Story by Tamas Mondovics
After three consecutive district titles, and a 13-14 loss to local rival East Bay, the Bloomingdale Girls Flag Football team led by program head coach Michael Lankford had to settle for second place, which has affectively halted the girl’s chance to advance to this year’s regionals in hopes of a state appearance.
The last time the two teams met was in 2015, when the much stronger Bulls had the upper hand and defeated the Indians 27-6 to win their second district tile in a row.
The Lady Bull’s winning streak continued in 2016 with a powerful 20-7 victory over the Plant City Raiders to claim the 2A District 6 championship victory; the program’s third in as many years.
This season, however, was undoubtedly and rightfully East Bay’s’ as the well-balanced and talented team led by head coach Michael Cooper reclaimed the coveted trophy with a perfect 7-0 district record.
Coming down to a final shootout, the game hosted by East Bay could have gone either way and was as good and as exciting as high school sports can get.
When it was over, East Bay did not only play its ninth district championship game, but won its sixth district title, and posted its 100th win, in 11 years.
Only two other coaches can claim 100 wins in the county: Josh Saunders of Robinson 134, Matt Hernandez of Alonso 106.
“I have enjoyed coaching many talented players in the past and we had great teams, but as I said at the beginning of the season, this is by far the best team that we have ever had,” Cooper said. “They deserve it. They have worked hard and kept the right attitude all for the love of the game. I am proud of what my players have achieved for me and themselves because they believe in my direction, which is, “Do the best, be the best you can be as a daughter, sister, student, teammate.” I love my players for what they’ve accomplished.”
The Indians—with nothing to lose—advanced to and won the first round of regionals but lost the second round 13-14 to Plant. This was the third time East Bay has reached the second round of regionals in school history.
As for the Lady Bulls under Lankford’s direction, now must wait until next year for a rematch.
For more information about girl’s flag football, please visit www.fhsaa.org.