For the past few years, Tom Hoover had been telling Tom Danosky that Danosky would be Allen Park’s next head football coach.
It made sense. Danosky had been the starting quarterback on Hoover’s first team as head coach, and he had become a trusted assistant the past 13 years.
“I would laugh at him when he was dealing with something,” Danosky said. “Then he’d say: ‘Just wait, your turn’s coming.’ ”
Danosky’s turn has come.
Hoover resigned in April after 20 seasons calling the shots, which followed 10 seasons as former coach Ed Bellas’ assistant.
Hoover’s resignation caught many by surprise, but when you consider Hoover suffered a heart attack before the 2014 season, it made sense.
It’s a good opportunity for Danosky, 37, but it comes with high expectations. The Jaguars have become one of the top programs in the state, qualifying for the state playoffs 15 of the past 17 years. Besides 4-5 seasons in 2008-09, their last losing season came in 1981.
And now Danosky is running the show with no safety net.
“That’s the scary part,” he said. “Everything I’ve done in football has been because of Hoov. Now doing it without him … is a little different. I talk to him daily. I’ve learned so much. It was privileged to play for and coach with a lot of good coaches.”
There has never been a shortage of quality assistants at Allen Park. Aides like Jim Buttson and Bob Marten Sr., former head coaches at other schools, made things easier for Hoover.
“It’s quite a tradition, and that’s one of the things I love about it,” Danosky said. “That’s why I wanted to come back and teach and coach here. We’ve got a lot of alumni on the staff. Everybody’s got that same mentality of wanting to be a part of that tradition to continue.”
Like all good head coaches, Hoover spent time coaching the assistants, preparing them to be head coaches. He especially spent time with Danosky, explaining what he did and why he did it.
“Every year I’ve been on varsity, he’d been giving me more responsibility and more responsibility,” Danosky said. “When he had that heart attack, it was a lot, lot more, so I knew it was getting closer.”
Danosky went through the entire interview process before being named head coach, but the choice was a no-brainer from the get-go.
Being a graduate and a 13-year veteran of the coaching staff meant his hiring would assure continuity in the program.
“I think the big thing was like when Hoov got the job,” Danosky said. “He said we’ve got something good going here, and nobody wanted to blow it up. We wanted to keep it in-house, for sure.”
Now Danosky has the keys to the house. He said he isn’t nervous, but wait until 4 p.m. Thursday, when the Jaguars open the season against Taylor Kennedy in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
“I keep telling the players, this is not about me and not about the coaches, it’s about them,” he said. “They’re the ones that carry on the tradition. They’re the ones that continue the legacy.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1. Be sure that you follow Freep Sports on Twitter (@freepsports) and Instagram and like us on on Facebook.