From the Bench: New Year, New Schedule as Indians Add New Class AAA Program to 2022 Football Slate

By Jeff Toquinto on January 23, 2022 from Sports Blog via

The 2022 Bridgeport High School football schedule is finalized. For the most part, it looks a whole lot like the 2021 version with the slate of opponents.
There is, however, a change. And it is a Class AAA change.
As the Indians look to be set in the ‘AAA’ ranks for the foreseeable future, the upgrade on the schedule to include more big school foes continues. This year, the Indians will have seven Class AAA opponents as the Tribe will not play long-time Class AA, Harrison County, and Big 10 opponent Liberty.
Instead, the Indians have added John Marshall to the schedule.
“It’s a two-year contract,” said Bridgeport Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Mark Jones.
Beefing up the Class AAA schedule is not an easy task. For those who believe it is just a matter of picking up the phone and asking someone to play and it’s over, you could not be more wrong.
Along with having to find matching open dates, Bridgeport also has obligations to the Big 10 Conference. This year, the Big 10 allowed some flexibility with the Class AAA members’ scheduling, which opened the door for possibly adding another ‘AAA’ school into the mix.
“There are obligations you have to meet first within the conference, but this year the conference worked with the big schools to add an opponent, which helped tremendously,” said Jones.
So, why John Marshall?
“Since our move to Class AAA, we’re consistently looking for games because you never know the status in football, and you may need opponents in other sports. John Marshall is one of the teams in our region for baseball, volleyball and others so we reach out to them and others in the region,” said Jones. “We’re doing this with all sports.”
The interaction with John Marshall began, said Jones, at the conclusion of the past football season. He reached out to their athletic director and found out the Monarchs were looking for games as well.
“We were able to line up a week three contest,” said Jones. “That does not happen without Liberty willing to help us out. We have always had a good relationship with Liberty between the administration and coaches so kudos to them for understanding our situation in Class AAA.”
Adding John Marshall helps Bridgeport in its annual quest for postseason positioning as the team nears 30 straight years of postseason appearances. Having another ‘AAA’ school helps in the WVSSAC’s rating system on determining who gets into the playoffs and where they are seeded.
“When you see seven ‘AAA’ opponents you get a little better of a feeling from the standpoint of points and postseason positioning,” said Jones. “It also helps when you look at our ‘AA’ opponents and they’re traditionally postseason teams or teams in competition for and winning the state title at that level.”
Jones’ comment there is not hyperbole. The Tribe’s three ‘AA’ foes this coming year all made the postseason – Fairmont Senior, Robert C. Byrd, and Lincoln. The Polar Bears won the title.
“The one thing you have to realize when filling a Class AA schedule is that it’s never really completed because you’re always looking two, three, even four years down the road,” said Jones. “You have to with classification changes that could impact your schedule.”
Bridgeport’s 2022 schedule is as follows:
Week 1 – Buckhannon-Upshur
Week 2 - @ Morgantown
Week 3 – John Marshall
Week 4 - @ Fairmont Senior
Week 5 – Robert C. Byrd
Week 6 - @ Parkersburg South
Week 7 - @ Preston
Week 8 – Open
Week 9 – Princeton
Week 10 - @ Musselman
Week 11 – Lincoln
Editor's Note: Photos by Joe LaRocca

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