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PREVIEW: Winder-Barrow at Clarke Central

Winder-Barrow's Tyler Junius

Winder-Barrow's Tyler Junius

WINDER-BARROW BULLDOGGS (8-AAAAA)

Coach: David Wagner

Record: 1-7, 1-5

Last week: Beat Cedar Shoals 31-21

CLARKE CENTRAL GLADIATORS (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Leroy Ryals

Record: 3-5, 3-3

Last week: Lost to Flowery Branch 24-13

After 31 straight losses, the Bulldoggs finally got in the win column for the first time in over three years — and the first time in David Wagner’s coaching tenure — last week, and it has had a noticeable effect on the team.

“It’s done wonders, not only for (the team), but for the school and the community. It’s been great,” Wagner said. “At practice, we’ve been a little more confident. We had 30 mph wind gusts and temperatures in the 40s on Monday, and we’re out there running around and getting excited.”

By contrast, Clarke Central is trying to cling to one of the region’s four state playoff spots after suffering its third straight loss last week.

But while Wagner says the Bulldoggs relish their very real opportunity to further play spoiler, one should not be fooled by the Gladiators’ current slide and should focus more on the athletic talents or players like receiver Jaquan Dowdy and defensive back Dreko Statham.

“The thing about Clarke Central is, you can’t look at the record,” Wagner said. “Athletically and size-wise, they’re going to be bigger than us. And they’ve got a lot of speed. The thing about it is, you have to play the game.”

To combat that athleticism, the Bulldogs will try to stick to the formula that proved successful last week and rely on a pounding running game that produced a trio of 100-yard rushers in Chad Platt, Chandon Sullivan and Al Schotter.

And the Bulldoggs will look to a similar performance from an offensive line led by junior tackle Tyler Junius.

“If you’d bet me last week we’d run for 350 yards and had three 100-yard rushers, there’s no way I’d have taken that bet,” Wagner said. “And the line did a great job. I told (the running backs), ‘You need to buy those guys dinner.’”

Last meeting: Clarke Central won 44-0 last year

Directions to Clarke Central High School: Highway 78 east to Atlanta Highway east. Make right on Alps Road and left on Baxter Street. School is approximately a mile on left.