Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 2, Page 10
Winter 1994
Alumni Profile - Coach Oberg's Winning Ways

     Among followers of southern New Jersey high school football, John A.
Oberg, Delaware '57, is a legend. From 1960 until his retirement last year,
Oberg coached the Delsea Regional High team to 230 wins, making him the
region's all-time winningest football coach.
     A fullback on three Blue Hen squads coached by Dave Nelson from 1954
through 1956, Oberg used Nelson's Wing-T offense to capture 12 state
divisional and 14 league championships.
     What motivated Oberg to stay with such a time-consuming job for over
30 years? "I really enjoyed the kids over the years. I guess I'm a big kid
myself," he says.
     Oberg had basic rules for his teams: (1) School comes before football;
(2) Come to school every day; and (3) Be on time to school and to practice.
"My basic rules and discipline haven't changed over the years because I've
kept them simple," he says.
     His operating philosophy has been simple, too: "Live by the rules; be
fair; and treat people the way they're supposed to be treated."
     After coaching an undefeated team at Delmar (Del.) High School in
1959, Oberg moved to Delsea Regional High as its first football coach in
1960. He says he was never tempted to move up to the college coaching
ranks, enjoying Delsea and the town of Franklinville, where he and wife,
Patricia, raised two sons and a daughter. Oberg's son, John Charles,
Delaware '80, was a two-year U.D. football letterman.
     Oberg's final season on the sidelines was interrupted by triple-bypass
heart surgery last November. He remains athletic director at Delsea,
overseeing 19 sports and teaching physical education and health.
     Oberg's career win No. 224 at Delsea on Sept. 26, 1992, cemented his
lofty perch as the winningest football coach in southern New Jersey
history. "I don't know if I've ever been as nervous before a game," he told
the Gloucester County Times after his team's dramatic 12-10 win over
Williamstown. "It's over. That's the best thing of all."
     Oberg's crowning achievement was the area's major news the next day.
The Times devoted nearly two pages to stories, photos and a game-by-game
summary of the coach's 33-season record. "He's not a guy who's impressed by
records," said assistant coach John Roberts in a Times article. "I think
the most important thing for him every year is for us to win our league.
Anything that happens on top of that is gravy.""That particular day was
probably as good as any day that I've coached," Oberg recalls a year later.
     Oberg remains modest about the mark he has left on New Jersey
football, offering that he "has been at the right place at the right time.
There aren't too many geniuses left today."
                                             -Bill Clark, Delaware '82