JEFFERSON is now a Class AAA program and will see how it fares against even larger competition.
The Dragon football team will travel to Winder-Barrow to take on the Bulldoggs Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Jefferson’s first pairing with a Class AAAAA program. These schools have not faced each other since 1985.
Dragon coach Ben Hall said matching up with a program this size will certainly challenge his team, which jumped to Class AAA just this year.
“That’s something we tell our kids: As the school grows, and this program grows, we step up in competition to better the program,” he said. “We want to play teams that are going to make us better.”
Jefferson awaits this game following a 50-14 victory over Rabun County in its season opener.
“This will be our first five-A team,” Dragon receiver Dalton Hill said this past Friday following the team’s victory. “We’re excited. After this win, we’ll have a good boost coming into that game.”
Expect the Bulldoggs to be excited, too.
This is Winder-Barrow’s season opener and will mark the debut of first-year coach Heath Webb. The Bullodggs downed Class AAAAAA South Forsyth in a scrimmage Aug. 15.
“There’s a lot of momentum behind the program with a new staff,” Hall said.
The Bulldoggs’ matchup with the Dragons — ranked no. 5 in the latest Class AAA poll — stands as their only non-region game of the year.
Under Webb, Winder-Barrow employs an uptempo, spread scheme offensively and runs the 3-5-3 defensively, which relies on pressure from the linebackers. The Bulldoggs will blitz nearly every down. Hall said a team must be sound in its scheme when facing the 3-5-3 or risk getting exposed.
“It will be a test for our young guys on the offensive line,” Hall said.
Hall said Winder-Barrow has good athletes and depth overall. Offensively, the Bulldoggs feature running back CeCe Green, who Hall said “is a really talented player.”
“They’re talented in the skill positions just like you’d expect a five-A school to be,” he said.
Defensively, Hall points to the Bulldoggs’ big nose guard Anthony Gates.
“He’s really big and really good with his hands and moves well,” he said.
Jefferson and Winder-Barrow have met 31 times in the series that dates back to 1949. The Dragons hold a 20-11 lead, but the teams haven’t played since Winder-Barrow beat Jefferson 20-0 29 years ago.
Hall said proximity played the biggest factor in the series revival. The schools are only about a 20-minute drive from each other and the Dragons needed to fill four non-region dates this year. Jefferson and Winder-Barrow also share a tie through Rob McFerrin, the Bulldogg athletic director who is the son of former Jefferson football coach T. McFerrin.
“I knew there would be some local interest there because of the old rivalry and them being 12 miles down the road … I talked with T’s son Rob, who’s athletic director there, and we made it happen,” Hall said. “I think it’s a good game for both teams.”
“We are going to be playing one of the better teams in the area,” Webb told The Barrow Journal.
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