HERALD'S FORECAST: 4-6
Last year's Bruins generated the first .500 season in Gordon's tenure, but this season's club doesn't have quite as many players on the sidelines. Bayshore also lost a strong senior class that featured hard-nosed players like Dominic "Nico" Everett, Alex Mobley and Clay Hanson.
Nonetheless, the talented Tarwoe is a junior with lots of skill who should shore up the Bruins defense. He was a key reason Bayshore upended Class 7A Braden River on the road in 2011. However, a slight regression should be expected.
NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Calvin Williams, senior, running back
When Dominic Everett got hurt last year, Calvin Williams was suddenly called upon to shoulder some of the load in Bayshore's backfield. The Bruins are a run-heavy club, and Williams was thrust into the void.
However, Williams wasn't a running back for long; Everett quickly worked his way back.
"After losing Nico (Everett) -- Nico had a couple great seasons for us -- Calvin didn't get a lot of reps there," Bayshore head coach Jean P. Gordon said.
Williams performed well at the junior varsity level and earned the varsity call-up, filling in for Everett but not getting a large amount of carries two seasons ago.
That was different in the 2011 spring game, when Gordon estimated Williams ran for 140 to 150 yards as the featured back when Everett was hurt.
That translated into an increased workload alongside Everett last fall.
However, a familiar Bayshore bugaboo, fumbles, bit Williams in the spring game. Williams put the ball on the ground a couple times and has worked hard to improve his ball security heading into the 2012 season.
"We do a lot more stuff with the ball, move the ball, where we are carrying it, all that kind of stuff," Gordon said. "So we're putting a lot more emphasis on that. All you can do is the strip drills. And when you get in an offensive period (in practice), you tell the defense ... 'You guys cause a fumble, you pull the ball out' or whatever. You get a Powerade or something like that."
Williams isn't the only running back in Gordon's stable. He said the Bruins will have three tailbacks and six other running backs available. That should help lessen the burden on Williams' shoulders.
"A little pressure, but then I know if I'm not getting the job done, we have other players to get it done too," Williams said.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Nobody
There are no fresh faces on this year's club. The first day of fall practice saw 55 players arrive, but that number included junior varsity members. A main reason for no newcomers this fall is that underclassmen were relied upon last season. Bayshore's senior class had several standout, blue-collar performers who played vital cogs in the Bruins' 5-5 season that included victories over bigger schools such as Lakewood Ranch, Braden River and Sarasota. But it was a small core of five players.
However, quarterback Joshua Maugherman, defensive back Tyderian Jenkins and the three-headed rushing attack are gone.
Guys like Obi Tarwoe were brought to the varsity level as a sophomore. As a result, they've been seasoned with game experience heading into 2012.
DEEP AT: Balance
Bayshore head coach Jean P. Gordon said his club is well-balanced. That means the Bruins make up for a lack of depth in numbers with size on the lines, mixed with athletes on the outside. Calvin Williams provides the speed and tenacity that represents Bayshore's tried-and-true punishing ground attack, while tight end Zachary Stuber has impressed Gordon heading into the 2012 campaign.
Mix in last year's playmaking defender Tarwoe, and the Bruins could shock some people with their skill positions.
"I wouldn't say we're deep at anything, but we've got some very good athletes and they are excellent kids," Gordon said.
THIN AT: Numbers
The number of Bayshore players who will suit up for the Kickoff Classic is down from last fall. Gordon said they're at about 30 to 32 players.
Consequently, last year's 1.5 strategy will be employed again. The 1.5 method is one in which a player is used as a starter at one position on one side of the ball. That player then shares a position with another player on the other side of the ball, splitting playing time in half.
"I've got a lot of 1.5 guys," Gordon said. "And that's OK, if they go out and get a quality rest."
Aug. 31 TAMPA CATHOLIC
Sept. 7 PORT CHARLOTTE^
Sept. 14 at Lakewood Ranch
Sept. 21 at Wauchula Hardee*^
Sept. 28 at Fort Myers Cypress Lake
Oct. 5 PALMETTO*
Oct. 11 BRADEN RIVER
Oct. 19 at Southeast*
Oct. 26 ARCADIA DESOTO*
Nov. 9 at Sarasota
All games 7:30 p.m., except ^ (7 p.m.)
Home games in ALL CAPS.
*--Class 5A-District 10 game
THE MAIN EVENT: Sept. 21 at Wauchula Hardee -- Gordon points to the season opener against Tampa Catholic as a key to the season, mainly because it can arm the Bruins with momentum and a winning mentality. However, Bayshore's season really starts on Sept. 21 against Wauchula Hardee. The Wildcats run the ball at will out of a veer offense. The club is similar to Bayshore's ground-and-pound style and gets the Bruins at their place.
Tampa Catholic L, 17-14
Port Charlotte W, 34-0
Lakewood Ranch W, 26-20
Wauchula Hardee L, 35-21
Fort Myers Cypress Lake L, 28-18
Palmetto L, 42-7
Braden River W, 28-19
Southeast L, 34-7
Arcadia DeSoto W, 14-7
Sarasota W, 49-32
953: Combined rushing yards from Everett, Mobley and Hanson last year.
118: Passing attempts by Bayshore quarterbacks last fall, up from the 82 attempts in 2010.
4.2: Average yards per carry for Williams' junior season.
IN THE CORNER
Jean P. Gordon, 18th season, seventh season at Bayshore. 73-109 overall, 22-37 at Bayshore