- November 18, 2018
WINTER GARDEN — Foundation Academy’s varsity football program lined up against Orangewood Christian on three separate occasions in the past 16 months.
So, the Lions figure to have a clear idea about the task ahead when they host head coach Bill Gierke’s Rams on Homecoming this Friday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Walker Field. Both schools are searching for their second regular-season win.
Foundation, which ended a season-opening three-game skid with last Friday’s 29-15 home victory over Pierson Taylor High, defeated Orangewood Christian in the spring of each of the last two years. The Lions also made the trip to Maitland in Week 5 of the 2013 regular season. The Rams rallied for a 21-20 win in double overtime.
Orangewood Christian looks to rebound from last week’s 24-7 setback to Village Academy in Delray Beach. The Rams (1-2) continue to be led in part by senior running back/linebacker Jimmy Martin, who earlier this year verbally committed to Boston College.
Foundation (1-3) overcame soggy conditions — the Lions put the ball on the ground seven times, one of which led to a Wildcats safety — and penalty issues to outlast Taylor High. Head coach Brad Lord voiced frustration with his team’s sloppy play at times, but Foundation successfully avoided an 0-4 start for the second consecutive season.
The Lions were 0-4 last year after forfeiting non-district games against Taylor (a 35-17 win) and Deltona Trinity Christian. They didn’t fully recover en route to a 3-7 overall record, but Lord believes this year’s group can trend in the right direction going forward.
Foundation hosts Orangewood Christian and Hawthorne (1-3) in the next two games before entering its bye week. The Lions then open their Class 2A District 4 schedule on Oct. 17 at state-ranked Lakeland Victory Christian.
“We’re young, but we’re getting healthy, and we’re looking to peak right now,” Lord said. “Last year, we peaked early, but I hope that we’re building right now. We didn’t want to start 0-4 this year, and this week we’re going to have our hands full with Jimmy Martin from Orangewood Christian.”
Foundation had to prepare for Taylor’s wing-T attack, but it was the Lions’ ground game that shined.
Junior tailback Gabe Walker rushed for a season-high 236 yards and three touchdowns and Konrie Brown added a 69-yard TD run late in the third quarter. With blocking help from the offensive line and fullback D’angelo Byer, Walker reached the end zone from 27, 11 and 55 yards as part of a 22-carry performance.
The Foundation defense also came up with key stops after allowing 11 rushing touchdowns through the opening three weeks.
Linebackers Darius Irvin (9 solo tackles, 2 assists), Anthony Bridges (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) and Byer (9 solo tackles, 2 assists) helped limit the Wildcats offense after quarterback Matt Henry’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Jamie Knox opened the scoring with 7:47 left in the first quarter.
Brown was credited with five tackles and one sack while seeing time at safety and defensive end. The aforementioned freshman also posted Foundation’s first interception of the season — picking off Henry’s pass over the middle midway through the second quarter — and sophomore teammate B.J. Bohler had an interception early in the fourth quarter.
Late in the second quarter the Lions not only forced and recovered a fumble with Taylor driving in the red zone, but also later stopped Henry for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Foundation 3-yard line with 11.3 seconds remaining before halftime.
“That quarterback (Henry) has a lot of heart, and that team last year played us tough into the fourth quarter,” Lord said. “That’s a tough team, and they’re tough-nosed kids. They (the Wildcats) played The Villages last week, so they didn’t play a slouch team before us. We’ve just got to get better. The mistakes we had against Carrollwood Day (in a 26-21 road loss on Sept. 12) really cost us, but we were better in some areas tonight.”
Walker had an 11-yard touchdown run (on a draw out of a spread formation) on the first play of the second quarter. The Lions fumbled an inside handoff on the ensuing two-point conversion, but quarterback Jacob Murphy alertly grabbed the loose ball and ran into the end zone around left end to give Foundation a 14-7 lead.