Bell Creek Academy
At a glance
Coach: Willie Murphy (first season)
Class: Sunshine State (eight-man)
Last year: 5-3
Key players: RB/CB Jaden Fisher, Jr.; WR/CB/P Gabe Folgar, Jr.; RB/MLB Dante Portillo, Sr.; RB/OLB Christopher Putnam, Jr.
Sept. 11 vs. Canterbury
Sept. 18 vs. Shorecrest
Sept. 25 at All Saints Academy
Oct. 2 vs. Joshua Christian Academy
Oct. 9 at Jupiter Christian
Oct. 16 TBD
Things to know
Quick coaching change
A week ago, Willie Murphy found out he was being promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach. Murphy replaces John Warren, who moved to Illinois. “It was a bit of a surprise, to say the least,” Murphy said of the sudden coaching change. To maintain continuity, Murphy retained the staff. “It’s not like a whole new staff is coming in,” Murphy said. “We’ve been working with these guys since June, and there’s a good rapport with the players and coaches.”
Moving on up
Murphy said there are 30 players on varsity, a solid number for an eight-man team. Bell Creek Academy does not plan to stay at that level. Next year, the Panthers are planning to play traditional 11-man football. To make a smooth transition, Bell Creek Academy wanted to put together a hybrid schedule that included a mix of games against eight-man and 11-man teams. The coronavirus pandemic made that more difficult. Nearly every game on the schedule is against eight-man foes.
Ground and pound
Given the number of quality running backs on the roster, the ground game should be in good shape. Dante Portillo, a baseball player, came out for football this year and will get plenty of time as a running back and linebacker. Joining Portillo in the offensive backfield will be Jaden Fisher and Christopher Putnam. The Panthers should have no trouble stopping opposing playmakers, too. The defensive strength is in the back seven, particularly the secondary.