- November 13, 2014
WINDERMERE — Through one quarter of the quarterfinals Sunshine State Athletic Conference Playoffs on Friday afternoon, the Windermere Prep Lakers found themselves in an unfamiliar setting — the score was 0-0.
The high-powered Lakers, accustomed to being up double-digits by the time most fans are settled in at their seats, were locked in an early dogfight with the visitors from the Community School of Naples.
Two scoring drives in the second quarter — capped by a one-yard run from Rylan Thomas and a touchdown pass from Parker Davis to Michael Stones — would put Windermere Prep up 12-0 at the half and the Lakers, despite being tested early, would find their stride in the second half en route to a 33-6 victory.
“That is, without a doubt, one of the best football teams we’ve played all year long,” Windermere Prep coach Jacob Doss said. “It took us a little bit for us coaches to figure out our rhythm.”
Facing a team that has arguably been the most capable foe the Lakers (8-0) have taken on all season, it was the Windermere Prep defense that shined on Friday and gave the team’s offense time to get going and create some separation.
“Everybody talks about our offense for nine, ten weeks and all of a sudden our defense is the heroes today,” Doss said. “I thought they were phenomenal.”
The Lakers opened a 19-0 lead early in the third quarter before Community School of Naples (7-2) found the scoreboard.
Windermere Prep, which had to abandon its typical empy-set backfield after the Seahawks demonstrated their more than capable pass rush in the first half, went on a scoring drive of its own — highlighted by some Isaiah Curry’s big time touchdown reception — to put the Lakers up 26-6.
With eight minutes to play, CSN was driving and trying to remain in contention when senior Chris Granjean jumped a route and took an interception back to the house, effectively sealing the deal for Windermere Prep.
“Veteran move from a veteran kid,” Doss said of the interception. “Granjean, of course, watched more film than anybody and he read it and he saw it.”
The Lakers move on now to the semifinals of the SSAC’s Florida Bowl Series Playoffs, where they will host Seffner Christian on Friday, Nov. 7. Seffner edged Berean Christian on Thursday, 33-31.
The semifinal matchup will be a rematch, as Windermere Prep beat Seffner earlier in the season, 46-20.
Familiar foe or not, Doss said afterward that his confidence in his team is only heightened by how they responded to some early adversity in the opening round of the playoffs.
“I wanted to make sure we were not going to panic in any situation,” Doss said. “Our defense, we hung our hat on our defense all week … I think our defense is one we’re going to be able to hang our hat on, for sure, going into the second round of the playoffs.”