From the Bench: Record-Breaking Year for Bridgeport Football Includes Record-Breaking Season Finale

By Jeff Toquinto on December 03, 2023 from Sports Blog via

Although not a regular spectator at Bridgeport football for the last few years, I regularly listen to, and sometimes watch, games to see how the Indians are doing. When something unusual happens, I may send my colleague Chris Johnson a message to get the word from the press box.
When listening to the recent Class AAA semifinal game between Princeton and Bridgeport during my holiday stay in Boston, there was no chance I was contacting Johnson even though something unusual was indeed unfolding. The reason for it was that I knew Johnson was way too busy.
Keeping stats, doing play by play, and handling a Twitter account during a blowout win is hard enough. Doing all of that in game where 143 points were scored is something I have never had the pleasure of dealing with – nor would I want to.
Yet, as probably everyone reading this blog knows, the Tribe fell to the Tigers by a 73-70 score. On two occasions while listening in Beantown I considered calling it a game, set, and match before the final whistle occurred.
At halftime, trailing 27-7 I thought that might be it. And then in the fourth quarter with the score 73-50, I also nearly turned it off, but something said not to.
I am glad I did not. Certainly, the loss stinks for the BHS players and fans, but those there saw something special. Those watching and listening did too.
As I often do when it comes to all things Bridgeport, I called Travis Jones days after the dust had settled from something no one may see again. As usual, he was a plethora of information.
“The Jefferson playoff game (a 74-49 BHS win in 2021 playoffs) is the only thing close. In terms of the second half, Bridgeport scored nearly 3 points a minute (2.6). It looked like it was defense optional by both teams in the final two quarters.”
Here is the thing. Had anyone told me Bridgeport, or any team, would score 63 points in a half of football and lose, there is nothing illegal or legal anyone could put in my body to make me believe it. Yet, that is what happened.
“I felt bad for Chris George (color analyst and stat keeper for the Indians Radio Network) because he’s trying to do the color and stats and it’s almost impossible to keep up. From my standpoint, it was just disbelief,” said Jones.
Disbelief was likely shared with others. There were 13 scoring plays that covered just about 40 yards or more. Thirteen! I use exclamation marks as rarely as Haley’s Comet appears, but that is justifiable.
What is even more amazing is Jones does not believe any state records, beyond one preliminary round and one all-time playoff record. Johnson backed that up. First, on the preliminary front, is a new record for touchdown passes (eight by Princeton’s Chance Barker) in all classifications.
Second, and this is amazing considering Bridgeport lost, is the Tribe established the record for most yards ever gained in postseason history as the Indians finished with 766 yards (596 rushing and 170 passing).
The one record I thought was a slam dunk for a record statewide was not the case. I would have guessed anything that it was the most points ever scored in a West Virginia High School football game.
The record?
You have to rewind a few years. Or a century, actually, to 1917 when Magnolia took Woodsfield (Ohio) to the woodshed by a 157-0 score.
As for school records, there were a few.
I did guess correctly as far as the 73 points being the most points ever allowed by Bridgeport – in a win or a loss. You almost have to go back a century, to 1928, when Bridgeport gave up 60 points to Shinnston High School in a 60-0 loss in a 2-6-1 season.
We both believe the 63 second half points to be a record is the most points ever scored by Bridgeport in the second half and likely either half. With scoring by quarters unable to be verified many years ago, such as a 71-0 win over Saint Mary’s in 1921, we may never know. During Bridgeport’s 72-0 win against Preston in 2021, BHS scored 59 points in the first half.
Thanks to the offensive showing in the game, Bridgeport set more than one new standard. The first one was for scoring 47.3 points per game, which is astounding.
More incredible is BHS set the new single season mark for rushing. The Tribe rushed for 5,420 yards, which Jones said is a little more than three miles, this year.
Why is that more incredible? Because Bridgeport for decades, going back at least to the late 1960s, has been either a run-first team or a run-exclusive team that has been dominant doing so. And they have been dominant doing it with some of the best running backs in Harrison County, the Big 10, the region, and the state.
It was not just offense this year. The defense set a single season mark as well. According to Jones, the team finished with 90.5 tackles for loss.
Yet, two other records are more notable than the scoring, the yardage, or any other mark. And they are not new records, but ongoing ones that were secured long before the game with Princeton.
Bridgeport has gone 56 years posting non-losing seasons. They have been in the postseason for 31 straight years. Both are state records.
Add to that the team has taken part in the Class AA or Class AAA semifinals in 12 of the last 13 years and 19 times in school history, and there is plenty to be proud of.
The season did not end with Bridgeport’s goal every year, which is to play and win in Wheeling. But the 11-2 mark with still one of the smallest, if not the smallest, Class AAA schools in the state cannot simply be scoffed at.
To the seniors, the underclassmen, and the coaches, congratulations on a record-breaking year. More importantly, congratulations on maintaining the excellence demanded and expected every single season.
Editor's Note: Top two photos show Josh Love and Zach Rohrig, respectively, battling for yardage against Princeton. The third photo is of the unbelievable final score. In the fourth image, the offensive line that helped muscle its way to some record numbers is shown. In the fourth picture, Coach Tyler Phares shows his excitement after BHS recovers a fumble against Fairmont Senior midway through the regular season. In the bottom photo, Beau Ford gets ready to make a tackle on a Robert C. Byrd player for the Tribe's dominant and sometimes overlooked defense. Top three photos courtesy of Loot Press and by Greg Barnett. Bottom three photo by Joe LaRocca.

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