Mark Nori has built one successful football program and now he wants to build another at Olentangy Berlin High School.
Nori was named coach Jan. 8, pending school board approval. After spending eight seasons at Stow-Munroe Falls, he’s eager for a new challenge leading the fledgling Bears.
“The first thing that interested me (about Berlin) was being able to build a program from the ground up,” Nori said. “When I came to Stow, the foundation wasn’t there and I had to build one. At Berlin, we will be building everything with nothing coming before. That’s an exciting opportunity.”
Nori was the sixth fall coach named to the staff at Berlin, which is scheduled to open for the 2018-19 school year.
He went 60-29 at Stow-Munroe Falls, reaching the playoffs the past three seasons and four of the past five. After going no better than 4-6 in his first three years, the Bulldogs went 10-2 in 2013 for their first winning season since going 7-3 in 2007, and only their third since 2000. It also was the program’s first postseason appearance since 1995.
The Bulldogs finished 9-2 last season, losing to eventual state runner-up Mentor 49-17 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 playoffs.
Nori, a Philadelphia native, was an offensive lineman at Boston College and spent time on the rosters or practice squads of the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Outlaws of the now-defunct XFL. He also was a college assistant at Akron, Maine and Pittsburgh and spent one season as an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers before being a volunteer assistant at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in 2009.
“Mark has had tremendous success at Stow-Munroe Falls and his résumé speaks for itself,” Berlin athletics director John Betz said. “He’s the kind of coach that we are looking for to help build our program.”
Nori, who is 44 and teaches English, said he will finish the school year at Stow-Munroe Falls before moving his family to central Ohio. He and his wife, Barbara, have an 8-year-old son, Andrew, as well as a daughter Courtney, 23, and another son Joey, 19, who attends Ohio State.
“It was the right time for us as a family and that was a big part of it,” Nori said. “We have been around the (Akron) area for 14 years and we talked about it as a family and they were OK with it. We have a son at Ohio State and we like the area.
“(Central Ohio) is rich in football talent in coaching and players and all the things you need to be successful. (Olentangy superintendent) Mark Raiff, (Berlin principal) Todd Spinner and John Betz did a great job of presenting the district to me, and having met them I knew it was a good place for us. They showed me what Berlin is and what it can be.”
Betz also recently announced the coaches for boys cross country, girls cross country, boys golf, boys soccer and girls soccer. Those positions also are pending board approval.
He said the coaches are the beginning of a staff that will be as concerned with producing strong members of the community as it is with wins and losses.
“We needed to have good people in the right positions,” said Betz, who was the athletics director at Olentangy Orange from 2012-17. “That’s my background and that’s what I believe in. It’s more than just teaching kids about sports but also how to succeed in life.”
The other coaches are:
•Anthony Beggrow will coach boys cross country after being an assistant at Olentangy last season. A 2004 graduate of DeSales, he also was the head coach at Hamilton Township from 2010-13.
•Josh Diehl will lead the boys soccer program after coaching the last four seasons at Delaware. He compiled a 28-28-15 record with the Pacers, including an 8-5-4 mark last fall. He was the coach at Olentangy Liberty from 2006-10, leading the Patriots to a 53-28-11 record with three district final appearances and two OCC titles. He served as an assistant coach for the men’s team at Mount Vernon Nazarene — his alma mater — in 2011 and ’12 and was an assistant at New Albany in 2005.
•Andrew Fraley, who led the boys golf program at Orange the past two seasons, will have the same role with the Bears. The Pioneers reached the Division I district tournament last fall for their first appearance at that level since their inaugural 2008 season, when they competed in Division II.
•Catherine Ubry will lead the girls cross country program. The 2010 Westerville Central graduate has been an assistant girls coach at Orange.
•Tara Zimmer will be the girls soccer coach. She was the interim coach last season at Thomas Worthington, which finished 4-9-5 overall and 2-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. Zimmer was a girls assistant at Bexley in 2015-16.