It’s no secret: Bridgeport wants to run the ball.
The Indians’ long history of prolific running backs will tell you this. Their two tight end, three running back formation will emphasize it. And the old dudes sitting next to you in the press box drooling over every two-yard run and waxing nostalgic about “good old-fashioned football” will beat it to death.
Last Saturday in the second round of the Class AA playoffs, Fairmont Senior attempted to take a page out of Bridgeport’s book — though it certainly wasn’t by their own choosing.
Playing without injured quarterback Austin Norman (not to mention sidelined running back Noah Harmon), the Polar Bears were down to sophomore Dominic Smith at quarterback. While Fairmont Senior coach J.L. Abbott said “he’s going to be a good one for sure,” the coaching staff thought it best not to thrust an underclassman into the fire in a playoff game. Instead, they opted to go with the wildcat formation with Luke Hrapchak receiving the snap.
The 220-pound running back/tight end had been in a similar situation last season at East Fairmont after starting quarterback Ronnie Mills went down with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Still, the challenge of redefining an offense in one week ... in the playoffs ... against the No. 2-ranked team in the state proved to be too much of a challenge.
The Polar Bears managed just a single first down in the first half, that on a penalty. Meanwhile, Bridgeport used its slow, methodical offense to eat up clock and field position.
“Bridgeport runs that Stick-I from pee wee to high school. They say that if you do something over 1,000 times, you master it,” senior lineman Vincent Delligatti said. “Heck, we just put that offense in in a week.”
At the beginning of the season, Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner said that if the Indians averaged three to four yards per carry, they’d be a tough team to beat. As it turned out, running back Anthony Bonamico has averaged more than 12 yards per carry this season.
You can decide for yourself how difficult that makes Bridgeport to beat in the final rounds of the playoffs. Friday, when Bonamico carried the ball 28 times for 212 yards, it turned into a 28-0 victory for the Indians.
The result had some on the Polar Bears wondering what would have been if their 2,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher could have played.
“It hurt a little bit just to see all the work that they put in and that I put in over the course of the football season and then to not be able to help them get the win,” Norman said. “I think we could have gotten some things rolling on offense, and that could have changed things up a lot.”
Delligatti agreed: “If we had both of them, who knows?”
Hrapchak, meanwhile, took a more measured approach.
“We can speculate that,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
Despite the loss in the final game of the season, the Polar Bears accomplished a great deal, namely turning a .500 football team in 2012 into a playoff contender.
“Expectations at Fairmont Senior are always high,” Abbott said. “You never want to end a season on a loss. We won nine games this season. Did we have a winning season? Yes. Did we have success? Yes. Did we accomplish our ultimate goal? No. I take my hat off, especially to our 15 seniors.”
After a pause, he added, “Now we’ve got next season.”
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.
It’s no secret: Bridgeport wants to run the ball.
5 memorable college hoops tourney buzzer beaters
It's March, which means the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. But before March Madness takes hold, the conference tournaments, which get under way this week, often provide their own share of exciting finishes. Here are five memorable buzzer beaters from conference tournament play.
Fairmont Senior bullies Ritchie County to claim regional title: PHOTOS
While remnants of a winter storm remained outside of the Woody Williams Armory, No. 1 Fairmont Senior was on fire inside, beating Ritchie County, 69-31, for the Region I title.
It was business as usual for Fairmont Senior, which will advance to the state tournament beginning next Wednesday in Charleston.
North Marion tops Webster, 76-48
North Marion rebounded from a sectional championship loss to beat Webster County, 76-48, on the road Thursday night to punch its ticket to the state tournament.
The Lady Huskies, which had four of their five starters in double figures, used a team effort to get the win.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
Local product enters Mount St. Mary’s Hall of Fame
Fairmont Senior graduate Heather Wable DeWees has been inducted into Mount St. Mary’s University Athletics Hall of Fame.
During her time on Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball team, she was described as a “winner.”
Elliott, Delligatti share state championship win with their fathers
As human beings, we love to share special moments with those we are closest to.
For Ryan Elliott and Vincent Delligatti, that moment was winning the state championship, something they were both able to accomplish with their father as a coach on their wrestling team.
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