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VALRICO—Bloomingdale head coach John Booth has several keys to victory:
Eliminate MAs (missed assignments).
Execute our fundamentals.
If the Bulls can combine all these elements—Booth said his squad had most of them last Friday in the program’s first opening weekend win since 2004—Bloomingdale could do something they haven’t done in at least 17 years: start the season 2-0.
``Some of you guys were 6, 7, 8 years old when Bloomingdale last won an opening game,” Booth said to his team after practice. “Maybe some of you were in fifth grade,” he added after a pause.
``Every single week, gentlemen, is a new week with a new set of challenges. You’ve got to practice and prepare like a winner.”
On Monday, this meant getting up early on their off day for an 8 a.m. full-pads practice. It also meant the offense running five sprints the width of the football field to atone for five false starts during its scrimmage.
After the third down-and-back trip, there was some confusion as to how many remained. When the coaches unknowingly credited the Bulls with an extra sprint done—which some players affirmed—junior starting running back Eugene Baker corrected the mistake.
“Cheating won’t win us ball games,” he said.
“Cheating is what we’ve been doing the past two years,” junior guard Mitchell McDade echoed.
None of the Bulls players need reminded of the last two seasons. Bloomingdale went winless in 2009, which was Booth’s first season at the helm, and then 2-8 in 2010, with the two victories coming against teams that finished a combined 0-20. This year’s team, with 14 returning starters, is cautiously optimistic.
“It’s easier to come in,” senior linebacker Daniel Baxter said about practicing after a win. “It’s harder not to let it go to your head.”
“Waking up after a win is so much better“ quarterback Cody Crouse said before adding, “We win, good, so what, forget about it, on to the next game.”
Challenges still remain. The two keys missing from last week’s 25-20 win against Chamberlain—executing offensively in the first half and missed assignments on defense—forced Bloomingdale to make a defensive stand at its 5-yard line with less than a minute remaining to preserve the victory.
Special teams coach Scott Crawford emphasized focusing through the end of the game. Due to a lack of depth, many of Bloomingdale’s starters play on special teams. While Adam Posateri’s 50-yard punt return proved to seal the Bulls’ win, a blocked punt late in the game led to an easy touchdown for Chamberlain, setting up the goal-line stand.
“We’re not Plant, we don’t have 95 guys,” Crawford told his team.
No one is about to confuse Bloomingdale with the Panthers, who have won three state titles in the past five years. But with a win this Friday against Strawberry Crest, other district teams will have to start taking notice.