BLOOMFIELD, NJ – For the Bloomfield High School girls’ basketball program, the coaching transition will be quite smooth.
Zac Dearwater, who has been Dana Morton’s longtime varsity assistant and JV coach, has been named as the head varsity coach for the Bengals. Morton, a 1988 BHS graduate who scored over 1,000 points in her Bengal career, recently stepped down as head coach after a successful five-season run to accept a position at the Bloomfield Recreation Center.
“I’m very excited,” said Dearwater about being the new head coach. “I have been an assistant for Dana for five years and I’ve been coaching the program for eight years since (former girls’ head coach) Mike Sceurman was here. I’m very excited to take over and see what I can do and get the girls to improve and move on, and everything like that. I’m very, very excited beyond words on being able to coach these girls and have the opportunity.”
Dearwater, a native of Kentucky, has been teaching physical education/health education/driver’s ed for eight years at BHS. Previously, he taught at Bloomfield Middle School for five years.
Dearwater also is in his 13th season as an assistant BHS football coach. He coaches the offensive line.
Dearwater is a 1999 graduate of Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell, Ky. He first attended Morehead State University (Ky.) where he played football and later Northern Kentucky University where he graduated in 2006.
So how did he end up in Bloomfield, N.J.?
“My common joke that I like to tell everybody is I took a wrong turn in Pittsburgh,” said Dearwater with a smile. “I moved up here 13 years ago looking for a different opportunity, different state, different things. My father was a high school coach for football back in Kentucky for years and I wanted to be own coach Dearwater. So New Jersey was where I fell and Bloomfield was where I landed.”
For Dearwater, coaching with Morton was truly a great experience. In five seasons, Morton led the Bengals to a stellar 77-43 record.
“It was an awesome experience to get to know her because I really never knew her. I saw her name on the board as the first 1,000-point scorer in girls’ basketball history (at BHS). It was a great experience learning things from her, nuances of the game that I didn’t know because I’d always played basketball, but then eventually football became my No. 1 sport by the time I got to college. Just learning different things from her, little strategies, game-planning, running practices, things like that, I think that really helped me grow into a position where I am now, where I can kind of get the stuff that I learned from her, from coach (Pat) Brunner and coach (Steve) Jenkins, working hand-in-hand.”
Brunner enjoyed a glorious 13-season run as the BHS boys’ head basketball head coach, stepping down this past summer in order to become the athletic director at Mountain Lakes. Jenkins was the girls’ head basketball coach before becoming the current athletic director in 2005, replaced by Sceurman.
Dearwater’s main goal as a coach is to see his players become better, on and off the court and field.
“My philosophy as a coach is I want everyone to improve on a daily basis,” he said. “I want them to be a better player when they walk away from me and a student-athlete when they walk away from me than when they were when they got to me…A lot of them played for me through JV and some played for me when they were freshmen, so it’s really good, and I’m really excited, especially with the senior class, I’ve seen these girls from freshmen, all the way to where they are now. My philosophy is keep improving, be better individuals. Wins will come, if you do the right things.”
In Morton’s first four seasons, the Bengals won 15, 17, 18 and 19 games in each season. The team suffered a tough year this past winter, going 8-15, but returns several key players. Tryouts and early practice starts Nov. 19. Official practice starts Nov. 26. The season tips off Dec. 14 at home against Newark Academy at 6 p.m.