When the new Bridgeport Middle School football coach walked into Bridgeport High School coach Josh Nicewarner’s office, Nicewarner wasn’t surprised and what he heard. In fact, it was almost what he expected.
“The first question he asked was ‘what would you like us to do?’ That speaks volumes that the guy has a vision for the program overall and not the team,” Nicewarner said.
Of course, the guy in question understands completely well about the Indians football program. Robbie Buffington, who spent the last two years as an assistant to recently retired BMS coach Tom Fogg, was officially given the reins of the program at a recent Harrison County Board of Education meeting. Buffington’s pre-coaching resume includes a dominating career as the Indians’ punter and kicker during his playing days from 1991 to 1993.
Just how dominant was Buffington? The new coach has the distinction of being Bridgeport High School’s only three-time all-state first team selection in the program’s long and storied history.
“I’m thrilled with this opportunity,” said Buffington. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is where I wanted to be. Why else would I be here at 6:30 this morning and loving every second of it. This is going to be wonderful to work with these great kids in this great community.”
While Buffington spent the last two seasons serving as the understudy to Fogg, he’s no stranger to the head coaching gig at the middle school level. Buffington previously served as the head coach at Lumberport Middle School where he had several successful teams.
“That was a very positive experience for me. The school, the kids and the entire Lumberport community were very good to me,” Buffington said. “I enjoyed my time there.”
As for his new location, Buffington said he emphasized to his players Monday morning that what they do is for the benefit of the entire Bridgeport football program. Although he hopes to continue the winning legacy established under Fogg, he knows the real goal is to get the players prepared for the high school level.
“I told the kids to look at their helmets and to see what color those helmet s were because that represented the entire football program,” Buffington said. “I told them that they’re part of something bigger, that I’m part of something bigger. They were told that I wouldn’t say this is my team because I want them to understand that this is about the program. We’re the next step these players will take on their way to high school.”
When Buffington competed at this level, it was still considered junior high and went into ninth grade before going to high school. He played for Vern Louk at the former school on Newton Street. He then went out to have one of the best careers for a kicker/punter in state high school history before proving his efforts at the prep level were no fluke at the college level. He played for three seasons at Glenville State College for former coach Rich Rodriguez on some of the most dominant teams in West Virginia Conference history. He also played his final season for former GSC coach Warren Ruggerio. Rodriguez is now the coach at the University of Arizona, while Ruggerio is the offensive coordinator at Bowling Green.
“Robbie has a great background in football and we hope he’s able to exceed what Tom did on the field in performance, wins and fundamentals,” Nicewarner said.
Fogg spent 31 years on the sidelines before retiring this past season. The last 20 of those years for Fogg were as the head coach of the Bridgeport Junior High and Bridgeport Middle School programs.