- Associated Press - Saturday, April 26, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Eric Behrens built Omaha Central into the dominant high school basketball program in Nebraska, and now he wants to see what he can do at the college level.

Behrens said Saturday night he’ll leave Central after the school year and take over the men’s basketball program at NAIA Peru State in southeast Nebraska.

“I guess I’m looking for a new challenge,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time at Central. I was a ball boy when my dad was coach, I played there, I was an assistant and I was head coach. I’ve been around Central for 30 years, and I’m 40 years old. You have to look at college coaching as the next step.”

Behrens was head coach at Central for 13 seasons and led the Eagles to seven state championships over an eight-year span, the most recent one in 2013. Behrens was 283-62 at Central.

“It was an incredible part of my life,” he said. “We were blessed to win one championship, let alone seven. There was a lot of luck, a lot of hard work, winning one-point games, winning overtime games. So many breaks have to go your way. I loved every minute of it.”

Behrens takes over a Peru State team that lost its last eight games and finished 9-19. The Bobcats are an NAIA Division I program that plays in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Behrens will be able to rely on his connections to recruit the Omaha area, and he said he also plans to go into the Kansas City area for players.

“Everyone I met at Peru had a vision for where they want to take the college and the athletic program,” Behrens said. “They want to win in basketball, and they want to support it. I was impressed by that.”