At a few of his several college football coaching stops, even as a player at Sacred Heart, new Bridgeport Central football coach Tom Broschardt said, he loved the building process.
“If you look at my career, I’ve always been part of teams where we’ve had to sit and build a foundation,” Broschardt said.
“I’ve always wanted to build my own legacy.”
Excited to announce that I have been named the Head Coach at Bridgeport Central HS! Excited to be leading the Hilltoppers! Also want to say thank you to @CoachBehrends and @StaplesFootbal1 for my time there and wish them the best of luck this coming year #FCIAC #GoHilltoppers
— Thomas Broschardt (@CoachBroschardt) July 9, 2021
Former Hilltoppers coach, now Central assistant principal, Dave Cadelina said he sees a lot of football knowledge and experience in Broschardt, and beyond that an energy and passion.
“He knows it’s going to be a labor of love, an all-year-round, 24/7 sort of job,” Cadelina said. “And that’s what he’s looking for.”
Broschardt was head coach in 2019 for the co-op between Trinity Catholic (his wife’s alma mater; Kelly Anderson was a basketball captain) and Wright Tech.
Trinity closed after the 2019-20 school year, and Broschardt was Staples’ offensive coordinator last fall. With no CIAC-sanctioned 11-on-11 football amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wreckers played a few games in an independent Fairfield County youth league.
Central had none of that: The school didn’t even take part in the modified, limited-contact 7-on-7 activities that most other schools got.
Derrick Lewis had stepped down in early 2020 after two seasons as Central’s coach. Former Hilltoppers standout Christon Gill said he was going to be the next coach but wound up at Avon Old Farms instead. It was a bit of a lost year.
“When Tom came in, we told him this: Imagine we haven’t had football, and you’re starting a new program,” Cadelina said.
“On the other hand, kids have short memories. … Kids coming from eighth grade, from youth football, they don’t know what was here last year. They’re coming in bright-eyed and ready to play football. There are kids in the building who want to play football.”
Broschardt said his hiring came together pretty quickly once the process got started. It became official last week.
He stopped in at New Canaan’s “Grip It and Rip It” 7-on-7 tournament on Friday but didn’t really get to meet the players, more to say hello to some other coaches (including New Canaan’s Lou Marinelli; the Hilltoppers start the season at home the first two weeks against perennial state powers New Canaan and Darien) and see some of the competition.
“I’m looking forward this week to meeting some of the players,” Broschardt said. “I’m focused piece by piece, one, building a staff, and two, getting kids signed up. Right now they haven’t had football in two years.”
The second-to-last game the Hilltoppers played was Nov. 15, 2019, against Broschardt’s Trinity Catholic team. It was the Crusaders’ last-ever victory, 21-13 at Kennedy Stadium, Broschardt’s new home.
It’s not all that long ago that Central had some football success. Under Cadelina, who’s now assistant principal, it played in the 2004 and 2009 FCIAC championship games and in the 2004 and 2007 Class LL playoffs, just missing out in 2009. But the Hilltoppers haven’t won more than two games in a season since 2012 and have lost 21 in a row.
Broschardt hopes he can help rebuild, though wins and losses aren’t necessarily his first focus, and Cadelina said the early goals have to be realistic.
“I see coaching really as a calling,” Broschardt said. “It’s helping kids get to the next level, go to college, get a better life.”