The Bruins have made steady improvement in the past three years … is this the season that they make a playoff run?
The Bayshore High football team has made steady progress under head coach John Biezuns.
The Bruins went from 0-9 in Biezuns’ first season to 3-5 in 2017 to 5-5 last year, their first .500 season since 2011. The program has not had a winning season since going 10-2 in 2003.
That could change soon.
After a solid offseason in the weight room and an influx of transfers to provide depth along with a couple changes on the coaching staff, Bayshore could make some noise this season.
“We talked about it as a staff last week … this the best first week we’ve ever had,” Biezuns said. “It’s not even close.”
With 19 seniors and juniors who have “bought-in” to the program, the Bruins do not lack in the leadership department — “Our leadership right now is the best it’s ever been, 100 percent,” Biezuns said.
Now it is a matter of transforming those positives into victories, especially after losing its top two playmakers — Eishinner Sanon and Corey Vonborstel — to graduation. A 1,000-yard rusher, Sanon accounted for 1,213 total yards and 11 touchdowns while Vonborstel threw for 623 yards.
Brian Coleman takes over at quarterback and will rely on Juan Vaquero as one of his main protectors on the offensive line. Both are four-year performers in the program.
The Bruins are looking for a fifth lineman to work with Vaquero, Alex Staley, Bryan Smith and Kevin Campbell.
“The four we have are very good,” Biezuns said.
The same can be said for the defensive front, which graduated its front seven — “Got to find back-up guys for those spots too,” Biezuns said.
Trey Jefferson, who played one game for the Bruins a year ago, returned to the program at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds. He is expected to see time at wide receiver, defensive end and backup quarterback, along with Manatee High transfer Chris Snyder, also a linebacker.
Transfers defensive back/fullback Marcus Furlow (Sarasota High), defensive back/fullback Jaheim Holloway (Manatee High) and running back/defensive back/athlete Octavius Calhoon (Southeast High) should fill in or provide depth.
Furlow missed qualifying for the state weightlifting meet by five pounds after arriving from Sarasota and had perfect attendance in the weight room during the summer, one of five Bruins to not miss a lift workout.
“He had a great spring game against Tampa Catholic,” Biezuns said of Furlow. “He was one of the standout kids.”
Five others missed just one lifting session during the summer and 27 players made the majority of the sessions.
“We made some big gains in the weight room and it shows,” Biezuns said. “Guys want to compete. “We’ve got competition at a lot of different spots.”
A couple of former Bruins joined the coaching staff.
Chase Richardson is coaching the wide recievers.
“He brings a different element from what we’ve had,” Biezuns said. “Chase wants discipline, hard work, effort and that hasn’t wavered from Day 1.”
“Tagarius Spikes takes over as defensive line coach. His twin brother Lagarius Spikes coached during the spring.
“They bring some intensity,” Biezuns said. “They’re younger. It’s only been an improvement. Best staff I’ve ever had. Kids-wise, everyone has bought in and knows their roles.”
What the Bruins do not have is a large number of players.
“We’re always battling the numbers,” Biezuns said. “We have to utilize what we have when we don’t have 80 guys to choose from. We’re trying to avoid guys playing both ways, but at the same time, if they have to play both ways we’re not opposed to playing our quarterback at safety.”
In six-team Class 5A-District 12 with Booker, Dunedin, Tampa Robinson, Tampa Chamberlain and Tampa Jesuit, the Bruins could make a push for their first playoff appearance since 2005.
“I like what we have,” Biezuns said.