Coen calls it a ca­reer

Long­time coach says he’s been di­ag­nosed with early-on­set Alzheimer’s.

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Keith Groller [email protected] Twit­ter @Kei­thGroller 610-820-6740

Long­time Le­high head foot­ball coach Andy Coen re­signed Fri­day, cit­ing health rea­sons,

“Life has thrown me a curve­ball . ... It is best for me to elim­i­nate stress and con­cen­trate on my health.” — Andy Coen

En­ter­ing the an­nual ri­valry game against Lafayette last month, sev­eral Le­high foot­ball play­ers talked about want­ing to win, not only for them­selves, but also for coach Andy Coen.

Coen needed one more vic­tory to tie Bill Leck­onby for the most wins in pro­gram his­tory.

Le­high came through with a 34-3 vic­tory at Fisher Stadum.

Coen, 54, a two-time Pa­triot League coach of the year, re­signed as Le­high's foot­ball coach on Fri­day, end­ing a run that in­cluded 85 vic­to­ries and five league ti­tles.

In a re­lease is­sued by the school, Coen has “elected to step away to spend more time with his fam­ily and ad­dress a health is­sue.” He steps away at this time fol­low­ing a di­ag­no­sis of early-on­set Alzheimer's dis­ease.

His de­ci­sion will sad­den many close to the pro­gram who re­spected Coen's down-to-earth style and the way he put his play­ers first through good times and bad.

“Life has thrown me a curve­ball,” Coen said in the re­lease. “I am in the early stages and it is best for me to elim­i­nate stress and con­cen­trate on my health and well-be­ing. It is an op­por­tu­nity for me to spend more time with my fam­ily. Coach­ing is a 24/7 job and does not al­low a lot of time for fam­ily. My wife, Laura, and my chil­dren, Molly, Nolan and Finn have sup­ported me through­out my ca­reer and are my big­gest fans. This is a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for all of us, but it is what is best at this time.”

In 13 sea­sons, Coen coached 135 All-Pa­triot League se­lec­tions, six Pa­triot League ma­jor award win­ners, 25 Al­lAmer­ica se­lec­tions, 10 CoSIDA Aca­demic All-District hon­orees, two CoSIDA Aca­demic All-Amer­i­cans and 236 Pa­triot League Aca­demic Honor Roll se­lec­tions.

“More than his suc­cess on the field, Andy has al­ways rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of his role as an ed­u­ca­tor and de­vel­oper of young men,” Le­high ath­letic di­rec­tor Joe Ster­rett said. “He is deeply re­spected by the men who played for him and those who worked with or for him, and by his many col­leagues in the Le­high Ath­let­ics Depart­ment. He will al­ways have our grat­i­tude, friend­ship and sup­port.”

Fit­tingly, Coen's fi­nal game and vic­tory as Le­high's coach came against Lafayette on Nov. 17. Coen went 9-4 in 13 meet­ings with the Leop­ards, high­lighted by a 2017 win that clinched Le­high's 12th Pa­triot League crown and an over­time win in 2009 that de­nied the Leop­ards a share of the league ti­tle. Of the 11 classes in school his­tory to go 4-0 over their ca­reers against Lafayette, three (2012, 2013 and 2019) did so un­der Coen's guid­ance.

“To­day is one of the tough­est days in my coach­ing ca­reer that spans 30-plus years,” Coen said. “I never thought that when I took a job as an in­tern at Wi­dener in 1986, that I would be mak­ing this a pro­fes­sion.

“I've truly been blessed over the years to have coached at great schools where I was able to hone my skills and my pas­sion for coach­ing. I worked hard and was re­warded for my knowl­edge and abil­i­ties as I worked up the coach­ing lad­der. Be­com­ing a head coach was al­ways a dream and to be here at Le­high for the past 13 sea­sons, I was truly ‘liv­ing the dream.'”

Le­high said that long­time de­fen­sive line and as­sis­tant head coach Don­nie Roberts, who left coach­ing at Al­len­town Cen­tral Catholic to join Coen's first staff in Jan­uary 2006, will guide the pro­gram through a tran­si­tional phase.

The re­lease also said that the Le­high Ath­let­ics Depart­ment will im­me­di­ately launch a search for a suc­ces­sor.

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

Le­high foot­ball coach Andy Coen has stepped down af­ter 13 sea­sons. He fin­ishes with a 85-64 record at Le­high and tied Bill Leck­onby for the most vic­to­ries in Moun­tain Hawks his­tory. He was 9-4 against Lafayette.

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