The Apopka Blue Darters kicked a field goal in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead. After that, though, the West Orange Warriors defense shut down the Blue Darters — including a pivotal goal-line stand in the second quarter — paving the way for a 28-3 victory on Oct. 2.
Over the previous three games leading up to the showdown with Apopka, the Warriors had been allowing 34 points per games, making Friday's result a pleasant — and important — surprise.
"We've given up a lot of points the past couple weeks and we just never stopped working," head coach Bob Head said of his defensive unit.
West Orange (5-1, 1-0 district) would take the lead in the second quarter on a pair of Woody Barrett-fueled touchdowns. First, Barrett found Naquan Renalds for a touchdown pass and, later, he rattled off a pair of bruising runs through the Blue Darters defense — the second of which ended in the end zone.
"We were wanting to really run him hard up the middle and then see if he can back out to the perimeter," Head said. "But, you know, Woody makes plays."
Barrett scored again for the Warriors in the third quarter, on another bruising run, and the defense was well-equipped to handle things the rest of the way.
A late fumble forced by West Orange was picked up, recovered and taken back for a touchdown by Nolan DeFranco to punctuate the win with an exclamation point — but it was the stellar play of senior safety Ben Bollinger, who is in his first season with the Warriors, the anchored the defensive effort from start to finish.
"He dominated," Head said of the Winter Springs transfer, who finished with 11 tackles on the night.
"Ben was the heart and soul of our defense tonight. ... Tackling those kids from Apopka, in space, is not easy."