Justin Berna, a former West Hills College Coalinga standout player, became the Falcons' new Director of Sport Operations - Head Football Coach in spring of 2017.
In his first season as WHCC coach, he guided the Falcons to a 6-3 overall record - including 4-2 and a second-place finish in the Golden Coast League. The Falcons had the third toughest schedule among the 13 American Division teams, as the three losses were by a combined 13 points.
WHCC ended the season as one of the best teams in California, winning five of its final six - and ended the season with a three-game winning streak and a No. 6 ranking.
With Berna running the offense, WHCC was the second-highest scoring team in the GCL with an average of 31.4 points per game. Under Berna's tutelage, freshman QB Myron Norfleet led the conference in rushing touchdowns (15) and passing percentage (59.2).
The Falcons had 11 players earn All-Golden Coast League honors, including unanimous First Team selection sophomore OL Junior Taifane, who was converted from tight end to center.
Taifane was also voted All-American and All-State; and DB/KR Andreaz Spencer was named All-State.
Berna spent the previous six seasons as the head football coach at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri.
He is a product of Yosemite High School in Oakhurst and was an all-league selection for the Badgers before playing at WHCC under then-head coach Mark Gritton.
As a Falcons starting tight end and H-back, Berna earned Academic All-Northern California Football Conference honors and played in two bowl games – the 2002 Silicon Valley Bowl (runners-up) and the 2003 Pacific Graffiti Bowl (champions).
The 2003 WHCC team finished the season ranked No. 9 in the final California Community College Football Coaches Association poll for the north.
In addition to being a two-year team captain, Berna was voted Athlete of the Year by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and received his associate of arts degree in Liberal Arts in 2004 with honors.
After playing at WHCC, Berna transferred on scholarship to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri – where he played two years and earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Education.
From 2011-2016, Berna led Avila's NAIA Division I program, where he has coached more than 70 All-Heart of America Conference players, including the first All-American in school history.
Berna, the school's all-time leader in wins, guided the Eagles to their first Top 25 national ranking (2014) and set records in more than 30 categories.
He also established new standards with the program's academic progress, achieving a team 2.98 GPA, with 42 players earning a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Prior to Avila, Berna was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at MacMurray College (2009-2011) in Jacksonville, Illinois.
Under Berna's play calling, the MacMurray offense set 15 school records, including single-game records for points (68), passing yards (465) and completions (33 of 44). His offensive unit also set the conference mark for single-game TD passes (7).
Other school records included career receiving touchdowns (25), longest pass play (86 yards), completion percentage (62 percent) and season scoring average (30.1 points per game) in 2009.
From 2006-2008, Berna coached wide receivers and running backs coach at Lindenwood following his playing career there.
In 2008, the program won its first-ever playoff game and earned a trip to the NAIA national semifinals. The Lions were 11-2 overall and finished No. 3 in the nation.
In 2007, Lindenwood averaged 38 points per game and 6.2 yards per carry, which led the country. The team also won the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship and finished with a 10-2 record and No. 12 national ranking. Lindenwood was 24-9 during Berna's three seasons – with a conference championship, two playoff berths, and two playoff wins.
At each of his three coaching stints, Berna has handled all of the team's strength and conditioning responsibilities.
Before joining the coaching staff at Lindenwood, Berna was a two-year letter winner and captain for the Lions football program in 2004 and 2005.
While playing for the Lions, the 2004 team captured the Heart of America Athletic Conference title and advanced to the NAIA national playoffs. Berna was named to the academic all-conference team and was a member of the university's Dean's List.
The 2004 Lindenwood team was inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
As a collegiate player at WHCC and Lindenwood, his four teams combined for a record of 31-13 with three postseason appearances.
"We are excited to welcome back Justin to West Hills College Coalinga, as the new leader of the Falcon football program," said Eric Mendoza, associate dean of athletics.
"Justin brings college head coaching experience and a passion for helping student-athletes succeed in academics, athletics, and citizenship. His teaching and leadership philosophies align with the mission and core values of West Hills College Coalinga – a place he is very familiar with. We believe Justin's roots in the Central Valley with help grow our football program to new heights in recruiting and developing community partnerships. Our student-athletes will be inspired by not only his own personal success story, but by his enthusiastic energy and ability to motivate in a positive fashion."
In addition to becoming involved in the local community, on the WHCC campus, Berna is a member of the Professional Development Committee and he helps oversee sport operations and event management for other Falcon sports during home games.
Berna and his wife, Arielle, have two daughters, Dakota (4) and Dallas (1).