WINTERBORO -- Winterboro’s high school football team will face a challenging matchup in Class 2A opponent Fayetteville at Farmlinks Field on Friday night.
Kickoff is set for 7.
Winterboro leads the series 13-3, with the most recent contest ending in a 14-7 home victory for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) enter the contest having fended off a late comeback attempt in a 21-7 win over 1A, Region 4 foe Appalachian last Friday.
"We did find a way to power through the adversity of Appalachian making a comeback last week,” Bulldogs head coach Alan Beckett said. “I asked our players why they get so uptight in close games, and they say, ‘Because our fans yell at us.’
“A team has enough obstacles to deal with to have to overcome your own fans. I've asked some fans why, and in essence, they say to make players play harder. I'll be honest, that makes zero sense. Successful programs don't have to overcome their own fans."
Though they escape the negative energy coming from their hometown fan base, the Bulldogs must contend with a Wolves squad loaded with a variety of weapons.
"Bailey Deloach is very dangerous in space,” Beckett said. “He is really impressive. Sam Manning, (Houston) Goins and Payton McKee are all very good playmakers.
"Coach (John) Limbaugh has really tapped into something at Fayetteville. He has a nice thing going. You can count on them being physical, fundamental and they always hit you with a good wrinkle or trick play."
Beckett said he’s been happy with Justus Garrett’s progress as a contributor at guard and defensive end, and he added the team’s receiving leadership from unexpected areas.
"(Garrett) really has found a home at defensive end,” Beckett said. “He made two really nice plays at end when we needed them late. We knew he could play offense, but this year he's had a big year on defense.
"You want to be impressed, then look at a guy like Jason Geise. He had a neck injury and couldn't play this season. He was a starter for two years and is devastated not to play. However, he is at every practice and acts as a leader. Most would go home."
Through four games in 2016, Fayetteville (2-2, 2-1) has alternated between wins and losses, with its most recent game being a 40-20 homecoming win over Vincent in a Class 2A, Region 5 battle.
“Hopefully after this week, we’ll have won the past two weeks,” Limbaugh said. “The thing about playing Winterboro is you’re playing a (Talladega) County school that’s a rivalry game for us as well as (our game against) B.B. Comer … It’s good for our county, and good for our kids.
“They know us, and we know them. Coach Beckett is doing a phenomenal job there. He’s turned that team around, and they’re winning football games. They’re tops in their region … This Winterboro team will come hit you, and we’ll have our hands full.”
Limbaugh said playing a team like Winterboro will help prepare Fayetteville for tough contests against Lanett and Horseshoe Bend later in the season, but last season’s loss left a bad taste in the mouths of a very hungry 2015 Wolves team.
“We’re excited to play a good football team,” he said. “We want (to win) every game. There’s not a game I don’t want to win … There’s some things we didn’t do well (last year), but that’s immaterial now. That’s last year, and that game matters (none).
“Coach Beckett had a good game plan last year, and that’s why we lost. Their players outplayed us. That’s why we lost. They were ready for the game last year, and I think, in a lot of respects, we may have been looking ahead to Ariton to begin that playoff, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t have my team as well-prepared as I should have for that Winterboro game last year.”
One wrinkle in Fayetteville’s offense is its ability to thrive regardless which quarterback is under center.
“Our kids are good with either Bailey or Manning at quarterback, so both can play the position very well,” Limbaugh said. “It’s always good to have a Manning at the quarterback position. I’m fortunate there. We’ve got a couple other guys that’s been named Manning in the past, and they’ve carried that position quite well for themselves.”
He added he anticipates a good crowd on hand for the contest.
“I look for a good, hard-nosed football game this Friday night,” Limbaugh said. “If fans want to go out and enjoy good football, this is the game to come to.”