Barak Faulk keeps finding his way back to Monroe High School.
An assistant football coach in three different stints with the Hornets, the 1991 Monroe graduate reached the top of the program Monday night when he received school-board approval as the new head coach.
“I come from a long line of guys that have coached me here through the years and I’ve been able to coach with, and I’m just humbled that I’m in the same spot they were,” said Faulk, who’s spent the last five seasons at Mason.
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“It’s a give-back for what was given to me so long ago. It’s pushed me to excel as much as I could through high school and college. I don’t know where I’d be without the game and the life lessons it was able to teach me.”
This is the first head coaching job for the 45-year-old Faulk, who’s had a 21-year assistant’s career that included stops at Mason (twice), Preble Shawnee, Hamilton and Northwest.
Faulk was the defensive coordinator at Mason the last two years. He’s replacing Bill Leach, who resigned after going 18-33 in five seasons at the Monroe helm.
“The last two times I tried to become the head coach here, it just didn’t work out. The stars have to align to get these jobs, and this time they aligned for me,” Faulk said. “This is the only place I’d leave Mason for. I believe this is the place to be. It’s home.”
Mason has been among the Greater Miami Conference’s best defensive teams in recent years, and Faulk’s been right in the middle of it.
“He can coordinate with the best,” Mason coach Brian Castner said. “He keeps it simple. He gets his units to play hard and fly around.”
Losing Faulk isn’t a great thing for the Comets, but Castner is happy that he’s getting a chance to lead his own program.
“He’s got so much passion right now to make something happen. He is the 100-percent perfect fit at this time for Monroe,” Castner said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. I can go on and on about all the little things he’s done for us off the field, and he was passionate about that too. He wants to develop men.”
Faulk talks a lot about Monroe’s heritage. He wants the school and community to take pride in the football program, and he plans to hold the players accountable.
As a Monroe resident, Faulk lives close enough to the high school that “I could probably ride my bike here in the summer.”
On the field, he said the Hornets will focus on discipline and fundamentals.
“I am an Ohio State fan, but Bo Schembechler said it best: Just a solid offense, an unbelievable defense and a great kicking game,” Faulk said. “We’re not going to be fancy. We will be multi-faceted, but we’re going to be disciplined. We’re going to be the hardest workers on the field. We’re going to be the hardest workers before we even get to the field.”
In a perfect world, he’d like to hire offensive and defensive coordinators and run the special teams himself. His first priority is finding somebody to direct the offense.
“I’m going to run the defense at the immediate beginning,” Faulk said. “If I can’t find a guy to run the offense, I’ll run the offense and find someone to run the defense.”
He has a background on both sides of the ball. Faulk played linebacker and tight end at Monroe and was a tight end for one season at Wilmington College.
Defensively, Faulk said Monroe will run the 4-2-5 that he’s been using at Mason.
“You can align to any formation through it, and you don’t have those disadvantages you might have in another defense,” he said of his affinity for the 4-2-5. “You’re not going to get me to move my front six much. We’re just going to pound it up front, and the fancy guys are going to move around and make sure we’re adjusted right.”
Offensively, Faulk intends to run the Wing-T and increase its scope as players move through the program. He compared his plans to the Wing-T run by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn at the college level and Sycamore’s Scott Dattilo at the high school level.
“You can say Wing-T across the board or you can just say gap, which is what people have been doing since the beginning of time before they started putting fancy names to it,” Faulk said. “I believe in getting angles. I want a grinding offense. Control the ball. Don’t turn it over. But we’re not going to snooze you to death either. We’ll have various formations. I do believe in passing, but I believe when you pass, it’s got to be on schedule to help us control the ball.”
Faulk said his coaching style is a combination of enthusiasm, intensity and attention to details.
“I’m loud. I’ll do goofy stuff,” he said. “I think I’m funny, but I’m pretty stern. I could coach anywhere. I love building relationships with kids.”
His son Barak was a sophomore defensive lineman at Mason last fall. He transferred to Monroe this week.
Faulk is an intervention specialist at Mason and might be staying in that position for a while. There is no guarantee that Monroe will be able to find him a day job so he can be in the building, but he’s hopeful.
“That was the only downer in hours of conversations, but I got past it pretty quick,” Faulk said. “I believe they’ll find me a job. I’m also certified in social studies, so as soon as an intervention specialist or social studies job opens, I hope to fill that position.”
The Hornets, who finished 1-9 last season, will open the 2018 campaign at home against Edgewood on Aug. 24.
The Barak Faulk File
Family: Wife Jaylen, sons Barak (16) and Bryce (13), daughter Grace (9)
School job: Intervention specialist at Mason
High school: Monroe, Class of 1991
College: Bachelor's degree in secondary social studies from Miami, master's degree in educational leadership from Wright State
Coaching history: Monroe (1997-2000), Preble Shawnee (2001-02), Monroe (2003), Hamilton (2004-06), Mason (2007-09), Northwest (2010), Monroe (2011-12), Mason (2013-17)