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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's secondary again stood out as one of the top position groupings in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2016. As a team, McKendree led the league in interceptions with 17 while topping the nine GLVC squads in defensive passing efficiency. Those two statistics helped the Bearcats lead the GLVC in total defense.

The 2016 season also saw the emergence of cornerback Nate Powell as one of the GLVC's top defenders. Powell ranked among league leaders with three interceptions. He had two picks during the Bearcats' season-opener at home against Angelo State, the second of which went for a 50-yard touchdown that helped turn the tables in McKendree's favor on the way to a 33-19 victory. Powell was one of six Bearcats to earn first-team All-GLVC honors in 2016.

Blake Benoist also came on as one of the top freshman defenders in the conference in 2016. Benoist led all McKendree defensive backs with 60 tackles while tying Powell for the team lead with three interceptions.

In his return to the Bearcats' sidelines in 2015, Harrison coached one of the top groups in the GLVC. McKendree led the league in scoring defense, giving up just 19.8 points per game. The Bearcats were second among GLVC teams in passing defense as well, allowing just over 200 yards per outing through the air. Harrison's charges gave up just 13 passing touchdowns in 2015, which was the second-fewest among the nine conference teams.

Safety Cruz Navarro closed out his McKendree career by finishing second on the team with 70 tackles in 2015. Cornerback Jabaree Winston added 46 tackles and an interception on his way to second-team All-GLVC accolades. Fellow cornerback Nate Powell battled his way into the starting lineup during the season and earned honorable mention All-Conference honors.

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 with their baby daughter Amiya Jordan.

Joe Bettasso | Assistant Coach

Joe Bettasso joined the McKendree football coaching staff in January 2015. He is the Bearcats' defensive coordinator and also coaches the team's linebacking unit.

The Bearcats' 2016 defense ranked among the top units in the Great Lakes Valley Conference once again. For the second year in a row, McKendree led the league in scoring defense, allowing a paltry 18.4 points per outing. The Bearcats also had the conference's top overall defensive squad, giving up just 315.7 yards per contest. As a team, McKendree set a new program record with 53 sacks and ranked among NCAA Division II team leaders in the category.

Bettasso guided two of the top defensive players in the GLVC during their final seasons in a Bearcat uniform in 2016. Linebacker A.J. Wentland set a school single-season record for the third consecutive year with 145 tackles, and became the Bearcats' career leader in stops with 421. For his efforts, Wentland was named the 2016 GLVC Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the second McKendree player in three seasons to capture the honor.

The other McKendree GLVC Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Lucky Baar (who was the 2014 winner) made his assault on both the McKendree and NCAA record books in 2016. In just nine games, Baar registered 17 1/2 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for loss, which led the Bearcats. With the final sack of his career, Baar became the NCAA Division II career leader in the category, finishing his playing days with 46 1/2 sacks. He also collected 65 1/2 tackles for loss, which is also a new McKendree program mark.

Baar earned numerous post-season honors, including first-team All-GLVC accolades for the third straight season. He was an AP Little All-American for the second time in three years, and also collected first-team All-America accolades from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

In his first year at McKendree in 2015, Bettasso helped engineer a turnaround that saw the Bearcats rise to become one of the top units in the GLVC. McKendree paced all GLVC teams in scoring defense, allowing just 19.8 points per contest. In addition, the Bearcats ranked third among all conference squads in total defense. In the final NCAA Division II statistical report for 2015, McKendree was fourth among all teams in sacks per game, taking the opposing quarterback down behind the line of scrimmage 3.5 times per game.

Seven Bearcats collected All-GLVC honors in 2015, led by junior linebacker A.J. Wentland. For the second year in a row, Wentland established a new program record for tackles in a season, posting 135 stops which was good for eighth among all NCAA Division II players. Defensive ends Brett Pearman and Lucky Baar combined for 27 tackles for loss and 15 1/2 quarterback sacks in 2015.

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 and tutored the running backs while serving as the recruiting coordinator. Bergman will take on a new role in 2017 in coaching the McKendree quarterbacks.

Under Bergman's guidance, McKendree finished second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in rushing in 2016. Much of the Bearcats' success on the ground was due to the breakout season enjoyed by Shayeen Edwards, who rushed for a career-high 771 yards while adding four touchdowns. Edwards also established a new program record with 212 rushing attempts in 2016.

For his efforts, Edwards earned first-team All-GLVC honors in 2016. Edwards became the first McKendree running back to receive first-team All-Conference accolades since the Bearcats joined the GLVC in 2012. It was also the first time a Bearcats' running back collected first-team All-Conference honors since 2010.

Bergman's running back corps led the GLVC in rushing in 2015. The Bearcats were the only team in the league to average more than 200 yards per game a year ago, posting 200.1 yards per outing. McKendree averaged a league-high 5.2 yards on every carry and tied for the second in the GLVC with 24 rushing touchdowns. Isaac Fisher bested his school record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, gaining 808 yards on the ground which was good enough for third among all conference rushers.

In addition to Fisher's rushing numbers from 2015, Bergman aided in the development of sophomore running back Shayeen Edwards, who rushed for a career-best 463 yards while tying senior Treye Williams for second on the squad with five touchdowns.

