Warriors, Panthers closing in on undefeated regular seasons
| 9:57 a.m. October 23, 2014
ORLANDO — In keeping with the school’s renowned band, the West Orange High varsity football team continues marching to its own impressive beat.
West Orange’s latest success came Oct. 17, in the form of a 48-7 road victory against Backyard Bowl rival Olympia. The Warriors subsequently enter a Week Nine bye with an undefeated record (8-0) and a lofty state ranking (No. 4 in last week’s Associated Press Class 8A poll) to go along with the program’s first district championship since 1999.
Wins over Apopka and Olympia were enough to clinch the Class 8A District 4 title and a first-round home playoff game, but West Orange now has designs on a perfect 3-0 district season when it hosts Senior Night opponent Evans on Friday, Oct. 31.
The Warriors secured an FHSAA playoff berth last year — their first since the 1999 campaign — when they defeated Evans by 36 points in Week 10. It was also 15 seasons ago that West Orange last hosted a state playoff game, which resulted in a 14-0 loss to Oviedo.
“We want to win them all, and we’re not going to have any letdowns,” West Orange coach Bob Head said as the WOHS marching band performed near the south end zone at Olympia.
“We’re going to practice even harder now that we have a bye week coming up this week,” he said. “We’re going to get after it and just keep pushing and keep persevering. We’re going to go one week at a time, but we really want to be 10-0 (at the end of the regular season), and we want to go into the playoffs with a lot of firepower.”
Undefeated records, state rankings and district championships also apply to the Dr. Phillips Panthers.
While West Orange retained the picket fence trophy against Olympia on Friday, Dr. Phillips was 17 miles away at Cypress Creek High School, where the Panthers blanked the Bears 51-0.
D.P., which has held the top spot in the Class 8A state poll for seven consecutive weeks, scored on five one-play drives in the first half. Rudy Norwood passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 atop the Class 8A District 5 standings.
Dr. Phillips has three regular-season games remaining, while West Orange plays twice prior to the postseason.
D.P. welcomes Evans for Senior Night at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23. The Panthers then travel to Freedom High on Oct. 31 — looking to finish off a 4-0 district season — and Showalter Field on Nov. 7 against Winter Park.
West Orange concludes the regular season Nov. 7, at Ocoee High.
High-scoring, up-tempo offense is a recurring theme at West Orange, which has won 20 of 22 games (regular season and playoffs) dating back to an October loss against Apopka in 2012.
Woody Barrett’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Eddie McDoom on a post route came less than two minutes into the first quarter at Olympia, and West Orange went on to win back-to-back games against the Titans (who hold a 9-5 all-time series lead) for the first time since 2001-02.
The Warriors also have scored at least 42 points in each of their last seven games.
“I feel like we got the Greatest Show on Turf,” Head said in reference to the St. Louis Rams’ record-breaking offense led by quarterback Kurt Warner.
Dajour Nesbeth’s interception not only ended Olympia’s opening possession, but also it set up an 87-yard scoring drive for West Orange. Dexter Williams’ 2-yard run on fourth down gave the Warriors a 13-0 lead with 1:50 left in the opening quarter, and Paul Mansingh added his second of six extra points on the night.
Mike Scott’s 60-yard touchdown run made it 20-0 with 11:46 remaining before halftime. Barrett then capped a four-play, 63-yard drive with a 10-yard run that featured some nifty footwork along the sideline.
Jalen Julius provides West Orange offensive coordinator Collin Drafts with versatility, but the aforementioned senior also can make plays in the West Orange return game. Julius grabbed a punt near midfield and outran the Olympia coverage to the end zone, upping the advantage to 34-0 with 28 seconds left in the second quarter.
Barrett’s 9-yard TD pass to McDoom upped the lead to 41-7 — and started a running clock — at the 4:35 mark of the third quarter. Scott added his second rushing touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run with 6:43 remaining.
West Orange’s defense continues to make strides as well. Senior safety Ramon Lyons’ hard hit on Titans receiver Duante Callaway — who had 194 receiving yards and three touchdowns against state-ranked Lake Mary the previous week — helped set the tone early.
The Backyard Bowl matchup also marked Head’s initial return to Olympia High since he became the Warriors’ coach starting with the 2013 season.
“It felt good to be back here, but we had a goal in mind, and that was to come out of here victorious,” Head said.
Barrett finished with 138 passing yards and 51 rushing yards, and McDoom totaled five catches for 114 yards. Barrett has 1,964 passing/rushing yards and 26 total touchdowns for the season.
The Panthers built a 49-0 halftime lead last Friday en route to a decisive district win at Cypress Creek.
D.P. outgained the Bears 306-3, as Jaquarius Bargnare had 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The defense limited Cypress Creek to two first downs (both via penalty) for its third shutout in four games, enabling the Panthers to win their 30th consecutive regular-season game dating back to 2011.
Cypress Creek attempted an onside kick to start the game, but D.P. recovered at its own 44-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Norwood found Bargnare for a 56-yard touchdown.
The Panthers went 50 yards in four plays with Bargnare catching a screen pass and running 45 yards to the end zone. The lead grew to 20-0 moments later when senior Vernon Walker fielded a punt at the D.P. 44 and, following a block by Jean Julme, went down the right sideline for a touchdown.
Amos Louis pounced on a fumble in Cypress Creek territory, setting up a Daquan Isom 30-yard TD run. That was followed by a 35-yard wide receiver screen for a touchdown from Norwood to Mike Macon.
Jeremiah Harris added a 7-yard touchdown run for a 41-0 lead in the second quarter, and Marvin Washington took a quarterback keeper 66 yards for a score. The first-half barrage featured seven D.P. touchdowns on the Panthers’ first 12 plays.
D.P. senior linebacker Greg Scinta’s second-half sack resulted in a safety to close out the scoring.