The much anticipated season opener for the Winder-Barrow High School football team did not go according to plan.
The Bulldoggs were defeated by Jefferson, the No. 5-ranked team in Class AAA in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association poll, 41-7 at W. Clair Harris Stadium. The loss spoiled the coaching debut for Heath Webb at WBHS.
“The biggest thing we took away from the game is that we are not where we need to be strength-wise,” Webb said. “That will take some time to fix, but we will get it fixed.”
Winning the coin toss, WBHS (0-1) elected to take the kickoff, but were forced to punt after three plays. The Dragons then marched deep into Bulldogg territory before a fumble recovery by Antonio Trimble ended the drive.
WBHS did manage two first downs on the ensuing possession, but was forced to punt once again. This time Jefferson marched 75 yards in four plays, capped on a 54-yard pass from Evan Shirreffs to Dalton Hill with just nine seconds left in the opening quarter. The point-after attempt was no good to leave the score at 6-0.
The Dragon defense then forced another three-and-out giving the football back to the offense at the WBHS 27-yard line following a punt return by Rodney Carr. Trent Sorrells then fought in from four yards out for a 13-0 lead with 7:45 left in the half.
Another stalled Bulldogg drive gave Jefferson possession again but this time the WBHS defense stood tall, keyed in part by a sack from Nathan Millwood.
It appeared WBHS would be able to put some points on the board before halftime, but a drive stalled at the Jefferson 5-yard line. A 22-yard field goal attempt failed to leave the score 13-0 at the break.
After the Dragons took the opening drive of the second half and moved 60 yards for a score on a 3-yard run by Sammy Williams, WBHS put its first points of the night and the 2014 season on the board on a reverse pass which was hauled in on fourth and goal by Bradyn Randall.
Despite cutting the lead to 20-7, WBHS was not able to stop Jefferson the rest of the night as the Dragons added scores on a 21-yard run by Williams, a 1-yard run by Colby Wood, and an 89-yard run by Wood.
Jefferson improves to 2-0 for the season after playing against a Class AAAAA opponent for the first time in program history.
“Jefferson had a very good defense, and is a very good team overall,” said Bulldogg offensive coordinator Naji Lyon. “We did struggle to control the ball and score, but we played hard and never gave up.”
The key now will be to move forward to the region slate.
“We will move forward pretty quickly I believe,” Webb said. “An advantage of our schedule this year is that we play Apalachee in the second game. That will allow the kids to remain focused on what’s ahead and not look back at last week.”
While Friday’s season-opening loss was admittedly disappointing, Webb said Jefferson is a solid team and solid program.
“They continue to play well even after the coaching change a couple of years ago,” the WBHS coach said. “They run a sound system and are very good at what they do. Don’t be surprised to see them go a long way this season in AAA.”