Drew Gordon steps down at La Salle

SPRINGFIELD — At the end of each football season, La Salle College High head football coach Drew Gordon took time to soul search as to whether or not he’d return for another season.

This year, the result of Gordon’s search was a negative response.

After nine seasons, 91 wins, six Philadelphia Catholic League championships and one PIAA Class AAAA championship, Gordon has decided not to come back for a 10th season.

“It was just the time to go,’ Gordon said, emphasizing that he is not retiring. “It was a very difficult decision. La Salle is a great place to be.

“I just thought it was time to step down.’

Gordon added that there were no issues with the school or with the players.

“I’ve never had a real problem at La Salle,’ he said. “The kids are great. The school is great.

“I consider this every year, and I didn’t want to make my decision too close to the final game of the season (La Salle was beaten in the PCL Class AAAA championship game by eventual state champion Saint Joseph’s Prep, 46-13). I’ve been going back and forth over this since Christmas, and I finally came to a decision.’

The Gordon coaching stint at La Salle began when the former Bishop McDevitt and Villanova University quarterback became the program’s offensive coordinator under head coach Joe Colistra in 1994, with the Explorers winning the PCL crown in 1995 and going an unprecedented 14-0 in repeating in 1996.

Gordon built the La Salle offense around his son and Explorers quarterback Brett Gordon, who would go on to compile school passing records before, like his father, going on to quarterback at Villanova University.

Leaving after the 1997 season, the elder Gordon returned as La Salle’s offensive coordinator in 2005, then became the program’s head coach in 2006, following Colistra’s retirement.

Gordon said one of his most memorable moments coaching at La Salle came when the team went 14-0 in 1996.

He listed the team’s state title in 2009 as another.

“That was just a tremendous group of kids,’ Gordon said. “I remember, we were about to play Ridley in the playoffs, and they had a strong defense and somebody wrote that they knew how to shut us down.

“I remember preaching execution and telling our kids that execution with intensity will beat anybody at any time.’

La Salle went on to blitz Ridley, 35-7, in the Eastern final before downing State College, 24-7, in the state title game, becoming the first District 12 or PCL team to win a Class AAAA championship in a major sport.

Another of Gordon’s memorable moments, ironically, came in a 42-35 loss to Coatesville in the Eastern finals in 2012.

“We were down three of our key players, but our kids never gave up,’ Gordon recalled. “We were down 21 points in the fourth quarter, but our players kept fighting and had a shot to win the game — we had the ball inside their 20-yard line — at the end.

“I’m never happy about a loss, but I was so proud of our players.’

Even this past season, Gordon presided over a couple of memorable victories, including handing eventual Class AAA state champion Archbishop Wood its only loss of the season, 35-31, a game in which the Explorers rallied from a third-quarter, 17-point deficit.

“That’s one of my favorite coaching statements, ‘ Figure it out,” Gordon said with a chuckle. “I think a lot of our success is due to our coaching staff.

“What we’ve achieved speaks well of our coaches, but it also speaks well of the kids. They’ve bought into what we’ve shown them, and they’ve figured it out.

“If you ask God for help, he’s going to say, ‘ I’ll help you, but you better bring a shovel.’ You’re still going to have to do the work, and our players have done the work.’

As for what’s ahead, Gordon said he’ll take things as they come, but he already informed La Salle Athletic Director Joe Parisi he’ll be around to help if needed.

“When Joe Colistra retired there was some concern whether the players would stay loyal to him, and maybe go to him if they had questions or problems,’ Gordon said. “But to his credit, he became a fan, he didn’t stay a coach. And I always appreciated that.


“I’ll be around, but I’ll be a fan.’

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