Despite a late comeback attempt from the Windermere Wolverines, the Olympia Titans were able to hold them off and take a 31-20 win in the final game of the regular season.
After Olympia (3-7) scored a touchdown just 33 seconds into the game, the Wolverines responded with a touchdown of their own on a four-yard run from Isaiah Jackson to make it 7-6. Following the touchdown, Windermere (2-7) would trail by one after the two point conversion attempt failed.
Following an interception from Jack Lipinski that was ran back deep into Windermere territory, Taelson Jean ran for a 31-yard touchdown with 6:46 left in the second quarter to extend the Titans lead to 14-6. On the ensuing drive, Olympia’s defense would force another turnover, as A’alijah Fuller returned a fumble for a touchdown to give Olympia a 15 point lead.
“We’ve always had a bend but don’t break mentality,” Olympia head coach Travis Gabriel said about his team’s defense. “The kids just kept fighting. The ball bounced our way and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the ball bouncing (our way) and we took advantage of it. Turnovers always help.”
Olympia would close the half with one more touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Garrett Velin to Derrick Mays to go up 28-6 at halftime.
“The kids just kept fighting. The ball bounced our way and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the ball bouncing (our way) and we took advantage of it. Turnovers always help.”
— Travis Gabriel
On Windermere’s opening drive of the second half, Austin Hatcher ran for a 25-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-13.
With 10:44 remaining in the game, the Wolverines would score again on another QB keeper from Jackson, this time from five yards out to make it a one possession game.
With 6:11 remaining in the game and the ball at Windermere’s 31-yard line, Gabriel opted for a field goal with a chance to extend the lead to 11. Colby Kintner would make that decision pay off, as he drilled a 48-yard field goal to make the score 31-20.
“The scary part about it is he’s a junior,” Gabriel said. “So he’s coming back and he’s kicked that — he’s kicked 55-yarders. I have no nerves, I have all of the confidence in my kicker and I will argue and tell everybody I have the best kicker in the state of Florida, hands down. Anytime I’m inside the 40, I’m thinking about kicking it.”
Windermere would attempt a field goal of their own to cut the lead back to eight points with 2:15 left in the game, but the attempt was unsuccessful as the Titans were able to successfully thwart the Wolverines second half surge.
“They saw a big lead at halftime and they just got complacent,” Gabriel stated on what happened in the second half. “They held on when it mattered most and I couldn’t be more proud of my boys. They endured so much this season, overcame so much. What a way to go out with a win. That’s all I wanted.”
Despite the loss, as a whole the Wolverines had a largely successful 2018 season. With their first two wins in program history coming this season, along with a couple other games where they had chances to win, the groundwork has been laid for potentially even more success in the 2019 season.
“We really felt like we could’ve gotten he first two that we played,” Windermere head coach Fred Priest stated on games the Wolverines had chances to win early. “That might have went a long way into some other things as far as confidence and those kinds of things. It’s always hard to win the first game, so it took us a few chances to finally win that first one.
“It’s about the journey,” he said about his team’s future. “What our journey did for us is we have the first win in school history, we won two ballgames. Statistically we did so much better than we did a year ago, so we got a lot of things to build on.”
Although it was a difficult season for the Titans, they ended it on a strong note with the win over Windermere. With a young team that has a majority of its players coming back next year, the future appears to be bright with Gabriel at the helm.
“It was all about laying the foundation,” Gabriel said on his first year at Olympia. “(It’s) all about getting through the first year. We laid the foundation. I couldn’t be more proud of my kids. They fought through the good and bad — overcame everything. This is just the start.”