Senior quarterback Woody Barrett ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more in a 41-26 victory over Mandarin in Jacksonville.
JACKSONVILLE Like many of their Warrior teammates, Woody Barrett and Eddie McDoom have bright futures ahead of themselves as college football players. But, if the two West Orange seniors made anything clear Friday night, it was that they're not ready to stop playing high school football any time soon.
Barrett ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more — with McDoom on the receiving end of both — to lead the Warriors (12-1) to a 41-26 victory over host Mandarin in the FHSAA Class 8A, Region 1 Championship.
The win means West Orange will play in a state semifinal for the first time in program history and came on a night where, even when the Warrior defense struggled at times with a potent passing attack anchored by Mandarin senior quarterback Tyler Greenlee, the offense was there to pick them up — led by Barrett.
“I felt like the defense had our back the whole season, so the least we could do is have their back," Barrett said.
McDoom, who was on the receiving end of touchdown passes from Barrett to cap the Warriors' first drives of the game and of the second half, said afterward that once his teammate gets going it is going to be trouble for their opponent.
“When Woody is in his zone … there’s no one stopping him," McDoom said.
The victory for West Orange came on a night where its defense, which was the star in a win against Apopka a week earlier, did not necessarily have its best game. Mandarin had success throwing the ball and in kickoff returns.
Still, the Warrior defense got big plays when it needed to — including stops on several fourth-down conversion attempts by Mandarin.
“The biggest thing is bend but don’t break," said senior Jeremy Samuels, who had an interception and several important tackles for West Orange. "When you get this far in the playoffs, the only thing that matters is that you win. Whether it’s by one point or by 40 — all that matters is that you advance. Our whole philosophy was ‘they’re going to make plays, we’ve just got to make more.’"
Afterward, coach Bob Head praised his team's passion and integrity for refusing to let a resilient Mandarin squad back in the game and also gave a shoutout to the Warriors' fans and band — who traveled en masse more than 100 miles northeast of Winter Garden to see their boys make history.
“We had better fans than (Mandarin) — our band was better than theirs," Head said. "Our fans are the best in Orange County — and Florida — period."
West Orange will take on Osceola, which narrowly defeated Dr. Phillips in the Region 2 Final, on Dec. 4 in Kissimmee. The winner will advance to the Class 8A State Championship at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 in the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].