After a one year hiatus, St. Bernard will light up Friday nights again.
Even though St. Bernard did not have a varsity football team last year, their JV team went undefeated in a seven game season. Those players are ready to continue the St. Bernard tradition on the varsity level. Photos by Eric Wade
St. Bernard High School's football program had a devastating setback last offseason, as their head coach resigned just weeks before the start of the season. That unforeseen move sent a shockwave through the program, and a number of their upperclassmen decided to transfer.
John Bibb, who had been an assistant coach in the program, was called on to take over the program, but he had one tough decision to make. Without a number of upperclassmen, and not being able to properly prepare the team for the upcoming season, he had to pull the plug on the varsity season. He did not want to send any players out onto the football field to get hurt, or not have a real chance to compete.
But all was not lost. Bibb decided to move forward with the JV team. They canceled the first three games of the season so that Bibb could get his team ready for real action, and when they were ready to take the field, they won every game, finishing the season with a 7-0 record.
Most of the players who are preparing for the upcoming varsity season were on that JV team, and Bibb feels pretty good about their chances.
"This squad does not know the smell of defeat," Bibb said. "We're going to keep it like that. But you do have to learn how to lose, as well as learn how to win. But that is not something that we're going to preach. That's not something that we're going to look forward too. But we're going to keep that winning tradition going at St. Bernard."
This offseason is drastically different from last year. The team has attended various camps, including USC's camp and the Nike Sparq combine. They have played a number of the top teams in the area in 7on7 tournaments, and they have been hitting the weights daily. This work will have to pay off, because JV is not varsity.
"They're really excited," Bibb said. "Half way through the JV season last year, the boys were excited and ready to step up to the next level. Now the speed of the game is going to change. The size and maturity of the boys on the varsity level is going to change. And so is the coaching at the top level. It's going to be a rude awakening, but these boys are ready to step up to the challenge. The coaches are ready. We have the support of the school, students, staff, and alumni. It's time to get the old St. Bernard back."
One thing this team knows is how to deal with adversity, which is key for any team to be successful.
"They did have to go through rough times last year, and as a coach, it was even rough for me, but it did bring us together," Bibb said. "One of our mottos was 'from eight to great,' and another one was 'Go hard or go home, and going home is not an option.' The boys did go through some rough waters, a little turbulence, but at the end of the day, everything is smooth sailings. Everything is fly high."
Bibb is not just thinking about returning football to St. Bernard High School on Friday nights. He has bigger plans.
"Our goal is to go undefeated, it is to win the Del Rey League championship and to make the playoffs and to win the CIF," Bibb said.
This team looks like they will be well prepared, and they will be able to continue the winning tradition at St. Bernard.