Warriors, Lakers commanding attention after Week Three wins
| 12:27 p.m. September 18, 2014
The parallels were a tad bit eerie.
Six miles from each other, a couple of hours apart in their conclusion, both the West Orange Warriors and Windermere Prep Lakers football programs made statements Sept. 12, with each program demonstrating just how serious it is about being a contender this fall.
With nearly identical scores, both teams looked impressive in winning contests that are arguably the toughest on the first half of their respective schedules.
The Warriors (3-0) defeated Oak Ridge, a state title contender in Class 7A that knocked off powerhouse Apopka in Week One, 42-20. The Lakers (2-0) took down Seffner Christian, a contender in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference on an annual basis, 46-20.
Both teams got off to fast starts — West Orange led 21-0 early, Windermere Prep went up 30-0.
And now, as they each look to continue their winning ways in Week Four, both the Warriors and Lakers are set to welcome tough opponents that hail from Leesburg for home games on Friday.
Those are the similarities for the two programs, coming off big wins in big games, and the way West Orange coach Bob Head tells it, the Warriors are hoping every game the rest of the way is a big one.
“Everyone was like, ‘Hey, this (game against Oak Ridge) is a huge game this week,’” Head said. “And I said, ‘I hope it’s a huge game every week’ — because that means we’re good.”
West Orange’s victory over the Pioneers was arguably the game of the night in Central Florida this past Friday — and the Warrior rose to the occasion.
Junior quarterback Woody Barrett continues to progress in his mastery of offensive coordinator Collin Drafts’ system, making good use of the skill players around him.
“He (Barrett) knows that he can rely on us,” said Jalen Julius, who rushed for a 60-yard touchdown (one of two touchdowns on the night) on Friday. “Woody gets better every day.”
Barrett is the Warriors’ leading rusher this season (363 yards on the ground) and appears to be more confident throwing the football with each passing game.
Barrett’s favorite target, wide receiver Eddie McDoom, made two athletic catches for touchdowns, while Miami-commit Dexter Williams rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The Warriors will host Leesburg (2-1) and Jones (1-2) to round out the first half of the season before kicking off district play against Apopka on Oct. 3.
A .500 program a season ago, Windermere Prep has been making its case as a program on the rise dating back to the Kickoff Classic, and in defeating Seffner Christian, a playoff team a season ago, the Lakers have put the league on notice.
“Seffner Christian is the best-coached team we go against every year,” Windermere Prep coach Jacob Doss said. “The way our kids came out and started fast, scored on the second play of the game, we realized, ‘We can do this.’”
Friday’s win over the Crusaders saw the Lakers take a 30-point lead. But then, that lead evaporated down to just 10 points, when Seffner scored early in the third quarter. It was then that Windermere Prep made a key adjustment, getting away from their trademark spread attack and pounding the ball and controlling the clock.
“We have an I (formation) package for situations when it’s raining, when it’s a four-minute offense, and we had to go with that a little bit,” Doss said. “It’s not something we want to do or like to do, but I might have to go back and look at it, because it was awesome.”
Senior captain Chris Granjean led the Lakers’ ground attack, rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Rylan Thomas — a transfer from West Orange — was a bruising presence for Windermere Prep on both sides of the ball, including a rushing touchdown and several tackles on defense.
“He’s been an unbelievable spark for us — he brings a whole different attitude to our campus,” Doss said of Thomas.
The next test for the Lakers will be last season’s SSAC champion, The First Academy-Leesburg. Should Windermere Prep prove victorious, the possibility of an 8-0 regular season and top seed entering the SSAC playoffs could become a very viable scenario.
Powered by high-octane offenses, both the Warriors and Lakers have core groups of four playmakers on offense that keep opposing defensive coordinators awake at night.
Woody Barrett, QB: Barrett leads the Warriors in rushing yards but keeps defenses honest with his improving efficiency as a passer.
Dexter Williams, RB: The Miami-commit is a fast, bruising runner with three rushing touchdowns whose presence on the field prevents teams from overplaying the Warriors’ pass attack.
Eddie McDoom, WR: In the words of coach Bob Head, the Warriors “can’t get Eddie McDoom the ball enough.” An athletic, dynamic playmaker.
Jalen Julius, ATH: A do-it-all player in the Warriors’ system, Julius is a constant threat on end-around sweeps and also has a receiving touchdown to his credit already this fall.
Parker Davis, QB: In the pass-heavy Lakers’ attack, Davis has shown poise and a knack for making smart plays. High volume of pass attempts lends itself to occasional mistakes, but coach Jacob Doss praises Davis’ resiliency and maturity.
Chris Granjean, RB: A leader on and off the field for the Lakers, Granjean leads the team in rushing yards (288) and has five touchdowns to his credit.
Michael Stones, WR: Lakers’ leading receiver has amassed 183 yards through two games and has two touchdowns to his credit.
Kevin Babich, TE: Standing tall at 6-foot-5, as listed on MaxPreps.com, Babich is a nice target for Davis to have on short routes and is the team’s second leading receiver.