In his first season as the running backs coach at McKendree in 2014, Bergman saw the development of 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.

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.

Colton Meyers | Assistant Coach
Colton Meyers rejoins the McKendree University football coaching staff for the 2017 season. Meyers returns to the Bearcats' program after spending the 2016 season as an assistant coach at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Meyers will guide the McKendree wide receivers while also taking on responsibilities as the Bearcats' recruiting coordinator.

Meyers first became a member of the McKendree football coaching staff prior to the 2014 season. Meyers served as a graduate assistant coach in 2014 and 2015 for the Bearcats and tutored the team's tight ends.

Meyers originally 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 graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in sports administration with a minor in coaching. He earned his master's degree from McKendree in 2016.

Aaron Whittington | Assistant Coach

Aaron Whittington joined the McKendree University football coaching staff in the spring of 2016. Whittington serves as a graduate assistant coach and tutors the Bearcats’ defensive line.

In his first season with the Bearcats in 2016, the McKendree defensive line reached new heights. The Bearcats shattered the program record for quarterback sacks in a season with 53. Senior Lucky Baar played a big role in helping set the new record as he posted 17 1/2 sacks in just nine games to lead the way. The final sack of Baar's career enabled him to grab the NCAA Division II career record in sacks at 46 1/2. Baar went on to earn first-team AP Little All-America honors, as well as first-team All-America accolades from the American Football Coaches Association. Baar grabbed Super Region 4 Defensive Player of the Year honors along the way as he collected first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference mention for the third consecutive year.

Junior Darion Simmons had a breakout season as well along the Bearcats' defensive line, posting a career-best 11 1/2 sacks to go along with 15 1/2 tackles for loss. Fellow junior Tobias Cook joined Baar as a first-team All-GLVC honoree thanks to his 13 1/2 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Whittington joins the McKendree staff after serving for three years as the head varsity coach at Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis. In addition to being the Spartans’ offensive coordinator in 2015, Whittington also coached the quarterbacks and linebackers. Under his guidance, Hazelwood East led the Suburban North XII League in scoring offense at 42 points per contest. He led Hazelwood East to a 6-4 record in 2015, including a 4-1 mark and a second-place showing in league play. Whittington guided the Spartans to the district semifinals in the MSHSAA playoffs. A pair of Hazelwood East players earned All-State accolades under Whittington’s watch.
In his three seasons at the helm at Hazelwood East, Whittington led the Spartans to 18 victories. The program averaged at least 30 points per game in each of those seasons. The Spartans’ defensive units during that span also ranked at or near the top of the conference as well. In 2014, Hazelwood East led all Suburban North XII teams in scoring defense, allowing just 11.6 points a game.
Whittington began his coaching career in 2009 at Hazelwood East as the B team coach and varsity linebackers/defensive line coach. Under his leadership, the Spartans’ B squad won 11 of its 12 contests. Whittington also helped Hazelwood East to a pair of post-season berths in his three-year stay.
In between stints at Hazelwood East, Whittington spent the 2012 season as the head varsity coach and linebackers coach at Creekside High School in Georgia. Whittington led the Seminoles to a 7-4 overall record. His squad led the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 9.8 points per contest for the season. The Seminoles’ defense ranked sixth in the state of Georgia among all 4A schools.  
Along with his on-field coaching expertise, Whittington worked with Elite Football Academy in St. Louis for nearly three years. During that time, Whittington helped train some of the top collegiate athletes from the St. Louis area, including future NFL players including Montee Ball and Sheldon Richardson, as well as his brothers Bernard and Daryl.
Whittington, a native of St. Louis, starred at Hazelwood East as a player earned a scholarship to play football at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was a two-year co-captain for the Bruins. He was a Freshman All-Pac 10 selection at linebacker in 2005 and finished his collegiate career as the only starter in UCLA history to go an entire season without giving up a completion. Along with his accomplishments on the football field, Whittington was named to the 2007 All-Fraternity All-America team as an honorable mention selection.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA in 2008, Whittington moved on to earn a master’s of arts in teaching degree from Missouri Baptist University in 2016.

Nick Franey | Graduate Assistant Coach

Nick Franey joined the McKendree University football coaching staff in the summer of 2017. Franey will serve as a graduate assistant in the Bearcats' program and will coach the running backs.

Franey comes to McKendree after serving the 2016-17 academic year as an athletics intern at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo. He assisted in video production of different sporting events while also helping in the game-day experience for the Eagles' fans.

In the summer of 2016, Franey was a football staff intern at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. There, he was a camp coordinator while also assisting as an equipment manager and video manager. Franey helped design and create playbooks and call sheets as well.

From 2010-14, Franey was a member of the coaching staff of the Mehlville Junior Panthers. He was a coach for the eighth-grade team, assisting with the offensive line.

Franey earned his bachelor's degree in sports management from Central Methodist. He was a three-year member of the Dean's List and was also a member of the Eagles' football squad. Franey was an offensive lineman at CMU, where he garnered Scholar-Athlete honors in 2015-16.