Kauffman get call to PSFCA Hall

By on June 29, 2016
18 during a ceremony at the Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg-Hershey. Surrounding Kauffman (second from left) in photo were (left to right): Chad Brubaker, who presented his former head coach with his award; Dave Gingrich, current Cocalico head coach; and Chris Laudenslager, a Cocalico assistant and another former player under Kauffman.

18 during a ceremony at the Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg-Hershey. Surrounding Kauffman (second from left) in photo were (left to right): Chad Brubaker, who presented his former head coach with his award; Dave Gingrich, current Cocalico head coach; and Chris Laudenslager, a Cocalico assistant and another former player under Kauffman.

It’s been more than 12 years since Phil Kauffman has been on the sideline as a head football coach.

But on Saturday, June 18, the former Cocalico boss got a chance to re-acquaint himself with some of the greats against whom he matched wits.

This time, there were no X’s and O’s.

Lots of memories shared, however.

Now, Kauffman has another fond moment.

Following a 28-year career as the Eagles boss, in which he collected 184 victories and two District Three Double-A championships, Kauffman was inducted into the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. He was nominated by one of his former QB’s, Chad Brubaker, the current Spring-Ford head coach.

“When you get nominated by one of your players and then you get voted unanimously by all the football coaches in the organization, that’s the greatest honor I’ve received as a coach in all my years,” said Kauffman, who retired as Cocalico’s coach after the 2003 season. “It’s just neat being honored like this by your peers. That’s the big thing. And it represents the entire program — the kids, the assistant coaches, the fans, my family because of all the sacrifices they’ve made over the years. I mean, it represents a lot of different people. It’s a lot more than just me.

Kauffman was joined in the 2016 Class by Scott Heinauer, of Mars High School; Nick Donato, of North Pocono and Scranton Prep High Schools; Greg Botta, of Franklin Regional High School; and Mike Zmijanac, of Aliquippa High School.

Later, the inductees were introduced at the end of the first quarter at the Big 33 Classic.

“It was a wonderful weekend,” Kauffman said, “just being around some old coaches that I coached against that I hadn’t seen in years and I met some other famous coaches. I got to talk to Jared Odrick, the defensive tackle from Penn State and now he’s with the (NFL’s Jacksonville) Jaguars, and we had a good conversation with him. It was well done.”

So, too, was the advertisement in the Big 33 program, designed by Eagles’ assistant Chris Laudenslager and paid for by the Cocalico Football Booster Club, highlighting Kauffman’s career.

“It’s just beautiful,” Kauffman said. “It looks really nice in the program.”

Among his career highlights was leading the Eagles to the 1985 District crown, as they rallied in the final 30 seconds to beat East Pennsboro 31-27.

Nine years later, Cocalico knocked off Bishop McDevitt 15-14 in the District semi-finals, pulling off some late magic in the final two minutes.

“Those are my two favorite moments,” Kauffman recalled. “It came right down to the end, our kids had to make the plays and they did.”

As Kauffman explained, it was his Eagles’ players who also made the play-calls at critical junctures in those two big showdowns.

“The funny thing is, I let them make the call. In ‘85,” Kauffman said, “we were losing by three or four, and it was fourth down on the 11 and I didn’t know what to do. So I went into the huddle and asked the guys what they wanted to do, and my right guard said, ‘Coach, run the bootleg, it’s been working all day.’ and we scored and beat East Pennsboro. Then in the McDevitt game (in 1994), we scored, but we were losing 14-13 and I said, ‘What do you guys want to do? Do you want to go for two?’ And 10 out of 11 said, ‘Yep, let’s go for two.’ So that was all their call. That’s pretty cool.”

One week later, the Eagles beat Juniata 27-24 for their second District crown, then knocked off Central Columbia 14-10 in the PIAA quarters before losing to Mt. Carmel in the State semi-finals.

Those teams represented a snapshot of what Kauffman experienced in his career at Cocalico.

“Great kids, great assistant coaches and a lot of support from Cocalico fans,” he said.

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