McKendree Football Camps
2016 Coaching Staff
Michael Harrison | Assistant Coach
Michael Harrison returned to his alma mater and the McKendree football coaching staff in January 2015. He serves as the Bearcats' assistant head coach and defensive passing game coordinator.
Harrison is certainly no stranger to McKendree football fans. He returns for his second tour of duty at McKendree after spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator at nearby Lindenwood University-Belleville. Under his tutelage, the Lynx ranked 10th in the NAIA in sacks per game in 2014. Harrison also served as the travel coordinator for the program and was also the summer camp director while at Lindenwood-Belleville.
Before his time at Lindenwood-Belleville, Harrison spent six years on the Bearcats’ coaching staff in a variety of capacities. Harrison served as defensive backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator from 2007-11 at McKendree before being elevated to the role of defensive coordinator for the 2012 campaign. He helped coach the Bearcats to their final two NAIA Football Championship Series appearances in 2009 and 2010. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Harrison was also the academic coordinator for the McKendree football program.
Prior to his coaching days at McKendree, Harrison was a three-year letterman and starter in the Bearcats’ secondary. Harrison earned first-team NAIA All-America honors following his senior season in 2006. That year he led the Bearcats with 55 tackles and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Harrison was a two-time All-Conference selection in the Mid-States Football Association.
For his playing career Harrison had nine interceptions, which is still tied for second on the Bearcats’ career list. He led the team in interceptions in each of his final two seasons at McKendree.
In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Harrison spent three years as a member of the McKendree baseball program. He batted .300 or better in each of his two seasons as a varsity performer, earning honorable mention All-Conference honors after batting a career-best .358 with 43 runs scored, 16 stolen bases and 14 runs batted during in 2006. He was also a two-time Academic All-Conference honoree in baseball for the Bearcats.
Harrison and his wife Lindsey reside in St. Louis.
| Assistant Coach Matt Rahl
Matt Rahl joined the McKendree University football staff as an assistant coach in the spring of 2014. Rahl calls the signals as the Bearcats' offensive coordinator and also coaches the offensive line. In addition, Rahl heads up operations for the McKendree summer football camps.
In Rahl's first season at McKendree, the Bearcats' spread offense evolved into one of the most prolific offensive units in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. McKendree set new program records in nearly every passing category in 2014, with quarterbacks combining for 276 completions on 446 attempts for 2,749 yards through the air. The Bearcats also tied a team record with 19 touchdown passes. As a team, McKendree finished in the top third of the GLVC in total offense (428.4 YPG), passing offense (249.9 YPG) and scoring offense (30.1 PPG).
Under Rahl's leadership, McKendree also set new game records for most plays (93 at Southwest Baptist) as well as pass attempts and completions (34-for-58 versus Saint Joseph's). The Bearcats' offense was extremely efficient during the team's season-ending, five-game win streak. McKendree averaged 41 points and just over 512 yards per contest during that final five-game span in 2014. The Bearcats topped the 500-yard mark in total offense in three of the five games.
The 2014 season also saw the emergence of junior quarterback Isaac Fisher as a dual threat in the Bearcats' backfield. Fisher set school records with 270 pass completions in 434 attempts for 2,722 yards at quarterback. He also accounted for a school-record 3,486 yards of total offense. Fisher not only starred with his right arm, but his legs also put up some solid numbers. He became the first McKendree quarterback to lead the team in rushing for a season, gaining 764 yards on the ground with a team-high nine rushing touchdowns.
McKendree's receiving corps also was a part of the record-setting fun in 2014. There were 11 receivers that caught at least 10 passes during the season, which set a new mark for the Bearcats. Junior wide receiver Cameron James led the group with a career-high 61 receptions for 516 yards and five TDs. Senior wide receiver Dewayne Gatti, who put up a school-record 64 receptions as a junior in 2013, closed out his McKendree career with 40 catches while playing through injuries as a senior. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Brewer eclipsed the Bearcats' single-game record for pass receptions (set a week earlier by Gatti) with 13 catches in a home contest against Saint Joseph's.
At the conclusion of the 2014 campaign, five players coached by Rahl garnered All-GLVC honors. Junior offensive lineman Derrik Starrett was a first-team selection, while James and junior offensive lineman Ben Harrington picked up second-team mention. Fisher and sophomore offensive lineman Casey Krohne were named as honorable mention All-GLVC picks.
Rahl joined the McKendree program after spending five years at the University of Wyoming. He served the Cowboys’ staff in a variety of capacities. In 2013, Rahl was the program’s director of recruiting, where he was responsible for all facets of the role including budgeting and the implementation of a year-round recruiting program. Under Rahl’s guidance, Wyoming boasted the highest-rated recruiting class in the program’s history.
Prior to that, Rahl was the Cowboys’ defensive line coach from 2011-12 and also served as the recruiting coordinator. He guided a group that helped Wyoming rank second in the NCAA in forced turnovers and ninth in turnover margin. He also assisted with Wyoming’s special teams unit, which twice ranked in the top 20 in the NCAA in punt return average. In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Rahl served as the Cowboys' first-ever director of recruiting, in which Wyoming saw unprecedented success in its recruiting efforts.
