A new addition to the Fairbanks High School football program has a very familiar face as the Panthers prepare for the 2019 season.
Former head coach Dave Gebhart has returned to the program for his third stint with the team.
Gebhart originally joined the Fairbanks district as a teacher and assistant football coach in 1996.
He served three years as head coach Ted Wierzbicki’s defensive coordinator.
During that time, the Panthers earned two trips to the state playoffs.
Gebhart took over as head coach after Wierzbicki stepped down. During his first two years as head coach, he guided the Panthers to a 19-4 record and another two post-season berths.
Gebhart resigned as head coach after suffering a serious traffic accident and also due to his father’s poor health.
He later taught school in the Newark area and returned to the football sidelines as an assistant coach at Newark High School, Newark Catholic and Columbus St. Charles, where Wierzbicki was head coach.
Gebhart returned to Fairbanks in 2012 as a teacher and head coach when Morgan Cotter left to take the head coaching position at Marysville.
His second stint as head coach was more of a struggle, as the Panthers went 8-22.
Gebhart then served as running backs coach at Dublin Jerome High School, while still teaching in the Fairbanks district.
Last winter, he approached FHS head coach Patrick Cotter about returning to the Panther program.
Cotter said he was more than happy to add someone with Gebhart’s coaching pedigree to the staff.
When asked why he wanted to return to Panther football, Gebhart said, “It feels pretty comfortable, since I teach in the district. I know most of these guys because I taught them in (sixth grade) class.
“Patrick had a position open on his staff and it’s convenient to coach here,” he said. “I don’t have to leave here to get somewhere else to coach.”
Gebhart has stepped in to coach FHS running backs.
He is taking the place of Mark Geer, who resigned from his assistant’s position earlier this year.
“I’ll also work with Eric (Leeth) and Hunter (Burnett) to get the offense going,” Gebhart said.
With his extensive background of coaching on Fairbanks’ defensive side of the ball, Gebhart was asked if the transition to offense was difficult.
“Not really,” he said. “Coaching football is coaching football.
“Besides, I’ve been coaching on offense the past few years at Dublin Jerome.”
Gebhart said his role with the Panthers is simple.
“I’m going to coach my position and help the team any way I can,” he said. “We’re trying to make the guys better football players every day.”
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