Corey Brinson spoke before last year about the possibility of Bloomingdale having a .500 season. Sure, it was a modest goal, but few in the area football community took the first-year coach seriously, considering Brinson was inheriting a Bloomingdale team that had gone 1-19 over the previous two seasons.
The 4-5 Bulls fell one game short, but notice was served: The days of Bloomingdale being a county punching bag were over.
"I think we opened quite a few eyes last year," Brinson said.
Brinson, a Bloomingdale assistant during the 1-19 days, said the biggest change he implemented was consistency.
"One week we would run the Wing T and the next we would run the shotgun," he said. "I wanted to let the kids know from the beginning what my plan was and that we would stick to it for better or worse."
There was nothing better for the Bloomingdale team than in the eighth week last season when the Bulls upset perennial powerhouse Lakeland.
"You could see the guys getting the system and getting better each week," Brinson. "And it all came together when we beat Lakeland."
But with success comes notoriety, so Brinson doesn't expect to slip under many teams' radar like last season.
"I think we earned a lot of respect last year," Brinson said. "And teams won't be able to sleep on us like last year. Teams will be ready for us."
ON THE GROUND: As in Brinson's first season, the Bulls will lean heavily on their triple-option attack. The biggest question mark lies at quarterback where Freedom transfer Jason Grant takes over for the departed Tony Thomas. Senior Mark Frisk, who converted from the secondary to tailback at midseason last year, is the fastest member of the Bulls' backfield. Junior Dominick Colla (5-10, 190) impressed coaches by bulking up 10 pounds this summer.
THROUGH THE AIR: While Grant might not be the all-around athlete Thomas was, the senior is a better passer. Expect the Bulls to look downfield more than in past years.
"Teams won't be able to key on the run against us as much this season," Brinson said. "We want to keep defenses guessing."
Josh Dobbie will be catching passes at West Point this season, but brother Jordan (6-4, 180) takes his place as the Bulls' main possession receiver. Speedster Mike Pressley (5-11, 160), a converted tailback, is Grant's main deep threat.
ON DEFENSE: Brinson said he made it a priority to improve the Bulls' defense this year. That meant a lot of film study this summer for the players and coaching staff.
"We made it a main focus in the offseason to work on recognizing formations and being a smarter defense," Brinson said.
Lineman Justin Branca (6-2, 245) returns to plug the holes up front while seniors Hernan Rodriquez (5-9, 168) and Matt Timme (6-2, 215) lead a solid linebacking core.
Brinson called returning junior free safety Mike Green (5-10, 160) a "coach on the field."
"You just don't see guys as young as (Green) who know the game as well as he does and have such a nose for the ball," Brinson said.
AT A GLANCE
COACH: Corey Brinson (second season, 4-5).
ASSISTANTS: Ed O'Steen, Ken Wilson, Carl Holden, Greg Matics, Tony Thomas, Nick Jimenez, Scott Bloomquist, Dave Hutchinson, Anthony Bowie, Al Lewis, Greg Mosby.
COLORS: Black, red and white.
STADIUM: Charlie Harris Stadium, 1700 E Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico.