McDoom's Mission: Wide receiver Eddie McDoom focused on taking West Orange to promised land
| 3:09 p.m. October 15, 2015
WINTER GARDEN Eddie McDoom started his football career as, of all things, an offensive lineman.
Before Morris and Berlina McDoom moved their family to Winter Garden a decade ago, Eddie first put on helmet and pads playing youth football in Miami. For his first couple of seasons, he was a lineman.
Even now, as the star wide receiver courts scholarship offers from the likes of the Oregon Ducks and the Florida Gators — while simultaneously trying to lead West Orange football to its first state title — those days when he was doing the blocking up front are something his family likes to remind him of from time to time.
“We used to tease Eddie that he would be on the field and just looking at the birds and not paying attention (when he was a lineman),” Berlina McDoom said.
Things sure changed when the McDooms moved to Winter Garden, though.
Coaches for the West Orange Wildcats, the Pop Warner program in Winter Garden Eddie came through, immediately noticed his natural athletic abilities. They moved him to running back, and as Berlina McDoom tells it, they lit a fire in him. It was around that time Berlina and Morris realized football was going to be a big part of their middle son’s life — and it also was around then that Eddie first had the dream of being a star for the West Orange Warriors one day.
“He knew he wanted to be a Warrior since elementary school,” Berlina McDoom said.
Right when he arrived on campus, Eddie was moved to the varsity team and to wide receiver. There, he got the opportunity to learn under the tutelage of Garrett Johnson — a star wide receiver two years his senior currently playing for the Kentucky Wildcats.
It was a relationship that had a lasting impact.
“As a sophomore, I took notes from Garrett Johnson while he was here — I watched him a lot and studied his game,” Eddie said. “Junior year, I took everything he taught me and brought it to the field.”
The 2014 season, his junior year, was Eddie’s true breakout year. Anchored by a knack he developed for making big plays in big moments, the attention came soon enough. The first big-time offer came from Clemson, with programs such as Kentucky following.
Now, the offers include Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Miami. Through it all, through the attention from college coaches he watched on television as a kid, Eddie has remained focused on his current goal — helping take the Warriors to new heights.
“I just come out here and try to worry about West Orange, West Orange, West Orange,” Eddie said ahead of West Orange’s Homecoming Game Oct. 16 against Evans. “When it comes down to it, my main focus is on West Orange right now.”
That sense of loyalty to the West Orange brand is seemingly a family tradition at this point. Eddie’s older brother, Greg McDoom, was the star player for the Warriors soccer team that advanced to the state championship in 2013. His younger brother, Matthew McDoom, is an up-and-coming playmaker for the Wildcats at the Pop Warner level — just as his older brothers were once.
HEART AND SOUL
Eddie not only takes pride in being a Warrior but also in being a Winter Garden kid. West Orange High has benefited from a handful of high-profile transfers — star senior quarterback Woody Barrett being the most notable — but the way Eddie and his teammates who also came up through either the Wildcats or the West Orange Bobcats see it, Winter Garden always has had players.
“We’ve had talent since before Coach (Bob) Head came here; we just never really had the coaching that we have now,” Eddie said. “We always take pride in being from Winter Garden. Everybody is just sleeping on us.”
For Head, now in his third year leading the program after coaching the Olympia Titans for several years, those Winter Garden kids are the heart and soul of his program.
“They have a lot of pride in where they’re from, where they’ve played and, really, what they’ve built,” Head said. “The transfers get a lot of attention but it’s only probably 5, or not even 5% of our team that are transfers. All the kids that are helping us win football games are homegrown Winter Garden kids. People fail to realize that.”
THE BIG MOMENTS
The pairing of Eddie and Head during the standout’s sophomore year has proven to be a perfect match. Head marvels not only at Eddie’s abilities and work ethic but also at his leadership qualities and how much he seems to care about his teammates. For Eddie, whose family is of Caribbean descent and loves soccer while his father was also a martial arts instructor, Head has become his go-to football mentor.
“He loves Coach Head,” Berlina McDoom said, adding, “If I have any problems with Eddie, I go to Coach Head and say, ‘Hey, I need your help because he listens to you.’”
At 6-1 and in the driver’s seat in Class 8A District 3, the Warriors are looking to go further into the playoffs than the program has ever been. Eddie now hopes to help lead West Orange to those new heights — while embracing the big games and big moments he’s sure to encounter along the way.
“I love those big moments,” Eddie said with a smile. “I play football for those big moments.”
At the McDoom household, father Morris and mother Berlina often have to referee three very competitive — and athletic — sons in Gregory, Eddie and Matthew.
“There’s always competition through them,” Berlina said. “Edward has always looked up to his older brother and then whatever his older brother has done, he has always tried to beat that. … (Gregory) helped get the school to the state finals (in soccer in 2013), so now that’s Eddie’s goal right now — he’s trying to get West Orange to state and trying to win.”
The rivalry has a trickle-down effect.
“(Eddie) kind of teases (Matthew), but in a good coaching way,” Berlina said. “He tries to coach him up so he knows, ‘OK, you’ve got to do better.’”
Eddie volunteers and helps out the coaching staff of his brother’s youth football team with the West Orange Wildcats — a perk Matthew doesn’t seem to mind.
“(Matthew) loves it, and he loves the attention he gets because his brother is there — especially after a big win on a Friday night,” Berlina said.
But, teasing aside, Eddie is impressed with what his brother has brought to the table on the gridiron.
“To be honest, when I was that young, I wasn’t that good,” Eddie said. “When he gets to West Orange and plays for the Warriors, (opponents) got some more McDoom coming their way.”