From the Bench: After 20-Plus Years as Coach in BHS Football System, Bombardiere Hangs up His Whistle

By Jeff Toquinto on May 21, 2023 from Sports Blog via

Very quietly, Bridgeport football not only saw one of its longest serving coaches step down recently, but also one of its most fervent supporters. It all happened without some much-deserved fanfare.
Last week, in this blog, we told you about the new Bridgeport High School freshman football Coach Corey Yates. I became aware of Yates getting the position when I saw the matter posted on a recent Harrison County Board of Education agenda. What I apparently missed in the agendas posted prior was the announcement of the resignation of the former coach – Mario Bombardiere.
Understand, Bombardiere did not leave his post as the frosh coach after two years due to a lack of success. His teams went 6-1 and 7-1 during his time there against a usually stacked schedule.
And he did not leave because he was unhappy. Rather, it was something Yates mentioned in the blog last week. It was employment related to his job away from the football field.
“I took a job with the federal government; working at the Veteran’s Administration,” said Bombardiere. “My schedule sees me getting done with work after 4 p.m. and that is the problem.”
If you are coaching in Bridgeport at the high school level, the standard requirement is to be on the practice field no later than 3 p.m., or as soon as possible in that range. That is no longer feasible.
“You can’t have the entire schedule change because of my work schedule,” said the 1988 BHS graduate.
Of course, there were a few other reasons as well. Those reasons both deal with bloodlines.
“My mother is in her 80s and I need to spend more time with her, and I need to be spending more time with my family as well,” said Bombardiere.
Just like that, the most recent freshman coach for BHS football coach stepped aside to let his friend Corey Yates take over. But it is not just losing a coach for two years on the varsity side of things in high school that is the hit. Bombardiere coached Bridgeport Youth Football for two decades, starting in 2001 and ending when he took over for the freshman program.
“I remember leaving youth football and that was hard, but I felt it was important to move up and help because I know a lot of kids and parents aren’t sure about moving up to play varsity football, even at the freshman level,” said Bombardiere.
Bombardiere handled that for two years and, as is generally the case with the frosh coach, also served as a varsity assistant. For two years, he said he was able to dive headfirst into the truly unique part of handling the freshman.
“There are a lot of coaches with Bridgeport football, but with the freshman you are coaching just one class of kids. You really form a bond with them because you have a smaller group, 17 last year and 21, maybe 22 in my first year,” he said. “You have to form that bond to form trust, and that’s always needed. I know we ended up with 15 kids last year due to injuries and thanks to the trust they would step up and accept the roles you needed them to fill.”
It was essentially an advanced level of Bombardiere’s coaching at the youth level where, again, trust was key. He loved every second of it and found more than just a small amount of success. Still, the former Indian and former member of the 1986 Class AA state championship squad said there was one thing two years ago that let him know he did the right thing.
“Nothing against youth football, because I loved it, but that first home game coaching the varsity on a Friday evening just makes the hair on your neck standup,” said Bombardiere. “It was a little emotional because you felt young again; young enough that you kind of felt like you wanted to play football.”
During the past two years, Bombardiere not only helped the freshmen to success, but the varsity as well, where he actually was filming games for the team for the last several years.
“You have great kids, great parents, a great administration, and coaching staff to work for, and a great community. That makes it a great program and makes it possible to compete the way the team has for decades,” he said.
That, of course, leads to a few obvious questions. The first - Will you be filming the varsity team again?
“I won’t be doing that because those away games take a whole lot of time,” said Bombardiere. “If they need me to help out in some manner, they can count on me.”
Question two is more obvious. Will you return to youth football coaching?
“I think me not coaching is going to be the case for the long haul even though I’ve spoken about getting involved. I’m pretty sure I’m not ready to get back into that even though I know the itch will be there when the season starts,” said Bombardiere. “Just like the high school program, I won’t be too far away. If they need me to help, I’ll be there. I love Bridgeport football too much not be willing to help.”
The love is hard to question. After all, he’s given more than two decades of coaching to keep the Bridgeport football program rolling at all levels.

Enjoy your time with family and away from the sidelines. Chance are good someone will find you a spot back on the field if the itch gets too great.
Editor's Note: Top two photos and cover photo by Ben Queen Photography. Bottom photo courtesy of Tricia Bombardiere. 

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