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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.
It’s no secret: Bridgeport wants to run the ball.
Polar Bear tennis sweeps East: PHOTOS
Last week East Fairmont’s girls’ tennis team beat Fairmont Senior, 4-3.
Wednesday at Fairmont State University, the Polar Bears returned the favor with a 5-2 win over their cross-town rival.
Alissa Link won No. 1 singles, 8-4. Morgan Hoke won No. 3 singles, 9-7. And Avery Towns won No. 4 singles, 8-5, for the Polar Bears.
Falcons set for spring game
Football is back … well, kind of.
Today at 7 p.m., Fairmont State will hold its annual Maroon & White spring game at Duvall-Rosier Field. The scoreboard won’t mean a whole lot since it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage. Instead, here are five things to watch during today’s game.
HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age
The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
“There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”
Hillberry commits to Wesleyan
Last year Emma Harrison and Kaitlyn Conaway teamed up with Alexis Hillberry to win several relay medals at the state track meet.
Though the two West Virginia Wesleyan runners are now in college, they helped to pass the baton to Hillberry Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to join her former teammates on the Bobcats’ track team.
O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall
Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.
North, East softball earn blowout wins
The North Marion softball team was at it again Wednesday night.
Mattie Polling tripled and singled, starting pitcher Chelsi Latocha doubled and gave up just one hit as the Huskies rolled to another 3-inning mercy-rule victory over Lewis County, 18-1.
Simon, Bruce lead Reds past Bucs, 5-2
Alfredo Simon pitched into the seventh inning despite erratic control, Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Wednesday night.
Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while striking out four.
Pens squander lead, fall to Columbus
Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Cousins Sansalone, Craig lead Polar Bears past B-U: PHOTOS
They say you don’t mess with family. Buckhannon-Upshur found that one out the hard way.
Mascaro signs with FSU
Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.
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