Photo courtesy of Laura Robinson. The 2020 Bloomingdale flag football team.

The Bloomingdale flag football program has a new head coach at the helm as they try to build off of last year’s success, making it to the district championship game.

Fourteen-year veteran flag football coach Larry Langston is the longest-tenured coach in Hillsborough County. He takes over the Bloomingdale program after longtime coach Mike Lankford stepped down over the summer.

Langston coached at his alma mater, Plant City, for eight years before heading to Brandon as an assistant coach. After a couple of years as an assistant, he got promoted to head coach, where he built up an Eagles program that previously averaged less than two wins per season. In his four years at Brandon, they won two district championships.

Langston has had great success coaching flag football. He led the Plant City Raiders to five district titles and two straight final fours, including a state championship game appearance in 2008, and an overall record of 83-13. He also has run an adult flag football league for the last 25 years called the Tampa Bay Flag Football Association (TBFFA).

Langston was born and raised in the Plant City area. He previously worked for the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department for over 15 years before becoming a teacher six years ago. He now teaches AVID at Chamberlain High School.

Langston was immediately drawn to the Bloomingdale job when it became open because of the winning tradition the school has built athletically. This is also his first year teaching at Chamberlain. This is a huge commitment because he has to drive for about an hour and 10 minutes from his teaching job to Bloomingdale for two-hour practices every day.

“Coach Langston brings a lot of new techniques and visions to our team,” said sophomore flag football player and class president Hayley Robinson. “We are working together to get where we need to be. We were in a fall league and have done some tournaments, which have been a great start to where we are headed. The coaches have high expectations for us and it has made us more competitive.”

The young team has already been participating in events since the summer. They practiced twice a week over the summer at a local park, and in July they competed in a tournament in Plant City that Langston hosted, finishing in third place.

Langston also created a local flag football league club through AAU so that his players can participate in the off-season on a club team. The league contains all of the surrounding teams from the area, such as Newsome, East Bay, Durant, Riverview and Lennard. The regular season started on March 3 at home vs. Lennard.

Langston has been impressed with the parents, administration and student-athletes at Bloomingdale, and he hopes that the community will embrace the team and show up to games and events. He has planned several community service events and fundraisers for next summer. He hopes to compete for a district title this season and eventually bring Bloomingdale its first flag football state championship.

“We want to compete at the state level every year, and we want our chance at the state championship every year,” said Langston. “We want to bring one home for sure.”