Local football programs prepare for 3 games in 9 days -- Observer Preps
Scheduling complications related to last month's hurricane have created a situation where most OCPS football programs will play games Oct. 5, Oct. 9 and Oct. 13.
| 4:45 p.m. October 4, 2017
Hurricane Irma came and went nearly a month ago, but the scheduling complications it created still are being felt by local football programs.
For Orange County Public Schools programs such as Dr. Phillips (4-0), Ocoee (0-5), Olympia (3-2), West Orange (2-3) and Windermere (0-5), in particular, the decision to move games that originally were scheduled for Friday, Sept. 15, to Monday, Oct. 9, created some unexpected challenges.
To help with preparation and rest time between games, OCPS moved games scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6, to Thursday, Oct. 5. With games scheduled for Friday, Oct. 13, remaining in place, that means most Metro Conference teams who do not have a bye will play three games in a nine-day span.
However, because West Orange’s game against Jones scheduled for Oct. 6 is to be played at Camping World Stadium, that game was unable to be rescheduled and will remain on Friday, meaning the Warriors will have just two days of rest and preparation time between the showdown with the Tigers — considered to be one of the best teams in the region, if not the state — and a game Oct. 9 against Timber Creek.
Also, because of the damage West Orange’s home field suffered during the storm, which is actively being repaired, the home game against the Wolves will be played at nearby Olympia High.
Luckily for the Titans and Wolverines, they do have a bye week on Oct. 13, so the challenge for those programs will be limited to the quick, three-day turnaround between Thursday and Monday games.
For the Panthers, however, their status as the top-ranked team in the state in Class 8A will be tested as they face two would-be state-title contenders in four days and a district opponent after that.
Below is a team-by-team breakdown of the busy week-and-one-half ahead of our area teams.
(4-0 overall, 1-0 in District 8A-5)
at Wekiva — 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5
Wekiva is 4-1 so far, and its one loss came in a last-minute 10-6 defeat at undefeated Winter Park. Although the Mustangs’ offense has been suspect at times, its Wekiva’s defense that is the real story: The Mustangs are allowing less than a touchdown per game (6.6 points).
vs. Apopka — 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9
The Blue Darters, who are 4-1 overall and 1-0 in District 8A-4, lost more than a dozen players to transfer in the offseason (most to Wekiva) — not mentioning the players they lost to graduation. No matter. Apopka is as strong as ever, beating up on Metro opponents 122-29 in three games.
at Freedom — 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13
On paper this is the easiest of the three games — the Patriots are 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the district. Because it is a district game, though, it carries an important amount of significance and the Panthers have to take care to not overlook it after two games against elite programs.
(0-5, 0-2 in District 7A-4)
vs. West Port — 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5
The Wolves are 2-3 overall and, like Ocoee, they are 0-2 in district play. Worth noting, however, is that West Port has lost all of its games by eight points or fewer and is allowing a reasonably impressive 16.8 points per game. Junior quarterback Brian Maurer has tossed 10 touchdown passes this fall.
at Edgewater — 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9
The Eagles, who went winless in 2016, are 3-1 overall and 1-0 in district play in Cameron Duke’s first year as head coach. Senior standout Quondarrius Whitfield had a three-touchdown performance earlier in the season for Edgewater.
vs. Lake Howell — 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13
The Silver Hawks are 2-2 and 1-0 in district play. After being defeated in its first two games by a combined score of 71-14, Lake Howell has bounced back with a win at Winter Springs and in its district opener against Lake Minneola.
(3-2 overall, 1-0 in District 8A-5)
vs. Winter Park — 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5
The Wildcats are undefeated and emerging as a regional — and, perhaps, state — powerhouse. Winter Park has outscored opponents 157-37 and has shown grit in close games, including a come-from-behind victory in the final minute over Wekiva. Cameron LeGree has a quarterback rating of 127.5 thanks to his 11 touchdown passes and 64.6 completion percentage, while Tyrone Davis is averaging 91.8 yards per game on the ground.
at Cypress Creek — 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9
The Bears are 2-2 and have not played a district game yet. They also have yet to play a competitive game — win or lose. The Bears have won by margins of 30 and 37 points and lost by margins of 45 and 20 points. Sylvens Sinophat anchors the team’s rushing attack with 106 yards per game and two touchdowns.
(2-3, 0-1 in District 8A-4)
at Jones — 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 (at Camping World Stadium)
The Tigers are 4-1, and that loss came in a road game against Washington, D.C.’s St. John’s, ranked No. 68 in the country. Since returning, Jones has outscored opponents 187-14 in four consecutive wins — including a 37-7 beating of local powerhouse Bishop Moore.
vs. Timber Creek — 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9 (at Olympia)
The Wolves are 2-2 and appear to be rebuilding a bit after making it to the regional semifinals in 2016. That said, Timber Creek played well against undefeated Winter Park Sept. 29, so the Warriors should be prepared for anything.
at Apopka — 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13
The Blue Darters, 4-1 overall and 1-0 in District 8A-4, lost more than a dozen players to transfer in the offseason — not mentioning the players they lost to graduation. No matter. Apopka is as strong as ever, beating up on Metro opponents 122-29 in three games and also earning an impressive 14-6 win over Miami’s Norland High Sept. 1.
(0-5 overall, 0-2 in District 7A-5)
at Harmony — 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5
The Longhorns are 3-2 overall and 2-1 within the district, meaning this will be another tough matchup for senior-less Wolverines. The offensive combo of quarterback Nathan Herstich and receiver Caeleb Bass have accounted for five of Harmony’s touchdowns this fall. Should this game be competitive, the Longhorns are well prepared for that: Three of the team’s five games have been decided by four points or fewer.
at East River — 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9
The Falcons are 4-1 this fall and undefeated at 2-0 in the district. The story for East River has been one of defensive dominance, as the Falcons have allowed just nine points per game and put up shutouts in their past two outings. East River averages 185.8 rushing yards per game and four Falcon ball-carriers have more than 20 carries and 150 yards this fall, meaning it will be difficult for Windermere to key on any one player.