WINDER, Ga. — Chattahoochee head coach Vince Strine said his Cougars’ matched up well with Winder-Barrow for their first round matchup. However, he said his team never “clicked” Friday night in their first playoff appearance since 2012.
“On the second play of the game we threw a pick-six and we just weren’t able to recover,” Strine said. “We had some opportunities but we couldn’t put it all together. It felt like nothing was really going our way and I felt like Winder didn’t make mistakes all night.”
The loss ended Chattahoochee’s winningest season (7-4) in six years.
Though his team took an early exit from the playoffs, Strine said the progress of the Chattahoochee program in recent years has been impressive. He attributes this year’s winning season to the close-knit, family atmosphere among his team.
“It comes down to all the little things done off the field that the kids would create for themselves,” he said. “Coaches provide the X’s and O’s but the players create the culture. This team was a much closer unit and I think that really led to our successes this season.”
Failure does breed success, and his senior class certainly experienced both, Strine said.
During their freshman and sophomore season, Hooch went 4-16. Those seasons served as motivation.
“Our senior class recognized our downfalls the past couple of years and they took it upon themselves to now be a victim of those kinds of things,” he said. “To have those seasons is an uncomfortable feeling, but being uncomfortable is a part of growth. The seniors saw the process and what it was really going to take. They have gone through the worst and the best and I feel blessed to be a part of this senior class.”
Part of that growth was his team stepping up from a bitter end to their 2016 campaign. Hooch was locked out of the playoffs with a loss to Alpharetta in the final game of the regular season. They led by two scores entering the fourth quarter.
“We used last year’s Alpharetta loss as a stepping stone to ensure we didn’t feel the same way at the end of this season,” Strine said. “We accomplished that and now we will have new goals ahead of us.”
Looking ahead to next year, Strine remains confident the Cougars’ program is once again on the rise.
“I certainly see Hooch football being very competitive the next few years,” he said. “We will take the lessons of this year and let those build into the maturity of next year’s team.”