On the scoreboard, it was a win for the visitors Friday at W. Clair Harris Stadium, but for the Winder-Barrow High School football team there was certainly plenty of areas to build upon leading into the regular season opener in nine days.
The Bulldoggs battled South Forsyth High School in a preseason event which has developed into an annual contest between the schools. South Forsyth won 40-21 in a scrimmage played under actual game conditions. Many scrimmages are controlled and don’t feature aspects such as live kickoffs.
“South Forsyth probably had one of the better offensive lines we’ve seen in a while,” said WBHS coach David Wagner. “Their line was their strong point. They moved to the I-formation to take advantage of the line they have this season.”
The War Eagles provided the preseason test Wagner wanted his team to have going into the season.
“It was good for us to be challenged like that,” the coach said. “We missed some tackles, but it was partially to a good football team making plays.”
Offensively, Hunter Cooper stepped in at the quarterback position and made several good plays against the South Forsyth defense.
Running back Andre Jackson had a standout evening and actually raced 77 yards for a score on the first play of the scrimmage before the touchdown was nullified for a penalty.
On the same drive, Cooper connected with CeCe Green for a 35-yard touchdown hookup.
Jackson would add another touchdown in the first half on a 50-yard play which started on a short pass reception from Cooper.
While South Forsyth managed 40 points in the scrimmage, the difference in the trenches played a role.
“We were giving up 40 pounds a man across the board,” Wagner said. “We made some mistakes but that is something we will address this week. We moved the football but often our scores were so quick it didn’t give our defense time to rest. You can’t complain about scoring touchdowns, however. The defense just has to be ready to get back out there.”
In the first half, Winder-Barrow had approximately 14 snaps against 45 on defense. Santiago Carter and Agustin Salas both recovered fumbles while Brandon Hayes had an interception for the Bulldoggs defensively in the scrimmage.
Chandon Sullivan, who is expected to add speed to the offense, was held out of the scrimmage due to a hamstring issue. Sullivan is a two-way starter for WBHS and no doubt would have made a positive impact for the Bulldoggs, Wagner said.
“We got out of the scrimmage what we needed,” Wagner said. “I like how we played the scrimmage two weeks before our first game. A few years ago we were one of the few schools doing it that way, now it seems everyone has gone to it. It gives you time to heal up and work on fundamentals during the extra week. We have some things we still need to iron out.”
The practice philosophy has been changed somewhat this preseason for WBHS. After moving several key starters in the season opener against Jackson County in 2012, the overall physical nature of practice has been scaled down somewhat.
“We aren’t putting them in bubble wrap, but we are blowing the whistle a little quicker,” Wagner said.