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BY PAULA WOLF

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It may have seemed like Dave Gingrich stepped down as head football coach at Cocalico at the perfect time, after reaching the pinnacle of a District Three Class 5A championship. But that isn’t how he planned it.

“I had thought about (leaving the job) for a while,” he said, including seriously for two months before making the announcement to his team. That was in November 2019, after the Eagles fell 56-49 in the 5A state semifinals to Cheltenham.

He had a terrific staff, Gingrich, 51, said, and it was time to let them shine. Bryan Stohl, named to replace Gingrich in January, was his assistant for 15 years.

Before he assumed the head coaching job, Gingrich, a 1987 Annville-Cleona grad, was an assistant coach for 13 years under Phil Kauffman, learning the ropes under a great teacher. “I knew how it was to be an assistant.” Stohl, he said, “is ready. I didn’t want to stand in his way.”

As Gingrich’s successor, Stohl will have large shoes to fill: a 130-60 record in 16 seasons; Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two titles in 2012 and 2016 (“I can’t tell you how many times we finished second,” behind Manheim Central, Gingrich said); District Three championship game appearances in 2010, 2014 and 2018 – and, of course, that 2019 5A District title.

He plans to a take a year off from coaching. If he really misses it, Gingrich said, he’ll return in a different role, such as a junior high assistant coach. His son, Brock, an offensive lineman for Cocalico who graduates this year, earned a football scholarship to the University of Delaware.

Gingrich said he wants to see him play in college. Brock is a wrestler as well. He is the youngest of Dave and Sue Gingrich’s three children, and it’s an athletic family from top to bottom. (Matt Gingrich, Dave’s brother, is the head football coach at Annville-Cleona.) Oldest daughter Marissa, an Elizabethtown College alumna, competed in field hockey, basketball and track and field at Cocalico. Younger daughter Megan participated in volleyball, basketball and track and field; she is soon to graduate from Shippensburg. Sue Gingrich, who teaches at Elco, was a member of the 1989 Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team that captured the Division III national title, her husband said. She also is a graduate of Annville-Cleona.

Dave Gingrich teaches math at Cocalico High School and will remain an assistant track and field coach. He said he was proud that his Eagle squads continually got better throughout seasons, as everyone worked to create a “team atmosphere.”

“The thing that I loved (about coaching football) is that it’s the ultimate team game,” Gingrich explained. If the 11 players on the field are not doing their jobs, “your chance at success is not good.”

“You write your own script,” he said, “you write your own story.”

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