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  • The Bergen Record

    Saddle Brook moves quickly to hire new HS football coach

    By Darren Cooper,,


    The North Jersey football coaching carousel took one last spin.

    On Wednesday night, the Saddle Brook Board of Education approved Rob Bernier as the Falcons' new head football coach. The district moved quickly to replace Bill Van Kersen, who is leaving for an administrative position in Bergen County. Offseason football practices started Monday.

    Bernier, 54, has worked at Ramsey and Saddle Brook as an assistant on the offensive side of the ball. He owns a private business in Mahwah, which gives him the flexibility to devote his time, energy and talents full-time to the Falcons.

    “I am all football, all the time,” Bernier said. “I love the game. Seeing the kids develop is a great thrill for me.”

    “Coach Bernier is one of the hardest working coaches around,” Saddle Brook athletic director Chris Ianniello said. “His knowledge for the sport, along with his passion for developing student-athletes, will help our football culture striving for excellence on and off the field.”

    Saddle Brook finished 3-5 last year in the NJIC Meadowlands Division after going 1-7 in 2022. In 2021, the Falcons won the NJIC Union Division, which was set up to give teams a chance to play like competition as the program tried to add numbers.

    Bernier believes he will have just over 30 players on varsity (only two seniors) this season with a potential freshman class of 15 that may allow Saddle Brook to play a handful of freshman-only games.

    “I have been very involved with the rec program in Saddle Brook and we aren’t losing kids to the parochial schools. Last year, all the rec teams made the playoffs and our coaches were involved, giving clinics and going to practices,” Bernier said. “We’ve had the best offseason we’ve ever had, so I'm excited.”

    Bernier grew up in Jersey City before moving to Fair Lawn, where he was a successful basketball player. He played basketball at Union College and got his degree in architecture.

    His children attended Ramsey High School and Bernier got involved in coaching at the youth levels. He was invited by former Ramsey athletic director Jim Grasso and former football coach Anthony Petrock to also work with the Rams' varsity teams starting in 2001.

    “I was very fortunate to have been around a lot of good coaches,” Bernier said. “I was always an O-Line guy. That was my passion. I was totally into it.”

    Bernier joined Van Kersen at Saddle Brook and settled into a similar role with the Falcons. The two men are close friends and enjoyed working with one another. Van Kersen is expected to be the new athletic director at Pascack Valley. Bernier was comfortable sliding up the ladder at Saddle Brook.

    “We’re going to continue what we were doing,” Bernier said. “Bill and I were on the same page offensively, our whole coaching staff is back; the only thing we’re lacking right now is a senior class, but I expect to be competitive this year and the year after.”

    This article originally appeared on Saddle Brook moves quickly to hire new HS football coach

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