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HHF/GID Interview with Pioneer Head Coach Adam Berry

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HHF Interview with Adam Berry, Head Coach at Pioneer
Coach Berry has his Panthers working hard this offseason in preparation for another deep state tournament run and HNAC championship.
Question 1 :
2020 was another highly successful season for your program. How are your summer workouts going, and what areas do you see as potential strengths and potential areas of opportunity heading into the 2021 season?
We had a great spring in the weight room and a very successful team camp during June. We are trying to carry that momentum into July with our workouts and scrimmages. I feel like our defense can have another successful year as we bring a lot of starters back on that side of the ball. A lot of first year varsity players have the opportunity to be key contributors to both sides of the ball.
Question 2 :
Pioneer had an incredible 3 year run from 2016 to 2018, where you won 44 of 45 games and grabbed two state championships. That 3 year run put Pioneer on the map as one of Indiana's most dominant public school programs. Expectations are now sky high and your team is presumed a state championship contender every year. How do you manage expectations with your kids, and how do you keep them from becoming a little too over confident due to the tremendous level of success?
We keep reminding our players the hard work that has been put in by previous teams to have that kind of success and how it doesn't just happen by being "athletic." My assistants are some of the best in the state. They make sure the players don't get complacent and they are continuing to work on areas of improvement so we can be at our best come tournament time.
Question 3:
One again you are graduating some top end skill players. Is your feeder program working to where you can sustain the talent level to keep you playing at the high scoring pace that we have become accustomed to seeing from your teams?
I have been very fortunate to have some of the best skill players in 1A/2A my first five years as head coach. What was even better was they were also the hardest working players on the team. I never want to say future players have to be exactly like a Jack Kiser, Addai Lewellen, or Ezra Lewellen. However, they saw the effort that was put into their success and I think our skill guys can be very successful this year. We have our QB and FB back this year and am extremely excited to see what they can do as the main focus of our offense.
Our feeder program has been great for the past 20+ years as they run the same system as us and use the same terminology. That allows for the players to feel that much more comfortable once they get to us in high school.
Question #4 :
The HNAC is still a fairly new conference, and Pioneer has dominated, winning all 5 championships contested since the league began play in 2015. What is your current overall assessment of the conference, its strengths and weaknesses, and how do you feel the HNAC prepares your team for the post season tournament?
If you look at rankings, the HNAC has multiple teams in the top 10 year in and year out. We now have two hall of fame coaches in the conference with A LOT of wins! As a coaching staff, we know other teams are always going to be prepared to play us and we need to be at our best each week.
The physicality of the conference definitely prepares us for sectionals.
Question #5
The Success Factor has been in play now for several seasons, and generally impacts schools more in the smaller classes. What are your thoughts on the SF, has it achieved its objectives in terms of maintaining competitive balance, and would you like to see any changes in the near term?
I will say it brings a new excitement to play up a class. We were able to play teams we have never played before. We were able to have a lot of "firsts" in program history. These are things our players will always have with them. Our senior softball players won state in 1A and 2A. Once again, things our community will always remember.
Moving up due to success obviously means a school has had a very successful two years. I can see why the IHSAA put this in place and feel it is here to stay. However, I like how they originally had it at 3 points to stay up a class and they moved it down to 2 points.
Question #6
Do you like the current structure of the post season tournament, or would you like to see any changes that might reward schools for having stellar regular season results?
I may be in the minority, but I really like how the IHSAA handles the post season tournament. I think it allows schools to try and schedule non conference games that may challenge their team more instead of playing a team they can beat just to have a better record at the end of the regular season. If the team's true goal is to win state, then it shouldn't matter if you play the #1 team the first week of sectionals or the State finals.
Question #7
Pioneer picked up Class 6A Chesterton in a 2020 replacement game, and surprised a lot of people with your 20-16 win. This year you have scheduled Class 5A Hammond Central. What is your general philosophy in terms of non-conference scheduling, and are you looking more to The Region to find competition outside of The HNAC?
Through COVID, we were very fortunate to play a full schedule. And that included picking up teams to play that we never have before. I think playing Chesterton and New Haven in the regular season was huge for our team when it came to postseason play. I think it showed our players that a school our size can compete with a lot of teams around the state. It was a great experience that the 2020 team will remember for a long time.
Once again, I think it is important to schedule non conference games that will challenge our team. Even if we lose, I think we can gain a lot from the experience.
Question #8
Given the great success you have had at Pioneer, your name will constantly be mentioned when higher level jobs open up in the future across the state. What are your thoughts about coaching at the small school level vs the big school level, and do you have any aspirations about possibly leading a 5A or 6A program onto the field at Lucas Oil?
At times, I do think about leading a bigger program. However, I absolutely love coaching at Pioneer and feel I will be staying for a very long time. I played there and always had a dream to coach my sons there as well. There is a true Friday night feel, where the whole community is involved, in Royal Center when the Panthers play at home that I do not think can be matched at other places. All of the athletes rally behind each other, our high school athletes are involved with our feeder programs, etc.
Coach, thanks for your time and best of luck to you and your team this season.
Tim Phillips
Hoosier High School Football



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  • 2 weeks later...
22 hours ago, Coach Nowlin said:

Best part of picture:   CORN FIELD in background 

Good Stuff 

Yeah its super awesome when harvest comes around and you are screaming at players because they cant hear you as the combine makes another lap...

  • Like 1
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