During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Rahl served as a graduate assistant the University of Missouri. Rahl helped coach the Tigers’ offensive line. In Rahl’s two seasons at Missouri, the team ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense.
From 2003 through the 2006 season, Rahl coached at Winona State University in Minnesota. He began his experience with the Warriors as a graduate assistant in 2003-04, where he tutored the team’s tight ends and helped with film exchange, breakdown and scouting. For his last two seasons at Winona State, Rahl served as the Warriors’ offensive line coach and special teams coordinator while working for the University as an admissions counselor.
Rahl began his coaching day as a student assistant at his alma mater, Missouri Southern State University. Rahl helped coach the Lions’ tight ends and offensive line during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
A native of Union, Mo., Rahl graduated from Missouri Southern State in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He went on to earn his master’s degree in educational leadership from Winona State in 2005. Rahl and his wife Carrie have three children: Hattie, Maggie and Locke.
Joe Bettasso | Assistant Coach
Joe Bettasso joined the McKendree football coaching staff in January 2015. He is the Bearcats' defensive coordinator and will also coach the team's linebacking unit.
In 2014, the McKendree linebacking corps continued to shine and was led by sophomore linebacker A.J. Wentland. A starter in all 11 games at middle linebacker, Wentland rewrote the Bearcats' annals by registering a school-record 132 tackles. He also tied for the team lead with two interceptions on his way to first-team All-GLVC honors. Four of McKendree's top five tacklers in 2014 were linebackers, including senior Bryce Colvin. A three-year starter for the Bearcats, Colvin matched his uniform number with 52 tackles to close his career with 178 stops.
Bettasso came to McKendree after spending three years on the coaching staff at Quincy University. Bettasso joined the Hawks’ staff as a defensive backs coach before being elevated to the role of defensive coordinator prior to the 2013 season. He was responsible for all facets of the Quincy defensive scheme, including play-calling. Under his leadership in 2014, the Hawks ranked second in Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) in total defense and rushing defense.
Before his time at Quincy, Bettasso spent five seasons at McPherson College in Kansas. From 2007-09, He served the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator during that time while also coaching the program’s linebackers and defensive backs. Following the 2009 season, Bettasso was promoted to the role of head football coach at McPherson, a position he held for two years before heading to Quincy.
In 2010 – Bettasso’s first as the head coach at McPherson – he led the Bulldogs to a school-record 10 victories and the program’s highest NAIA national ranking at No. 6. He was named as the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 4 Coach of the Year for his efforts. Bettasso guided McPherson to the school’s first KCAC championship since 1952 and the program’s second NAIA Football Championship Series berth. Ironically, McPherson hosted McKendree in a first-round playoff game that year, with the Bearcats posting a 38-14 win in the meeting. That game marked the Bearcats' final post-season football victory as members of the NAIA. It was also the 200th collegiate coaching win for former McKendree head coach Carl Poelker.
Bettasso began his coaching career as a student assistant and later a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Missouri Southern State University. Bettasso was also a four-year letterman as a defensive back with the Lions. He paced Missouri Southern with 8 ½ tackles for loss as a junior in 2004 and followed that with a team-leading two fumble recoveries during his senior season of 2005.
Eric Bergman | Assistant Coach
Eric Bergman joined the McKendree football coaching staff as a graduate assistant coach in the spring of 2013. Prior to the 2014 campaign, Bergman was elevated to a full-time coaching position for the Bearcats. He is in charge of coaching the Bearcats' running back once again, while he has taken on the added responsibilities as the program's recruiting coordinator.
In his first season as the running backs coach at McKendree, Bergman saw the development of quarterback Isaac Fisher as a dual threat. In addition to throwing for a school-record 2,722 yards in 2014, Fisher became the first quarterback to lead McKendree in rushing for a season. Fisher gained 764 yards on the ground and scored nine times on top of his 19 touchdown tosses. Bergman was also instrumental in the tutelage of the Bearcats' young running backs unit, which included the emergence of sophomore Kevin Witcik and sophomores Shayeen Edwards and Myles Hammonds.
Senior running back Ryan Herring also put the exclamation on his stellar four-year career in the McKendree backfield in 2014. Herring was second on the squad with 417 rushing yards and closed his playing days with 1,437 yards on the ground.
Bergman, a native of Elk Grove Village, Ill., played in 34 games with 11 starts on the offensive line at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Bergman started 10 games at right guard during his sophomore season in 2010, and added another start during his senior campaign in 2012. The Salukis averaged better than 30 points per game and more than 300 yards per contest during Bergman's sophomore year. He was also a part of consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships in 2008 and 2009.
Bergman graduated from Southern Illinois in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in sports administration.
Brendan Carter | Assistant Coach
Brendan Carter joined the McKendree football coaching staff in the spring of 2013. After spending his first two seasons at McKendree as a graduate assistant coach, Carter moves into a full-time role on the Bearcats' staff. Carter serves as the Bearcats' wide receivers coach.
