The year 2020 has seen its share of firsts in the past 11 months — most of which have generally been negative.
But at Deputy Scott Pine Park Community Park, the Windermere football team is celebrating a moment of truly exciting firsts.
On Friday, Nov. 13 — on what most would consider the most unlucky of nights — the Wolverines beat Freedom 49-35 in a Class 8A postseason play-in game. The win is the school’s first playoff victory and also gave the Wolverines their first winning streak in the program’s short — and difficult — football history.
“It’s tremendous,” Windermere head coach Robert Couch said. “There’s not enough adjectives to describe it. I just feel so bad for this senior class … having had three or four coaches in their four-year tenure at the school, (but) then they come together unbelievably.
“Then they don’t get spring ball, and then they don’t get a fall training camp for real, and now they have to basically learn how to play together during the season,” he said. “I’m just grateful that the FHSAA gave us a chance to use the first two games as training camps.”
Going into Friday night’s game, the Wolverines (2-6) had lost six games in a row before picking up their first win of the year over Colonial in a 32-23 win — their first victory since the 2019 season-opener.
“It’s tremendous ... there’s not enough adjectives to describe it.”
— Robert Couch, Windermere head football coach
Out of the gate, the Wolverines jumped to a commanding 28-0 lead, thanks in part to two passing touchdowns from Jordan Dozier — one to Stone Rivers and the other to Matthew Richardson. Dozier finished the night with 170 yards and three touchdowns through the air while picking up 154 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The other two scores during the 28-0 run came off of a short fumble return by Brandon Speed and an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Rosario Noto.
Then, things began to get a bit dicey for the Wolverines.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Patriots began to eat away at Windermere’s lead, and by the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, the Wolverines’ cushion had been cut to 28-21.
“I was just like, ‘This would just be tragic to lose a 28-point lead,’” Couch said. “But I think our kids are still learning — they’re still learning to put four quarters together, they’re still learning how to deal with success just as much as they do with adversity. They could easily have folded, and they didn’t.”
Windermere bent but never broke. In the third quarter — after the Patriots snagged an interception at the Windermere 43-yard line — the Wolverines found their guts and held on to stuff the visiting team for no points.
They followed with two more touchdowns from Dozier and a big-time, 75-yard pick-six to help put the Wolverines up 49-21 — scores that helped in the long run because the Patriots finished the game by scoring two more times before the clock ran out.
Now, the Wolverines get to face off against a Boone team that beat them 41-0 at the end of October. Despite the outcome of that game — which goes down Friday, Nov. 20 — the Wolverines now have something for which they had been searching for for a long time: Hope.