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From the Bench: As Indians Football Season Set to Start, Cole Hopes Senior Newcomers Can Contribute

By Jeff Toquinto on August 19, 2018 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Bridgeport High School’s football program has benefitted greatly for decades thanks to continuity. The same players, doing the same things in repetition from youth football to their senior years is an advantage that can’t be understated.
 
The Tribe has also benefitted from something just the opposite of that. And that’s the arrival each summer of seniors either going out for the first time or returning after sitting out a year or two.
 
Recently, there was a story on Connect-Bridgeport of senior soccer player Evan Ogden who is going to do both sports and kick for the Tribe this year. While Ogden’s tale is already known, there are four other players that look to figure into whatever level of success the Indians have in 2018.
 
Damon Teel, Connor Robe and Garrett Crumbliss all showed up in late July for the first day of drills after spending time working out with the team in the offseason and were also there day one of practice in late July. The Indians got a bit of a bonus when after one they had the addition of Alexander Volkmer, a transfer from Illinois, and senior Sean Wilfong to the roster.
 
The first three, according to Cole, are senior newcomers. All three, he said, played their sophomore years. Volkmer and Wilfong are in their first years with BHS varsity football.
 
“They know it’s their last year and I’m certain they want to make a contribution,” said Cole. “You have offense, defense and special teams and we would like to have the depth to allow kids to only play on one side of the ball and that’s usually not the case. Their arrival means more bodies to do that and it also means that if someone only plays on one side of the ball that we can have them try and be a special force on special teams; sort of like a badge of honor. There’s always an upside to having seniors come out.”
 
So what’s the lowdown on those five that haven’t been talked about? Right now, Cole said none of them are locked into a starting position. All of them, however, have a chance to contribute and maybe even see one or more start.
 
Damon Teel comes in a 5’8, 180 pounds. He’s listed as a fullback and defensive end. He also may be counted on for special teams play.
 
“He’s still learning because, sometimes, when they come back from missing a year they take a step back in where they need to be. That’s not unusual,” said Cole. “Hopefully, we’ll see him on special teams. Right now, we want to see him progress to where he could play on special teams and, who knows, he could maybe see time at defensive end because we’ve tried several there and no one has locked anything up.”
 
The Indians may see the 6’2, 195-pound Robe getting snaps early. Partially because he’s shown promise, said Cole, and partially due to injury.
 
“He’s got a chance to play tight end after he did some good things in the scrimmage and some I guess you would say were not so bad things,” said Cole. “He’s in competition with Trey Pancake and Crumbliss. Pancake is a frontrunner, but with Carson Winkie out with an injury we may need to move him back there.”
 
Crumbliss is the biggest of the new faces. He comes in at 6’4 and 220 pounds.
 
“With him, we want him to constantly have the nose for contact and he’s not there yet. I think he can play defensive end and that would be huge for his because his size is prototypical for that position,” said Cole. “I remember his sophomore year was rough because he hadn’t grown into his body, but he has now.”
 
As for the other two, when the rain was coming down on the first day of practice July 30, they weren’t around. Now they are and Cole is glad to have more manpower.
 
“I’m pleased we’re around 49 kids. We’ll take extra players we don’t know about every year and we hope they come through for us,” said Cole.
 
Volkmer is new to BHS, but not new to high school football. Coles said the 5’10, 145 pounder listed as a halfback and cornerback played in the secondary in Illinois last year.
 
“He’s really only had a few days of live contact so he’s really an unknown on a lot of fronts. He got in to (the first) scrimmage at the end,” said Cole. “Hopefully, he’ll show us something in the final scrimmage and the practices leading up to our first game. That’s up to him.”
 
For the fifth senior, Wilfong, his senior year is his first year of time with the Tribe. Cole said the 6’0, 155 pound first-year senior listed as a halfback and defensive back, contributions may come later due to the learning curve.
 
“He’s going to have to find his way and he’ll likely have the best opportunity on special teams or even at defensive back,” said Cole. “He’s feeling his way around, which is to be expected. The hope with him, and all these seniors either out for the first time or back out, is that they can contribute. That’s happened in the past and we definitely need it to happen this year.”


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