Cocalico has found its new football coach to lead the defending District 3-5A champion Eagles.
At its Monday meeting, the Cocalico School Board voted unanimously, 9-0, to approve Bryan Strohl as the new football coach, pending completion of his required PIAA coursework.
Strohl’s name was not on the board agenda for the meeting, but instead listed as, “athletic coach,” according to LNP|LancasterOnline correspondent Kim Marselas, who confirmed with the board afterward that the coach role was referring Strohl, who spent the last 15 seasons as an assistant on the Cocalico coaching staff.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Strohl said when reached by phone late Monday night. “Along with that excitement, it’s a little overwhelming when you realize what the head role involves.”
Strohl takes over for longtime Cocalico skipper Dave Gingrich, who compiled a 130-60 career record over the last 16 seasons, with Section Two titles in 2012 and 2016, plus District Three championship-game appearances in 2010, 2014, 2018 and last fall, when the Eagles won gold.
Gingrich stepped down from coaching following the 2019 season but is staying in his role as a math teacher at the high school.
“What Dave has done last 16 years. ...when I told the team last Tuesday that pending school board approval I’d have the job, when you see coach G in the hallways, make sure you thank him for everything he’s done,” Strohl said. “When you walk into the program we have it’s a challenge to maintain the level of success we’ve had but hopefully we could build on that.”
A 2001 Ephrata grad and former Mountaineers’ football and baseball player, Strohl went on to see action at fullback and tight end over a four-year football career at Susquehanna University, where he was a double major in elementary education and early childhood education, while minoring in math. He also holds a master’s degree as well as a principal’s certification.
Strohl has been a teacher the last 15 years in the Cocalico School District and is currently a sixth grade teacher at Cocalico Middle School. Strohl and his wife have a six-year-old son, Kellen, and three-year-old son, Owen.
Throughout his time as an assistant coach, Strohl served as Cocalico’s running backs and linebackers coach, and spent his early years focusing on defense before taking on more offensive responsibilities the last few years.
“We’ve known for at least two years what we hoped the succession plan would be,” Strohl said. “So I’ve been wearing the head coach headset to switch back and forth between the offense and defense.”
Strohl was working with assistant Chris Laudenslager to call the defense, and learning under Gingrich when calling the Eagles’ flexbone offense the last few seasons.
“It’s definitely helped,” Strohl said. “A couple years ago it would have been a bigger jump, but having coach Gingrich to mentor me throughout, I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done.”
Strohl intends to take over play-calling duties on Friday nights and stick with Cocalico’s traditional run-based flexbone attack.
“When you have the success that I feel our program has had,” he said. “I don’t see any reason to change that.”
Athletic director: In related matters, the school board also approved Roger Czerwinski as the school's new athletic director. Czerwinski has spent the last five years as the athletic director at Manheim Township. He'll replace Whitney Seltzer, who is retiring after 18 years as the athletic director and 35 years overall in education.