Former Brighton and Strasburg coach Jeff Giger will replace Chad Cooper as Erie’s football coach, the school announced Thursday.
Giger comes into the program after a long, successful tenure at Strasburg that included two state titles, followed by back-to-back winning seasons with the Bulldogs. He takes over for Cooper, who stepped aside after a strong six-year run with the Tigers to become the school’s new athletic director and assistant principal.
“It was a really talented pool (of coaching candidates), which kind of speaks to where the program is at,” said Cooper, who, although doesn’t officially begin his new AD role until July 1, helped lead the search along with Justin Carpenter and others inside the athletic department. “But Jeff stood out with his resumé and how he interviewed. And obviously we played them last fall knowing what type of coaching he did.”
Perhaps already familiar to the Erie community, Giger and his Brighton Bulldogs beat the Tigers in the schools’ only meeting in history during last fall’s shortened season.
For Erie, which went 45-20 under Cooper, it believes he can be the guy to lead the football program going forward. For Giger, the goal is building character and wins.
The coach who has two decades worth of experience was reached by phone Thursday following the announcement. In scoping out his place, he said he believes he can mesh with what Cooper has already built at Erie while continuing to push toward further program success.
He — like Cooper — has used strong relationships and communication with players to help build up his programs. Under Giger, the Bulldogs went 10-7 over the past two seasons and reached the postseason in 2019. Before that, the coach led Strasburg to an 86-36 record in 11 seasons.
“Our number one goal is to be a part of young peoples’ lives and be a small part of them going on and doing things outside sports,” Giger said. “And number two, is that we want to do everything to move forward to be champions. We want to train to be the best. It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about training and playing your best.”
Erie principal Matt Buchler sent a letter to families in the school regarding the decision. Among Giger’s qualifications, he has had a strong track record of coaching success while at Brighton, Strasburg, and in New Mexico. He also served in the United States Army for seven years.
When hired as AD last month, Cooper had said he wanted a hand in picking his successor. And with Giger, he said, he has been nothing but impressed from what he’s seen and heard.
“His DNA resonated with me a little bit in terms of how he coaches a team and really how he connects with kids,” Cooper said. “Then when we started calling around, at Strasburg, the administration there, and then at Brighton, it was a no-brainer. People usually don’t give that high of recommendations. Good as I’ve ever heard.”