When Apalachee started its varsity football program in 2000, its first team included pretty much an entire roster of youngsters who grew up as Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs.
Eight years later, that isn't the case.
Apalachee students now go to their own feeder schools and play on their own youth league teams, while Winder-Barrow athletes do the same. They no longer compete on the same teams, but they still know each other well enough to spark a nice rivalry between Barrow County's only two high schools.
"It's maybe not as heated as it was, but there are still a lot of bragging rights on the line," Winder-Barrow head coach Ben Corley said. "There ain't but one McDonald's in town."
"It's become a good rivalry and it's definitely gotten intense the last couple of years," Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said. "We've had some really big crowds."
That likely won't change tonight when struggling Winder-Barrow (0-4) takes on surging Apalachee (3-1).
The host Bulldoggs have won three of the four all-time meetings between the two schools, although Apalachee is considered the favorite this season.
The Wildcats are 3-1 behind a stifling defense that has two shutouts already, a 7-0 win over traditional power Cedar Shoals and a 17-0 win over previously unbeaten Rockdale County last week. Chaun Gresham and Jeff Haney led the defense vs. Rockdale, while Davis also credited punter/kicker Jon Livesay for a strong game.
"I was awfully pleased with our team's performance (last week)," Davis said. "I thought we played hard and our kids really got after it."
The defense's chore this week is a Winder-Barrow offense that has gone to a spread attack, experiencing some growing pains in the process. The Bulldoggs have lost all four games by large margins of 40, 38, 22 and 37 points.
The offense has produced double digits just once, scoring a total of 33 points all season. It will take a much better effort to move the ball against an Apalachee defense led by Gresham, a South Carolina commitment.
"(Apalachee's) very good on defense, they've got a lot of speed," Corley said. "They're very well-disciplined and very well-coached on that side of the ball. They've relied on that all year long and they're getting better each week offensively."
Wide receiver Chris Wragg and lineman Brandon Kohler have been bright spots for Winder-Barrow's offense, while Corley also praised Greg Dixon and Hogan Anderson for their play at linebacker.
SideBar: APALACHEE AT WINDER-BARROW
Apalachee Wildcats (8-AAAA)
Coach: Shane Davis
Record: 3-1, 3-1 region
Last week: Beat Rockdale County 17-0
Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs (8-AAAA)
Coach: Ben Corley
Record: 0-4, 0-4 region
Last week: Lost to Habersham Central 46-6
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 1300 AM
Last meeting: Winder-Barrow won 12-8 last year
Directions to Winder-Barrow High School: From Ga. Highway 316 east, go left on Highway 81 into Winder, turn left at third light onto Candler Street and stadium is about one-tenth mile on the right.
2007: Winder-Barrow 12, Apalachee 8
2006: Apalachee 21, Winder-Barrow 7
2005: Winder-Barrow 30, Apalachee 7
2004: Winder-Barrow 21, Apalachee 0