The 2016 edition of BCP’s Bull in the Ring takes place at Larry Sanders Sports Complex in Progress Village on Sunday, so don’t be alarmed at those seismic vibrations you feel throughout the Tampa Bay Area once the action gets started. Fifteen different schools will be represented at the event with a total of 31 teams comprised of offensive and defensive lineman. There are ten teams making a return to the event from last season including three-time defending champions East Lake, which means we will welcome five newcomers to the fold in 2016.
Seven teams from Pinellas County are on the list of participants along with five from Hillsborough, two from Pasco County and one from Orange County. As mentioned, East Lake were your champions of this event in 2015, just edging out Plant, Palm Harbor University, Countryside and Boone for slots two through five. The new teams to this year’s event from last are Alonso, Clearwater, Largo, Northeast and Wiregrass Ranch.
You want production? Along the offensive side of the ball, the fifteen teams combined for 48,527 yards of offense–good for 27.57 miles–or more than a marathon’s worth of mileage accrued up-and-down the football field on Friday’s. Four of those teams were good for more than 4,000 yards for their seasons and seven of those schools were postseason participants. Although a few of these schools will be replacing some vital contributors along their fronts for this season, there’s plenty of talent returning on all of the units to give this event the potential to be one of the most-contested and competitive we’ve ever witnessed.
The action gets underway at 10:00am and here is a quick look at the schools participating:
Alonso – The Ravens finished with over 2,000 yards in total offense, but certainly feel like they could have a breakout season centered around the unit they’ve got upfront. Their coaches have been raving about the core group of guys they have along the front, so we are expecting some fierce competition from them this Sunday.
Boone – One of the seven postseason teams in this group, the Braves totaled a balanced 3,837 yards en route to a postseason birth in Class 8A. The Braves finished with 1,941 yards rushing and 1,896 yards rushing and as mentioned were fifth this event last season.
Clearwater – The Tornadoes were district champions and were one of the four teams in this group to his the 4,000-yard mark in 2015 with over 2,200 yards of that total coming via the ground attack. Coach Don Mesick likes his OL/DL group a ton and we’ve seen quite a few of those guys in recent past, so we expect a strong showing to say the least.
Countryside – Another one of the four teams that eclipsed over 4,000 yards and also in the postseason as district champions. The Cougars will be replacing a ton of starters from last season, but they’ve still got guys like Gordon Sandorf, Andrew Brown and Ethan Gemma that have all shown well in this event before.
Durant – The Cougars had seven guys along both fronts that were in attendance at E7TC, so the memory bank is full of their potential playmakers in the trenches. The Cougars were over 2,500 yards on the season and were 6-1 heading into the final weeks of the season before dropping three-straight. Several guys return from the OL/DL and are ready to show that’s in the past.
East Lake – The Eagles are undoubtedly the “Kings” of BITR and even after an up-and-down season in terms of wins/osses were still in the playoffs and were over 2,800 yards of offense on the year. Coach Bob Hudson mentioned he has his work cutout for him with such a young roster heading into the spring, but East Lake always seems to have talent along their fronts that rises at some point.
Gaither – The Cowboys have one of the better linebacking corps in the county, but they’ve got to find a way to increase their production along the offensive line for certain after rushing for a respectable 1,772 yards as a team, but were under 1,000 yards in the passing game. The process of finding that chemistry and core group starts in the offseason and we can’t wait to see what the Cowboys bring to the table on Sunday.
Largo – The Packers have some absolute studs along the defensive front, and by virtue of those guys competing alone should keep them close to the top of the results, but they know how to get it done on offense putting up nearly 2,900 yards of offense on the season in 2015 and will have some guys on the OL that will make like tough for competitors.
Northeast – Even in a 2-8 season for the Vikings, they were over 3,000 yards offense in-total for the year. If there’s one thing we can always expect from Head Coach Jeremy Frioud, it’s that his boys in the trenches are going to have an attitude and will be competing as fierce as any unit at the event on Sunday.
Palm Harbor University – The ‘Canes went 6-4 last year following a 1-9 season the year before including a season-opening victory over East Lake that caught everyone’s attention and eventually finished 4-0 in Pinellas County in their non-district schedule. This season, they get back a few of the big fellas we saw standing on the sidelines last season due to injury and things could interesting on Sunday–and this fall if they stay healthy. PHU was less than 100 yards from 3,000 in-total and return key contributors on both sides.
Pinellas Park – You can always expect Coach Crawford’s boys at P-Park to supremely enjoy chewing up offensive/defensive lines and spitting them out. And you can always expect us to enjoy watching it. The ground-and-pound is alive-and-well after the Patriots boasted 3,766 yards of offense including 3,200 of those yards on the ground and two-1,000 yard rushers. They’ve also got one of the most-exciting prospects in the area at the DT spot, so look for these boys to be in the thick of it on Sunday.
Plant – The Panthers’ Gold squad took second place in this event last year and as an offensive unit during the regular season produced over 4,300 yards in 2015 including over 2,500 of those yards on the ground. It’s expected that they will once again bring strong units to this event–push for the title–and give us plenty of reason to feel they can accomplish those same numbers once the pads come back on in the fall.
Plant City – The Raiders finished 11-2 and were regional finalists in 2015 and posted over 4,200 yards of offense in the process under first-year Head Coach Greg Meyer. It helps when you’ve got some uber-talented skill guys, but it also helps when you’ve got road graders that can help you accomplish over 250 yards per-game in rushing. That same mentality applies to their defensive front and we expect a strong showing from PC on Sunday.
Sunlake – The Seahawks showed very well in this event last season, and we have no reason to think that changes this year as well. Sunlake were in the postseason yet again and their offensive production saw them rack-up over 3,200 yards of total offense. We’ve come to expect an extremely physical style from the ‘Hawks on both sides of the ball with the pads on-or-off and that makes us excited to see them get after it on Sunday.
Wiregrass Ranch – Nineteen season-ending injuries for the Bulls last season means they’d rather forget the final numbers–and we will oblige them. What we are excited to see with the OL/DL units for Wiregrass this weekend is based on what Head Coach Mark Kantor said to us earlier regarding the Bulls’ and their offseason weight program. According to Kantor, the team had already maxed-out before Thanksgiving in-hopes off permanently erasing the stink of the ’15 season. That means we should expect to see physical play from both units and we already know how much they like to compete, which should translate into a strong performance.