As a sharp, cold wind blew around Deputy Scott Pine Community Park on Saturday night, Windermere Prep coach Jacob Doss gathered up his players.
The sounds of sniffles were audible as Doss gave a pep talk to his team following their 44-10 loss to Orlando Christian Prep in the SSAC semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 10.
And the message he delivered was simple, yet profound: there is more to life than just football.
“As we talked about, we can’t let that score define us,” Doss said after the game. “We had a lot of great things this season and beat a lot of good opponents. I’m so proud of these seniors — I have a class of about 13 seniors — that are some of the best I’ve been around.”
Despite going into the game with a perfect 9-0 record, the Lakers had issues coming right out of the gate against a high powered Warriors’ (8-2, 1-0) offense that was looking for revenge following last year’s 49-48 loss to the Lakers in the 2017 SSAC quarterfinals.
Senior QB Connor Edel kicked off the offensive onslaught less than two minutes into the game with a 52-yard bomb to Jackevis Lovett. From there things snowballed.
By the time the Lakers knew it, the Warriors had a 37-3 lead going into the half — thanks in part to running back Jalen Carr, whose speedy feet helped him rack up a staggering 254 rushing yards and three touchdowns of 55, 85 and 96-yards in the first two quarters. He’d finish with 345 total rushing yards and four touchdowns.
The Lakers’ defense simply did not have an answer for Carr, who often times found pay dirt by hitting the defense for big gains on the outside.
To make matters worse for Windermere Prep, the Lakers went into the night’s game without starting quarterback Kai Patterson, who broke his wrist in last week’s win over Master’s Academy
“Anytime you get behind to a great football team, you have to start throwing the ball and that was something that we weren’t really looking to do as much,” Doss said. “We wanted to control the ball and control the clock, and we got behind early so it forced our hand a little bit.”
In his place Doss started freshman Cole Navabi, who, while tossing three picks on the night, put up a decent showing as he hauled in 245 passing yards and a single score (a 60-yard touchdown toss to Matthew Kane in the third quarter) on 11-of-22 passing.
Adding to the offense that the Lakers could muster up was senior running back Naiji Allen (team-high 54-yards on 10 carries) and kicker Justin Kirtland (40-yard field goal).
Though there are only a few positives to take from Saturday’s game, it’s not the end of the world, Doss said, especially for the seniors who have provided so much to the program.
“They’ve built a legacy that is second-to-none,” Doss said. “You have kids that we’ve had since middle school, we’ve had some brand new kids, but they feel like they’ve been here for 10 years. This is one of the most unique classes I’ve ever been around.”