Windermere Prep holds on for thrilling playoff victory -- Observer Preps

The Lakers squandered a 34-7 halftime advantage against Orlando Christian Prep in the second round of the SSAC Playoffs, but a late kickoff return for a touchdown helped save their season.

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  • | 12:15 p.m. November 4, 2017
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If one were to have seen the halftime score of Windermere Prep's home playoff game against Orlando Christian Prep — a 34-7 advantage — and assumed the Lakers were on their way to another big victory, it would not have been an unreasonable assumption.

Windermere Prep, after all, has outscored opponents by a margin of 32.5 points per game.

That same person, though, would likely have been shocked to learn that the Lakers — though they did prevail — won by a final score of 49-48, even trailing late in the game in the second round of the SSAC Playoffs.

The blowout-turned-thriller was equal parts a resilient OCP squad and some miscues by Windermere Prep.

Ishmael Cortes converted a two-point conversion attempt that gave the Lakers a big playoff win. Archive photo
Ishmael Cortes converted a two-point conversion attempt that gave the Lakers a big playoff win. Archive photo

"Those guys (OCP) came back and had a great, great second half — I can’t speak highly enough of OCP and some of the holes they found," a relieved Lakers head coach Jacob Doss said afterward. "We had a couple guys go down with cramps, and the playbook changed a little bit. ... At the same time, we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit."

For the first 22 minutes of the second half, OCP enjoyed a 41-7 swing that put them ahead, 48-41, with two minutes to play.

Facing a devastating end to its undefeated campaign, the Lakers (9-0) responded — specifically Khadry Jackson, who ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown after OCP (6-4) had taken the lead.

"It was one of the most unbelievable high-school football plays I’ve ever been associated with," Doss said of Jackson's big return. "He looked at us on the sideline and said 'I got this.'"

Doss followed up Jackson's return with a gutsy call to go for two, and the lead, instead of a one-point conversion, and the tie. Ishmael Cortes successfully plowed into the endzone for the conversion, and the Lakers' defense got one last stop to send the home crowd into a frenzy.

The game took place at Walker Field in Winter Garden due to an SSAC regulation that playoff games begin at 7 p.m. unless both teams agree otherwise. Windermere Prep's home field is not lit.

Though no football coach could be too pleased with having squandered such a large lead, Doss did praise his team's resilience afterward.

"We had to really, really get after it with some adjustments — we haven’t had to play four quarters all year long," Doss said. "I was so proud of how they responded."


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