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New coach brings new look

Black letter day

POSTED: August 9, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Winder-Barrow football coach Heath Webb stands with his quarterbacks during picture day with the players sporting the Doggs’ new black jerseys.

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With a new coach and a new attitude approaching the 2014 football season, Winder-Barrow’s varsity Bulldoggs will have something else new: uniforms.

“Our guys love it. They love the change. They love the new culture. The new way of doing things. That’s what’s most important,” Winder-Barrow head varsity football coach Heath Webb added. 

Webb and his staff revealed the new Nike uniforms to the team Monday night before letting the men put their jerseys on for Tuesday’s picture day. 

The most obvious difference between the new uniforms and the old ones, aside from the Nike logo replacing Under Armour, is the prominence of black in favor of the traditional red. 

Winder’s new home jerseys are almost entirely black with the exception of the numbers and a white shoulder stripe, along with a faint red outline accenting the numbers. 

While the team has new uniforms to play around in, the old uniforms are not going to waste. In fact, Winder’s freshmen will get to use the old red jerseys they grew up watching the team use on Friday nights.

The new varsity uniforms will actually allow for four different combinations as the team will have both black pants and white pants. While most games will see use of the white pants on either a black shirt for home games or white shirt for road games, Webb did acknowledge that the team may pull out an all-black configuration for “special occasions.”

“There is a little bit of a plan. We’re going to kind of reserve the black-on-black for special occasions,” Webb specified. “If we go black-on-black, then it’s a special night for us. If we come out in black-on-black, you know it’s a special night.”

As to what might consist of a special occasion or not, Webb was less than forthcoming. Presumably the second home game of the year would count as a special occasion, seeing as how that is the annual Battle of Barrow contest between Winder-Barrow and Apalachee.

According to Webb, that’s a definite maybe. Or not.

When asked if fans were making too broad an assumption to say the team would wear all-black uniforms against Apalachee, Webb simply said, “You might be. You might not be.”

One other piece that Webb is holding on to right now is the specifics behind the white helmet that Winder-Barrow will be unveiling at the next Touchdown Club meeting on Aug. 19 and at the team’s first regular game for everyone else. 

“It’s something that we’re holding up our sleeves. It’s something that we want to hold back just for now just because that anticipation could be fun and exciting,” Webb said. 

While he held back any specifics, Webb was not short on enthusiasm for what fans and players will get to enjoy come Aug. 29.

“I love the new design. I’m really excited about it. The Winder people are going to love it,” Webb teased. 

While the coach was relatively shut-mouthed about many specific details, Webb did go so far as to admit that the impetus for the new uniforms rested in one word.

“Change,” Webb acknowledged tersely. “Anything and everything we can do to create a new culture is important to us, so that was the essential thought.”

Football in the south is often known as a game of tradition, and so a drastic uniform change or program change at such a traditional school and football community as Winder-Barrow has the potential to stir up a mid-level controversy from some people, but that controversy is a welcome conversation for Webb and his staff.

For starters, Webb admits that most comments have been positively accepting of the new uniforms. Most of the negative feedback has been on one specific element of the ensemble that people have not yet seen.

“I’ve gotten that with the white helmet and I will say this on the uniform side of things. Everybody loves them,” Webb noted. “I have gotten a few comments about switching from the red helmets to white helmets and my comment to them is, ‘How well has the red helmet treated you?’ The answer is pretty obvious that it hasn’t treated them very well lately.

“Change is not always a bad thing.”

Webb also hopes to reassure fans and community members that the new uniform is not intended to erase tradition or upend Winder’s image. In his opinion, everything should indicate the opposite as soon as people see what’s in store.

“We obviously have a great deal of respect for Winder-Barrow tradition which you will see when you see the new helmet design,” Webb explained. “You will see the great reflection of Winder-Barrow tradition, but at the same time, we can make changes while embracing our traditions as well.”

The coaching staff and the Winder-Barrow faithful are also fully aware of the fact that a new uniform is not a guarantee in the wins column. With new uniforms, the team looks different, but what will that translate to on the field?

Again, Webb and his team are fully aware of the fact that new duds will only take them so far. 

His emphasis, though, is less in what the uniforms look like and more in what they do for the team as a whole.

“I would say that a new attitude and new excitement does make a difference, and that is reflected in the way we practice and the way we play every day. Our kids have responded well. Our kids were extremely excited to see white helmets,” Webb mentioned. “Why? Because it was different.”

The team’s enthusiasm is paramount according to Webb. If the team loves the uniforms, then he’s happy with them.

“Whether the people in the stands love them or not, our players do, and that’s something that a lot of people will miss. A lot of people miss the fact that the people who are actually playing the game and scoring points and making plays, those are the people who need to feel comfortable and confident,” Webb said. 

 After just a couple chances to wear the uniform and try it on, Webb has already noted that the team is responding well to the new look by taking pictures at the team unveiling. 

“Any level of excitement you can add is good,” Webb said.

The Bulldoggs will need to get amped up and excited quickly because they will take the field Friday night in Cumming for a scrimmage battle with South Forsyth’s War Eagles. 

The War Eagles are a Class-AAAAAA opponent playing at a high level of competition fresh off of a 7-3, 4-3 Region 6-AAAAAA season. The record is not Webb’s main concern, though, so much as the style of play the Doggs will see on the road.

“I’m curious to see how we compete and how we react to a different offense and a different defense. What they do is so very different from what we do. It’s a polar opposite to what we do on a daily basis, so it’s going to be a good measuring stick of whether we’re competing well against ourselves in practice or if we’re competing well as a team,” Webb stated.

“It’s pretty much traditional, old-school Power-I football, which we are not.”

For fans who hope to see the Doggs take on the War Eagles, Webb invites and encourages them to come out.

“My challenge to the Winder community would be to travel to South Forsyth to show these young men that this community is behind them,” Webb said. “It’s more than just a school building, it’s more than just a coaching staff that believes in them. This community is behind them, too, and it’d be an awesome sign to travel well to that game.”

 

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