The Bloomingdale Bulls look to have a bounce back season after going 6-6 the previous year. In 2020, the Bulls boasted their best season in their school’s history, in which they won their first district championship, achieved a team-best 12-1 overall record and made the program’s first state semifinal appearance.
Bloomingdale had to retool last season with a school-record 11 players signing on National Signing Day the year before. They also had two players, former five-star receiver Agiye Hall (Texas) and defensive back Philip Riley (Notre Dame), sign during the early signing period of 2020. The team took a step back last season due to turnover and injuries, along with having one of the toughest schedules in Hillsborough County.
Fourth-year head coach Jake Coulson is up to the task of righting the ship and turning the Bulls back into one of the juggernauts of the county. Tampa Bay Tech transfer Charles Coney took over the starting QB job last year after senior starter Sean Dungan sustained an injury before the season started.
The dual-threat Coney played extremely well, throwing 11 touchdowns for 1,210 yards and carrying the ball 92 times for 356 yard and two rushing touchdowns. Coulson said that Coney had a great offseason and feels good about his leadership and progress grasping the offense after having the reins for the 12 previous games. The coaching staff likes moving him outside of the pocket and his ability to take off and run. The senior has an explosive arm and a lot of weapons at the skill positions, as well as a great offensive line to protect him, but his number one job is to take care of the football.
Coulson said that his team’s strength will be up front on the offensive and defensive lines. He also said that these senior-heavy lines may be the best that he’s had since he took over in 2019. The team graduated 18 seniors last year and they have 25 total players returning, seven offensive starters and three defensives. He said that the biggest thing his team can improve on is not turning the football over and eliminating yards after contact on the defensive end.
Nick Fabrizio was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator and Sean Council will take over as the special teams coordinator. Delmar Shorter was hired as the defensive backs coach.
Key players this year include senior starting center Isaiah Lowery, senior receiver Kendall Jones, Tampa Catholic transfer, senior receiver Derek Owens, star senior free safety Christian Bodnar, senior outside linebacker Mekhi Thomas and defensive tackle Dominic Maye. Kicker Stefan Vera, who was called up from junior varsity, has a strong, accurate leg. Senior long snapper/tight end Charlie O’Brien will play a huge role on offense after leading the team in touchdown receptions last year with four.
Coulson and the Bulls want to fly under the radar this season. Other coaches and teams around Hillsborough County think that Bloomingdale’s run is over, which is fine with Coulson because he and his players will use that as motivation to prove them wrong. Bloomingdale has one of the toughest schedules in the county this year, having to face Berkeley Prep, Armwood, Tampa Bay Tech, Newsome, Gaither and Wharton. The Bulls are in a new district that they have a great shot at winning.