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Big Doggs jump, run and lift to win

POSTED: July 26, 2014 1:00 p.m.
Photo Courtesy Naji Lyon/

One of Winder-Barrow’s football players participates in the Big Dogg contest to see who is the fastest and strongest among the athletes.

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When first-year varsity football coach Heath Webb started at Winder-Barrow, one of his earliest statements was that he wanted to introduce an element of competition into every practice. 

For much of the last week before official practices get kicked off, that is exactly what Webb and his staff have done. 

“It’s a great competition amongst the players themselves,” Winder-Barrow football coach Heath Webb explained. 

The Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs have spent the better part of a week taking part in what they are calling the Big Dogg Competition, an effort to encourage all-around strength and agility training for the team while finding out who has gotten themselves in game shape the quickest.

Coaches set up a list of events and then ascribed point values to different results, letting them see a more empirical set of data as well as defining the winners of the competition. 

“We had a rubric, so to speak, then assigned a point value to a certain amount of weight or a certain amount of time to basically find out who our biggest, fastest most conditioned athlete is using that grid,” Webb explained. 

Jeremy Ramsey won the overall competition with 179 points, followed closely by Joey Junius with 176. Cole Baggett came in third with 173 points, while Bradyn Randall’s 168 points were good enough for fourth. CeCe Green rounded out the top five with 160 points.

Participants competed in eight events. The first part of competition was power cleans, which Baggett won with 255 pounds, followed by Junius with 250. Baggett was second on the bench press contest, tying with Ahikaim Griffin at 280 lbs. Both were vastly overshadowed by Anthony Gates and his monstrous 315 lb. bench press.

Squat press rounded out the weight lifting events, which a number of young men tied for the lead. Ramsey, Griffin and Green handled a squat press of 385 lbs., a feat which was equaled by Antonia Santibanez and Jerry Scott.

In a test of quick-burst acceleration, Will Mauldin won the 10-yard sprint with a 1.47 second finish, narrowly edging out Jay Branch’s 1.5 second finish and Drake Power’s 1.53 time. 

On the longer distance of a 40-yard run, Baggett resurfaced as the leader with a 4.63 time. Junius added to his numbers with a second-place time of 4.75 seconds.

The pro shuttle, a test of linear speed and change of direction, saw Ramsey take the cake with a 4.04 second time, followed closely by Nathan Millwood at 4.16 seconds and Noah Chapman with 4.28 seconds.

Millwood grabbed the top spot in the bench jumps competition with 57 jumps. Branch and Morton Tanner both followed him up in second with 50 jumps while Randall had 48 and both Cale Horner and Drake Power, along with Baggett, turned in 47.

The final test was a 1.5-mile run, won by Chapman in a 9:44 finish. Randall followed him by just 10 seconds with a time of 9:54.

One reason that Webb and company hold contests like this is to motivate the players to work on the individual elements of their game in preparation for the season.

“For the first couple days, we posted the top five, so that kind of motivated them to strive to be better the next day,” Webb noted. “That’s kind of the point, to strive to compete every day, and in this case competing against your own teammates.”

To that end, it seems to have worked.

“There’s a lot of conversation among the kids about beating each other. ‘I might be in second today, but I’ll be in first tomorrow,’ they say, so it builds that competitive spirit within them,” Webb mentioned.

As important as the competition is, there is more to it than just getting the guys to work harder against each other and to push in practice. These sorts of events also serve to break up some of the monotony that practice can become.

“First of all, it’s fun. Part of building a good football program is having fun, and they enjoy the good natured competition against each other,” Webb added.

There is no time to waste for the young men who now wear the red and black to build that competitive spirit, either, because the season is coming rather quickly. After a road-scrimmage against South Forsyth on Aug. 15, the Doggs come home for the season opener against Jefferson on Aug. 29. 

Just seven days later on Sep. 5, Winder-Barrow opens the expanded, nine-game region schedule with a cross-town rivalry game against the Apalachee Wildcats.

Knowing what is on the line, Winder football needs to be in a competitive mood really soon.

“I think the kids realize that we’re getting close…and they’re ready to go. That Big Dogg test helped launch that competitive spirit as we head into regular season practice,” Webb admitted. 

The first official day of regular season practice, as per GHSA regulations, was this past Friday, indicating even further that the season is coming and coming fast.

With each passing day, and especially with full practices getting started, Webb has observed the excitement levels getting up to a brand new level.

“It’s exciting. Our attendance has been outstanding through the month of July. They’re talking about our upcoming opponents. We’ve added a few new kids here over the last few weeks, guys we didn’t see through spring practice, guys we didn’t see through the summer, and what’s happening is that the guys are getting word out to their buddies, so we’re having folks trickle in,” Webb explained. 

As great as competitive spirit and excitement is, Webb believes that the physical benefits from such a rigorous practice schedule and intense intra-squad competition will pay out in droves once the clock gets going on Game One.

“I hope that what we’ve built in them is a sense of never quit, keep competing. I think we’re well-conditioned right now,” Webb noted. “I think what they’re going to see is that as we’re moving into the fourth quarter of a ball game, they’re going to feel fresher in during the ball game than they do during practice and during workouts. 

“The point that we’ve tried to do is over work them during workouts and during practice so that games seem easy,” Webb added. 

The Doggs finished last season 2-8 and found themselves falling off at the end of more than one contest when the score was often out of reach, so that kind of conditioning and preparation could prove to be the difference maker if the Winder-Barrow football squad can rely on their competitive spirit to keep them in the game late.

 

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