Teddy Bridgewater returns to HS alma mater as its new head coach

MIAMI – Traz-Powell Stadium is synonymous with high school football in South Florida. Any time a local great is discussed, whether he made it to the NFL or not, the perception of how he performed at ‘Traz’ often comes up.

In 2022, ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Nike threw money into renovating the shared stadium, implementing turf, upgrading the locker rooms and even having a mural painted underneath home and away stands featuring the best to come through the area.

The first player featured on the visitors side is former Miami (Fla.) Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, cemented in his New Orleans Saints uniform. The recently retired QB was back at the iconic field on Thursday night, this time leading the Bulls as their new head coach.

‘The West,’ as the program is known by, conducted its blue vs. gold spring scrimmage there, and it quickly transformed from showcase to spectacle given the amount of fans, college coaches, NFL and college players taking in Bridgewater’s Traz-Powell debut as a head coach. Even Miami Dolphins star Tyreek Hill made an appearance and cheered on the wide receivers.

“It’s been fun, a ton of fun,” Bridgewater told Rivals after the scrimmage. “I’m happy for the guys. They got to come out and showcase what we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks.

“Seeing a guy like Tyreek come out, it’s motivation for them. You see all these college coaches come out … it should make them want to do their best when they step out here.”

The buzz and overall support speaks to the legacy Bridgewater has to his name, not to mention the expectation of the program he once led to the state finals nearly 20 years ago. Those on hand also got a flashback of the former first-round NFL Draft pick at work, as he took over at QB for one drive to ignite his offense, finishing 3-for-3 on an easy-looking touchdown march.

“I tried to just show my quarterbacks, what we’re doing works,” said Bridgewater, a star at Louisville for three seasons before embarking on a 10-year NFL career with six different teams. “Sometimes you get to the race and you neglect everything that you did throughout the week. You start doing it your own way. I tried to remind them that our way works.

“So I went in at quarterback and I just dinked and dunked. It’s high school football. You don’t have to create all these magical plays. You just get the ball to your guys. Calvin (Russell) makes a catch. Boobie (Darius Johnson) catches the ball on a shallow cross and runs 40 yards. I try to remind my guys that it doesn’t take much.”

The move worked.

On the ensuing drive, class of 2026 quarterback Florentino Lopez engineered his best drive of the evening, spraying the ball all over the field. It culminated with a touchdown strike to fellow underclassman Nick Lennear.

“He was just showing us, take what’s open. Throw it before it’s open,” Lopez said. “Anticipation. Follow behind him.

“It gave me a spark. Seeing him go out and do it showed me I can do it. So why not?”

AP Images

Stepping in at quarterback wasn’t the only unconventional move from the self-proclaimed ‘rookie’ head coach Thursday night. The scrimmage began with some uneven play on the initial drive, so Bridgewater blew it up and broke out into a competitive one-on-one setting instead.

That’s where Hill – not to mention college coaches from Miami, Florida State, Michigan, Texas A&M, Auburn, Missouri, Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, FIU and many others – took a special interest in identifying who was who. The energy picked up from there, even after the format switched back to the traditional 11-on-11 scrimmage.

The energy would apex when the local legend took the snaps himself.

While of course experienced in his journey from Northwestern to Louisville and through a half-dozen NFL teams, Bridgewater smiled knowing he still has plenty to learn. He says he’ll lean on many mentors, from the prep level through the professional ranks, in the months and years to come.

There is also wisdom to be had internally with his group of Bulls trying to get back to Sunshine State elite status after totalling just four wins in 2023.

“I’m learning a lot from them,” Bridgewater said. “I wrote a reminder on my call sheet: Have Fun. Just as these kids do. I just came from a profession where you take it so serious, you lose sight of how fun this game truly is. Money, the business, different things like that … but that’s why I chose this level.

“It’s so pure. You get guys transitioning from young man to adult. I just love it.”


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