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Doggs get camp going for new year

POSTED: July 13, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Bulldogg Chance Kitchens works on a receiving drill before Winder-Barrow’s spring football game in early May. Most of the Doggs are now at football camp.

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Now that the formality of Dead Week is out of the way and the players and staff are back from a restful week of vacation, Winder-Barrow football looks to be taking a little camping trip.

This sort of camping, though, involves considerably more tackling than bait and tackle as the Bulldoggs are knee-deep in West Georgia’s football camp this weekend in Carrolton.

Summer football camp might be a mainstay for some programs, but this year marks the first in quite some time that Winder-Barrow has had the opportunity to take part in such an opportunity, and new head coach Heath Webb had a significant part to play in making that happen.

"When I took the job, something I told the boosters was that this camp is the most important thing that we’ll do, period," first-year Winder-Barrow head football coach Heath Webb declared.

Webb has been involved in the football camp at West Georgia in one way or another for the last six years. His involvement started in 2009 when he took a team from North Paulding, a school only entering their second full year of competition. Those young men clearly benefited from something they learned at camp, because a second-year team without any senior leadership managed a 5-5 record with more than a few quality wins, all after a 2-8 inaugural season.

"We went to this camp just trying to find age, and with a bunch of underclassmen, we went to camp and took our lumps, but we were better because of it," Webb stated. "That year we won five ball games with no seniors and we beat three playoff teams and led AAAA in passing. A lot of that, I think, was that we just saw such great competition at this camp that it just made us better when the season came along."

For Webb, the importance of summer camp cannot be overstated.

"It’s just something that I think will make us better based on my past experience," Webb emphasized.

As a testament to the team’s work ethic, an attribute that Webb has been simultaneously praising and installing, the players are genuinely excited about spending a few days getting banged up on the field.

"The kids are really excited. I think they’re really excited to see how they stack up against some of the best competition in the state and really looking forward to putting all the new schemes that they’ve learned to work," Webb said.

Given its position so late in the schedule, West Georgia’s camp is almost exclusively competition based. Webb and his staff have already spent most of the summer installing schemes and preparing physically, so now the team just needs to put all the pieces together at full speed.

"We’ve basically got live competition with helmets and shoulder pads. It’s full contact on the upper half against other teams for about four days," Webb explained.

As Webb alluded to, that competition will truly come against some of the state’s best programs. Playoff teams from almost every classification will be present including Camden County, North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Habersham Central, White County, Prince Avenue and McEachern.

"You’re talking about powerhouse AAAAAA programs there," Webb emphasized.

North Gwinnett was the state runner-up in Class-AAAAAA during the 2013 season after losing to Norcross in the Georgia Dome. Peachtree Ridge lost in the second round of the playoffs to Dacula after compiling a 7-3 regular season record in perhaps the most difficult region in the state: the one with both North Gwinnett and Norcross.

"The thing we’re excited about is lining up against the best and seeing how we stack up," Webb noted.

The Bulldoggs will also see a more familiar face as Region 8-AAAAA Gainesville made the trip to Carrolton as well.

Getting some early exposure with Gainesville brings a mixed blessing to Winder-Barrow’s feet as the Doggs will get just as good a look at Gainesville as Big Red will get of the Doggs.

"We obviously know what Gainesville is and what they have. Winder-Barrow is a little bit of a mystery right now for everybody. I guess we’ll probably eliminate a little of the mystery there as far as Gainesville goes," Webb admits. "There is a little bit of a concern there, but I think where we’re at as a program right now, our stance is that we just need to get better. What better way to do that than to go up against the best?"

While the live competition this week may not answer any questions about scheme or strategy necessarily, Webb did acknowledge the fact that a few other questions may be answered by the end of the weekend.

"I feel like we’ve got a good feeling of what we’re doing scheme wise. The players understand where they’re supposed to be and they understand where they fit into our offense and defense," Webb reiterated. "We still have a lot of competition at a lot of positions. This will probably be the time where a lot of jobs are won and lost."

With a full roster approaching 90 student-athletes, the Bulldoggs have some room to shuffle players around and make room at the top of the depth chart for whoever is willing to put in the work and make their name known.

Almost that entire roster is present at this weekend’s camp, too, as Webb made it a priority of his program coming in that the team would make it to some kind of camp. The players spent much of the spring selling discount books and promoting various raffles in order to raise funds, and the team met their collective goal of raising enough money to put together a camping trip.

"We’re taking everybody that can go," Webb said. "With it being summer, we have a few conflicts with family obligations…and that sort of thing, but I’m really happy with the fact that every kid who is able to go is going. We accomplished what we needed to in order to get the bulk of our players there."

Now that all of the planning is done and the team is ready to go, Coach Webb knows exactly what he wants out of this weekend, and the only thing left on his mind is getting everything started.

When asked what he was most looking forward to about camp earlier in the week, Webb answered, "What I’m most looking forward to is lining up against Prince Avenue [Friday night] and getting some live reps and see where we’re at and where we are in rebuilding this program, and that’s going to be the first sign of it right there."



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