ALPINE -- Winterboro High School’s football team will look to get its season back on track against Class 1A, Region 5 opponent Donoho in Anniston on Friday night at 7.
The Falcons won the 2018 meeting 14-8 at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs lead the series 9-2.
Both teams advanced to the second round of the playoffs a year ago, and this game likely will have huge implications when it comes to sorting out playoff seeding in November.
Here are five things to know heading into this battle:
Keys to defeating Donoho
Winterboro head coach Alan Beckett said last year’s contest against Donoho wasn’t one of the Bulldogs’ best of 2018, and for that reason, he hopes his team is motivated and able to avoid making as many mistakes.
“We want to come out on fire against Donoho,” he said. “Last year, Donoho played really well, and we didn’t execute or coach very well.
“Donoho has very intelligent kids that play hard. They will play with relentless effort. Rodricus Elston is a dynamic running back. Edwin Connell plays great on the defensive line."
A win by the Bulldogs would help take out one of the biggest threats for the No. 2 seed in the region.
“We feel we have a good football team,” Beckett said. “If we show up at practice every day, have a good attitude and work hard, we feel good about our team.”
Rebounding from a rough one
Winterboro (2-1, 0-1) gets an opportunity to bounce back from a 41-21 loss to defending region champion Spring Garden (2-1, 1-0) last Friday.
The Bulldogs lost four fumbles against the Panthers, and negative plays canceled out any positive happenings for Winterboro.
“Spring Garden is good and won,” Beckett said. “Turning the ball over four times is not in our best interest. We really did some nice things, only to stop ourselves. Let’s get that fixed.”
Despite Winterboro’s woes, Beckett said several players stepped up during the loss.
“We are doing good things,” he said. “Troy (McKinney) had a solid run. Jake Travis was 5 of 6 passing. Brody Hamm had a solid catch. Brandon Dandridge, Marquez Curry, (Jay) James and Hamm continue to make a lot of defensive plays. Devin Noble has gotten a lot better.”
Sophomore Jonathan Headen, another player Beckett commended for his performance, came up with an interception on defense and a 67-yard touchdown run.
A winning mentality
Beckett said his team is capable of achieving great success, and part of the recipe for success is players giving the team more even when not 100 percent.
“There is a difference in playing hurt and playing injured,” he said. “Ricky Chappell and Curry were both banged up but played through (it). That means a lot.”
He added his team must find a way to quit being its own worst enemy.
“Our team is really talented,” Beckett said. “We knew going into the season one of our biggest enemies could potentially be us -- jealousy of carries, apathy, practice attendance, etc. We've met a lot with our leaders and had lots of success, but it is a daily battle.”
Quarterback spot in great shape
Winterboro was missing two of its key assets against Spring Garden, wide receiver Cam Pointer (shoulder injury, out for season) and quarterback Isaiah Holland (calf).
Beckett said Holland, a senior, shined during practice through Wednesday in preparation for Donoho.
“Isaiah Holland had the best week of practice of his year, he really did,” Beckett said. “He was a leader all week and I was really proud of him. He really responded well.
“Today (Wednesday), he had his best practice of the year. He really threw some BBs. He really threw some good balls. He’s such a dynamic player. If he brings it, he’s a leader and has the right frame of mind, I think he’s special.”
Holland adds a physical component from the quarterback spot as he does not shy away from contact.
“He kind of has a Tim Tebow-style,” Beckett said. “He’s not a ‘run-around-you’ (guy). He’ll run through you. If he has to race you, he’ll race you, but he does bring a physical presence. We’re glad to have him healthy and look forward to seeing him play Friday.”
Beckett said Travis, who usually lines up at tight end, showed promise as a backup quarterback filling in for Holland.
“I thought he had a great game,” Beckett said. “That’s tough to be thrown into your first game against a Top-10 team, but we asked him to be a game manager. He did a good job of that, and he got in the right plays.”
Being in the right spots
One issue Beckett said has been problematic every week this season is players on defense not always being in the correct spots before the snap.
While Beckett said fatigue played a role in those miscues, he added Winterboro specifically used this week to work on the issue.
“We looked at a PowerPoint (presentation) today and we really talked about it,” Beckett said. “We made it a point of emphasis, then we went back and showed them on the film the times where we weren’t lined up right. There were too many times where our linebackers were caught up in trash. We feel like we’ve got some pretty good inside linebackers, and we’ve made it a point of just getting them backed up and letting them play ball.”