ORLANDO — In the end, the Olympia Titans’ strong defensive unit helped seal a fourth-consecutive win for the Titans — even having one of its own line up for Olympia’s offense.
Trailing the Evans Trojans late in the fourth quarter, 10-7, head coach Kyle Hayes made a change in hopes of sparking his Titans, moving defensive back Jeff James to the offense.
James caught a long pass from sophomore quarterback Joe Milton to put Olympia (4-1) up 14-10 with just three minutes to play. It was a lead the Titans would hold onto for their fourth win in as many weeks.
“Coach just needed a playmaker, and I was there to make a play,” said James, who also has an impressive five interceptions on the season for the defense. “The quarterback threw a good ball, and I went to go get it.”
The Titans defense has shown strength throughout the season, and Friday night was no exception. But the offense lagged at times, it continues to look to establish some consistency. Ronald Teague and Taymel Christian had some success running the ball, but as a whole, Olympia was unable to sustain drives against the Trojan defense.
Olympia trailed at halftime, 7-0. The close call against Evans, which is winless, was not entirely surprising to Hayes.
“I knew this was going to happen,” he said. “Sometimes, you underestimate people looking at records on the Internet and so forth. The most dangerous thing on earth is someone that’s hurt. (Evans is) 0-5 and they hurt right now, so they have nothing to lose.”
The victory was important for the Titans in a couple of ways. The comeback effort helped avert a letdown by falling to a winless team, but it also gears up Olympia for future games, as the schedule becomes more challenging.
The Titans, who are 1-0 so far in district play, face a district game Oct. 2 at home against another winless team — the Freedom Patriots (0-5). That game will be followed by non-district game at defending state champion Apopka and then district matchups against local powerhouses Dr. Phillips and Oak Ridge.
Even with a district win to its credit already, Olympia is considered an underdog to make the playoffs. Hayes is hopeful the grit his team showed in notching its victory on Sept. 25 will pay off down the road in perhaps proving some people wrong.
“This was a game where we had to learn how to fight and come together as a team,” Hayes said. “It wasn’t a pretty win, but we won.”
Hayes’ goals for the team going forward are straightforward, now that the team has won four games, he plans for them to win five.
“You try to win every game, every week, and that’s just what we’re trying to do,” he said.
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].