Bradford getting back to the varsity gridiron this fall


By Drew Terhall

BRADFORD — It was around this time last year there was uncertainty around the Bradford football program. Only one thing was certain, they would not have a varsity program.

The program could not field a varsity team due to having low numbers. With the football program in danger of missing out on any form of football, a few student athletes stepped up to give the team enough numbers to play lower level football.

But now, the new football stadium is going to host some varsity football on Friday nights. New head coach Nick Bandstra said they have around 31 kids on the high school roster ready to get the season going.

It did take some time to get up to those numbers. Bandstra said there were some trust issues at first in convincing kids to join. After having about 22 kids immediately join, he went to work getting more kids to join.

“It’s a variety of factors. Are you going to have enough numbers, kind of some trust issues from prior wait and see. That’s fine,” Bandstra said. “I’ve done everything to be here as much as possible, build relationships with those kids and encourage them to not just do football. I want to see them do basketball, power lifting and baseball.”

The team was able to add incoming students to the team as well as added some athletes from the different sports at the school. Bandstra attended some baseball games this season to build relationships with those guys and the coaches there.

He said he respects how baseball head coach Bill Sturwold runs the program and was happy to be around the program. After getting more kids to sign up, everyone was ready to get the program up and running again.

“The kids have bought in. That’s one thing I can’t say more than anything, our kids and our families have been fantastic. Our administration has been fantastic,” Bandstra said.

There is some work to be done on getting a full varsity schedule. With WOAC teams having to schedule a different opponent to replace Bradford, some had to schedule for a two-season home and home series.

Bandstra said he is doing all he can to fill up the schedule. They currently have eight games scheduled. He is monitoring other teams and their situations to see if he can schedule them.

The goal is to get right back into the mix and play a 10-game schedule. But if they can’t get the opponents, they will keep moving along.

“If I can fill them, great. If not, we’ll play JV those two weeks. We’re up to eight,” Bandstra said. “Next year, it will definitely be 10. But this year if it’s eight, it’s eight. My goal is 10 and I’m doing everything to fight to get those 10.”

It’s going to be a learning year for the team. There’s not a lot of varsity experience on the team. Bandstra said the team has been eager to learn more about the game and have taken to coaching well.

The record this season is not going to be an indicator of a successful season. Bandstra said there’s going to be some good and there’s going to be some bad this season. He just wants to see the team focus on improving each week.

“If we can just get better every day, every week then we’re on the right track. I’m not promising wins and loses. I’m not promising anything. But if we get better every week, if we take pride in what we do, then we’re going to be on the right track,” Bandstra said.

The Railroaders will start their season at Middletown Christian on August 19.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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