Dan Essler

(New London-Spicer) -- After 21 seasons at the helm of one of the top Class AAA football programs in the state New London-Spicer Wildcats Head Coach Dan Essler announced after his team's 26-7 win at Minnewaska that that was his last game as head coach.

With last night's victory Essler led his team to 16 straight seasons of finishing with a .500 win percentage or better, including an undefeated 14-0 record in 2009 that saw his team claim a state Class AAA Title. Essler would get his team back into the state final in 2013 and 2014 as well.

Essler said he was blessed to have been able to coach so many great athletes and students over the years including his sons Jacob and Adam who both played running back, with Jacob being a member of the title team. He also coached NFL wide receiver Brandon Zylstra who would go on to play for the Minnesota Vikings.

Essler said he had been thinking about retiring for a couple years and just decided the time was right.

Essler finishes his career as the head coach with 133 wins and 82 losses, but the biggest win of his life came when he beat cancer.

He thanked all of his long time assistant coaches and said he hoped one of them would take over the program following him like he followed Louis Pirotta all those years ago. He also hinted at staying involved with the program at a younger level.

Congratulations to a great coach and an even better man, Dan Essler.