5th Quarter Preview: Bridgeport

2019: AA Champions
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Reigning AA state champion Bridgeport will not get the chance to defend its crown in 2020 as the Tribe will compete in AAA for the first time since 2011.

“It’s going to be different with the athletes. People in Triple-A are going to be quicker, smarter, faster, they are going to know how to shed blocks easier so we just have to adapt,” senior lineman Devin Hill said.

Despite the move up, Coach John Cole’s team is not changing what’s worked for them for so long: they are going to run the football. Three big guys return in Hill, Tanner Saltis and Peyton Henderson. They will be relied on heavily to pave the way for a relatively inexperienced backfield. Only senior JD Love saw meaning game experience last year.

Gone from the 2019 team are state championship game MVP and current Harvard running back Carson Winkie, Trey Pancake, Brian Henderson and QB Devin Vandergrift. Winkie led not only led Bridgeport in rushing but in tackles on the otherside of the ball, and his presence will be missed.

“Carson was a great leader,” junior quarterback Cam Cole said. “He really brought the team together especially in the playoffs. He could play anywhere in the back field, led the team in tackles and did just about everything for this team so we have to find a greater leader and someone who has to step it up on offense and defense.”

Cole will slide into the QB1 role after starting in 2 games a year ago under center. He was, however, Bridgeport’s starting cornerback, and will highlight a defense that returns 6 starters.

Bridgeport begins its 2020 AAA slate at Morgantown next Friday.

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