BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Another state championship trophy was added to the trophy case for the Bridgeport Indians football program at the end of last season.
The Indians knocked off Bluefield in their last game in Double-A, at least for the time being, but its a new group of players leading the charge this season.
“It’s a new class, but we still have the same expectations. We always want to make it back to Wheeling. I think we’ve got a good team,” said senior lineman Devin Hill.
“It’s definitely going to be hard replacing the guys from last year, but we all have great work ethic,” said senior tailback/safety Hayden Moore. “It’s definitely going to be a group effort. Not just one or two guys, it’s going to take all eleven, and then some guys from the sideline, too. “
Bridgeport learned it was being reclassified to Triple-A late last year, and begins their first season back in the largest class in the state against a Morgantown team that took the Indians to overtime last season.
“They’re going to be a good team. And they’re going to be disciplined, they’re going to come right at you. They’re going to be physical. That might be the quickest game, Friday night,” said Indians head coach John Cole.
The Indians enter this season as they normally do: replacing key talent from the backfield, which leads the way.
With Trey Pancake, Carson Winkie and Brian Henderson all graduated, Cole says he’ll use a multitude of backs once again this year.
“Cam Cole is going to lead the charge there. He’s the leader of those backs. We also have JD Love, who played a lot last year, got some carries,” said Cole. “JT Muller is going to move to the offensive side of the football field this year. So those guys, along with Hayden Moore, who just played in the secondary last year, he’ll come in and play in the backfield, too. And then we’ve got a couple younger, quick kids.”
To Cole’s delight, his line is sturdy, with first-team all-state selection Devin Hill leading the way for that group.
“If you mess up, he’s always on you, but at the same time, he’s one of those coaches that even after high school, he’ll do anything he can for you. It’s great to have him as a coach,” said Hill about Cole.
“Then we’ve got a couple more seniors that always help out with leading. Peyton Henderson, (Tanner Saltis). Even the underclassmen, like Tate (Jordan),” he said.
In total, the Indians return just eight starters from a year ago, but have 13 seniors on the roster that will look to make another deep run in the playoffs in their return to Triple-A.