Windermere Prep is Florida Bowl-bound

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  • | 10:23 a.m. November 13, 2014
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WINDERMERE — As he reflected on the end of the 2013 varsity football season, Jacob Doss knew Windermere Prep now has history on its side.

Doss, the program’s only head coach since the school fielded its first team as an FHSAA independent in 2010, and the Lakers entertained high hopes last year as a newcomer in the ever-expanding Sunshine State Athletic Conference.

Windermere Prep seemed primed for a top-two finish in the SSAC North Division — while also clinching one of the league’s four playoff berths — entering Week 10. But, a last-minute 27-24 victory for Mount Dora Bible over First Academy of Leesburg left the Lakers on the wrong end of a three-way North Division tiebreaker.

“I remember that I got a text from (TFA-Leesburg head coach Sheldon) Walker that night and it said, ‘Coach, we lost. I’m sorry,’” Doss said. So it was tough to go and play our bowl game the next week, because we were ready to move forward.” 

The rate of progress may have slowed at the end of last season, but the Lakers have more than made up for it during the program’s second year in the SSAC.

Of the 24 league schools eligible for this year’s playoffs, Windermere Prep is one of two teams still standing. 

The next goal is winning this Saturday’s championship game, which will be held at Pennington Field on The Master’s Academy campus in Oviedo.

“It’s a great point, because it was pretty painful last year,” Doss said. “Our kids were so geared up for making the playoffs, and we wanted to keep moving forward, but it came down to the tiebreaker. So, it does make it a little sweeter to come in this year and do what we’ve done.”

The Lakers improved to 9-0 with last Friday’s 42-21 home victory over Seffner Christian Academy in the Coral League title game. Central Florida Christian Academy tried to secure an all-West Orange County matchup for the 2014 Florida Bowl, but the Eagles (8-2) dropped a 29-6 decision to host Orlando Christian Prep in Friday’s Coastal League final.

The Sunshine State’s Florida Bowl Series playoffs conclude Nov. 15 with four games at TMA.

CFCA and Seffner Christian (5-4) are scheduled to play the third-place contest at 4 p.m., and Windermere Prep and undefeated OCP (10-0) follow at 7 p.m.

Windermere Prep and CFCA both faced division opponents in their respective semifinal playoff games last week.

The Lakers completed a season sweep of Bay Division rival Seffner Christian, finishing off a 21-point victory as nightfall began to descend on the WPS campus. (Windermere Prep also defeated the Crusaders 46-20 in September for its third series win since 2012.)

“Honestly, I was very nervous coming into this game where normally you have a lot of confidence,” Doss said. “It’s just really hard to beat a team twice in the same season, and so I called some of my old high school coaches, and I asked them, ‘What do you say to your guys?What do you say when you’re playing a team for the second time?’ That’s the crazy part of the playoffs this season, because if you look at the second round, everybody had already played each other once.

“We’ve played Seffner for five years and we have an enormous amount of respect for those guys,” he said. “They’re very similar to us in that they started football the same year we did. Their coaching staff hasn’t changed — nor has ours — and we all know each other.”

Junior quarterback Parker Davis threw three first-half touchdown passes Friday as the Lakers built a 28-6 halftime lead. Davis also ran for 80 yards during the opening half, highlighted by a 2-yard TD run that capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive with 8:10 left in the first quarter.

Davis finished with 120 passing yards on seven completions. He found Kevin Babich on a 12-yard slant route to give Windermere Prep a 13-6 lead late in the first quarter, and Babich’s fumble recovery set up a Davis-to-Isaiah Curry 31-yard score with 10:48 remaining before halftime.
Davis later showed his ability to escape a pass rush — as well as his 4.4 speed — by avoiding a sack and passing to an open Michael Stones for a 42-yard touchdown. 

Seffner Christian rallied with 15 unanswered second-half points, closing within 28-21 on Dalton Kocsis’ 30-yard field goal with 10:14 to go. However, the Crusaders made the mistake of sending the ball deep on the ensuing kickoff, and Lakers senior Chris Granjean returned it to the Seffner Christian 22-yard line.

“(Granjean’s kickoff return) calmed us down, it calmed our coaches down and it reminded us that this is what we do,” Doss said. “We’re used to big returns and we got a chance to change field position, and then we jumped into that I-formation backfield that worked really well against Seffner the last game.”

Rylan Thomas reached the end zone from 2 yards and Rayan Refae’s extra point made it 35-21 at the 8:21 mark. Windermere Prep then forced a turnover on Seffner Christian’s next possession, which led to Granjean’s 20-yard touchdown run with 6:33 left.

Granjean helped pace the WPS running game with 123 yards on 25 carries, and Thomas rushed 10 times for 41 yards. Defensively, sophomore Mitchell Darrow was credited with 11 total tackles, and Jay Hunter made seven tackles.

CFCA dropped a 24-point decision to Orlando Christian Prep in September and the top two seeds from the Beach Division met again Friday.

The host Warriors led the rematch 14-6 after the first quarter and carried the same advantage into halftime. CFCA thought it had narrowed the gap to 14-12 on Bradley Dos Santos’ 46-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter, but a penalty negated the score and OCP intercepted a pass attempt on the next play.

Freshman quarterback Gehrig Chambless directed CFCA’s single-wing offense on a 10-play drive to the OCP 26-yard line late in the second quarter. But the next three plays resulted in minus-14 yards, and a hook-and-ladder play on fourth down came up three yards short.

OCP lost a red-zone fumble on its opening second-half drive, before the Warriors pulled away with two rushing touchdowns.


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