The McKendree receiving corps enjoyed a record-setting year in 2014. The Bearcats established new program records with 276 catches for 2,749 yards over the 11-game season, and tied another mark with 19 touchdown receptions. A record 11 different receivers had at least 10 receptions during the 2014 campaign, including five that topped the 20-match mark.
Junior wide receiver Cameron James earned All-GLVC honors for the third consecutive year by posting career-high totals of 61 receptions for 516 yards with five TDs. Senior wideout Dewayne Gatti closed out his two-year career at McKendree with 40 catches in 2014, giving him a program-record 104 receptions.
Prior to arriving at McKendree, Carter spent the 2012 season as an offensive intern at the University of San Diego. Carter served in a wide variety of roles for the Toreros, and he was part of the program's 2012 Pioneer Football League championship squad.
Carter gained his first collegiate coaching experience at his alma mater, Missouri Valley College. He served as a student coach in the spring of 2012, and helped tutor the Vikings' wide receivers. Carter spent two seasons as a player at Missouri Valley, where he averaged 10 yards per reception during his senior season. He was part of a program that collected 17 wins in his two seasons and garnered NAIA top-10 rankings.
In the classroom, Carter earned Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors following his senior season. Carter, a native of El Cajon, Calif., spent his first two collegiate seasons at Southwestern College, a junior college program in California. Carter was a two-year letterman and helped Southwestern to a 2008 conference championship.
Carter graduated Cum Laude from Missouri Valley in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.
| Graduate Assistant Coach Jesse Lewis
Following a successful collegiate and professional playing career, Jesse Lewis had made the transition to the coaching profession at McKendree University. Lewis joined the Bearcats' program in the summer of 2014 as a graduate assistant and assists in coaching the secondary at McKendree.
With Lewis' help, the young McKendree defensive backfield grew in confidence as the 2014 season progressed. The Bearcats closed the season with a five-game win streak, and the secondary played an integral part in the victories. Freshman cornerback Derrick Curry finished the year with 43 tackles while adding four pass break-ups, while freshman safety Weston Brown jumped into a starting role midway through the season and added 28 stops.
Lewis enjoyed a prolific playing career at Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he capped his playing days as the TimberWolves' career leader in rushing yards and all-purpose yards. Lewis, a four-year All-Conference selction at CSU-Pueblo while playing for former TimberWolves' assistant coach (and current McKendree head coach) Mike Babcock, then played professionally overseas for a year, spending the 2013 season as a member of the Raiffeissen Vikings Vienna American Football Club. He played on a team that posted a 15-0 record in the European Football League and the Austrian Football League as the squad combined to win both league titles.
After that, Lewis competed for the Colorado Ice Professional Arena football squad that played in the Professional Indoor Football League (IFL).
Lewis graduated from CSU-Pueblo with a bachelor's degree in business administration and business management with a marketing emphasis in 2012.
| Graduate Assistant Coach Colton Meyers
Colton Meyers became a member of the McKendree University football coaching staff prior to the 2014 season. Meyers serves as a graduate assistant coach for the Bearcats and tutors the team's tight ends.
Thanks in part to the guidance of Meyers, senior tight end Reuben Bowlby capped his four-year career as one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in McKendree history. Bowlby tied for fourth on the team with 21 receptions. That is tied for the second-highest total ever posted by a Bearcats' tight end, topped only by the 30 passes caught by Byron Gettis back in 2009.
Meyers came to McKendree after serving as an intern at Southwest Minnesota State University. There, Meyers served a variety of roles. He helped coach the Mustangs' defensive line, served as a strength and conditioning coach and assisted the recruiting coordinator. Meyers was also an adminstrator for the SMSU football camps.
Prior to his experience at Southwest Minnesota State, Meyers spent one year as an assistant coach at Elverado-Trico High School in Illinois. Meyers was the Falcons' defensive line coach and special teams assistant.
A native of Williamsville, Ill., Meyers graduate from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in sports administration with a minor in coaching.
| Graduate Assistant Coach Hunter Nichols
Hunter Nichols joined the McKendree University football coaching staff in the summer of 2014. Nichols is a graduate assistant coach for the Bearcats and will guide the defensive line.
In his first season working with the Bearcats' defensive front four, Nichols coached one of the top defensive lines in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Sophomore defensive end Lucky Baar led all NCAA Division II players with 26 1/2 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback sacks, both of which represent new school and conference records. Baar also led NCAA Division II by averaging 1.64 sacks per game on his way to GLVC Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as first-team Little All-America accolades from the Associated Press. Both of those honors were a first for any Bearcat student-athlete.
In addition, junior defensive end Brett Pearman followed up his first-team All-GLVC breakout season of 2013 by posting 10 tackles for loss with six sacks. The 39 sacks piled up by McKendree ranked second in the GLVC in 2014.
In his brief career, Nichols has gained coaching experience at both the high school and collegiate levels. Before coming to McKendree, he was a student assistant coach at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was an assistant defensive line and strength and conditioning coach for the Golden Eagles. Nichols also assisted the Southern Mississippi staff with camps and any football-related events.
Nichols, who comes from Hattiesburg, Miss., completed requirements for a bachelor's degree in sport coaching education from Southern Mississippi in the spring of 2014.