The Warriors left little doubt in avenging a loss to the Titans in 2017.
Nemea Hall ran for three touchdowns, Sinica Sigler rushed for 138 yards and two scores and West Orange High’s defense and special teams shined Friday night, leading the Warriors to a 56-10 season-opening victory over host Olympia in the 16th edition of the “Backyard Bowl” rivalry.
The Warriors (1-0) scored 29 points in the first quarter, and the 56 total points tied for the second most in series history.
West Orange, which won for the first time in the series since 2014 and the sixth overall dating back to 2001, registered 61 points during a win over Olympia in 2002 and the Titans posted 56 in an overtime victory in 2004.
The 46-point margin of victory was also a record for the Backyard Bowl, surpassing West Orange’s 43-point triumph in 2013.
Senior quarterback Elijah Stimmell threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes against Olympia (0-1), as the Warriors duplicated last week’s 56-point Kickoff Classic performance against Windermere High.
“We practiced the kids real hard this week and we got after it. I think the kids were really geared up and ready to go,” said current West Orange coach and former Olympia coach Bob Head, moments after the Warriors celebrated with the rivalry’s white picket fence trophy. “Our defense was pretty stingy tonight and I thought we had a great plan and the kids executed it. I thought they (the Titans) had a couple really good runs and got the edge on us a couple times, but overall I thought our guys tackled well. I was pretty happy the way we tackled.”
It was a struggle in all three phases for Olympia, which made its regular-season debut under new head coach Travis Gabriel. Turnovers and penalties helped dig an early hole for the Titans, who had played well in stretches the previous week against Kickoff Classic opponent Lake Nona.
West Orange fielded the opening kickoff against Olympia and promptly drove 72 yards in six plays. Hall started with runs of 17 and 14 yards and later added a 21-yard reception, which set up Stimmell’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Giuliano Baber at the 10:10 mark of the first quarter.
The Titans fumbled the ensuing kickoff – which was recovered by West Orange’s Caleb Danner at the Olympia 27-yard line – and Stimmell took advantage by zipping a seam pass on third down to Jaylon Carlies for a 30-yard score.
Olympia answered on its first play from scrimmage when senior running back Taelson Jean ran down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. However, West Orange’s Lexan Coleman recovered a Titans fumble at the Olympia 20-yard line just over three minutes later and Hall capped the short drive with a 2-yard TD run.
The Titans then faced fourth-and-29 from the 4-yard line on their next possession, and West Orange’s Tyler Jones grabbed a punt near the center of the field and ran 52 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors were also successful on a two-point attempt as Stimmell completed a pass to Darrell Harding for a 29-7 lead.
“We started off pretty fast and defensively we had a missed assignment and gave up a touchdown, but our guys settled back down and it seemed like we got some rhythm on offense," Head said. "Elijah Stimmell made some pretty good throws and Hall and Sigler were really hitting the holes hard.”
West Orange scored 20 more points in the second quarter for a 49-7 advantage. The Warriors had a pair of one-play scoring drives as Hall had a 40-yard TD run at the 9:05 mark and Sigler ran 80 yards for a touchdown with 7:25 left, while Hall contributed an 8-yard TD run to cap a 27-yard drive and Colton Scharfeld followed with his fifth of six extra points on the night.
“We’re trying to be balanced on offense, and we’re trying to get our offensive line some chemistry. We’ve moved some guys around to try and find the right pieces to the puzzle,” Head said. “I’ll watch the film and see how well we did.”
Ten points were scored during a running-clock second half. Olympia got a 37-yard field goal from Colby Kintner with 2:35 to go in the third quarter, which was set up by Eddie Nelson’s 60-yard run.
Up next for West Orange is its regular-season home opener next Friday against Rockledge, while Olympia looks to regroup on the road Aug. 31 at Ocoee High.