The last — and only — time the Winder-Barrow High School football team won a region championship was 1993, the best year in program history, when the Bulldoggs went 11-3 and advanced all the way to the GHSA Class AAA semifinals.
That year started on a strong note for the Bulldoggs, who went on the road and shut out Habersham Central 24-0 in their season opener. The quarterback for Habersham that night: senior Heath Webb, now Winder-Barrow’s head coach.
“I somewhat remember that night and being a part of that drubbing,” Webb said with a laugh Monday. “That was such a solid football team, especially on defense. Man, were they fast and physical.”
Twenty-four years later, Webb will coach in and his players will play in, one of if not the biggest game in their career Friday when the Bulldoggs host Dacula at 7:30 p.m. in the regular-season finale with a Region 8-AAAAAA championship on the line.
“Competing for a championship is somewhat of a rare thing,” said Webb, who is trying to win his first-ever region championship as a head coach. “You don’t get too many opportunities to play for something like this, so we’re excited for it and we’re embracing it. We’re not hiding it from the kids or trying to downplay it and we’re not running from it.
“It’s a region championship game. We hope the whole town of Winder will show up and be a 12th man for us.”
Dacula (5-4, 4-0 region) leads the way in the region standings entering the contest with Gainesville (4-5, 3-1) and Winder-Barrow (8-1, 3-1) trailing behind (Gainesville holds the tiebreaker over Winder-Barrow). Lanier (5-4, 2-2) holds the fourth spot, while Habersham Central (1-8, 0-4) and Apalachee (1-8, 0-4) have been eliminated from playoff contention.
If Winder-Barrow wins and Gainesville loses to Lanier on Friday, the Bulldoggs will win the region outright by holding the tiebreaker over Dacula. If Gainesville also wins, there would be a three-way for first place and playoff seeding would be determined by the teams’ rankings on Max Preps.
As it stands currently, Dacula is ranked 17th in Class AAAAAA by Max Preps while Winder-Barrow is 25th and Gainesville is 33rd. Lanier is 30th.
If the Bulldoggs lose and Gainesville beats Lanier, Dacula would be the region champion and Winder-Barrow would finish as the No. 3 seed. If Winder-Barrow and Gainesville both lose, there would be a three-way tie for second. it’s likely that Gainesville would be the fourth seed because of their lower ranking and the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds would be determined by whether Winder-Barrow were to drop below Lanier.
See more in the Nov. 1 edition of the Barrow News-Journal.