VALRICO — Bloomingdale met up with Lakeland for just the third time ever on a rainy Friday night. Now Class 7A, District 7 rivals in the revamped districts, Lakeland improved to 9-0 on the season and 3-0 all-time against Bloomingdale in a 36-0 victory.
Early on, the student section chanted “Overrated!” to the visiting Dreadnaughts and the energy was there for much of the stormy game. Lakeland has now won 24 consecutive games with its last loss coming in the 2017 region final to Plant, 13-10.
The opening half started off slowly with Bloomingdale (6-2) holding possession until the 6:12 mark following a roughing the kicker penalty that keep the play alive, and a fourth-and-8 conversion on a 12-yard run by junior quarterback Lance Alderson.
The Bulls, however, failed to convert a 32-yard field goal and despite a scoreless game after one quarter of play, Lakeland put it on them with a 22-point second quarter.
The Dreadnaughts tacked on two more scores with the second half seeing a heavy downpour that forced many fans out of the stands.
Lakeland came into this game ranked No. 8 in the state of Florida and No. 75 in the country, per MaxPreps, and Bloomingdale knew what type of challenge this game was.
On top of the fourth-and-8 call by the Bulls inside Lakeland territory, a fourth-and-5 attempt in the second quarter in their own territory failed. But an onside kick to start the second half worked to perfection on a good hop.
Bloomingdale coach Jake Coulson said his game plan was to be aggressive all night.
“I knew if we had a chance, we had to be aggressive,” Coulson said. “That is the reason we started the second half with an onside kick. We got it, but just didn’t do anything with it.”
Accounting for three of the five touchdowns on the night was senior Clemson commit Demarkcus Bowman. He totaled 121 yards and two scores in the first half alone and finished 130 yards and three rushing scores (21, 5 and 3 yards).
“We emphasized all week tackling and making sure we were wrapping up and eliminate yards after contact,” Coulson said. “(Bowman) is a good back and he had some good holes out there. I’m not sure if it was really yards after contact, they were making some holes.”
The other Lakeland scores came on a 5-yard run from senior back Jha’kari Martin in the second quarter and on a 75-yard catch and run from senior wide receiver Arian Smith from senior Auburn commit Chayil Garnett.
“Our schedule has been the Southeastern Conference of high school football, I think,” Coulson said. “We played a tough schedule. Hats off to those guys. We just didn’t play our best football tonight.”
Bloomingdale had one red-zone drive. In the fourth quarter, junior lineman Phillip Fleetwood recovered a fumble to give his side a short field. But the Bulls turned over the ball on downs on the Lakeland 14-yard line and failed to score.
“We have to go back to work and go back to basics. We need to do what we do, get in the weight room, lift and practice hard,” Coulson said. “We set the standard last year on defense and tonight we played okay. They beat us on the line of scrimmage and that is where football games are won.”