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From the Bench: For First Time Since 2013, Former Champions Thorne, Bonamico on Sidelines Together

By Jeff Toquinto on July 28, 2019 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

The last time Alex Thorne and Anthony Bonamico were on the football sidelines together was back in 2013 at Wheeling Island Stadium. The pair were seniors on Bridgeport’s football squad that had just one what would be the first of three-straight Class AA titles by beating Wayne 14-13 in a postseason classic.
 
After that, the pair remained close friends to this day. Their paths on the football field, however, went into different directions.
 
Thorne signed to play at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., where he played for a season before transferring to Fairmont State to focus on his studies. Bonamico played for four years at West Virginia Wesleyan College just down the road in Buckhannon.
 
Hooking up again in football seemed unlikely at best. That, however, has changed and folks will see the pair back together in an unfamiliar role officially beginning this Monday.
 
Thorne and Bonamico are the newest members of the Notre Dame High School football team’s coaching staff. They will join new Coach Scott Werdebaugh, also a Bridgeport resident, in looking to find success for the Fighting Irish.
 
And it all started in the simplest way possible.
 
“I got a phone call from Scott,” said Thorne, a 2019 Fairmont graduate with a degree in Business Management. “I’ve known him for a few years, and he asked if I would coach with him. A day or two later I went to his house and talked to him for about an hour about the position.”
 
Thorne didn’t accept immediately, he said. Instead, he went home and pondered things for a day before accepting.
 
“I’ll be coaching the backfield and the corners,” said Thorne.
 
The acceptance led to the domino effect of getting Bonamico on board. But before going there, one may wonder how Werdebaugh knew of Thorne’s interest in the game. Although he watched Thorne from the stands during his prep playing days at BHS, it was another simple reason that put him in touch with the youngster.
 
“Alex’s mother is a friend of my wife’s,” said Werdebaugh. “That’s what led to the call.”
 
And that’s what led to Thorne contacting Bonamico. Again, it all turned out to be very simple.
 
“He’s one of my best friends and I knew he’s wanting to coach full time down the road. With Scott putting together a new staff I figured Anthony would be a good fit, especially with his knowledge and background with football,” said Thorne. “He was on board when we talked.”
 
Bonamico was more than ready. In fact, he jumped at the opportunity for a multitude of reasons.
 
“Alex came to me and asked me about my interest. He knows not only that I’m wanting to coach, but he knows I enjoy my time in football with him and I think that’s going to continue,” said Bonamico, who earned a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in sports management at WVWC. “I then talked to Scott and he offered me the defensive coordinator’s positions. I’ll be working with the defense, the safeties and serve as the wide receivers’ coach as well.”
 
Werdebaugh is thrilled to have them join him at NDHS.
 
“I’m very pleased they accepted. I watched them play their junior and senior years and know the character of these two young men as well,” said Werdebaugh. “As important as it is that they know football, it’s more important knowing they have character. It’s also important to have young guys on the staff able to relate to our players. They’re exactly what we’re looking for.”
 
For both BHS alums, it’s their first official stint coaching. For Thorne, this may be as far as it goes.
 
“I probably won’t pursue it full-time, but it would be a dream job to work full time in football. I just honestly think I’m going to work a regular full-time job and work football on the side,” said Thorne. “At the same time, if an opportunity opened up down the road, I would consider it because of how much I love the game.”
 
Bonamico does want to pursue it beyond the assistant role in high school. Prior to this, he was already looking to get back into the game.
 
“I’ve tried for a couple of months to get into the West Virginia (University graduate assistant) program but didn’t land a spot. It was about this time when Scott and Alex came to me and it’s turned into my first coaching job,” said Bonamico. “I think the most important thing with sports is letting the players know what you take from sports into the real world is extremely important. I’m comfortable teaching that as much as I am in teaching the game itself.”
 
He’s also comfortable starting out as an assistant at one of the smallest schools in the state with big goals. He hopes it leads to bigger days ahead.
 
“To reach my goal I have to build the resume and get some experience, and this is my first stop and I’m grateful,” he said. “I want to get into the college side and everyone that’s been there before said the GA route is the way to go and it helps your chances if you have experience. This will give me the experience and I plan on making the most of it.”
 
Werdebaugh is hoping to make the most of the winning the two former Indian standouts were accustomed to during their stint with the club. He said it plays into what he hopes to do at Notre Dame.
 
“It’s very big that these two young men are winners. Since we took over the program, building culture is number one. We want to win on and off the field and they both can do that, and both have done that,” said Werdebaugh. “They will provide us a better path to help our boys become men.”
 
All of that will start Monday, July 29. Werdebaugh’s small NDHS team will be taking advantage of flex days prior to the official start the following Monday. He’ll be joined by two BHS alums on day one.
 
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Thorne. “It’s great to be back on the football field with Anthony and helping get things going at Notre Dame.”
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Alex Thorne, left, and Anthony Bonamico celebrating BHS's 2013 state title win in Wheeling, while the pair is shown post collee earlier this month. Bottom photo is of Notre Dame Coach Scott Werdebaugh. Top photo courtesy of Werdebaugh.


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