BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – After 11 years as an assistant football coach and offensive coordinator, Tyler Phares is taking over arguably the most consistent high school football program in the state.
Phares, who’s spent the last three years as an assistant under John Cole, will now succeed him as head coach of the Bridgeport football team.
“I always said if the right place came along, then I definitely want to fill that position,” said Phares. “Bridgeport is the perfect place for me, because of the love of the running game, and then the love for fundamentals – blocking and tackling. You couldn’t ask for a better spot for myself, personally.”
Cole’s resignation was announced in December, and Phares was immediately looked at by many as the obvious choice to be the next head coach of the Indians.
12 Sports reported last week that Phares was likely to be named the next head coach, and that move became official Tuesday evening at the Harrison County Board of Education meeting.
“I don’t see much changing,” said Phares. “We obviously have a pretty good system that’s in place. Everything is going pretty well. So, don’t want to rock the boat hardly at all. I want to try to keep everything as close to normal as we can.”
Phares was the OC in 2019, when Bridgeport won the Class AA state championship. The Indians have won five state championships since the start of the 2000 season.
Each of the last four Bridgeport head coaches have won at least one state title while with the Indians, dating back to Wayne Jamison.
“That’s what great about it, it’s going to put a lot of pressure (on me), which is gonna make you work harder, make you really make sure you bring your A game all the time,” said Phares. “Coach Jamison, coach Carey, coach Cole, these guys are guys that have really stepped up, put a lot of time into the program, put a lot of effort. Obviously, it’s shown.”
Bridgeport made the move to Class AAA this season, and made it to the state semi-finals but ultimately had its season end due to Harrison County’s standing on the COVID-19 map by the Department of Education.
Phares said getting back in the weight room later this month will be the first step in implementing some of the things he wants to do while in charge of the Indians.
The opportunity to coach a team with such great tradition isn’t lost on him.
“Coming to a great program as my first opportunity to be a head coach is something that’s real special. I’ve worked hard to get this opportunity. I’ve had a lot of really great mentors,” said Phares, who mentioned coaches at every stop he was at prior to his arrival at Bridgeport. “I really appreciate those guys, lessons learned, and everything that obviously helped me get to this position.”
Bridgeport is currently scheduled to begin the 2021 regular season on the road at Buckhannon-Upshur on August 27.