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Record: 0-11 Home: 0-6 Away: 0-5 HAAC: 0-5
2016 Football Coaches
Justin Berna Image
Justin Berna
Head Coach - 6th Season
Alma Mater: Lindenwood University

The 2016 season will be the sixth for Justin Berna as the head coach of the Avila University football program. Berna and the Eagles will look to ride the momentum of back-to-back victories that closed out the 2015 season.

Berna coached a school record eight first and second team All-Heart performers in 2015 and led the Eagles to a fourth place finish in the Heart South.

Berna and the Eagles will look to put it all together in 2016 after a fast start in 2014 and a strong finish in 2015. The 2014 Eagles started 3-0 and received votes for the top 25 for the first time in the program’s history, while the 2015 team started slow before earning back-to-back victories via goal line stands to close out the campaign.

Under Berna, the Eagles have broken over 25 school records including most points in a season (337), average yards per game (401), passing yards in a game (394), points in a game (80) and rushing touchdowns in a season (26). Kelwin Burke Jr. became the programs first ever 1,000 yard rusher in 2013 with 1,336 yards and received first team All-Heart Honors, and Da'vieon Sullivan became the first Eagle to be named to the first team All-Heart under Berna.

In his five seasons with Avila, Berna has coached 62 All-Heart performers, including 5 first team performers and 17 second teamers. Berna has also seen his team GPA rise in every season since taking over as head coach of the Eagles in 2011.

In Berna’s first season as head coach the Eagles had the second best season in school history finishing with the best record (4-6, 4-5) since 2003 (5-5) and doubling their wins from the previous year. In 2011 the Eagles set three school records including: points vs. a conference opponent (50), touchdown passes in a game (4), all-conference awards (16) and the Eagles were awarded their first ever BSN All-American Award with Tyler Cardwell being named a second-team safety.

Coach Berna was previously the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill. Under Coach Berna's play calling the Highlander offense set seven offensive school records, one conference record, and averaged 30.1 points per game in 2009. Coach Berna also handled all of the Highlanders strength and conditioning responsibilities.

Prior to MacMurray, Coach Berna was the wide receivers and running backs coach at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. At Lindenwood, Coach Berna also handled all of the team's strength and conditioning responsibilities. During Coach Berna's three seasons at Lindenwood, the team reached the national playoffs twice in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008, reaching the national semifinals and finishing with an 11-2 record and No. 3 national ranking in 2008. In 2007 the Lindenwood offense averaged 38 points per game and 6.2 yards per carry, which led the nation. Lindenwood also won the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship and finished with a 10-2 record and No. 12 national ranking. In 2008, the program won its first-ever playoff game and a trip to the Final Four. During his three seasons at Lindenwood, Coach Berna compiled a regular season record of 24-9, a conference championship, two playoff berths, and two playoff wins.

Before joining the coaching staff at Lindenwood, Berna was a two-year letter winner and captain for the Lindenwood Lions football program in 2004 and 2005. The Lions also won the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship and a trip to the national playoffs in 2004.

Berna received his Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in strength and conditioning in May 2008, and his Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006 from Lindenwood University.  Berna was named to the academic All-Conference Team and to the Dean's List while at Lindenwood. The 2004 Lindenwood team was inducted into the University's Athletics Hall of Fame in the Fall of 2010.

Prior to playing and coaching at Lindenwood University, Berna was a two-year letter winner at West Hills Community College in California. While at West Hills, Berna completed his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts in May 2004, and was once again a captain for the football program. The Falcons football program earned back-to-back bowl-game berths in 2002 and 2003, winning the Pacific Graffiti Bowl in 2003.  Berna was named to the academic All-Conference team and chosen as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Athlete of the Year at West Hills. As a college football athlete, Berna compiled a record of 31-13 and reached the post season three times.

