Saturday, December 8, 2007

1st Year SW Coach Selected as Coach of the Year

Berg led Baldwin on a magic ride
By Jesse Temple

December 8, 2007

Baldwin High football coach Mike Berg knew his team’s 4-5 record last season was an anomaly. He just had to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Determined to right the ship, the 10th-year coach scrapped his old offense in favor of the single-wing formation this year. The offense is known for being run-oriented — something Berg hoped would suit Baldwin well this year while having no varsity experience at the quarterback position.

The switch paid dividends as the Bulldogs rushed for more than 3,000 yards, blasting their way to a 10-3 record and their first Class 4A state semifinal appearance in 19 years. It also earned Berg selection as the Journal-World’s all-area football coach of the year.

“Going into this season, I knew we had a special group of kids,” Berg said. “I just keep going back to our seniors because they were such a special group of guys that took it upon themselves. They did not like 4-5, and they said, ‘We’re going to work hard and get the younger kids to follow us.’ So it was a total team effort.”

Eudora High football coach Gregg Webb, whose Cardinals team lost to Baldwin, 20-19, this season, said Berg had plenty to do with his team’s turnaround.

“He’s a great leader, and he gets his kids to know what they’re supposed to do,” Webb said. “Every year that we play them, their kids have been tough as nails. They’ve got a leader that instills great pride in their program, and everybody kind of rallies around it. That makes for a great coach.”

Behind Berg, Baldwin advanced the farthest it had since a 1988 state runner-up finish. In the Class 4A semis, the Bulldogs came within one touchdown of returning to the championship.

“We’ve had some really good teams in my 10 years, but we have never gotten past the sectional game,” Berg said. “Being in the top four out of 64 is pretty special.”

Berg said the key to his team’s success was the players’ work ethic and their level of coachability. Berg helped instill a toughness in his team by adopting the motto, “Don’t accept being average.”

“As a coach, you get what you demand,” Berg said. “We demanded that they look better than they did the day before. When you demand that, it’s going to happen.”

The Lawrence Journal-World
609 New Hampshire
P.O Box 888
Lawrence, Kansas 66044

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