Lot’s of things will motivate the Indians in 2017: the way their 38-game unbeaten streak ended in last year’s state semifinals, the tradition of winning on the turf at Wayne Jamison Field or their new head coach, John Cole.
“He motivates us really well,” said senior wide receiver Brett Sinsel.
Added senior Christian Olivio: “He’s good at getting you to come out to your full potential, get you moving.”
Cole steps into the head coaching role after serving two decades as an assistant at Bridgeport, working primarily with the offensive and defensive lines. He became the team’s interim head coach when Josh Nicewarner was suspended after his arrest on felony charges.
Nicewarner ultimately resigned, and Cole was named head coach, keeping a familiar face at the helm of one the state’s most dominant programs.
“He’s always been someone that’s willing to work with us,” said senior Sebastian Meade.
Throughout a grueling training camp, Cole delivered speeches and pep talks to his players regularly, hoping to mentally prepare them for their clash with Lewis County in week one.
“From time to time, you’ve got to motivate them to understand what their role is now,” said Cole. “If they accept it, they give us good effort and they can execute it, then things usually work out for the better.”
Under Cole, Bridgeport’s identity won’t change. The Tribe will still strive to control games by running the football, protecting possession and shutting down opposing offenses.
“It’s simplicity. It’s execution. It’s everyone doing their job,” said Cole. “It’s making the least amount of mistakes. Through the years, that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
On offense, John Merica will start at quarterback. Running backs Jake Bowen, Brice Haines, Sebastian Meade and Maverick Eddy will set the tempo out of the backfield. But their success, will depend on the offensive line.
“If they’re not executing, then our offense isn’t moving,” said Cole.
On defense, the Indians only return one starting linebacker, and must replace Mackenzie Holmes. Cole will gauge those new starters, and the defense as a whole, Friday night against the Minutemen.
“More than anything else, there’s going to be mistakes, and there’s going to be adversity,” said Cole. “Well, how are you going to respond to that? That will tell us a lot about the type of kids we have.”
The Indians and Minutemen kick off in Weston at 7 p.m.