Photos by Conor Malloy. The defense of the Bulls was stout again, not giving up a point until the fourth quarter.

The Bloomingdale Bulls hosted its first playoff game in school history, defeating Palmetto 21-14. It’s been a year of firsts for Bloomingdale. The team bested previously undefeated Riverdale the week prior to claim its first playoff victory in school history. They sit at 10-1 for the best record in school history as well.

“Since the day I was hired, we have been talking about playoffs and making history,” said third-year Head Coach Max Warner. “I am extremely proud of the players and the effort they have put in to make this a reality.”

The Bulls were in control for the majority of the game, scoring first on a Charles Montgomery 12-yard touchdown pass to Terrel Ferrell to make it 7-0. The defense was stout as usual, not giving up a point to the high-powered Palmetto offense until late in the fourth quarter, despite missing star linebacker Landon Moody, who was unavailable due to injury.

The sold out home crowd was electric, roaring loudly the whole game. The loyal fans have been waiting for a stage like this since Bloomingdale’s inception in 1987. “Playing in front of our fans and community is electrifying,” said running back/defensive back Dominic Gonnella. “It brings attention to just another reason why we play this game.”

Bloomingdale extended its lead to 14-0 after a punt returned to Palmetto’s 15-yard-line, setting up a three-yard touchdown run by Montgomery.

“We are 11-1 over the last two seasons playing at home. Our band is a major factor (when they travel with us also) and does an incredible job of playing very loudly and making it difficult on our opponent,” said Warner. “Our student section was there at 6 p.m. for the playoff game, getting on Palmetto during warm-ups. We have a major home-field advantage when you put the band and Red Sea together. We can definitely feel the energy and support.”

The Palmetto Tigers got on the board with six minutes left in the game to make it 14-7. The Bulls countered quickly with a long 52-yard run by Dominic Gonnella to the Tigers’ 28-yard line, leading to a Montgomery 10- yard touchdown pass to Charlie Skinner with 3:08 left in the game.

The Bloomingdale Bulls played the defending champs for Class 7A, Region 3, Venice, on November 23. With a 57 to 32 loss to Venice, Bloomingdale ended its best season ever at 11-2.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.