Bart Andrus, Head Coach
Bart Andrus returns to Omaha for his second season with the Nighthawks after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator for the 2011 season. Andrus has more than 30 years of coaching experience and has coached in five championship games at the professional level. Prior to joining the Nighthawks, Andrus spent one season as the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2009. From 2001 to 2007, he served as the head coach of the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, leading the team to two World Bowl championship berths. In 2005, Andrus was named NFL Europe Coach of the Year after the Admirals won their first championship title in franchise history. He spent a total of four seasons with the Tennessee Titans as a quarterbacks coach and offensive assistant, helping former NFL great Steve McNair lead the team all the way to Super Bowl XXXIV. Andrus also enjoyed great success at the collegiate level, culminating with the 1996 NAIA Coach of the Year Award.
Marcel Bellefeuille, Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Marcel Bellefeuille comes to Omaha following a successful 15-plus-year career in Canada. Most recently, Bellefeuille served as the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League from 2009-2011. During that time, he led the Tiger-Cats to three playoff appearances and their first playoff victory in 10 years. He also has served as the offensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. During his tenure at the University of Ottawa, Bellefeuille coached the Gee-Gees to a national championship title in 2000.
Pete Kuharchek, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Pete Kuharchek returns for his second season with the Nighthawks, having served as the team’s defensive backs coach in 2011. He brings more than 40 years of coaching experience to Omaha. During his ten seasons as an assistant coach and head coach in NFL Europe, Kuharchek earned a reputation as one of the best defensive coaches in league history. As the defensive coordinator for the Rhein Fire, Kuharchek won two World Bowl titles. He later took over head coaching duties for the Fire and led the team to two World Bowl appearances in five seasons. Kuharchek also has coached for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League (2006 and 2008) as well as the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (2009).
Russ Purnell, Special Teams Coordinator
Russ Purnell has more than 40 years of coaching experience. After beginning his coaching career at the high school and collegiate levels, he joined the Seattle Seahawks staff in 1986 as an assistant tight ends and special teams coach. Since then, he has coached for the Tennessee Titans, the Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts and, most recently, the Jacksonville Jaguars. He won two Super Bowl rings as a special teams coach, with Baltimore in 2000 and with Indianapolis in 2006.
Don Lawrence, Tight Ends
Don Lawrence’s career in football spans more than 50 years. He played three years for the Washington Redskins before beginning his coaching career at the collegiate level. He spent three seasons as Virginia’s head coach (1971-1973) and also served as an assistant on the coaching staffs at Kansas State and Missouri. At the professional level, Lawrence is one of the most accomplished coaches on the Nighthawks staff. As a tight ends coach for the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s, Lawrence coached in four-straight Super Bowls. He also coached in four-straight World Bowls with the Frankfurt Galaxy and the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. He served as the offensive line coach for the Nighthawks during the 2011 season.
Gene Dahlquist, Quarterbacks
Gene Dahlquist has more than 30 years of collegiate coaching experience at top football programs across the country. He spent six seasons from 1992-1997 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Texas, where he helped produce some of the best offenses in Texas history en route to three conference championships. Dahlquist previously held the same coaching position at Illinois, where he twice saw his offense lead the league in passing and helped the team secure four bowl game appearances in four years. As the offensive coordinator at Boise State, Dahlquist helped the Broncos capture five Big Sky Conference titles, along with a Division I-AA national championship title in 1980. Dahlquist also has coached at Idaho State, Utah, Oregon, Iowa State and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. After leaving the collegiate ranks, Dahlquist spent three seasons as the head coach of the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe from 2001-2003. Since then, he has lent his expertise to Football University and has served as an NFL personnel consultant.
Steve Heimann, Running Backs
Steve Heimann returns to Omaha for his second season with the Nighthawks. He was an offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach during the 2011 season. Heimann previously served as the tight ends coach at Nebraska Wesleyan University and was promoted to special teams coordinator before accepting his position with the Nighthawks. He coached defensive backs for the Nebraska Bears indoor professional football team in 2005.
Robert Hunt, Offensive Line
Robert Hunt returns for his second season with the Nighthawks after serving as an assistant offensive line/quality control coach in 2011. Hunt played briefly for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints, the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen of the XFL before starting his coaching career in 2005 as an intern with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. From 2007-2008, Hunt served as the offensive line and run game coordinator at Howard University. He then spent one season as the tight ends/offensive quality control coach for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2009. He was an offensive line coach at Bridgewater College in 2010.
Travis Andrus, Assistant Tight Ends/Special Teams Quality Control
Travis Andrus, the son of head coach Bart Andrus, makes his coaching debut this season after playing football at the University of Montana.
Rex Norris, Defensive Line
Rex Norris brings more than 40 years of college and NFL coaching experience to the Nighthawks staff. After playing linebacker in college, Norris began his coaching career and quickly moved up the collegiate coaching ranks with stints at Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Arizona State. He later spent time at Florida, Tennessee and Texas. In the NFL, Norris has coached for the Detroit Lions, the Denver Broncos, the Tennessee Titans and the Chicago Bears. In 2004, he joined the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe as a defensive line coach and helped lead the team to a 2005 World Bowl victory. He also spent one season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2009.
Richard Kent, Defensive Backs
Richard Kent returns to Omaha for his second season after coaching special teams for the Nighthawks in 2011. He spent 16 seasons coaching at the collegiate level before moving to NFL Europe, where he filled a variety of roles as a coach, personnel director and scout. Kent reached the World Bowl four times, winning titles in 2002 with the Berlin Thunder and in 2005 with the Amsterdam Admirals. He served as a secondary coach for the Toronto Argonauts for one season in 2009.
Mike Morand, Defensive Quality Control
Mike Morand returns to Omaha for his second season with the Nighthawks after serving as an assistant wide receivers/quality control coach during the 2011 season. Morand brings with him 12 years of college coaching experience, and he spent half of those as an offensive coordinator. His coaching stops include North Carolina A&T, Virginia Union, Virginia State, Wingate, Barber-Scotia, Livingstone and West Georgia. In 2009, he completed an NFL coaching internship with the Houston Texans. He attended training to become a head coach with the NCAA Expert Coaches Forum in 2008 and the NCAA Coaches Academy in 2009. From 1996-1999, Morand played quarterback at Florida A&M University, where he was coached by the legendary Billy Joe, the fourth winning-est head coach in NCAA Division I history.