Marc Benavidez Image
Marc Benavidez
Assistant Coach - 5th Season
Alma Mater: Avila Univeristy
Phone: 816-501-2937

Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator

Recruiting Area: St. Louis/Springfield/Iowa/Colorado

Email: [email protected]

Coach Marc Benavidez enters his fifth season as an assistant on the Eagle coaching staff. The 2016 campaign will be the third for Coach Benavidez as the Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator under head coach Justin Berna. Benevidez worked with the running backs in 2013 and the wide receivers in 2012.

Coach Benavidez was a four year letter winner for the Avila Eagles as a player. Benavidez was a very versatile player throughout his career with Avila, starting games at DB, WR, and QB. Benavidez graduated from Avila with his Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology in May of 2012. Prior to his time at Avila, Benavidez graduated from Troy Buchanan High School in Troy, Missouri in 2008, where he also played four seasons and started at QB and DB for the Trojans.

Marc Wilson Image
Marc Wilson
Assistant Coach - 3rd Season
Alma Mater: University of Kentucky

Title: Defensive Coordinator

Recruiting Area: Western Missouri/Northern US

Email: [email protected]

Marc Wilson returns to the Avila football coaching staff for his third season.

Wilson, a former All-Academic SEC football player at the University of Kentucky, will coordinate the defense and coach the linebackers on Coach Berna’s staff.

Before Avila, Wilson served as the head football coach at Missouri Military Academy for three seasons. He also served as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma Panhandle State University (NCAA DII), and three seasons as the defensive coordinator with the River City Rage (St. Louis) from the Arena League. He also has served as a coach for the US National Football team and as a Master Trainer for USA Football.

Wilson has a degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky, where he lettered his final two seasons after walking on for his first two seasons. Masters in Sports Psychology from the University of the Rockies.

Wilson has coached four NCAA DII All-Americans, and also has multiple former players playing professionally, mostly in Europe and in the Arena League. He said that he is most proud that a number of his former players are now currently coaching.

Andre' Pope Image
Andre' Pope
Assistant Coach - 4th Season
Alma Mater: MidAmerica Nazarene University

Assistant Recruiting Coordinator, Defensive Backs Coach

Recruiting Area: East Coast, Southeast, and Jackson/Wyandotte County

Email: [email protected]

The 2016 season will be the fourth for Andre Pope at Avila University. Pope is the defensive backs coach for Coach Berna, and will be entering his second season as the Assistant Recruiting Coordinator for the Eagles.

A graduate of Fort Hill high school in Cumberland, Maryland, Pope was regarded as one of the best high school recruits in the state. He spent time at both running back and safety and was rated as one of the top 300 recruits in the nation. Pope received numerous offers from schools such as Clemson, North Carolina, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Pope committed to the University of North Carolina, but after suffering an ACL tear his senior year of high school, Pope attended Fairmont State University where he was a Two Time All-American, in addition to all-region and all-conference. In 2006, Pope ranked 8th in the nation with seven interceptions and 5th in the nation in pass break ups (19). He also received conference player of the week honors for his 2 INT and 10 tackle performance against West Virginia State.

Pope then transferred to West Georgia where he spent time at both safety and outside linebacker. During his time as a Wolf, Pope ranked nationally in forced fumbles and led the team in tackles per snap.

After college, Pope had work outs for the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Hamilton Tiger Cats, and Edmonton Eskimos.

Pope graduated from MidAmerica Nazarene with a BA in Organizational Leadership (Business).

Andre is the son of Tara Pope and Willie McCloud, a former UConn basketball player from 1987-89.

Derrick Alexander
Assistant Coach - 1st Season
Alma Mater: University of Michigan
Phone: 816-501-3707

Title: Wide Receivers Coach

Recruiting Area:

Email: [email protected]

Bio: Coming Soon

Eric Hicks
Assistant Coach - 1st Season
Alma Mater: University of Maryland
Phone: 816-501-2938

Title: Defensive Line Coach

Recruiting Area:

Email: [email protected]

Bio: Coming soon