The Windermere High Wolverines took a late 27-24 lead against the visiting Cypress Creek Bears at Deputy Scott Pine Community Park, but ultimately fell 30-27 in their regular-season opener August 25.
For a moment, it looked like the pain of an 0-10 inaugural season was going to be washed away during a light rainfall at Deputy Scott Pine Community Park.
The Windermere Wolverines had trailed 24-7 early in their regular-season opener against Cypress Creek — the team's first regular-season home game at its off-campus facility — but then the second-year program rallied.
Starting with a late touchdown to end the first half, the Wolverines went on a 20-0 run that culminated in a nine-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Jackson that put Windermere ahead 27-24 with 8:29 to play.
A late score by Cypress Creek and a turnover in the game's waning moments squashed those hopes, though, as the Wolverines got their first taste of having a chance to win — and coming up just short — in a 30-27 loss.
In spite of the outcome, it was a huge step forward for a program that appears to be on a course toward better things in 2018.
"We were there, took the lead and showed that grit — and then it got taken away," Windermere head coach Fred Priest said. "That might be the biggest learning experience of them all — that next time we're not going to let that happen. ... Hopefully that's the next step in our learning curve."
The game included many positives for the Wolverines (0-1). Austin Hatcher scored twice and Dylan Palmer and Will DiSalvo each had an interception. Judah Martin was part of 12 tackles on defense, while Rodney Green had eight tackles and a sack.
Still, mistakes and turnovers — fumbles, in particular — proved costly in what was a winnable game for Windermere.
"I think early was really key ... we had opportunities early in the game," Priest said. "We did not take advantage of them. I really felt like we probably should have scored twice before they got on the board — and that changes the momentum of the game."
Elijah McMillan scored twice for Cypress Creek (1-0), including a bruising run for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:25 to play.
The Wolverines now have a bye week before taking on University High (Orlando) on the road at 7 p.m. Sept. 7.
With extra time to prepare, players like junior Dylan Palmer are optimistic that the team will get it right in practice — and then on the field.
"I feel like we're going to be able bounce back," Palmer said. "We're going to put in a lot more work just to get that win — the first win for this school. That means a lot to us."