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PREVIEW: Gainesville at Winder-Barrow

Winder-Barrow   Josh Harvey   70

Winder-Barrow Josh Harvey 70

GAINESVILLE RED ELEPHANTS (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Bruce Miller

Record: 1-1

Last week: Beat Buford 19-15

WINDER-BARROW BULLDOGGS (8-AAAAA)

Coach: David Wagner

Record: 0-2

Last week: Lost to Monroe Area 58-14

After a 19-year hiatus, the Bulldoggs renew a rivaly that dates back to 1948 when the Red Elephants come to W. Clair Harris Stadium Friday.

But while Winder-Barrow has gone 5-0-1 in the series’ last six games, this Gainesville team poses one of the biggest challenges the Bulldoggs have faced in many years.

The Red Elephants, ranked No. 9 in the most recent Class AAAAA state poll, come into Friday's contest fresh off a 19-15 upset of No. 2 (Class AA) Buford that handed the Wolves their first home loss in six years.

Not the kind of news coach David Wagner’s team needs after a rough outing last week against Monroe Area.

“We played a Monroe team (last week) that’s probably the best (Purple Hurricanes) team I’ve seen in a decade,” Wagner said. “And now, we just go right into boiling water (with Gainesville). Watching them (on video) against Buford is like watching a college game.”

If the Bulldoggs are going to have a chance to topple the Red Elephants, tempo may be the key.

Slowing down a Gainesville no-huddle, spread offense led by Clemson-committed junior quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for 296 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win at Buford, won’t be easy.

So, much of the burden could fall on the Winder-Barrow offense’s ability to shorten the game and keep Gainesville off the field, a task that may be more difficult with several players banged up with injury, including running back Chandon Sullivan, who is questionable with a hip flexor injury.

Therefore, the play of linemen like senior Josh Harvey will be critical in opening up room for the running game to work and keep the offense running.

“We just have to try to execute and control the clock,” Wagner said. “Defensively, we have to gang tackle and not give up the big play because (Gainesville is) just athletic from top to bottom.”

Last meeting: Winder-Barrow won 21-6 in 1993

Directions to Winder-Barrow High School: 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.