Bruce Kozerski earned a mechanical engineering degree in college, but after a 12-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals he became a math teacher and football coach at Holy Cross High School, which is marking the 20th anniversary of its football program.

Kozerski, 55, has been head football coach for most of that time, leading the Indians to a Class 2A state championship in 2011 and the state semi-finals last year.

“I never get involved in anything I don’t put my heart and soul into,” says Kozerski, known as “Mr. Versatile” while anchoring the Bengals O-line. “But I had no idea how long it would last and, of course, no idea it would turn into something this deep and enjoyable.”

He adds, “It might not have been my plan but it was certainly God’s plan.”

When his Bengals career ended in 1995, Kozerski had a contracting business and did radio for the Bengals for a few years when Northern Kentucky builder Ted Arlinghaus, board president at Holy Cross, asked him to help the co-ed school develop a football program.

Kozerski was an assistant under head coach John Wysong when the team began playing in 1998. In 2004, Kozerski succeeded Wysong as head coach. Wysong planned to move down to coach the freshman team but suffered a heart attack and died before the season began.

“He was phenomenal guy,” says Kozerski. “I knew a lot about football but he taught me a lot about kids and I’m better for it.”

Kozerski, who has a master’s degree in education from Xavier University, teaches several calculus courses at Holy Cross.

Asked what’s more difficult—coaching high school football or teaching high school math—Kozerski laughs and says, “They both have their challenges, but it’s a real pleasure to teach these kids. They’re very talented and they take to it like a sponge.”

Holy Cross is a small school, with just over 400 students, but it attracts versatile athletes and that can be an advantage, Kozerski says.

“We’re getting the athlete that wants to play football, basketball and baseball and couldn’t do it at other schools,” he says. “It has made a difference for them and it has made a huge difference for us as a small school.”

Kozerski’s NFL career ended long before his players were born and he’s not sure it matters to them.

“That was a whole generation ago,” he says. “Their parents grew up watching the Bengals, but (today’s students) don’t know much about that era.”

In June, Kozerski, an alternate to three Pro Bowls in 1988, 1989 and 1990 and a member of the 1988 Super Bowl team, was inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame and many of his current and former players and their families went to Lexington for the ceremony.

“It was really meaningful to see all those people because I have a passion for football and Holy Cross. It’s nice to know I’m still appreciated for playing the great game of football.”

To receive more articles from NKY Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: