Bulls coach keeps his play­off prom­ises

Tampa Bay Times - - High Schools - BY BOB PUT­NAM Times Staff Writer

FORT MY­ERS — Three years ago, Max Warner left an as­sis­tant coach­ing job at Vir­ginia Tech to take over at Bloom­ing­dale.

When Warner first ar­rived, he told play­ers they would win a play­off game for the first time in school his­tory.

It hap­pened Fri­day night.

The Bulls went on the road and man­han­dled Riverdale in a con­vinc­ing 45-8 vic­tory.

“This is a long time com­ing,” Warner said. “I’m just happy for ev­ery­one at the school who has waited for this.”

To ac­com­plish that elu­sive goal, Bloom­ing­dale had to travel to Fort My­ers to play a Raiders team that be­came just the sev­enth from Lee County to go un­de­feated in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Still Warner felt con­fi­dent.

“No dis­re­spect to Riverdale and Lee County, but from what I watched on film, it just wasn’t at the same level of foot­ball as Hills­bor­ough County,” Warner said.

Hitched up with an invit­ing stretch of over­matched op­po­nents, the Raiders (10-1) waltzed through the reg­u­lar sea­son. The Bulls (10-1), mean­while, had to slog their way through games in Class 7A, District 9, one of the tough­est in the state.

And two weeks ago, quar­ter­back Lance Alder­son broke his foot against Du­rant. He will be eval­u­ated by his doc­tor this com­ing week but is not ex­pected to re­turn un­til the re­gion fi­nals.

That forced the Bulls to make some ad­just­ments. They used as many as five play­ers at quar­ter­back in a win over Robinson in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale.

On Fri­day, Charles Mont­gomery took the bulk of the snaps. Op­er­at­ing out of the shot­gun in a Wild­cat for­ma­tion, Mont­gomery ran five times on the open­ing drive, the last a 16-yarder for a touch­down. Do­minic Gon­nella ran in the two-point con­ver­sion.

Riverdale tied it up on 63-yard touch­down pass and suc­cess­ful two-point con­ver­sion in the sec­ond quar­ter. Bloom­ing­dale got its first big break on a blocked punt that was re­cov­ered by Levi Wil­liams for a 15-8 lead.

On the Bulls’ next pos­ses­sion, Mont­gomery hit Ter­rel Fer­rell on a 34-yard touch­down pass to make it 22-8 at the half.

The big story was the play of Bloom­ing­dale’s de­fense. Riverdale runs the sin­gle wing and uses all sorts of shifts at the line of scrim­mage to cre­ate con­fu­sion.

The of­fense helped the Raiders aver­age nearly 400 rush­ing per game. On Fri­day, they were held to 23 yards at the half and 131 for the game on the ground.

“If you would have said they would only score eights points and it would be on a pass, I would have a hard time be­liev­ing it,” Warner said. “The de­fense did an un­be­liev­able job.”

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