LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.
A few "classic" things heard around the Lithia area a few days before tonight's big game, where the schools, by the way, are less than 5 miles apart: "This is for bragging rights," and, "a lot of these kids grew up together and know each other real well," and, "you can feel the electricity through the school …"
And so on.
"It's fun for everybody, the players, the students, the parents," said Newsome coach Ken Hiscock, who won his first eight games against the Bulls before losing three of the past four, including a defeat last year, 23-7. "This rivalry is the real all-American deal."
That said, you can expect a buzzing, packed house at Bloomingdale tonight, and you can also expect a hard-fought game with some shining stars.
Running behind a stout offensive line, Bloomingdale will feature several solid skill players, including wide receiver Ed Amos and backs Jalen Jackson, Corey Thornton, Levi Williams, Terrel Ferrell and Chuck Montgomery, who combined to rush for more than 300 yards in the 43-22 preseason victory last week against Riverview.
Perhaps most encouraging was the play of senior quarterback Tyler Hunter, who appears to have bounced back after tearing his ACL in last season's final game. Against Riverview, Hunter, despite having five passes dropped, completed 16-of-26 for 217 yards.
On the flip side, Newsome counters with a solid pack of backs as well, including senior Patrick Jolly (86 carries, 797 yards in 2016) and returning juniors Isaac Trammel and Sean Dispenza.
The Wolves' quarterback on Friday, however, will feature a relatively new starter in junior Dylan King with some help from Baylor Crews, both of whom are subbing for last spring's starter, senior Dakota Allen. Allen is expected to be out a few more weeks after breaking his foot during summer training.
"But we'll be all right," said Hiscock, who has been encouraged by the work of both his offensive and defensive lines. "These guys know how to run our system."
Indeed. It's a well-oiled hybrid wing-T that second-year Bloomingdale coach Max Warner knows and respects all too well.
"Newsome's offense gives everybody fits," said Warner, who not only won last year's opener against the Wolves, but also took them in last spring's one half jamboree, 21-16. "But at least we know what to expect."
Either way, both coaches say their teams "can't wait" for Friday night.
"I got introduced to Bloomingdale vs. Newsome last year and I absolutely loved it," Warner said. "What a great scene. Big crowd. Loud band. Hard-fought game. It's what high school football is all about."
Prep football PREVIEW