Bernard said. “At this stage in my career, I probably wouldn’t have tried to become a head coach at any other place besides Trace.” Bernard has been at Trace for the last 18 years.
Mike Bernard has a major advantage as he takes the helm of the Miami Trace football program.
He has always been a Panther.
“It’s a huge advantage to take over a program I’m familiar with,” Bernard said. “I have a huge advantage in knowing the kids, the program, the expectations of the program from the community and the administration.
“At this stage in my career, I probably wouldn’t have tried to become a head coach at any other place besides Trace. Hopefully we’ll have a smooth transition for the coaches, the kids and myself.”
Bernard, 40, is no stranger to the halls of Miami Trace. He played football for the Panthers and the University of Dayton as an offensive lineman. He was an assistant for 18 years under successful former head coach Jeff Conroy, who resigned after last season. Bernard has coached the offensive line, outside linebackers and for the past five seasons served as the defensive coordinator.
“I’m very honored to be given this opportunity to follow Jeff,” Bernard said. “A lot of people have been asking me about following Coach Conroy and I can’t fill his shoes. Coach Conroy has meant a lot to our kids, community and administration over the past 18 years, and has been a joy to be around.
“I’m going to be a slightly different coach, but we’re going to try to continue what he’s done.”
While the search for a new head football coach was going on for Miami Trace, Bernard and several of the other coaches stayed involved in the program.
“Several of the coaches and myself helped with the weight room since the first of December,” Bernard said. “We figured if none of us got the job, the kids at least deserved for us to continue helping with the weight room like we did the past 18 years under Coach Conroy.
“We wanted to make the transition as easy as possible for the kids.”
Bernard believes keeping the coaching staff intact is important to help in the transition for the football players, especially during the offseason, summer and two-a-days when he said games are won and lost.
“I’m still forming my early approach, but I’ll probably stay with the same staff, minus Jeff,” he said. “I’m still planning on working on the defensive side, and our guys will run the offense like they have.
I’ve contacted everyone on the staff and they’ve been agreeable that for at least the first year we’ll keep everything largely the same, so the kids can have as smooth of a transition as they can.”
Bernard expects to keep the schemes the same on defense with some zone and man-to-man looks behind it, while at times blitzing to get after the quarterback and running back. On offense, he expects the Panthers, which went 6-4 last year and shared the South Central Ohio League championship, to be a run-first football team that also passes off playaction.
“We’re going to tailor what we do to our strengths as a football team like Jeff did,” Bernard said. “We’re going to be looking for team-oriented individuals. One thing we’ve put an emphasis on during the weight room is to be as disciplined as we can. The mark of good football players at any level is being intelligent, disciplined and tough.”
The biggest change for Bernard as a head coach is coordinating the program.
“There is a lot more time demanded to make program decisions,” he said. “You have to do things like coordinating your staff and the junior high staff, while working on the schemes we want to run. Getting everything organized is one of the best tasks.”
“When the season starts, I don’t expect the wins to feel a whole lot different or the losses to hurt that much more. I’m still going to be a football coach that likes to be around the coaches and the kids.”