Following a unique football season that was marred by COVID-19 this year, the Observer has picked its top performers for the inaugural All-Area Football Teams.
| 12:31 p.m. December 9, 2020
It’s been quite an adventure since the football season started in September.
Throughout the season, several games in our coverage area were canceled, while some were shifted to allow games to played in a safe and timely manner. Despite the cancellations, rescheduling of games and shortened season, teams in the Observer’s coverage area showed out.
There were thrillers — such as West Orange’s overtime win over Apopka and Windermere Prep’s harrowing playoff victory over Legacy — and there were lopsided rivalries. There was also the return of hope to a once-proud program at West Orange and a record year at Foundation Academy.
The following is the Observer’s first-ever All-Area Teams for football.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Brad Lord, Foundation Academy; runner-up, Mike Granato, WOHS
Victory Christian always had been a thorn in the side of Foundation Academy, but this year, the Lions and head coach Brad Lord found redemption in a hard-fought victory to claim the school’s first regional title. Lord has truly turned the program into one of the area’s premier powers.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Danny Stutsman, Foundation Academy; runner-up, Wilkerson St. Juste, CFCA
Foundation Academy is a team loaded in talent, but a team only can go as far as its leader can take them. In this case, the Lions were in good hands with senior Danny Stutsman. The Oklahoma commit did just about everything on both sides of the ball. He racked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground and through the air, and picked up 17 touchdowns. On defense, he racked up 78 total tackles, five sacks and two interceptions.
COMEBACK TEAM OF THE YEAR
West Orange High
The last few years have not been kind to the West Orange football program. The school saw three coaches come and go in as many years — creating instability and questions. But now, under first-year head coach Mike Granato, the Warriors are on their way up after finishing 6-4 and recording the program’s first playoff win in five years.