewart to help protect junior quarterback Christian Hodge, who threw for more than 500 yards in a traditional wing-T attack last season. Wagner said they have added an option element to the offense this year to compliment the passing attack. Senior Chad Platt and junior Shandon Sullivan are expected to get the bulk of the carries in the backfield.
On defense, the Bulldoggs will have a new-look 4-4 attack to utilize a more athletic linebacking and secondary group. But, they return just four starters on defense, two on the defensive line in Pyree Tanner and Sullivan.
“We really need both sides of the ball to improve but they have worked hard and I like the progress made in practice so far,” Wagner said. “I think we have some talent on defense to be pretty good once we get people in the right spots.”
Sophomore Collin Shannon returns to handle both placekicking and punting duties and Wheeler returns as the long snapper.
The big question mark for the Bulldoggs will be their depth. They have just 50 varsity players and several players who will have to play both ways. Wagner said staying healthy will be a key to turning things around.
WINDER-BARROW: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Red and black
CURRENT REGION: 8-AAAAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: David Wagner, 3rd year, 0-20
2011 RECORD/ ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 0-10
KEY LOSSES: TB Jamonte Riden (led the Bulldogs in rushing in 2011)
OFFENSIVE STYLE: wing-T -- the Bulldoggs have added an option element to go along with the throwing ability of Jr. QB Christian Hodge
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return six starters; Jr. QB Christian Hodge, Sr. RB Chad Platt, Jr. RB Shandon Sullivan, Sr. OL Colton Wheeler, Sr. OL Josh Harvey, Sr. OL Austin Stewart
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return four starters; Sr. LB Al Schotter, Sr. DE Pyree Tanner, Jr. CB Shandon Sullivan, Sr. DL Austin Stewart
SPECIAL TEAMS: So. Collin Shannon returns to handle placekicking and punter duties, Colton Wheeler returns as long snapper
BIG STRENGTH: The offensive line should be good with three returning starters and a more aggressive off-season weight program should make the Bulldogs more competitive
BIG QUESTION: Depth – the Bulldoggs have just 50 players on the varsity level
KEY GAMES: The season-oppener with Jackson County. The Bulldoggs are hoping to break their losing streak and an early win could give them a confidence boost heading into their tough region schedule.
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. In 2011 they dropped their opener by just a field goal and scored 55 points in the first three games. But, they scored just 24 total points over the last seven.
Aug. 31 at Jackson County
Sept. 7 at Monroe Area
Sept. 14 vs. Gainesville
Sept. 21 at Salem
Oct. 5 vs. Heritage, Conyers
Oct. 12 at Flowery Branch
Oct. 19 at Loganville
Oct. 26 vs. Cedar Shoals
Nov. 2 at Clarke Central
Nov. 9 vs. Apalachee
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