Josh Nicewarner and his Bridgeport Indian football team have done something that no other in Harrison history has ever accomplished – win back-to-back football championships. The Tribe took the Class AA title with a decisive 43-7 win over previously unbeaten Frankfort this past Friday evening at the Wheeling Island Stadium.
It’s not quite clear which is more impressive, winning a second consecutive championship or the way in which they accomplished the feat. Their only loss of the year came in week two to Class AAA Wheeling Park. That game was played on the Island as well, where the Indians are 2-1 in their last three games there. If you have to lose one, well you would pick the regular season tilt. Since their open week, Bridgeport has scored 42 points or more in all but one game. They also possess the stingiest defense in Class AA in terms of total points allowed for the season. The number would have been even lower if their wins weren’t so lopsided and the first teamers were allowed to play the entire game. Nicewarner has shown the ability to win big while doing it with class.
During the playoffs Bridgeport has outscored it’s foes 176-42. In the process, the Tribe squashed records for total rushing yards and points scored against the Falcons.
Without question the hottest player in the postseason has been Dylan Tonkery. Tonkery narrowly missed going over the 200-yard mark against Robert C. Byrd in the second round of the playoffs. Last week Tonkery claimed over 200 yards in the first half alone against Class AA perennial power Wayne. He managed to save his best performance for last, setting a record 315 rushing yards on 25 carries. He also recorded a hat trick, rushing for three touchdowns on runs of 73, 60, and 16 yards respectively.
Dante Bonamico chipped in with 89 yards on 16 rushes with a pair of rushing scores. The defensive specialist was Mackenzie Holmes. Holmes recorded an interception, blocked a punt, and had a sack that created a fumble. All of which occurred in the first half alone.
The stats tell the entire story as Bridgeport out gained their opposition in total yards (425-52) and first downs (24-7) in the affair. The second quarter provided the separation and comfortable cushion, as the Tribe outscored Frankfort 22-0 to build the 29-0 half time lead. The Indians outscored Frankfort 14-7 in the second half with most of their starters when they have spent most of their second halves during the extra season, on the bench enjoying the view. In the process, depth and experience have been established which sets the table for next season when the Indians will vie for a three-peat.
Being the defending state champs seems to fit the players in this program perfectly. In many cases the bull’s eye on the back and the pressure that accompanies it are too much to take. However, this group seems to enjoy it and they have appeared to embrace it as a source of motivation.
Credit has to be given to Nicewarner for not only having his team ready to play each and every week, but for also deflecting the would-be pressures those other teams in similar situations can’t overcome.
Congratulations to the Indians on their back-to-back titles. It has indeed been a rather impressive run.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!