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Like father, like son: Gingrich tandem will lead Cocalico into District 3 Class 5A championship game

Brock Gingrich has been hanging around Cocalico’s football sideline since he was a little kid.

Sometimes delivering water bottles to the older players. Sometimes gathering up the footballs after practice. And always following around his dad, Eagles’ football coach Dave Gingrich.

“I thought it was important in my childhood to have role models at the high school,” Brock said. “I felt like they set a good example for me when I was a little kid.”

Brock isn’t a little kid anymore. He’s all grown up. Gingrich is a punishing senior two-way interior lineman for Cocalico, playing on the field where he once delivered water bottles and picked up footballs. And for the last three varsity seasons, he’s gotten to play for his dad. All of those practices. All of those film sessions. All of those bus rides. All of those games. Together.

“Coaching him is definitely easier than teaching him in class,” said Dave Gingrich, who had Brock as a student in 10th-grade calculus. “Football is definitely easier than the classroom.”

Brock passed his dad’s calculus class. Tonight, as father and son, they’ll try and pass a test together when the top-seeded Eagles welcome second-seeded Cedar Cliff in the District Three Class 5A championship game in Denver. Cocalico clipped the Colts 43-14 in a nonleague clash earlier this season; the rematch is for district gold.

It’s already been a terrific week for Coach Gingrich, who was recently inducted into the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the state Sports Hall of Fame.

Brock grew up in a house full of athletes. His mom Sue was a 1,000-point scorer on the basketball court for Annville-Cleona. Big sisters Marissa (a 1,000-point scorer herself for Cocalico) and Megan (a basketball and track and field standout for the Eagles) were all-star performers in high school. And dad Dave, a former multi-sport athlete for Annville-Cleona, is wrapping up his 16th season as Cocalico’s head football coach.

“He went to everything as a kid,” Coach Gingrich said. “If (his sisters) were playing basketball, he was at the game. If Megan was at gymnastics, he’d go there. Brock has been around sports since he was young. His sisters paved a good path of academics and athletics for him.”

Brock cherished those moments growing up — learning the ropes from his older siblings, hanging around the football field while his dad was coaching — and he was quick to thank his sisters for that.

“It was pretty challenging,” he said. “I had to sort of specialize my own athletic abilities and switch it up a bit. They were both really good at basketball. But they always pushed me to do my best. I think their legacy was boosting me to do better, and go even further than they did.”

Brock’s accolades: Last year, he was the L-L League Section 2 Lineman of the Year and a first-team all-star, and he earned a prestigious all-state nod. He’s a terrific candidate to repeat those awards after this season.

Gingrich is considering Delaware and James Madison to play football in college.

“His development from 10th grade to 11th grade to this year … he’s really worked at it,” Coach Gingrich said. “He lifts a lot. He’s pretty intense. I know I’m pleased with his development — and I think he still has a lot to give.”

Brock is also one of the top throwers in field events in L-L League track circles. And this winter, he’ll make a return to the wrestling mat for the first time since his sophomore year.

“He’s a big teddy bear,” Coach Gingrich said. “But I think the thing I’m most proud of — and the football things and the track things are nice — but he’s a great kid. Every teacher that has ever had him, and our administrative staff always tells us that he treats everyone really, really well. To me, as a parent, if your kids treat other people well, that’s all you can ask for.”

“I’ve had a blessed time here,” Cocalico’s coach continued. “I’ve been blessed for everything we’ve done. And getting to coach your kid along the way is a really, really neat thing.”

When the Eagles host Cedar Cliff tonight, Brock gets one last home game, out on that field where he used to deliver water bottles and pick up footballs. And when the game is over — win or lose — he’ll exit the stadium in a Cocalico uniform one last time, fittingly, with his dad.

“It’s really indescribable to get to do this with my father,” Brock said. “Just totally indescribable. There’s been a lot of happiness and so many emotions. We’ve both put in a lot of hard work, and now we’re in the district finals. It would mean the world to me to win it — especially with him.”

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