BHS's Haines to Take Determination North to be Part of First Year D-II Football Program at Wheeling Jesuit

By Jeff Toquinto on February 07, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

For the first time in its school’s long history, Wheeling Jesuit will have a football program when the 2018 season begins. The Cardinals will begin their new athletic program journey as part of the Mountain East Conference, which features the majority of its Division II teams from West Virginia.
 
As part of the initial roster, WJU will see a name on it that has no problem starting from scratch. And that is Bridgeport High School senior Brice Haines.
 
Today, at the Bridgeport High School library, Haines signed a letter of intent to attend the Catholic school based in the northern panhandle. He was one of several BHS athletes to sign to continue their careers as a student-athlete at the next level today at the school.
 
“I liked the area and I really liked the passion they showed trying to get this program going,” said Haines, who plans on studying education. “They are going to do everything they can to be competitive in Division II. It’s exciting to be part of the start of something.”
 
Haines was a force on offense and defense this year for the Tribe. That proved to be the case despite playing in less than half of the team’s games due to injury and he hopes to be a force on defense for WJU.
 
“They run a 4-2-5 defense so I would be a blitzing time of linebacker and get into pass coverage as well,” said Haines. “I know I’ve got to hit the weights and have already started.”
 
Haines said he hopes to put on up to 15 more pounds before the season starts. Right now, he weighs 190, which he and BHS Coach John Cole knows isn’t big enough at the moment.
 
“You look at Brice and you may think he doesn’t have the ideal body type for football at that position … One thing you don’t see if you look at him, but you know if you know him is that this is a young man that will make up for anything he doesn’t have with intelligence and work ethic,” said Indians football Coach John Cole. “He’s going to a new program that is going to provide an opportunity for those that may be the hungriest and I can tell you that if Brice sets his mind to something he achieves it. He proved that this year in a big way.”
 
On September 16 against Robert C. Byrd, Haines suffered what was believed to be a season-ending injury. As he worked to get better, he learned that there was a chance he could return to play. That chance, however, hinged on Bridgeport advancing far into the Class AA playoffs, meaning there was no guarantee that extra work would get him back on the field or that he would even be medically cleared no matter how hard he worked.
 
Haines decided to go full throttle anyway. And on Nov. 24, Haines returned in the ‘AA’ semifinals against Bluefield. Although the game didn’t end as he would have liked, the dedication proved Cole was correct in his assessment of Haines’ character.
 
“He never talked much about the injury and I remember after he got the news following the Byrd game, he took it so hard no one heard from him for a couple of days,” said Cole. “Then he shows up still at every practice and every game. He still is part of the team and realizes there’s this tiny window of opportunity to play again and he takes advantage of it. He could have done everything right and we could have gotten beat or he could have done everything right and not been cleared. He knew all of that and worked himself back anyway. There isn’t a coach out there that wouldn’t want a kid like that on their roster.
 
“That told me everything about his character because he was invested in the program,” Cole continued. “It meant something to him to come back and he worked for it.”
 
Haines said he never thought about not rehabbing even harder once he learned he had a glimmer of hope to play again – even if the stars had to align correctly.
 
“I just thought I rolled my ankle, but the next day at (physical therapy) the x-rays showed I had a fracture,” said Haines. “That was such a big setback, but when I knew there was a chance I could get back I did everything I could do get back.”
 
The diagnosis, initially, was to be out at least 12 weeks. He made it back several weeks earlier.
 
“I was initially under the impression that we would have to get back to the finals to even have a chance, but this team had the ability to do it and I wasn’t going to let my teammates down if I could help them,” said Haines.
Haines only played in four regular season games before his injury. He then played in the season-ending loss to Bluefield.
 
Despite limited action, he still manage to be the team’s fourth leading rusher with 287 yards on 34 carries (8.4 yards per carry) and had three touchdowns with a long of 79 yards. He also was in the top 15 tacklers on the team, ending the year with 19 stops and one interception.
 
Click HERE to read about another BHS player that signed today.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Haines surrouned by familly and members of the BHS coaching staff at today's signing. Second photo shows Haines running the ball early in the season, while he hauls in an interception in the third photo. At the bottom, Haines comes off the field during his return against Bluefield. Bottom three photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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