Bloomington anticipates jump

Tom Conner had some sizable shoes to fill at Bloomington High School last yer. Don Markham, who won 309 games and five CIF titles – including one at Bloomington in 1994 where the Bruins set the national scoring record with 880 points – during his storied career, retired after the 2007 season, with Conner being hired in his place.

Replacing a legend was hard enough for Conner, especially a legend that built the Bloomington program with the unique run-heavy double-wing offense. But considering that Conner was more comfortable in the spread – a 180-degree shift from the tight formations of the double-wing – that transition was made even more difficult.

That showed last year, as the Bruins, despite having a Division I player in fullback Jayson Allmond (UCLA) struggled to a 2-8 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Bloomington finished fifth in the six-team Sunkist League, a drastic departure from its normal slot in the standings.

But as Conner and the Bruins head into year two, they expected a drastic improvement in the standings. The spread, which was implemented slowly a year ago because of Bloomington’s power-based personnel, will be run more frequently this year and the Bruins are confident that they have the personnel to do it.

Bloomington’s success offensively this season will rely on which one of their young quarterbacks – junior Josh Gutierrez or sophomore Demetrius Moore – can successfully take the reins. The running game lost Allmond and Marquise Boyd, but a group of running backs led by seniors Mario Johnson and Phillip Hendrix are vying to fill those spots. Either way, expect an improvement from the 14.9 points per game that the Bruins averaged a year ago.

Bloomington is also going to have to tighten up on the defensive side of the ball, as it gave up 27.1 points per game last year. Senior linebacker Kurt Acorda will be depended on early, while Johnson and Hendrix lead a group of experienced defensive backs.

Bloomington’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 11 – vs. Ontario (Chaffey HS)
Sept. 18 – EISENHOWER
Sept. 25 – CORONA ROOSEVELT
Oct. 2 – UPLAND
Oct. 9 – at Menifee Paloma Valley
Oct. 16 – vs. Summit (Miller HS)*
Oct. 23 – vs. Riverside Patriot (Rubidoux HS)*
Oct. 30 – JURUPA VALLEY*
Nov. 6 – at Kaiser*
Nov. 13 – RIVERSIDE NORTE VISTA*