FELTON—Dave Poetzinger, who has spent the past 28 years as a coach at San Lorenzo Valley High School, has put on the headset for the final time.
The Cougars’ lead man coached his final game on April 17 against Harbor High. His student-athletes gave him a nice going-away present: a 40-8 victory over the Pirates on senior day in the annual David Maze jersey game.
Poetzinger in a recent interview said he was savoring his final moments on the sidelines.
“I’m not stepping away because I don’t love it,” he said. “I’m not even stepping away because I don’t have the energy to do it. I just think it’s the right moment.”
The 53-year old Chicago native has been the head varsity coach at SLV for the past eight seasons (2013-2021), notching a 38-37 overall record. He was 21-20 in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League and Pacific Coast Athletic League play. He made the Central Coast Section playoffs in 2014 and 2015.
Poetzinger was selected by fellow coaches within the league as the 2014 SCCAL Coach of the Year.
Prior to becoming the head skipper, he served one year (1993) coaching the JV team before moving up to varsity defensive coordinator, offensive line, defensive line and outside linebackers coach for 19 seasons (1994-2012) under legendary coach Doug Morris.
With Poetzinger as the defensive coordinator, SLV recorded a 157-62-9 overall record and went 95-21-5 in SCCAL play, winning 11 league championships during that span.
The Cougars made 14 Central Coast Section playoff appearances and appeared in six championship games. They won three Division IV championships, including back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000, and in 2002 when they went unbeaten with a perfect 13-0 overall record for the only time in the program’s history.
Andy Levitre, an SLV alumni and former NFL offensive lineman, was part of that championship team. But before stepping on the field he knew who Poetzinger was because of his older brother, Erick, who played for him, as well.
“I could already sense the respect factor that [Poetzinger] had with all of the players before I’d even started working with him,” Levitre said.
The former Cougars’ two-way lineman said at first he was intimidated by Poetzinger. But, he also remembers how his former coach was a huge motivator, and that he always found a way to get the best out of his players.
Poetzinger’s background as an English teacher for the past 30 years also helped him connect with the team at every level, Levitre said.
“[Poetzinger] puts in so much time and effort off the field, afterhours to break down film and just give it his all,” Levitre said. “That’s a great quality to have and it’s hard to come by. I have a lot of respect for him in that regard.”
Both of them kept a relationship after Levitre graduated, at times chatting about whatever was going on at the time, especially Levitre’s career in the NFL. He said he admired Poetzinger for making the effort to catch at least one of his games when he was playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
“I’m just a product of what Dave [Poetzinger] helped me accomplish and the mindset that they’ve given me to go get it,” Levitre said.
SLV’s Brodie Brownlee scored three touchdowns and ran for 195 yards in a win against Pajaro Valley High on April 10. The senior running back has spent the past two years playing for Poetzinger and his experience has been unlike any other.
“It’s like nothing else,” Brownlee said. “He knows everything about the game, he loves everybody. He’s basically like a father figure on the field.”
Brownlee mentioned that Poetzinger isn’t the type of coach that will get in a player’s face, but instead he picks them up and helps them get back on their feet.
He also recalls how Poetzinger had the ability to recruit students to play the sport but reminded them that it wasn’t all about winning the game.
“It’s about community and family, he just teaches us life lessons through football and it’s just great,” Brownlee said.
Poetzinger has been involved in football for 41 years, 11 as a player and 30 as a coach. He hit the 300-mark of games coached with SLV when they played King City High in November 2019.
That’s when he knew it was time to go, he said. But the thought of stepping down didn’t hit Poetzinger until recently, as he was preparing a game plan for Pajaro Valley High.
“Is it hitting me? Yeah, it’s hitting me but I’m blessed to have done that for that long and I’m blessed to have done it here,” he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
During the 19 years Poetzinger served as Coach Doug Morris’ defensive coordinator, SLV recorded:
- (157-62-9) overall record – 71.1% win percentage.
- (95-21-5) SCCAL record – 80.6% win percentage.
- 11 SCCAL championships (’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’05, ’06, ’09, ’10)
- 14 CCS playoff appearances (’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’09, ’10).
- 6 Central Coast Section championship game appearances (’94, ’97, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02).
- 3 Central Coast Section championships (1999, 2000, 2002).
- A perfect (13-0) season in 2002 for the only time in school history.
- SLV was named California Division III State Champions in the final poll by Cal-Hi Sports Magazine in 2000.
- In 2005, SLV became the smallest public school in CCS history to be placed in the CCS Open Playoffs (Open Division is the top eight teams in the section).
- From 1996-2002, SLV won 7 straight SCCAL titles, held a (46-0-2) league record, and a (77-9-3) overall record during those 7 seasons. The 48-game unbeaten league streak is one of the longest in California state football history.
- Coached offensive lineman Andy Levitre, who played for the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.
- Coached linebacker Jordan Beck, who played for the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos.