A late goal-line stand helped the Titans hold on and beat the Warriors for the first time since 2012.
WINTER GARDEN This may only be Olympia head coach Kyle Hayes' third season on campus, and his first season where the Titans have faced off against longtime rival West Orange, but that doesn't mean the stakes are lost on him.
"It's huge, man," Hayes said. "Part of my hiring process, with (principal) Mr. (Guy) Swenson and (former athletic director) Lauren Bradley was talking about rivalries and getting Olympia back to its heyday – I take (rivalries) seriously."
So, as the Titans celebrated an exciting 20-16 win over the Warriors Friday night in Winter Garden — Olympia's first win against West Orange since 2012 — the third-year head coach was outwardly as excited as many of his players.
And, as it turns out, that's just how players like senior Josh Green would prefer it.
"We feed off his energy a lot," Green said as he and his teammates celebrated with "the Fence" trophy awarded to the winner of the Backyard Bowl. "He acts positive and we act positive."
The Titans (1-0) held on for the victory in a back-and-forth game that saw Olympia have to make a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter after a long run by Sinica Sigler brought the Warriors to the Olympia two-yard-line. After shutting down West Orange on first, second and third down from the two-yard-line, the Titans forced and recovered a fumble on fourth down to seal the victory.
"It's adversity — we talk about that," Hayes said. "We got down to the one-yard line and we played tough and got a fumble."
Olympia was led by senior quarterback Joe Milton, who threw two touchdowns — to Marlin Washington and Shane Hooks — and ran for another.
Along with Konrie Brown, who ran for more than 150 yards, the veteran duo helped move the ball up-and-down the field, while the Titans defense shutout the Warriors in the second half after trailing 16-14 at halftime.
"Our defensive guys — Josh Green, James Lynch Jr., Ronald Teague, Troy Golden — we've got a three-year starting defense right now," Hayes said. "Our offensive line did an outstanding, grind-it-out job."
West Orange (0-1) came out on the losing end of an excellent game, but that doesn't mean the Warriors were without highlights.
Wide receiver Darrell Harding threw a touchdown pass on a reverse to Keyshawn Goins, Andrew Brickweg converted a 40-yard field goal attempt and Brenden Cyr connected with Russell Robinson for a 52-yard touchdown pass to account for West Orange's scoring on the night.
Next Friday, West Orange travels to Freedom while Olympia hosts its home opener against Ocoee.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].