John Steinmetz, a longtime La Salle assistant who stepped down last month as defensive coordinator, has returned as the head coach. He was announced Thursday as the successor to nine-year boss Drew Gordon.

"I really wasn't away that long," he said. "I thought about it quite a bit after Drew stepped away, talked it over with my family, and decided to put my hat in the ring."

Steinmetz, 56, was an assistant at the school for 34 years. He coached under Gordon, Joe Colistra, and John "Tex" Flannery. He is a member of La Salle's Class of 1977.

"I wouldn't say being a head coach is something I've aspired to," Steinmetz said. "The timing is right, and it just sort of worked out in terms of my family and work responsibilities."

A defensive back for the Explorers, Steinmetz began his first stint as a La Salle assistant in 1978. He was the defensive coordinator from 1984 to 1992 and from 2001 to 2014. "I have to also pay attention to the offense now," the Hatfield resident said with a laugh.

Under Gordon, La Salle went 91-26 (.778 winning percentage) and won six Catholic League titles, including five straight from 2008 to 2012. The squad went 14-1 and claimed the PIAA Class AAAA state crown in 2009.

"We had a great run under Drew, and I'd like to sustain that level of success," said Steinmetz, a chief technology officer at a financial services firm. "Our No. 1 goal is to win the Catholic League championship and then go from there."

Last season, the Explorers went 8-3 and, for the second straight year, fell to eventual state champ St. Joseph's Prep in the Catholic League final.