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From the Bench: Carey Talks Rumors on Return to Sidelines, Health, 2017 BHS Football Team and More

By Jeff Toquinto on January 07, 2018 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

For those wondering, there will be two high school football jobs that will soon need to be filled on a permanent basis. One, of course, is Bridgeport High School. The other is South Harrison.
 
At Bridgeport, the school will need to post the job after long-time assistant John Cole accepted the offer to serve as interim coach last year. Whether he opts to apply for it once it is posted is something he said he plans to determine early this year
 
At South Harrison, long-time coach Brad Jett recently announced his retirement after years at the Class A school. Who will apply for and get that job also remains an unknown.
 
Here’s what is known, despite multiple inquiries regarding rumors on the Hawks job and a few inquiries on the Bridgeport job. Bruce Carey will not be a candidate for either. So for anyone hearing those rumors or perhaps spreading them, you can take it from me – or rather Carey himself – he won’t be applying.
 
Back on Nov. 28, Carey was in Clarksburg where his brother Mike was honored for his success as West Virginia University’s women’s basketball coach. A sign was dedicated that day and will be placed on the Hewes Avenue Parking Building as a tribute to the Liberty High School graduate.
 
It was at that event that I was able to talk to the former BHS coach. My first question – after he and I gleefully took jabs at his younger brother Mike – was “so I hear you’re applying for the Bridgeport job next year.” Bruce laughed and wanted to know where I heard that and I told him that a few rumors were out there.

“That’s news to me,” he said, still laughing. “You can count me out.”
 
Shortly after that, about a week later, Jett announced his retirement. This time, the inquiries received directly by me and through messages via our Web site, were quite a bit substantial. During a conversation just before Christmas to talk about the passing of his friend Ron “Hawk” Romeo, I told Carey again about the inquiries and he laughed again.
 
“Nothing’s changed. I’m out at the moment,” he said. “I doubt if I’ll ever coach again, but I’ll never say never. Right now, who knows, but don’t hold it against me if I change my mind.”
 
Most know about Carey’s ties to Bridgeport High School. However, what some may not know is that he got his coaching start in Lost Creek. Back in the late 1980s Carey was an assistant to legendary Coach Gary Barnette, who turned the Hawks into one of the most physical and tough teams to battle in Class AA. Carey and Jett were both assistants to Barnette.
 
“I really enjoyed my time there,” said Carey. “I was still a young guy at the time, but we had some good teams and some good years.”
 
Carey had some really good years as head coach at Bridgeport as well. When he retired in 2009, he has a state championship to his name in 2000, a runner-up finish in 2001 and an impressive 125-31 record.
 
As most recall, he left when the Indians were in their last year in Class AAA and had arguably the second best team in the state that season. The Tribe lost 28-25 in the ‘AAA’ semifinals to eventual state champion South Charleston.
 
Instead, Carey suffered prior to that season what in layman’s terms is considered a stroke of the spinal cord. Amazingly, he coached the entire final year at Bridgeport in pain and with the walker he utilizes to this day. Carey would make a return to coaching a few years later at Robert C. Byrd High School – where he led the Eagles to multiple ‘AA’ semifinal appearances – before walking away from the game as a head coach for good.
 
So is Carey completely out of the coaching loop? Not entirely, but his presence at games and practices are basically a thing of the past.
 
“Liberty kept me on their ‘hudl’ to allow me to watch game films,” said Carey of working with the high school program he graduated from through the video app. “I like breaking games down every once in a while.”
 
Despite the fact he played football back in the 1970s and coached nearly three decades, Carey said he doesn’t miss the game constantly. However, there is an exception.
 
“I actually don’t miss it until the playoffs start,” said Carey. “I start getting a little antsy, which lets me know I’m missing it.
 
“At the same time, when I look out there and see it’s raining or snowing and it’s just a miserable night, it’s a different story,” he continued. “I’m glad I’m not in it and before it didn’t matter.”
 
Carey still follows Bridgeport football. Like many who aren’t at the games, he relies on a familiar voice.
 
“I did follow a lot of the games on the radio, listening to Travis,” said Carey. “I really thought (first-year head) Coach (John) Cole did a great job. To be honest, I thought their entire coaching staff did a great job this year.
 
“It was nice to see Coach Cole step up and take over there,” Carey continued. “What made it even better is the success he had in the first year.”
 
Carey and Cole go back to Carey’s first year with the program. Cole was on his first staff and remained there until the end. Many times during his tenure, Carey pointed out Cole was the perfect guy to have as an assistant because there was never a need to worry about him not doing what was needed or – as some coaches have been known to do – try to undercut your authority.
 
“John’s like me as far as coaching and dealing with people. With football it’s nothing too fancy on offense or defense and he just talks to people and handles them down to earth,” said Carey. “When you do things like that and have discipline and some talent, it can pay off. I think it paid off with them because they just lost the one regular season game and made it all the way to the semifinals.”
 
As for his health, Carey certainly looked good. He and his wife Pam held court during Mike’s ceremony and the coach admitted he’s feeling a lot better these days.
 
“I keep busy doing a lot of yard work and going to the doctors a lot. The good news is that (my health is) much better. I’ve been getting better reports from the doctors so that’s a good thing. I just hope to keep getting better,” said Carey.
 
I think I speak for a whole lot of folks and say we all hope you continue to get better. Perhaps even to the point where you’ll one day be on the sidelines again – in Bridgeport or wherever you want. You’ve earned it.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Bruce Carey, right, talking with his brother Mike Carey, left, and long-time friend and former roommate Rocky Romano who is the Harrison County Assessor. Second photo, courtesy of Mrs. Alice Rowe and the BHS Journalism Department, shows Carey in his final year on the Indians sideline. Final two photos are by www.benqueenphotography.com and show Carey during his time as the RCB coach.


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