Owen J. Roberts to dedicate Henry J. Bernat Field

Henry (Hank) Bernat patrolled the Owen J. Roberts football sidelines for more than three decades, teaching the sport as well as life lessons to the hundreds of Wildcats as he oversaw a highly successful and respected program.

Friday night, Bernat’s legacy will become even more enduring as Owen J. Roberts officially dedicates its lower stadium field as “Henry J. Bernat Field’ at Wildcat Stadium.

At halftime of the Wildcats’ Pioneer Athletic Conference game against Perkiomen Valley, a ceremony will take place that will note the new scoreboard funded by many donors through the Friends of Hank Bernat organization along with a contribution for the Roberts Athletic Association.

According to Jo-An Rechtin, OJR’s Manager of School and Community Engagement, a pre-game reception will be held in the school’s LGI (Large Group Instruction) Room beginning at 6 p.m. As of Wednesday, 131 well-wishers were confirmed — a group that includes alumni from as far away as Florida and California and more than 50 family members.

The 84-year-old Bernat, a 1947 Phoenixville High grad who still resides in Phoenixville, attended Pennington Prep School and then Tampa University, where he played linebacker. Bernat’s first coaching job was at Brandford High in Tampa, in 1953. Two years later, he returned to Pennsylvania and began his career at Owen J. Roberts as a biology teacher.

After serving five years as an assistant coach, Bernat took over as the Wildcats’ head man in 1960, and wound up compiling a 195-133-17 career record that included Ches-Mont League championships in 1970, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987. After Owen J. Roberts joined the PAC-10 in 1988, Bernat guided the Wildcats to the league title in 1988.

A 12-time Ches-Mont Coach of the Year selection and two-time PAC-10 Coach of the Year pick, Bernat has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Coaches Hall of Fame, the Ches-Mont League Hall of Fame, the Pottstown Tri-County chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Phoenixville High School Hall of Fame and the Phoenixville Old-Timers Hall of Fame.

“For me, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to make a presentation to someone who has been my teacher, coach, mentor and friend,’ said OJR athletic director Dave Strock, a quarterback and kicker for the Wildcats who played for Bernat from 1964-67. “He is a legend here at Owen J. Roberts.

“The man is a man’s man, and he’s taught thousands of students in the classroom and on the field of play. And he never lost sight of his basic mission: the education of young people. He’s a quality individual and most deserving of this honor.’

Bernat’s high-water mark came during a span from 1983-85 seasons, when OJR put together a 28-game unbeaten streak. The Wildcats were 11-0-1 in 1983 and 12-0 in 1984 — when they were ranked first in the state by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Some of the more prominent Wildcats who played for Bernat were former Miami Dolphins quarterback Don Strock, former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Jerry Ostroski, and former University of Pittsburgh defensive back and World Football League player Dan Crossman as well as Division I players Mike Beasley (West Virginia), Denny Laws (Illinois State), Cliff Buckwalter (Penn State) and Rudy Glocker (Penn State).

Current OJR coach Tom Barr, who played on Penn State’s 1982 National Championship squad, also played under Bernat’s tutelage as a star running back from 1977-79.



Upper Perkiomen has lost nine straight games dating back to a 37-14 win over Pope John Paul II in Week 4 of last season and hasn’t won a home game since 11/11/11, when the Tribe beat Upper Merion 48-6. PJP, which snapped a nine-game losing streak of its own in last week’s 14-7 win over Pottstown, visits Upper Perkiomen Friday. … Two-time defending PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove takes a 25-game league winning streak into Saturday’s game at Methacton. The Falcons have actually won 28 straight games against league opposition, counting District 1-AAA tourney wins over Phoenixville in 2013 and Pope John Paul II and Phoenixville in 2011.



Several key Suburban One League National Division matchups are on tap Friday as Abington (3-0) visits defending District 1-AAAA champ Neshaminy (1-2), Pennsbury (3-0) travels to Souderton (2-1) and Pennridge (3-0) takes on North Penn (1-2) at Crawford Stadium. … In other key games around the district, Henderson (2-1) faces Downingtown West (3-0) in a Ches-Mont League National Division biggie at Kottmeyer Stadium Friday and Bishop Shanahan (3-0) plays host to West Chester East in a Ches-Mont National tilt Saturday.



Schuylkill Valley, coached by St. Pius X grad Jeff Chillot, is off to a 2-1 start heading into Friday’s Berks League Section 2 contest at Kutztown. Chillot, in his sixth season, has a 34-25 mark and has guided the Panthers to an unprecedented four straight winning campaigns. … Governor Mifflin quarterback Jan Johnson has given a verbal commitment to Akron … Berks Catholic quarterback Patrick Causa announced he will attend Mount St. Mary’s (Md.) to play baseball.



South Williamsport senior running back Dominick Bragalone surpassed 70 career touchdowns in last week’s 46-7 win at Canton, according to Chris Masse of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Bragalone, the reigning Class A Player of the Year, scored five touchdowns in the win and now has 71 in his three seasons to go along with 4,673 career yards. … According to Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Clairton has racked up 1,536 yards of total offense while allowing just 79 over three games for an average of 512-26. … State football historian Josh Funk notes that Simon Gratz picked up its 300th win in program history in Saturday’s 53-0 win over Fels, while Ben Franklin (which defeated Pottsgrove 41-7 in Week 1) is going for its 300th win Saturday vs. Olney.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply