New coach ushers in new era, attitude for Bayshore Bruins football team

CHARACTER BUILDING New coach ushers in new era, attitude for Bruins

jdill@bradenton.comMay 21, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Hard work on the field and performing in the classroom.

Those are just two things that Elijah Freeman is instilling in his players as Bayshore's spring winds down.

The first-year Bruins coach also has a new offensive system that should stir some excitement among program supporters.

It's a bit spread out at times, and Freeman is mixing what he's picked up over the years as a player for Bayshore and Tulane University, and in the coaching realm under Ray Woodie and Dave Marino at Palmetto.

"The receivers are excited about the fact that as a receiver, they feel like they might get the ball," Freeman said. "Even though the scheme would work against certain teams, when you have a team that is equally matched talent-wise, they load the box. ... We are trying to make it so the other team doesn't know exactly what we are doing. They have to prepare to stop us on both sides of the ball, pass, run. So we're trying to get a scheme that's going to help the program."

But the biggest thing he's learned from Woodie and Marino is building character in his players in addition to putting a winning product on the field.

"It wasn't just those three (past) teams," said Freeman of the last three playoff seasons at Palmetto. "Raymond Woodie was there before (Marino). He maybe didn't have the playoff stuff, but a lot of what he instilled in those kids; character building -- that's a lot of what I'm using. But over there with Marino, it's just practicing like a champion every day."

To do so, Freeman will have to turn around a Bayshore program that hasn't made the postseason since Woodie was in charge in 2005.

That means ending the spring on a high note at Pinellas Park on Friday, which leads into the summer workouts in the weight

room getting bigger, stronger and faster for the fall slate.

Aiding in Freeman's transition is a core of several top rising senior players.

Three of those are Wesley Jackson, Dereck Williams and Tyler Bond.

Jackson, who began his career at Bayshore away from the quarterback position, transitioned into the signal-caller role in the middle portion of last season.

He's a dual-threat with his legs, but can find open receivers when called upon.

"It's just fast paced," said Jackson of the new offensive system.

Williams is playing running back and linebacker this term, while Bond is a strong safety and wide receiver.

The aerial threat that is beginning to permeate throughout the program on the back field at Balvanz Stadium this spring is taking shape, and allows Freeman some balance and flexibility on offense.

"We're used to just running it, running it and running it," Williams said. "Now we're passing it a lot more."

Before the razzle-dazzle unveiling on Friday, though, there's still hard work put in the remainder of this week -- something the players are expected to buy in to for Bayshore to become successful.

That also transfers into the classroom.

"You've got to get the kid to understanding that he's important, and doing the little things in his personal life is what's important," Freeman said.

"In the end, it helps the team. When that kid works on his academics, being a quality citizen in the hallways, being a quality teammate, treating his teammates with respect, coaches with respect, teachers with respect, that kind of develops a rapport and atmosphere around the program that people tend to respect."

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