Former Mount Vernon football coach Mike Kerr embraces chance to turn around Bexley Lions

·5 min read
Mike Kerr has been named Bexley football coach after spending six seasons leading Mount Vernon. He was an assistant under former Bexley coach Mike Golden at Upper Arlington and Delaware.
Mike Kerr has been named Bexley football coach after spending six seasons leading Mount Vernon. He was an assistant under former Bexley coach Mike Golden at Upper Arlington and Delaware.

Mike Kerr always loved the meat and potatoes of football. He learned there would be more on his plate than drawing up plays when he took over as Mount Vernon’s coach in 2016.

He plans to use the lessons that he learned with the Yellow Jackets in his new position leading Bexley. Kerr said culture and trust will be the keys.

Kerr coached at Mount Vernon the last six seasons and went 22-37, including 2-8 last fall. He was approved by the Bexley school board Jan. 11.

“I think one of the biggest things I have learned is that it’s not just about players on the field, but it takes parents and the student body,” Kerr said. “Going into Mount Vernon, I was excited about the Xs and Os of the game, but there is so much more to developing culture than that.

“You learn those things as you go. You have to be teaching culture and developing the community as well.”

Kerr takes over a program that has not had a winning season since 2016, when it reached the Division III, Region 11 playoffs. The Lions finished 11-1, losing to Hamilton Township 26-20 in a regional semifinal.

The Lions were 3-7 last season under Mike Golden, who retired after three seasons at Bexley and three decades as a head coach in central Ohio. Kerr was an assistant under Golden at Upper Arlington and Delaware before going to Mount Vernon to lead his first program.

Kerr quickly caught the eye of Golden when he joined the UA staff.

“Mike’s a great guy with a lot of energy and all of the football knowledge in the world,” Golden said. “I think he’s the perfect guy at this point for the program.

“He has a positive aura around him, and that’s what they need at Bexley. He is positive, great with young people and he knows football. All of those things are what they need at Bexley to turn things around.”

Athletics director Eli Goldberger said there were more than 50 applicants for the position, which was cut to 15 to 20 phone interviews and then eight to 10 in-person interviews. That was narrowed to three before deciding on Kerr.

“(Kerr) is a terrific guy and he knows about our program from his relationship with (Golden),” Goldberger said. “He’s a high-character guy, and I think he’s high energy and he’s really positive. He has all of the characteristics you would like in someone to lead your program.”

The selection committee also included a pair of football players in juniors Dom Gutter and Clifford Padmore.

“One of the biggest things we liked about coach Kerr was his relationship with the players,” said Gutter, who played wide receiver, linebacker and defensive back last season as well as taking snaps at quarterback and returning kicks. “He talked about having ‘boot camp’ when summer drills and conditioning were done more as a competition. It’s as much of a bonding experience as it is getting in shape. It will help us build a family and help with team chemistry.”

Kerr found success at Mount Vernon, helping the program finish with its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-03. The Yellow Jackets were 6-4 in 2019 and 5-4 in 2020.

In 2020, Mount Vernon lost to Canal Winchester 45-7 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. The program’s only other playoff appearance came in 1993, when the Yellow Jackets defeated Lima Senior 21-20 before losing to Hilliard 27-19 in Division I, Region 3.

“Coach Kerr is a man of great character, and he truly stood out in the selection process,” Goldberger said. “His passion and positive approach stood out to the Bexley football community. I could not be more excited for coach Kerr to lead our football program.”

Kerr is excited to get things rolling.

“Coach Golden spoke highly of the kids and that they will work hard and do anything you ask,” Kerr said. “I love the community and the support that all of the programs have. I’m hoping to be able to get in and be a member of the community and have a greater impact than in just football.”

Kerr, a Georgia native, graduated from Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was hired by Golden out of college to be an assistant at UA.

His wife, Kim (Morris) Kerr, is a 1995 graduate of Bexley. His mother-in-law, Bev Morris, is in the school’s athletics hall of fame.

“I have a lot of connections to Bexley with my wife and her family and coach Golden,” Kerr said. “The Bexley superintendent, Dr. (Jason) Fine, I knew him from my days at Upper Arlington.”

Kerr was a history teacher at UA. He has been working in career-based interventions for the last six years at Mount Vernon. Goldberger said the availability of teaching positions at Bexley would not be known until the end of the school year.

“My coaching philosophy is about creating an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels like a part of it,” Kerr said. “I believe in an attacking, aggressive style that allows kids to work out their aggression on the field in the proper way. We want to attack adversity head on.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Football: Former Mount Vernon coach Mike Kerr taking over at Bexley

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting