With six Fridays in the books and every team having played at least five games this fall, we figured this would be a good time to award “midterm” grades to each of our coverage area programs and to take a look at the outlook for each team down the stretch. Grades are based on record, district standings and preseason expectations.
CFCA Eagles — A-
THE BUZZ: After losing a fair number of contributors and would-be contributors in the offseason, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to lower expectations for the Eagles — and after a season-opening defeat to rival Legacy Charter, that may have seemed reasonable. But first-year coach John Davis and his very young roster have persevered and rattled off four consecutive wins to put them right in the the thick of their division race.
HOME STRETCH: With Legacy, which has lost twice, right on its tail and holding a tiebreaker advantage, CFCA has to do its best to win its three remaining regular season games to hold onto second place in its division.
Dr. Phillips Panthers — B
RECORD: 3-3, 1-0 district
THE BUZZ: The Panthers lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2007, a byproduct of their six-game gauntlet of a schedule to begin the season. Two of those losses, against West Orange and Apopka, came down to the final possession of the game, though. Most importantly, Dr. Phillips defeated Oak Ridge in the final game of the stretch, and because that was the only district contest of the bunch, it was the one that mattered most.
HOME STRETCH: After handling the Pioneers with relative ease, the Panthers are back in the driver’s seat in the district. If Dr. Phillips defeats Freedom, Olympia and Cypress Creek, it will be district champion once again, and the three losses will seem like ancient history.
Foundation Academy Lions — C+
RECORD: 2-4, 1-0 district
THE BUZZ: The Lions started the season with four consecutive losses, but wins in the two weeks since have helped get Foundation back on track. Through the struggles, the Lions have seen stellar performances from the likes of Jacob Murphy, Gabe Walker, Evan Thompson and Konrie Brown.
HOME STRETCH: The Lions’ most recent win against Cornerstone Charter was a district contest. That means that, at 1-0 in a four-team district, Foundation needs to win against either Victory Christian or Agape Christian to secure a return to the state playoffs.
Legacy Charter Eagles — B+
THE BUZZ: Despite losing a lot of its playmakers from a season ago, Legacy Charter has somehow had a better start to the 2015 season than it did in 2014. At 4-2, the Eagles are right in the thick of the race for runner-up in their division. A loss to Orangewood may haunt Legacy, but for now, the Eagles will continue to lean on their two-quarterback approach.
HOME STRETCH: Legacy needs to win its remaining two regular-season games and hope CFCA drops a contest along the way.
Ocoee Knights — B-
RECORD: 2-3, 1-2 district
THE BUZZ: Ocoee already has matched its win total from 2014 and is still in the playoff mix, though losses to Hagerty and Edgewater in district competition have the Knights playing catchup with three district games left. Although Ocoee has improved on offense, it is still averaging only 15.6 points per contest and will need to do better down the stretch.
HOME STRETCH: Games in the next two weeks against West Port (at home) and at Lake Howell — two teams at the bottom of the district race — should give the Knights a golden opportunity to improve to 3-2 in district play ahead of what could be a pivotal showdown against Lake Minneola Oct. 30. A loss in either of those games, though, likely ends Ocoee’s postseason hunt.
Olympia Titans — A-
RECORD: 5-1, 2-0 district
THE BUZZ: After winning just one game in 2014, Olympia seems to have regained some of the swagger it lost in rattling off a five-game winning streak. To be sure, the teams the Titans have defeated during this stretch are not Central Florida’s elite, but there’s something to be said for winning the games you should win — especially when winning hasn’t come easy in past years. First-year coach Kyle Hayes and his staff have struck a chord with their program.
HOME STRETCH: Two district games remain — against Dr. Phillips and against Oak Ridge — and the Titans need to win just one of those to gain entrance into the FHSAA Class 8A State Playoffs. They won’t be favored in either game, but then again, how many people had Olympia winning five or more games this fall, anyway?
West Orange Warriors — A
RECORD: 5-1, 1-0 district
THE BUZZ: A humbling loss at Trinity Christian keeps the Warriors from earning an A+, but you can’t knock West Orange too much when it already has signature wins over Dr. Phillips and Apopka — with the latter coming on the road. The Warriors’ sound 28-3 defeat of the Blue Darters Oct. 2 has put teams around the state on notice.
HOME STRETCH: With the win over the Blue Darters, West Orange is in the driver’s seat in Class 8A District 4. The Warriors should have no trouble with Evans, which is still winless, meaning West Orange’s game at Wekiva on Oct. 30 likely will have home-field advantage in the state playoffs at stake.
Windermere Prep Lakers — B-
THE BUZZ: Aside of Parker Davis and Mitchell Darrow, the Windermere Prep Lakers lost most — if not all — of their skill players from a season ago. This season was understandably going to be an adjustment, and, to be fair, two of Windermere Prep’s losses have come in thrillers that could have gone either way. Still, a 52-0 loss to Santa Fe Catholic stings and the Lakers’ tackling has got to improve down the stretch.
HOME STRETCH: The Lakers are a long shot to make some noise in their division given that both Santa Fe Catholic and St. Stephen’s Episcopal are undefeated at 5-0, but they can still work on improving each week as the core of this team has become rather young and promising.