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From the Bench: Tradition-Rich BHS Finds Offensive Coordinator from Another Tradition-Rich Program

By Jeff Toquinto on April 15, 2018 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Bridgeport Coach John Cole wasn’t sure exactly how many years ago it was, but what did stick out in his mind was that it was unusual. And in a good way.
 
Prior to an Indians football game with Elkins, Cole met and began talking with Tigers assistant Coach Tyler Phares. While pre-game chats aren’t unusual, for two coaches who didn’t know one another this conversation was unique in its length.
 
“We actually talked, and this sticks out, for around 20 minutes and it was purely about football,” said Cole. “He was really interested in a lot of our blocking techniques and that stood out because usually you have some small talk and move on.”
 
There’s a really good chance the conversation is going to pick back up. Phares, who is currently an educator in Monongalia County, has been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Indians football team. He will replace Jason Nicewarner in the role after Nicewarner announced he was stepping down earlier this year.
 
Phares was one of three individuals who interviewed for the position.
 
“He and I will be working closely together,” said Cole. “I think we’ve got a good person, a good teacher for our kids and someone that will work well with our kids, which is really important.”
 
One reason they’ll be working together goes back to that initial conversation. When asked about it, Phares recalled it in much greater detail.
 
“I absolutely remember it. It was eight years ago and it was the first time I met Johnny and the first time I had the chance to be around the Bridgeport program as I was still relatively fresh into coaching at that time,” said Phares. “Coach Cole was a line coach and anyone that knows Bridgeport football knows the line always has success so I really wanted to hear his thoughts.
 
“I was then, and have continued to do so, to instill in the kids I coach the important of repetition and doing things the right way and here was a chance to talk to a guy who had done it for a long time,” Phares continued. “Not only had he done it for a long time, but he did it awfully well.”
 
The 31-year-old Phares’ football journey began back at Elkins High School, where he graduated from 2005. He then went to West Virginia Wesleyan where he ended up graduating in 2010. Upon graduation, he began his time as a coach.
 
“In 2010 I was at Elkins and started out as an offensive line coach for one year, which is the year I was talking with Coach Cole,” said Phares. “I then moved to the offensive coordinator of the program for 2011 and 2012.”
 
While he enjoyed his time at Elkins, Phares took his talents elsewhere. Actually he took them out of state. From 2013 to 2015, he moved to Virginia where he was the offensive coordinator for William Campbell High School in Naruna.
 
After three years down south, he moved back north. And this time north of Bridgeport to another football program that is mired in tradition.
 
Phares, who teaches at South Middle School, has coached for Morgantown High School. For the last two years he’s been the offensive line coach for the Mohigans. During that time, the Mohigans scrimmaged the Indians both years and Phares said it was something he always looked forward to.
 
“I loved playing Bridgeport because of how they do things. I’m big with shoulder blocking, old school methods such as leverage and angles and playing with hard-nosed kids. That’s Bridgeport football and anyone from the outside that watches can see it,” said Phares. “The other thing that you can tell is the discipline they have and that’s a combination of good coaching and the fact they’ve played the same offense from the time they were in Pee Wee to high school.”
 
There’s one other thing Phares said he loves.
 
“Tradition. It’s big there and when the job came open it was something I was immediately interested in,” said Phares.
 
The next step involves getting down to meet the players. With his hiring just becoming official this past Tuesday by the Harrison County Board of Education, Phares has plenty of time to get to know who is on hand and a bit about the strengths and weaknesses.
 
“I’ve been itching to get down in the weight room and build relationships and trust,” said Phares. “I want to be part of something that continues to be successful and in the running for a state title every year. I think I can fit in nicely with what’s already in place.”
 
Cole doesn’t dispute that a bit.
 
“He brings the experience we wanted,” said Cole. “He understands power, iso, trap, veer and sweep and that’s all very important to what we do. We’re glad to have him on board and hope the community welcomes him as well.”
 
There could be more coaching changes in the future. And if so, you can bet most will be looking forward to joining a program with a winning tradition.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo show BHS Coach John Cole, while Tyler Phares is shown in a recent photo in the middle. Bottom photo shows Phares while coaching in Virginia at William Campbell High School.


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