When head coach Derrick Lewis left Bassick in March for a similar position with Law’s football program, he invited Mike Rodrigues to come with him. Rodrigues, the Lions’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, considered the offer before deciding to stay in Bridgeport.
Rodrigues wanted his own challenge. Now, he’ll have that opportunity.
Rodrigues was named Bassick’s head football coach on Friday and put in charge of building an oft-struggling program.
“I could’ve went with Derrick to Law,” the 38-year-old Rodrigues said. “I decided I wanted to … try to build a winner here.”
Bassick showed improvement last season, posting its best record (3-8) in over a decade. But this year’s team is expected to look markedly different after graduating 18 seniors.
“He knows that he has a tough road ahead,” Bridgeport citywide athletic director Neil Kavey said. “He knows that they’re going to be down a whole bunch of guys.”
Kavey said that Rodrigues’ ties to both the city and the school played important roles in the hire. A 1994 graduate of Notre Dame-Fairfield and a lifelong Bridgeport resident, Rodrigues held assistant football coaching positions at ND-Fairfield and Foran before landing at Bassick.
Rodrigues, who’s also Bassick’s assistant boys track coach, believes that familiarity is key.
“In these kids, there’s a ‘want to.’ They want to win,” he said. “When they first come out, they’re watching you to see who you are. … If they think you’re a phony, they’re not going to buy into you.”
Rodrigues said that a priority of his will be to build Bassick’s freshman program up. He called the program a “lifeline,” saying that it’s important to develop players when they’re freshmen.
“It’s something that has to be done, or the program won’t survive,” Rodrigues said. “You can’t just go year to year, hoping that these kids are going to show up to play.”
Nineteen players were on Bassick’s freshman team at the start of last season. The team played five games but was forced to forfeit the second half of the year after several players left.
The Lions went 4-27 in three years under Lewis.