The Gladiators put 28 points on the scoreboard, shut out the Wolverines and went on to finish the season 8-3.
Woodstock, on the other hand, went 3-7.
The Wolverines’ coach hopes to flip things around this season.
“We are building on our strengths,” Brent Budde said.
Budde was encouraged after watching the team scrimmage against River Ridge a week ago.
“I thought, defensively, we flew around and smothered the ball,” he said. “We tackled well, and that is the key over there. Offensively, we missed a few plays here and there that we have to work the time out, but I thought it was a good showing.”
Playing ahead of most other teams’ season openers means Woodstock is playing with one less week of practice, but Budde doesn’t see it as a disadvantage. After all, Johns Creek had just as much time to prepare.
“When Aug. 1 rolls around and you look at the calendar and that is the first day you put pads on, and then you know that you have a game on the 23rd, you know that you just have one full week of practice and then you are getting ready for a scrimmage game and then you are getting ready for your first game,” Budde said. “It rolls up on you quick.”
The first day of the season according to the Georgia High School Association is Aug. 30, but teams can request permission to play earlier.
Budde said by the time Woodstock filled out its region schedule in 2012 and was looking for non-region games to fill in, he was unable to find teams with mutual days off. Both Woodstock and Johns Creek were available, so Budde wrote a letter to the GHSA and was granted permission to play the game.
“It’s hard to find games,” Budde said. “It just comes down to a scheduling conflict. You have to find a game somewhere and, sometimes, zero-week is the only time to get it scheduled.”
Still, Budde feels his players had plenty of time to prepare, including spring practice and the summer when many players were able to continue weight-training and participate in activities such as 7-on-7 passing camps.
“By the time you put on pads, the only thing left to work on is the actual physical hitting,” Budde said. “Everyone should pretty much know what their assignments are, where they are going and things like that.”
In Woodstock’s only prior meeting with Johns Creek, the Gladiators ran all over the Wolverines’ defense. While many of the Johns Creek players who were key in the 2012 victory have since graduated, Budde feels his team will face a similar challenge.
“They aren’t going to beat themselves,” he said. “They are hard-nosed, well-coached. They are going to make you earn everything.”
The challenge of slowing down the Gladiators will be left to the defense, something Budde feels is the strength of the team.
“We are pretty senior-laden on the defensive side of the ball,” he said.
Among the seniors on the defense are safeties Chris Mowery and Alex Motsinger, tackle Tyler Baggett and linebackers Duncan Morris, Ethan Wheeler and Will Stumpf.