West Orange defense comes up big in FHSAA football playoff victory over Osceola

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Playing in a driving rain and gusty winds for most of the game, West Orange relied on a stingy defense to hold off Osceola 16-7 in the region semifinals of the Florida high school football playoffs.

it was a miserable game to be a quarterback or receiver. With the wind impacting some passes, even big-time wide receiver Jayden Gibson struggled to get going for West Orange. 

Additionally, both defenses consistently played downhill to stop the run knowing the opposition would continue to struggle when passing. It’s also a prime reason why West Orange came up with turnovers.

Just hanging onto the football is probably the No. 1 factor for why Osceola came out on the short end of the scoreboard. Quarterback Chad Mascoe fumbled and/or dropped the snap four times during the game. 

Both teams struggled to grip the football, as there were more than five fumbles/muffs between the two teams. That’s the biggest storyline from the evening, and it’s why the offenses struggled for the majority of the game.

After a scoreless first half, West Orange finally began to mount a drive during its first possession of the second half. The rain had begun to subside, and that’s when tight end Eddie Kelly made a tremendous catch on a 50-50 ball down the left sideline.

That play provided momentum to West Orange, and its running game started to perform better during that particular drive, capped off by Terrell Walden II’s touchdown run.

With West Orange holding a 7-0 lead, a key moment once again impacted by the weather took place when Osceola attempted to punt. A dropped snap on the edge of the end zone turned into a blocked punt that was recovered by Osceola in its own end zone. The safety placed the Warriors lead at 9-0, and it helped to keep the momentum on their side until late in the fourth quarter.

A combination of short passes from Mascoe and the running backs finally finding some running room led to a sweep play for a touchdown to cut West Orange’s lead to 9-7 with less than five minutes left in the game.

With the game now in doubt, Osceola’s defense held the West Orange offense with a stout run defense and got the football back late in the game. A false start from their own 20 moved the ball back to the 15-yard line, and then another Osceola fumble led to a scoop and score for Kelly with just eight seconds remaining. Osceola held on for the 16-7 win.

Some player notes from the game:

Eddie Kelly

Player of the game. As an edge rusher, Kelly did a good job of applying pressure and being in the backfield, caught the deep ball down the sidelines, and scored a defensive touchdown. The USF commitment is a true playmaker.

Jayden Gibson

jayden gibson west orange
jayden gibson west orange

The Florida wide receiver commitment did a really nice job of playing defense and being utilized at cornerback, even at 6’6”. He’s a very nimble player and one that should compete for early playing time with the Gators.

Quentin Hatch

This West Orange linebacker was around the football all game long, and created one of the turnovers by punching out the football. This inside linebacker is one that deserves notice.

Terrell Walden II

The Warriors running back played hard and battled through being injured for the majority of the game. He’s going to be important for West Orange as they move into the final eight teams fighting to win the 8A state championship.

Jeremiah Wilson

Osceola’s secondary was up against several talented receivers, and Wilson was the key cog in attempting to stop them. The Syracuse commitment showed that he can indeed play cornerback at the next level. He recorded two early game pass breakups, and stayed with Gibson for much of the evening. Look for him to make an impact at Syracuse sooner than later.

Derrick LeBlanc

The talented junior defensive end for Osceola had a night in which he just was not going to be consistently blocked with just one player, and recorded a sack in the process. More importantly, his energy and effort were obvious all game long.

John Walker

Attempts to one-on-one block this 295 pound defensive tackle were mostly unsuccessful, as expected. Too big, too strong, and too quick to contain, Walker made several stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. There’s a reason the junior is a national recruit, just like LeBlanc.

Weather Conditions

It’s unfortunate that the rain created so much uncertainty for both teams, and it’s also why players from both sides did not truly get to show their talents. There are at least another half dozen skill players, alone, that could have been discussed under normal weather conditions.

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