WOW. That stands for West Orange Warriors.
It’s also what fans have been saying this season as they’ve watched the Warriors jump out to a 4-0 start under new head coach Bob Head, who came over last spring from Olympia.
It’s also the factor I look for on the football field when evaluating talent. There was certainly no lacking the WOW factor Friday night at Leesburg as West Orange dismantled the Yellow Jackets 41-14.
And this isn’t just some slouch of a Lake County football team in Leesburg. Head Coach Randy Trivers’ bunch is a playoff-caliber Class 6A squad that was unbeaten before West Orange rolled into town.
The Jackets have plenty of WOW factor, as well. Quarterback/safety Jabari Dunham leads the way and guys like receivers/defensive backs Bryan Jefferson and Adrian Falconer, receiver/linebacker Lee Bennett, punter/kicker/tight end James Eldridge, running back Bryant Benton and defensive tackle George Dailey are just a few of the reasons why Leesburg is a favorite to win Class 6A, District 10 with Edgewater, Lake Minneola and South Lake.
But most of the WOW on Friday belonged to a set of twins Kyle and Hayden Griffitts. These guys run this West Orange football team this season and their presence on and off the field has been two of the leading factors for West Orange’s domination so far.
The Warriors have beaten teams by an average margin of 30.5 points per game, and more impressively, held teams to an average of 16 points. This coming from a defense that, last year, underachieved with five Division-1 quality seniors in Corey Vereen, Jock Petree, Nate Ozdemir, Winston Chastang and Roman Tatum. This year’s squad is younger, more focused, more determined, and, well, just better.
New defensive coordinator Ty Parker, who was the Wekiva head coach for several seasons, has rejuvenated this bunch and the results are impressive. Kyle Griffitts, who doubles as tight end, roams the middle linebacker spot with a vengeance and players like senior transfer DBs Korian Brady and Kobie Grace, and junior ends Brandon Wilson and Roman Kerr all feed off his endless energy.
I used to think Kyle needed to perfect a position in order to get a better grasp on his college potential. Now, I don’t care what position Kyle Griffitts plays, linebacker, tight end, special teams, cheerleader — yes he’s also part of the state champion West Orange cheer squad — I want him on my team.
“Just get me on the field as much as I can so I can hit as many people as I can,” Kyle says.
“But this year is all about coaching and discipline. Our team … we may not have the size or some of the athletes we’ve had in the last couple of years, but our team is together. The coaches also really get on our butts about being disciplined and making sure we’re doing the right things.”
These twins are selfless, energetic and have infectious personalities. They’re 4-0 but they aren’t happy. They want perfection and they’ve seen lapses.
“We’re playing as a team, we’re playing together, but we need to keep it going for all four quarters,” Kyle said Friday after the Warriors watched Leesburg score two second-half touchdowns. “We’re not finishing. We need to finish things strong. It’s a team thing and we’re working on it.”
Offensively, the other twin is quarterback Hayden Griffitts, who has never looked more confident or more poised. He’s a third-year starter who has improved with every game. This is his year.
He's graced with star-power wide receivers like Garrett Johnson (Kentucky commit), sophomore Eddie McDoom, junior Rontavious Williams, or even two-way player Brady. The quarterback also works with one of the best running backs in Central Florida in Jamarcus “GOAT” Federick. The line has also impressed led by senior Alban Harp and freshman star-in-the-making Blake Vinson.
Hayden has taken the driver’s seat of this high-powered offense.
His passes are more accurate, his decisions less flawed and he’s even turning bad situations into first downs with his legs. He’s tough like his brother and he leads.
He’s doing things a certain blonde-haired kid up Route 429 in Apopka has been doing to lead the Blue Darters. No need for Zack Darlington comparisons though. Hayden has finally become the QB most of us thought he would be.
“It’s no dig on our old coaches, but these coaches, Coach Drafts … I trust Coach Drafts specifically,” Hayden said of offensive coordinator Collin Drafts, the former Olympia coordinator who followed Head. He quarterbacked at Charleston Southern in college and spent time with the Predators of the Arena League. “Everything he calls is open, so it makes my job a whole lot easier. I just go through my basic reads and it’s there.”
The twins plan to attend college together. They like some Ivy League schools, while also have favorite FBS schools in BYU, Utah and Utah State. Dad, Bob Griffitts, played at BYU and mom, Erin Munns Griffitts, who graduated from Oviedo High, went to BYU, as well. Their family ties and Mormon faith could lead them back to Utah.
For now, however, there is unfinished business.
“We’re playing some good teams, but we haven’t played Apopka yet,” Kyle said.
Mark your calendar, Oct. 4, at Apopka. Get there early.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.