Winter Garden to host two playoff football games on same night for first time
| 6:15 p.m. November 12, 2015
WINTER GARDEN So far as the city of Winter Garden is concerned, this Friday night will be unlike any other.
For the first time, West Orange High School and Foundation Academy — the city’s two schools with varsity football programs — will be hosting playoff football games on the same night. For Foundation, it is the first time the Lions will ever host a playoff game, an achievement that comes on the heels of the Lions’ first district championship in program history.
“We’re excited to host and we want to represent (Winter Garden) well — and hopefully move on,” Foundation Academy head coach Brad Lord said.
Lord’s Lions (6-4) will host Warner Christian (2-8) — the same program that has twice before defeated Foundation in the Class 2A State Playoffs, including a decisive 41-13 victory in 2014. When the Lions take the field at Walker Field in the heart of Winter Garden they will be looking to extend their winning streak to seven games after a 0-4 start to the regular season.
Lord credits his coaching staff for the turnaround.
Assistant coach Robert East took charge of the Lions’ offense following Foundation’s 29-9 loss to Northside Christian. After a pass-happy, spread attack proved unsuccessful early in the season, East re-tooled the Lions’ attack to be more rush-oriented to more easily get the ball into the hands of Foundation’s many playmakers. The result has been 1,005 rushing yards for senior Gabe Walker, 464 rushing yards for sophomore Konrie Brown and another 331 rushing yards from junior Jaquan Patterson.
As a team, the Lions have reached the end zone 24 times this fall via their ground attack.
Although Foundation hosting a state playoff game is a first, the Warriors will take Raymond Screws Field as a host playoff team for a second consecutive season. Instead of hosting Timber Creek, as it did in 2014, West Orange (9-1) will be hosting the Boone Braves (6-4).
The two teams last met in Week One of the 2014 season, and the Warriors held on for a 27-24 victory in a game played on a Saturday morning after bad weather prevented the game that Friday night.
West Orange enters the playoffs after scoring an emphatic 46-7 victory over rival Ocoee (6-4) in its regular season finale. Though the game had no effect on the playoffs and the Warriors’ foremost concern was avoiding injury, head coach Bob Head and his staff implored their players to take the game seriously as a way to build even more momentum heading into the playoffs.
“We just worked hard all week — we stressed to them, ‘let’s treat this like a playoff game,’” Head said.
One thing the Warriors have this fall that they arguably have not had in years past is a defense that has been dominant at times. Senior linebacker Jeremy Samuels credits the program’s defensive coaches — led by coordinator Ty Parker — for helping the unit to reach new heights in 2015.
“We have a great coaching staff, and they’ve put us in the place to make plays,” Samuels said. “And what we do is we go out and execute.”