Coach Verria was named the Bears' interim head coach in August of 2016 following 28 seasons as a top assistant coach and defensive coordinator. During his tenure as a key defensive assistant, which began in 1988, 55 different players earned all-conference honors on the defensive side of the ball, including 21 defensive linemen, 17 linebackers and 17 defensive backs.
In his first season at the helm of the football program in 2016, Coach Verria guided his squad to the MASCAC title and a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Bears posted a record of 8-3 and went undefeated in conference play.
In 2012, Verria's defensive unit gave up just 17.7 points per game and ranked tenth in all of Division III in total defense as the Bears allowed just 266.9 yards per game.
From 2004 to 2006, Bridgewater State's defense ranked among the national leaders in Division III. The Bears allowed just 16.6 points per game during that three-year span and the rush defense gave up just 2.7 yards per carry. The team's defensive pass efficiency checked in with an impressive 94.96 NCAA rating. On an NFL scale, that would calculate to 50.53. Bridgewater forced 89 turnovers over the 29 games for an average of 3.07 per game. Sixty of those 89 turnovers came via the interception, including a school single-season record of 28 in 2005.
In 2005, Bridgewater State football ranked 11th in all of Division III in defensive pass efficiency rating (90.0), 15th in rushing defense (88.1 ypg) and turnover margin (+13), 21st in total defense (265.6 ypg) and tied for 20th in scoring defense (15.5 ppg). In 2006, the Bears finished 10th nationally in both interceptions (21) and forced turnovers (34), and were ranked third in turnover margin (+17) and 22nd in defensive pass efficiency rating (92.3).
Coach Verria was a star defensive tackle for Bridgewater State for four seasons from 1976 to 1979. Following his collegiate career he had several NFL tryouts including stints with the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Joe was also a track star for the Bears and was a MASCAC all-conference shot putter in 1980 and 1981. He returned to Bridgewater in 1988 as an assistant coach for football, a position that he has held ever since. In 2001, Joe was one of six new members inducted into the Bridgewater State Athletic Hall of Fame. Before joining the Bears' coaching staff, he also coached for three years at East Bridgewater High School (1985-87).
Joe, who is an insurance and financial specialist at Bearce Insurance, presently resides in Bridgewater with his wife, Maryann, and son, Ryan.