On Monday, March 6, Winder-Barrow announced Robert Paxia as the new head coach for the program going forward.
Paxia said the opportunity to coach in Georgia, particularly at Winder-Barrow, was one he couldn’t pass up.
“I felt what they were looking for,” Paxia said. “(Winder-Barrow’s administration) was wanting to build and wanting to do some things that had been done a little differently. They were willing to go outside of the conventional box (a coach from outside of Georgia) to accomplish some of those things.”
“The support of athletic director Jared Noblet and Principal Maxwell really made the decision much easier.
Paxia is coming from Flagler Palm Coast (FPC) in Florida, which is his alma mater. He led the Bulldogs to the District 3-4S title last year. He spent two years total with the Bulldogs, finishing with a 13-8 record. However, the official record will read 10-11, as four of those 11 losses came by way of forfeit after reporting an academically ineligible player.
Prior to his position at FPC, Paxia coached at Lake Gibson – also in Florida – for two seasons. He had a successful 23-3 record in those two years.
Overall, Paxia’s record as a head coach is 39-17, including the forfeiture losses at FPC. He has been a head coach for three programs prior to accepting the position at the helm of Winder-Barrow football.
“There’s a significant difference in Georgia and Florida football from a facility and support standpoint,” Paxia said, alluding to part of his motivation in taking the out-of-state position.
Paxia replaces Ed Dudley, who coached the Bulldoggs for five seasons, amassing a 19-32 record during his tenure. Under Dudley, Winder-Barrow made the playoffs once and finished just short of the postseason in the last two seasons.
“The people at Winder-Barrow were very excited about the opportunity to create and build upon what coach Dudley has done, so that, to me, was very attractive,” Paxia said. “He’s done an outstanding job of starting to turn the program. From where the beginning was to now, you can see the progress they had made.”
“We’re just excited about continuing that progress.”
As such, Paxia plans to be competitive immediately in the new era of Bulldogg football.
“We’re gonna expect to be in every game and challenge to win every game – that’s our goal,” Paxia said. “Everytime you step on the field, you play to win the game. We’re gonna come out and play to the best of our ability. Hopefully, the ball wants to roll our way a few times.”
“I fully expect us to try and make the playoffs. That’s the standard that we’re trying to set.”
The assistant coaching staff is being evaluated at the moment, as the hiring is still fresh. Paxia said he is unsure of whether the former staff will be completely new or whether there will be returnees from Dudley’s team.
“I would anticipate some staff changes,” Paxia said. “Whether they’ll be wholesale or not, we haven’t gotten that far. But, there will be some guys who we’ll retain, and there’ll be some guys who are gonna move on.”
Nevertheless, according to Paxia, the most significant aspect of the game will always come from the players.
“We’re gonna make the kids the priority,” Paxia said. “Sometimes that seems to get lost in some places.”
Paxia attributes his success with prior programs back to the hard work of the players he coaches, rather than other factors, and he expects the same to be the case with Winder-Barrow.
“We’re gonna make sure that we’re doing the little things the correct way, in an attempt to be different in our execution and our character and love for each other,” Paxia said.
Another source of his excitement with the program is the atmosphere in Barrow County since accepting the position a week ago.
“The whole community has been extremely welcoming from top to bottom, and the school too,” Paxia said.
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