Prior to accepting the job as the new McLean High School head football coach, Joe Cockerham held a variety of positions on different high school and college staffs.
Cockerham, 34, believes those experiences will help him build a consistent winner of the Highlanders at McLean. His most recent job was as the head coach for three years of the Class 4 Heritage High School team in Leesburg.
Cockerham saw that team improve from 1-9 his first season, to a 9-3 playoff team last fall (8-2 in the regular season) that lost by a point in the region-tournament semifinals to finish 1-1 in the postseason. One of the reasons the Herndon resident is coming to McLean is he is anxious to take on the challenge of coaching at a bigger Class 6 school.
“It’s hard to leave Heritage and the players there, but I am excited to get going at McLean,” Cockerham said. “I like what I have heard and seen about the program and the Liberty District they play in. I know they have some good young players coming back. The Heritage players bought into what we wanted to do, and that same thing can happen at McLean.”
Cockerham’s coaching interest began about age 12 when he became a student-manager of a high-school team. He attended Field High School in Kent, Ohio.
His coaching experiences include a learning experience with an 0-10 private high-school team and other high-school staffs in Ohio. He worked on the staff of multiple-time Division III national-champion University of Mount Union team, spent time on the Case Western Reserve University staff, as well as at North Carolina Wesleyan.
Before becoming the head coach at Heritage, Cockerham was an assistant at Colgan High in Manassas for two years.
He believes all of those experiences have prepared him to succeed as a coach.
“I learned from a lot of very good coaches,” Cockerham said.
At McLean, Cockerham plans to call the offensive plays and hire a defensive coordinator to do the same on the other side of the ball. He will become a full-time special-education teacher at McLean this fall.
Cockerham succeeds John Scholla, who coached McLean for five seasons. The Highlanders finished 3-7 this past season.