Gabe Bowley on sideline

Gabe Bowley is the new coach for the Brookville Raiders varsity football program. The 2006 DuBois Area High School graduate and current physical education teacher at the high school was assistant the past seven seasons. Bowley replaces Scott Park who stepped down after last fall’s season.

BROOKVILLE — Gabe Bowley always had blue in his blood.

Bowley, a physical education teacher at Brookville Area High School and assistant football coach for the Raiders since 2017, was approved unanimously by the Brookville School Board of Directors Monday night to replace Scott Park who stepped down after his eighth season.

The 2006 DuBois Area High School graduate has strong Brookville ties. His father Dan was a standout Raiders athlete in the early 1970s and his uncle Dick, a star quarterback in the late 1960s, was inducted into the Brookville Area High School Hall of Fame in 2021.

Bowley’s mother Jill was an elementary teacher at Brookville for 30-plus years, so while Bowley grew up in Reynoldsville, he was always aware of his family’s Brookville roots.

“It’s exciting. They’re ecstatic, I’m ecstatic,” Bowley said earlier this week. “My uncle Dick sent me a text. He sent a picture to me wearing a Brookville shirt and he’s smiling from ear to ear.

“My dad’s been great and we’ve really had some great talks about it. So many of the lessons they learned here are the lessons they’ve taught me growing up and the lessons that guided me through sports and life and everything along those lines. But in the same sense it made me comfortable enough to take on this position and to come in here and bring some of the old of Brookville plus the other experiences I’ve learned from the staff and teachers here.”

Bowley wrestled and played football and baseball along with some track and field at DuBois where he started his high school coaching career. He wrestled in the Brookville elementary system as a youngster and his older brother Mark was the god son of the late Lenny Ferraro, who was a close friend with his father.

“I always lean on how I got here and with my dad and uncle being from Brookville,” Bowley said.

Bowley, a 2010 Slippery Rock University graduate as an education major, first landed in Brookville as a long-term substitute physical education teacher in January of 2016. He was already on the football staff at his alma mater in DuBois as a defensive line coach.

Before he was out of college, Bowley started coaching in the youth program at Reynoldsville, serving as an assistant coach under long-time and still active coach Scott Wolfgang for the Reynoldsville Falcons. He then moved into the high school ranks at the junior high level before moving up to a varsity spot.

When Beavers coach Frank Varischetti’s tenure there ended before the fall of 2017, then-Raiders head coach Scott Park asked Varischetti to join the Raiders staff as offensive coordinator and Bowley came along with him.

“It made teaching the system at Brookville a whole lot easier,” said Bowley, who moved to the offensive line coach position where he’s been up to this point. “Frankie could’ve done it all, but I knew his line terminologies and his formations, his play calls, so I just jumped from the defensive side at DuBois to the offense.”

The Varischetti spread offense featured freshman Jack Krug starting that fall and the Raiders were able to start a run that has continued with six straight non-losing seasons.

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“We knew there was potential for Jack as a freshman,” Bowley said. “There was expectation of success with Frank coming in as offensive coordinator and they just merged seamlessly all at the right time. It was a fun transition, for sure.”

The Raiders were 9-2 in 2017 and played for a D9 Class 2A title in 2020, finishing 7-1. Last fall, the Raiders stumbled out of the gate with injuries hampering their efforts before finishing strong at 6-6 after reaching the D9 finals again.

Eventually, Bowley was hired as a full-time phys-ed teacher by the school district, although he served as the district’s swimming instructor at Hickory Grove Elementary Scool for four years before moving to the high school for this school year.

So Bowley is in the building, around his players and he plans to continue with the same blueprint that Park laid down in previous years as far as the coaching staff makeup. Expect the staff to have a very similar look once positions are approved this spring by the School Board.

“That’s highly important and it’s an all-star coaching staff,” said Bowley, who is already helping run the team’s off-season weight training at the field house five days a week. “The core we have here I wouldn’t trade for anything with the experience and knowledge. We all work well together and we’re able to bounce ideas off each other and hold each other accountable.

“Scott’s delegation of duties with the staff, that’s a huge credit to him and working with him last seven years, I’ll continue that with the program with assistant coaches, trusting their ability to make calls. It was invaluable.”

Brookville Athletic Director Dave Osborne echoed Bowley’s thoughts on the staff makeup.

“Coach Park put together an amazing staff,” Osborne said. “We were lucky that a coach like Gabe Bowley was willing to step in and take the reins. With his experience and leadership skills we are very optimistic about the future of raiders football.”

Bowley appreciates what he’s seen from the administration outside of hiring him for the head coaching position, one of the other big moves is the decision to install artificial turf at the football stadium.

“They’re putting commitment into athletes and see the importance as I do,” Bowley said. “So many of these kids are in school and that’s what they thrive on. Teaching here, the days go by a lot faster during football season and I’m here longer than any other part of the school year. It gives you something else to wake up for and drive toward.

“The administration has been great across the board. (Superintendant) Dr. May and I have a good relationship and I put a ton of trust into him and his hires since he’s been here and it’s absolutely top-notch … It made it super-easy for me to transition here to the high school when Shawn Deemer was hired as assistant principal. Mr. Deemer was my high school football coach when I was in high school. It’s been great to have that relationship coming in already with a level of trust and commitment to one another that’s made my transition much easier.”

Bowley is married to Brittany and the couple lives in DuBois with their three children. Jude is 7 and in first grade, Arlyn is in Kindergarten and Ryder is three years old.

Bowley becomes just Raiders’ fourth head coach in the past 33 years and 19th overall since the program re-started in 1929.

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