Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker and assistant coach Pete Bercich was named the head football coach at Hill-Murray High School Wednesday.
Bercich replaces Rick Frylund as the head coach at the Maplewood-based private school. Bercich, 44, was a seventh round pick by the Vikings in 1994 out of Notre Dame. He played linebacker, but really excelled on special teams during his seven seasons in a Vikings uniform.
He retired from the NFL in 2005 and also spent five seasons on the Vikings coaching staff.
Bercich becomes the fifth head coach hired by the school since 2011.
"One thing I will say about high school football, your high school teammates are the friends you will keep all your life," Bercich said in a statement released by the school. "In college, you may keep a friend or two. If you play in the NFL, you may keep one or two there as well. Your high school playing days are your glory days. They stay with you forever."
Bercich isn't the first former Vikings player to coach the Pioneers. The Star Tribune notes that former Vikings quarterback Brooks Bollinger led Hill-Murray to the Class 4A state tournament semifinals in his only season as head coach, before he left to become the quarterbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
A return to coaching wasn't at the top of the agenda for the former Vikings linebacker. The Pioneer Press reports that changed when he got a call from former teammate and Vikings center Matt Birk – a mutual friend of Bercich and Hill-Murray athletics director Bill Lechner.
"The timing is really good," Bercich told the Pioneer Press. "It's what I think I'm meant to do, in one form or another, is coach. I'm excited to work with the high school. I'm excited to work with that age group. There's a lot that can be taught and a lot to be learned."
Hill-Murray was 0-8 during the regular season last year, but won their opening playoff game.
The school is also holding a groundbreaking ceremony for its new football stadium. The facility is expected to be completed right around the start of the 2016 season.
Bercich will attend the ceremony Friday.