TAMPA – When Bayshore Christian started its football program three years ago, the plan was always to be playing in 11-on-11.
After playing in 8-on-8 in Year 1, 11-on-11 in Year 2, the Faith Warriors are dominating in 6-on-6 this season. Next year, the plan is to get back into 11-on-11 with the goal of staying there for good.
Now, it’s all about chipping the wood, says first-year head coach Jeremy Burnett. The Faith Warriors currently hold a 4-1 record as they’ve outscored their opponents 269 to 138. That’s with just 15 kids on the total roster.
For Bayshore Christian, a PK-12 school that has an enrollment of 270 kids this year, success in athletics have come in volleyball (four state titles) and baseball (a 2015 state title appearance). Burnett wants his football program right up there with them.
Burnett is a former USF defensive back who had stints with the Minnesota Vikings and the CFL’s Saskwatchwen Roughriders. After being the co-defensive coordinator at Jefferson over the last eight years, he said it was simply time to move on.
Hired in June by Bayshore Christian to run the show, he brought some of his staff from Jefferson with him. In terms of what Burnett learned the most from his first coaching stint with the Dragons, he had this to say.
“One thing I learned is that kids are going to come when they feel like they need the coaches,” Burnett told Prep Sports Scouting. “We had kids come from nowhere. We needed an offensive tackle and an offensive tackle would show up.”
Burnett totally understands what it takes to build a successful group as he says “kids are going to be there, it is what you do as a staff to make them want to come.”
There’s no doubt in his mind that this program will be able to get back into 11-on-11 where they’ll play in the Florida Independent League, the same spot they were in two years ago.
“When I got here we had three kids on the roster that wanted to play football,” he said. “So, now we have 15 kids that want to play. If the numbers can grow that fast, I think we’ll be 11-on-11. There are a lot of kids here that are committed to playing next year already.”
The Faith Warriors’ roster is unproven with two seniors in captain Marvin Carter and Terrell Ramlakhan and junior Da’Aundre Kitt. Then, it rounds out with one sophomore in Zayin Noyes, four freshmen, four 8th graders and a 7th grader.
Starting quarterback, freshman Tyrik Thomas has 23 touchdowns (16 passing, seven rushing). He’s also one of only two players over 6-feet at 6’1″ joining Kitt.
8th grader, Jeremiah Burnett leads the defense with three interceptions so far this season.
The school is talking about what Burnett has done since arriving just four and half months ago. He says he hears kids saying that “you should come see the new coach.”
Because of that, the team is growing and the projections for next season are even better in terms of roster size.
As for expectations Burnett puts on his group, he says it will be fun around here soon, but a dedication to the sport year round needs to be in place.
“The kids are young and they have to grow fast. I’m asking them to do a lot,” he said. “I’m asking them to get good grades, study hall, lift weights and watch film. I asked a lot of them and their heads are spinning. It’s fun watching them learn this fast.”
Showing the kids that him and his staff are here for them, care for them and know what their plan is, Burnett says he believes more kids will sign up to play.
“We have to keep doing what we are doing because we are playing catching up with everyone else,” he said. “The players are getting what I’m trying to do, especially on the offensive side. Defense, they understand, but it’s all about those reps.”
The attendance at games this season have caught Burnett by surprise, not necessarily the parents in the stands, but the students there.
“A lot of students have come out and that surprised me,” he said. “We keep winning and generating that school pride, spirit. My goal is to have all the kids at the games.”
Right now Bayshore Christian plays its games off campus on a field that is 80 yards long. Athletic director Broderick Day tells me that there are plans to build a full-length football field in the near future right on campus.
The outlook is bright for the Faith Warriors football program with four core freshmen and five players developing at the middle school level.
“I can see the potential and the program growing,” Burnett said. “I feel like this can be a powerhouse.”
Burnett has endless knowledge of the game as a player and a coach. He lives and breathes football and at Jefferson, he played a crucial role in its 2010 undefeated state title season.
It’s hard to find a better guy to upstart a program. Getting back into 11-on-11 ball is a start this following season, but building the core and the fundamentals to the kids in place and the kids set to join is the first order of business.
When sitting in on a film session with Burnett and his group, you could just tell that he knew way too much about the game. That’s a great notion that will start to trickle down from the coaching staff, to the players and even to the fans.
Bayshore Christian might be a small school, but very soon you’ll know who they are in the football world. I promise you that. Kudos to Burnett and his staff.
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.