OCOEE In its final 2015 home game, the Central Florida Christian Academy football team had just scored its third touchdown and two-point conversion Nov. 7.
Receivers Drake Dickens and Trey Jordan had made acrobatic catches on the first drive of the second half, setting up a Judah Stone touchdown run and a delayed sneak to barely get two points. The Eagles led Windermere Prep for the first time in the game, 24-21, after keeping pace while playing catch-up in the first half.
On the next play, Davis Crayner returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
CFCA did not score again.
"Having a young football team, getting them to understand how to play in big games is going to be our struggle," Eagles head coach John Davis said. "It's something that as they get older they'll understand, how to stay in and fight in the big games. When the game's out of reach ... anyone can play well, but I want our guys to understand when the game's tight, that's when the best football players play their best."
Windermere Prep leaned on Mitchell Darrow, Robert Brand and Mason Russell to lead a run-heavy, physical offense to 33 unanswered points after that last CFCA conversion.
"I think one of the things we knew going into the season was we were going to be able to run the ball pretty well," Lakers head coach Jacob Doss said. "Rely on the offensive line."
That offensive line did not miss one practice this season and bought in more than anyone, Doss said.
Davis also said his Eagles ran well, primarily via Stone, and came together as a team even with 11 freshmen starting and a new coach.
"We had a lot that we needed to replace, coming from last year into this year," Davis said. "We put a lot into learning a new system. For some of these guys, I'm their third coach in four years, so it's a lot to take in. I felt like we were able to gel, to play some great offense and great defense all year. We're not quite at the caliber of ... Windermere Prep, but we're younger than everybody we played, and that's something we can hold solace in."
But the Lakers have not been perfect -- at least not this season -- and Doss's biggest regret was the first game of the season, in which Windermere Prep lost on home turf to divisional foe St. Stephen's Episcopal, 53-41. It was the team's first loss since 2013.
"It was a funky day -- played on Friday, had to come back on Saturday because of some weather, and I just don't think we played our best football there," Doss said. "A win or loss there really catapults you into the season. ... Had we won that game, I think the playoff scenario would have been a bit different, but the way (players) responded after that loss was incredible."
He called the Lakers set to graduate from his program the winningest he has ever had and hopes young players -- who will have holes to fill from several talented graduating seniors -- follow their example.
"We've got to get bigger and stronger; I want to get faster," Doss said. "One of the exciting things is our middle-school team went undefeated this year ... so there's a lot of talent ... and I think they've really bought into football, which is something I've wanted here for a lot of years."
As for Davis, he is excited for his team to get a full off-season without having to switch systems, so the players can further develop under his.
Both teams finished the season 7-3.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected]. For video from this game and others this season, check out @Zachary_Kerr on Twitter.