Bernard Was MVP in BHS’s First Super Bowl Victory
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports EditorJerremy Bernard was one of Bellingham High’s best running backs.The 1995 graduate was small, but his lack of size was no drawback, and the numbers he amassed on the gridiron in 1993 were dynamic—the 5-foot-6, 150-pounder gained 1,300 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. That autumn campaign also was one to remember because it produced Bellingham High’s first Super Bowl triumph, and Bernard was right in the middle of all the history.
His efforts against Medfield and Greater Lawrence during the regular season were incredible. Saying he was on top of his game for those outings was a huge understatement. “I had four TDs, three sacks and two forced fumbles against Medfield,” said Bernard, who also played defensive end. “Against Greater Lawrence on Thanksgiving, I scored three times against a team that was the defending Super Bowl champ in Division 4, and they were getting ready for another trip to the Bowl. We won big, 42-6.”
After Bellingham finished 10-1, it entered new territory—a date with Marian High of Framingham in the Super Bowl; and that’s where Bernard displayed his speed, strength and quickness. The Blackhawks rolled, 41-18, and Bernard scored on runs of 40, 35 and 60 yards. He also was named the MVP of the Super Bowl.
“That was my top thrill in high school,” Bernard said. “We had succeeded in building a culture of winning. We wanted teams to fear us and we wanted the town to be proud of our achievements. Winning that game was exhilarating and I’ll always remember the police escort back to Bellingham. Fans were applauding, waving and screaming.”
Bernard is quick to credit his linemen—Adam Bernard (cousin), Doug McCann, Joe Grassi, J.R. Edick, Brian Cronin and Russ Watson. And he was lavish in his praise for quarterback Greg Smith and fellow running backs Mark Goyer and Jeff LaRose. “Our linemen were quality players; the four of us in the backfield were called ‘the fearsome foursome.’ Word got out that if you were able to contain Bellingham’s backfield, you’d win that game.”
Bernard also enjoyed playing for Dale Caparaso, a demanding coach who could at times be a bit overpowering. “Coach Caparaso was like a father figure,” Bernard emphasized. “He was a terrific motivator whose voice often was raised, but he believed in us. He was so energetic and passionate about football and his players.”
A north-to-south runner who hit the holes hard, Bernard used the skills he acquired in track and power-lifting to elevate his talents. He ran the 100-yard dash and the 4x100 relay and also competed in the long jump. “I ran track to stay in shape for football,” he noted. “It helped me with endurance. We didn’t have much depth in football, and that meant we had to play both ways and play an entire game.”
A two-time Tri Valley League all-star, Bernard hiked his weight to 190 pounds and played college football at three different schools. A graduate of Westfield State, where he majored in criminal justice, he played one year there. He transferred twice and played two seasons at Assumption and one at Worcester State, teaming up with his cousins, Adam and Justin.
“College football could never duplicate what I experienced at Bellingham,” Bernard said. “The only winning team I played for was at Worcester State (8-2). The love of football kept me going. At Assumption, we had 0-10 and 1-9 seasons. Although we were losing games, I stuck with it because I believe in commitment. What was missing in the college culture was passion. My first game at Assumption, against Sacred Heart, I scored twice and gained 150 yards. I never came close to that again.”
After graduating in 1999, Bernard worked for almost two years as a police officer, later turned to a career in sales and is now managing a Verizon store in Peoria, AZ, directing a staff of 18 employees and three assistant managers. Still single, the 37-year-old Bernard spends his leisure time golfing, working out and riding a motorcycle.
Calling his parents (Judy and Jerry) role models for their support and encouragement, Bernard excelled because of an athletic philosophy based on work ethic. “I always strived to improve and reach my potential,” he said. “I was an all-out competitor who wanted to win. I viewed winning as the reward for hard work. I hated to lose.”
There were minimal times when Bellingham lost in football when Bernard was on board. He loved the structure that football provided, admired all his teammates and coaches and embraced winning for his community.
Jerremy Bernard may have been small during his interscholastic days, but he was proof that good things come in small packages.