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Winder-Barrow at Gainesville preview

Cole Baggett

Cole Baggett

Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs (8-AAAAA)

Coach: David Wagner

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Monroe Area 40-14

Gainesville Red Elephants (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Bruce Miller

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Buford 38-14

If the Bulldoggs’ task in last week’s game against Class AAAA state-ranked Monroe Area was a tough one, they face perhaps an even tougher one in the defending Class AAAAA state champions. And this herd of Red Elephants, already dangerous with Clemson-bound quarterback Deshaun Watson at the helm, will be an angry one, at that, following their loss to Buford.

“Gainesville’s phenomenal,” Winder-Barrow coach David Wagner said. “They’ll be pushing for another state title. They’re still a top-10 team, if not a top-five team.”

Still, the Bulldoggs’ team that faces this Gainesville juggernaut is a much different one that got steamrolled 69-0 a year ago.

In addition to already having a win under their belts, they were considerably more competitive against Monroe Area than they were a year ago. If they can cut down on the mistakes they made last week, a similar improvement tonight against Gainesville is very possible, especially with another solid performance by a defense led by linebacker Cole Baggett.

“We committed about four or five turnovers last week, including three inside our own 30 that gave Monroe a short field,” Wagner said. “You can’t do that when you play a team you’re evenly matched with, much less against a ranked opponent. … All I want to do is play mistake-free, and I’ll accept whatever comes with that.”

Last meeting: Gainesville won 69-0 last year

Directions to City Park Stadium: Take I-985 north to exit 22 and turn left, following U.S. Highway 129 north. Follow Highway 129 and turn right onto Glenwood Drive past the Gainesville Civic Center. City Park is at the bottom of the hill where you turn left into the drive of the park.