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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Berry about more than winning titles

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But as he told the Rome Exchange Club during their weekly meeting Friday afternoon, he’s not really one for stats.

Instead, he likes to spotlight what his players do when they’re not being put through drills or between the lines on Saturdays in the fall.

“Yes, we’ve had a lot of success on the field, but what we’re trying to build the program to is far more than what we do on the field,” Kunczewski said.

A native of Western Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area, Kunczewski said he has been converted to a southerner through his six years at Berry and seven years as the defensive coordinator at LaGrange College. And he is sure that there is no better state for football talent than Georgia.

But as an NCAA Division III school, Berry isn’t able to offer athletic scholarships to its athletes in the way Division I and Division II schools do. Kunczewski said most student-athletes at Berry get financial help through academic scholarships.

Part of that affects the type of players the Vikings attract, and Kunczewski said it is a positive, with many people of different backgrounds and different body types coming together for a common goal.

“The thing is, we didn’t draft our guys. We didn’t make them come to Berry and play football. They don’t get paid through any football scholarships. They’re volunteers motivated by their heart and mission to do their best at what they do,” he said.

Berry comes into the 2018 season as back-to-back Southern Athletic Association champions having gone 27-5 in the last three seasons, giving the Vikings the most wins of any team in the conference during that span. Kunczewski himself has been named the SAA Coach of the Year two years in a row.

The stat the coach really takes to heart, however, is the one that shows Berry has led the conference with 120 players named to the SAA Academic Honor Roll over the last three years. Plus many of the players have been recognized for their service to the college and community, including senior defensive back Justen Booket.

Booket, who played for Veterans High School, was recently announced as a nominee for the 2018 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, making it the second year in a row a Berry player has been nominated for the honor.

The former Rome resident volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia as an academic mentor and the Arrowhead Environmental Education Center. He also helps with community service projects through the Berry group Athletes Bettering the Community.

This year, Berry will have 116 players on its roster, including 47 newcomers and 20 seniors. The Vikings open the season Sept. 1 against Maryville at Valhalla Stadium at Williams Field, where Berry is 15-1 since the facility opened in 2015.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve gotten great support from the local community,” Kunczewski said. “Our guys really feed off of the atmosphere we have at our home games. I think a big part of our success at that stadium and on that field is attributed to the support we get.”