The Winder-Barrow High School football players and coaches have worked months for this Friday night.
Preparations began for the 2013 season almost as soon as the final game of the 2012 season was completed last November. It’s been approximately nine months since that time and a new season arrives Friday.
History does not win or lose football games. However, a recent history of non-success does take a mental toll on a program. That is what the WBHS program is dealing with.
A quick review of some figures reveals:
•Since the 1997 season, the Bulldoggs have qualified for the postseason once. WBHS played past week 10 during the 2003 season where it finished 8-3.
•Since 1997, the program has an overall record of 45-118.
•Five coaches have directed the program since 1997. From 1984-1996, one coach (Phil Jones) led the program during which time numerous state playoff appearances were made.
Coaches have changed and there is always going to be turnover on the player roster so those factors are not the reasons for the downward cycle since 1997. Like any program struggling to find its footing, the Bulldoggs have been assigned to tough regions, had some things occur beyond their control and been the victims of some bad luck and bad timing.
In observing the WBHS program during the offseason, however, one wouldn’t know about the past struggles. Players are enthusiastic, coaches work as hard as they do in any successful, state championship-contending program and honest talk of doing well this fall is heard.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview several players about the upcoming season and each one talked about wanting to turn the program around this fall. Each player knows the tough schedule that awaits them, but each believes their hard work is going to pay off.
Believing you can win, I’ve often said, is more than half the battle. Quick turnarounds are not always possible, but they do happen. Take for example Jackson County High School, the opponent the Bulldoggs will face in two days. The Panthers have a long history of losing — even more so than the recent struggles of the WBHS program — but the team made the state playoffs last season. All it took, however, was a season of success to help change the mental attitude of the program. The challenge for Jackson County will be to see if it can continue the success in 2012 during the upcoming season.
A win goes a long way in turning around past misfortunes. It happened for Jackson County in 2012 after the Panthers defeated WBHS in the season opener. The two teams are set to meet again this week and a win by the Bulldoggs would provide a needed confidence boost for all involved with the program.
The players and coaches have put hours upon hours into preparing for this fall. It would be great to see that hard work pay off with a victory this week at W. Clair Harris Stadium. This group deserves it.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. Send comments about this column to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.