Stenberg takes over BR-H football post

HARRIS – The Bark River-Harris varsity football program is turning the page again, this time landing on a familiar face to lead the team into a new era.

Al Stenberg was approved by the school board to become the next head football coach at the board meeting last week.

Stenberg will be the third head coach in three years to lead the program, but his hire could be a smooth transition. He has served as the jayvee head coach for the past two seasons as well as from 1995-2002, for a total of nine years.

A 1995 Bark River-Harris graduate, Stenberg was an All-U.P. selection at guard in 1994. For the last two years he has studied under previous coaches’ Brad Wiljanin and Joe Derouin while maintaining a successful program at the jayvee level.

“I’ve been working with Brad very closely and learning as much as I could from him and the other coaches I’ve worked under – Joe Derouin and Scott Johnson,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve tried to wean as much football knowledge as possible in hopes that someday I would be in the position that I am now.”

Wiljanin resigned as head coach shortly before practice was set to begin earlier this month. During the gap, Stenberg ran varsity practices.

Now, he will take over a program that is 2-25 over the past three seasons, including a 17-game losing streak that spanned from 2010-12 amidst coaching shakeups, injuries and a tough Mid Eastern Conference schedule.

But Stenberg is optimistic that the time is right for him to take the reins.

“I’ve been involved in the football program for so long and my kids are starting to get older and are involved in athletics now. So if ever there was a time to take the position, personally this is it,” he said.

“I’ve also coached under enough coaches that I feel I’m ready to start competing at the next level. I’ve had a pretty good run of success at the jayvee level, I feel it’s time to go against some stiffer competition coaching wise.”

Bark River-Harris opens the football season Friday, August 30 at home against Forest Park.