When the Bayshore Bruins square off against the Braden River Pirates on Friday night, both teams will have already taken strides in righting the ship after disappointing 2012 campaigns. At 3-2, the Pirates already tripled their win total from a year ago; and the 2-4 Bruins, now under the tutelage of first-year Head Coach Elijah Freeman, are one game away from matching theirs.
“Every year is a new year, every game is a new game,” Freeman says, adding that his squad's decisive win over the Pirates last season has been water under the bridge for some time now. “Braden River is a different team, just like we're a different team.”
While a football team at any level is different from one year to the next, Braden River's roster not being a whole lot different from last season may actually give them an advantage in this game. While the Pirates felt the growing pains of a young team last season – playing a total of 16 underclassmen – those young players all of a sudden now have plenty of game experience and are presumably more acclimated to second-year Head Coach Curt Bradley's system.
It's that same level of comfort and understanding for a system that Freeman is trying to accomplish with his players this season.
“Coaching isn't easy,” he says. “It definitely has been a huge undertaking. (But) I expect [going through this season] will make the job easier next year.”
The program was fortunate enough to bring Freeman on board in the spring, giving him time during the off-season to make adjustments with his new team. And though this is his first stint as a head coach, it's actually not Freeman's first stint with Bayshore – he played both sides of the ball as a Bruin before graduating in 1993. Now several years later Freeman finds himself back at his alma mater in the director's chair, a role he never though he would fill.
“It's wonderful to be back on Bayshore's campus, and certainly great to be back as a head coach,” he says.
Another notch in the win column for either team on Friday would go a long way in continuing their forward momentum into the final weeks of the season. With both teams running the spread and putting their offensive output into high gear the past few weeks, a high-scoring affair can be expected.
Kick-off in Bradenton for this game of the week is set for 7:30 p.m. ABC 7 will bring you additional coverage of the game on Friday's 6 p.m. broadcast, with stats and highlights on Football Friday Night at 11:15 p.m.