Billy Keenist Jr. ‘thrilled’ to lead Berkley High’s football program
By Mark Vest
Berkley High football coach Billy Keenist Jr. is pictured at a recent team workout. The first-year coach said he is “blessed” to have the opportunity to lead the program.
Posted July 19, 2017
Billy Keenist Jr. was driving in his car earlier this spring when he received what turned out to be a life-changing phone call.
On the other end of the phone was Matt Rawlik, who is Keenist’s friend and the baseball coach at Berkley High.
Rawlik informed him that the position of head football coach at Berkley was available, following Chris Sikora’s decision to resign.
Keenist applied the next day, and following an interview with Berkley Athletic Director Lori Stone, he was offered the position.
His decision to accept has given Keenist his first opportunity to lead a program.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “I’ve waited a while. … I felt good in my interview, and I’m just so blessed and fortunate that Lori and everybody there felt confident in me to give me the opportunity. … I’m excited to be a Bear.”
Stone shared some thoughts about the addition of Keenist to Berkley’s program.
“We are extremely happy to have Billy on board as our coach,” Stone wrote via email. “He’s enthusiastic and is ready to hit the ground running.”
Keenist’s previous experience includes a three-year stint at Oxford High, where he coached receivers and special teams, and at Adrian College, where he was the quarterbacks coach for one season.
Keenist then assisted at Troy Athens for two seasons, spending his first year helping out the JV squad before taking on the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the varsity team last year.
Keenist’s dad is the senior vice president of communications for the Detroit Lions and has been with the organization for more than 30 years.
Keenist also counts his time spent around that franchise as part of his experience.
Sikora led Berkley from 2013 to 2016, earning a 24-17 mark in that span. The Bears have also qualified for the playoffs three consecutive years, which is a program first.
Last season, the Bears finished 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.
Keenist is aware of Berkley’s recent success and thinks he has a group of players who want to add to it.
“They’re hungry for more,” he said. “There’s a new challenge because we’re playing in the OAA White, which is a different division than these kids are used to. But I’m the type of person that I enjoy being challenged. I think these kids sense that, and they’re starting to pick up on that. I feel really good. I’m really excited about the staff that we’re assembling. … It’s been a short time, but I really like the people around us, and I feel good about this upcoming season.”
About the author
Mark Vest is on the sports beat at C&G Newspapers. He covers high school sports for the Fraser-Clinton Chronicle and Grosse Pointe Times. In the past couple years or so, he has also began to cover collegiate sports for schools such as the University of Detroit Mercy, Oakland University, Wayne State University, Macomb Community College and Oakland Community College. Vest has worked at C&G Newspapers since 2011 and attended Oakland University and Oakland Community College.
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