Former QB remembered for Eagles’ leadership Brett Janis, 28, Cocalico grad, Redman homes worker

By on November 7, 2012

By: TODD RUTH and BRUCE MORGAN Review Staff, Staff Writer

Brett M. Janis

As a football player at Cocalico High School in the early 2000’s, Brett M. Janis was a true leader.

The Eagles’ 6-foot-2, 210 quarterback/defensive back was known to be very focused between the white lines, with a good sense of humor off the field.

That was how two of his his former coaches remembered him after Janis, 28, of Stevens, passed away Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in Denver.

He was born in Johnstown to Mikel and Brenda (Emery) Janis, of Stevens.

There’s no doubt that he was a born leader for the Cocalico football teams that won the 2000 and 2002 Section Three crowns in Janis’ sophomore and senior seasons. The Eagles went a combined 24-6 in his three seasons as a starter, including 9-1 in his final campaign wearing blue and white when Cocalico based its offense around his abilities.

Janis definitely lived up to his potential, as he ran for a school-record (by a QB) 1,443 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, making him the second-leading rusher in the Lancaster-Lebanon League in 2002. The Eagles’ star also accounted for 662 yards through the air, with five TD’s that season. For his career, he had an eye-popping 4,433 combined yards and 45 touchdowns.

"We went to more of a spread and had him run the ball," former Cocalico head coach Phil Kauffman said. "He was just a great leader on the field. He was really fun to coach — very, very intense. He didn’t like to lose. He had good size and he had decent speed, and when he had to, he could throw the ball."

"He was a very important part to our success between 2000-2002 (two Section championships)," said current Eagles’ head coach Dave Gingrich, an assistant on Kauffman’s staff. "You could always count on Brett to make a game changing play….because he always did. And by the way, was he tough."

His offensive talents only told part of the story. Janis was also a three-year starter on the defensive side of the ball and finished his Eagles’ career with 17 interceptions.

"Brett was fearless," Gingrich said. "Defensively, he was always around the football. He just had such instincts and loved to hit. Offensively, he just made plays — some with his feet and some with his arm. He was tough to bring down."

Besides his physical abilities, Janis also had a great attitude and tough-as-nails mentality to go along with it.

"He’s one of those kids that come along every so many years," Kauffman said. "On the field, he was so focused. He did everything that we asked him to do. He never made excuses, never complained and I know he played a lot of games banged up. He was just a tough, tough kid … You could just tell he loved the game of football."

Brett’s younger brother Jhett is showing a lot of those same traits as a junior star for the Cocalico squad which clinched the Section Two championship last Friday night with a win over Ephrata. Kauffman was on the opposite sideline as an assistant coach with the Mountaineers, but he couldn’t help noticing a lot of similarities between the two.

"I see a lot of Brett in Jhett," Kauffman said. "I was at a couple of (Cocalico’s) practices over the years when I was doing TV (with Blue Ridge Cable-11) and he reminds me so much of Brett. It’s just amazing. Friday night, I watched him and he played a great game and he was motivated. He just reminded me so much of Brett."

Kauffman also enjoyed teaching Janis in the classroom.

"(Brett) was fun to have in class," he said. "He had a good sense of humor."

Janis also had a lot of interest from Division-II coaches following his high school career. He ultimately went to Bloomsburg, where he played his freshman year until a shoulder injury spelled the end of his playing career.

"He got Division-II offers to play and Bloomsburg was all over him," Kauffman said.

A 2003 graduate of Cocalico High School, Brett worked as a fabricator for Redman Homes. He was an avid sports fan who loved the Steelers and NASCAR. He loved his brothers and sister, and he was a great friend. He enjoyed spending most of his time with his son, Peyton, and they enjoyed their adventure times, fishing, riding bikes through Walmart and late night TV.

In addition to his parents Brett is survived by his son: Peyton Janis, two brothers: Dalton and Jhett and a sister: Breeanna, all at home; maternal grandmother: Jeannine Emery; and paternal grandfather: Francis Luke Janis, both of Nanty Glo.

He was preceded in death by a sister: Chasity; his maternal grandfather: Dusty Emery; and paternal grandmother: Mary-Jean Janis.

His funeral service was held Nov. 6 at the LCBC Church, Ephrata, with Pastor Matt Graybill officiating. Interment will be private at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, for memorial contributions in Brett’s memory go to the Roseboro Stradling website,, for further information.

Arrangements are being made by Roseboro Stradling Funeral & Cremation Services Inc., Denver. Online condolences can be given at More JANIS, page A10

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