VALRICO—Under ominous skies, Bloomingdale head coach John Booth implored his team to shake off its midseason slump.
After the school’s first 2-0 start in at least 17 years, the Bulls have sputtered in the past two weeks. This week, they face Riverview (2-1), a team currently without a head coach after Bruce Gifford’s unexpected resignation Monday morning.
“Embarrassing” was the word Booth used to describe the team’s effort in its 33-14 loss to Tampa Catholic last Friday. After running the ball effectively to take a 7-0 lead, the Bulls “caved,” Booth said, and allowed the Crusaders 33 unanswered points. The week before, a late turnover killed Bloomingdale’s come-from-behind effort in a 28-26 loss to East Bay.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Booth told his team in a huddle before practice. “Remember how it felt to win, gentlemen, but do not forget the process it took to get there.”
One constant bright spot for the Bulls has been the performance of running back Eugene Baker. The junior has rushed for 600 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season and is averaging about seven yards per carry.
“He finished that Tampa Catholic game strong,” Booth said “It took more than one guy to tackle him.”
Not even Baker is immune to the doldrums midseason practices bring. But to get through it, he pushes hardest on those that push through for him during games.
“I tell the offensive line that I can’t do it without them, and they can’t do it without me,” he said. “We both need each other for me and for them to be successful.”
Friday’s contest against the Sharks will give Bloomingdale one last tune-up before district 8A-6 play begins. The Bulls hope clearer skies—and fortunes—await them there.