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Many new coaches to call shots for first time

David Goricki
The Detroit News
First-year head coach Tom Danosky tosses the football to one of his players.

Allen Park — Tom Danosky was the starting quarterback on Allen Park’s state semifinal team 20 years ago, leading the offense for Tom Hoover during his first year as the Jaguars head coach.

After playing at Alma College, Danosky returned to join Hoover’s staff in 2002, eventually being promoted to offensive coordinator several years ago.

Danosky will be making his head coaching debut for Allen Park Friday (4 p.m.) at Wayne State when the Jaguars play Taylor Kennedy in the Prep Kickoff Classic.

Danosky, 37, knows he’s replacing a coaching legend in Hoover who stepped down after guiding Allen Park to a 178-49 record, a Division 3 state championship game appearance in 2003 and four state semifinal games. It finished 10-2 last season with a share of the Downriver League title, along with a spot in the Division 3 regional final.

Hoover took over as head coach in 1996, the year after Allen Park reached the Class BB state title game. Hoover joined Allen Park’s coaching staff in 1986 and was the offensive coordinator during the ’95 season.

“He was always prepared,” said Hoover of Danosky. “He had the sheet on his armband (plays), always asking questions. Then, when he became a teacher here he was always prepared. He’ll do a great job. The program’s in great hands.”

Hoover pointed out that Bobby Martin is Allen Park’s defensive coordinator. Martin’s father, the late Bob Sr. was the defensive coordinator when Hoover just started as head coach.

“I’m proud of what they’re doing,” said Hoover. “I feel the program’s in good shape. Tommy has 95 percent of the staff intact and I’ve heard he’s added a few former Jaguars to his staff. He understands the tradition. He knows the people in town. I’m not going to interfere, but I’ll be around if they want to talk.”

Hoover will remain a history and English teacher at the high school.

Danosky will find himself in unfamiliar territory … on the field Friday, calling the shots instead of being in the press box like in past years as an assistant or coordinator.

“It’s different, a lot more to think about, but I’m fortunate enough to have a great staff and good senior leadership,” Danosky said.

“We were more co-offensive coordinators, he (Hoover) worked more with the running game and I worked more with the passing game, but as far as the offense and the stuff we’ll be running, it’s the same. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Coach Hoov said to do what’s comfortable and this is what’s comfortable to me.”

Mike Giannone became a coaching legend at Macomb Dakota, guiding the Cougars to back-to-back Division 1 state championships in 2006 and ’07. He had an 18-year record of 158-51 at the school and the program was a model of consistency, earning 15 consecutive state playoff appearances and winning the MAC Red title the last four years when they went 38-9 and advanced to the regional title game three of those seasons.

Giannone is replacing a legend in his own right in Paul Verska, who stepped down after last year’s 6-4 record at DeLaSalle. Verska led the Pilots to the Division 2 state title two years ago and state final appearances in 2006 and ’08.

Giannone retired from Dakota on March 30, then took the job at DeLaSalle April 11

“The Catholic League has the same qualities as the MAC, definitely a good, competitive league,” Giannone said.

Giannone is thrilled to have Syracuse-bound running back Allen Stritzinger to work with. Stritzinger gained 173 yards in the state championship game as a sophomore, but was hampered by an ankle injury for the majority of last year. He is healthy again and ready to put on a show when De La Salle plays at Division 2 state runner up Lowell Friday night.

Giannone feels Greg Baur is ready to step in and lead Dakota’s program after being his defensive coordinator since 2005.

Baur is looking forward to his head coaching debut when Dakota plays host to two-time defending Division 2 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Thursday night.

“I’m looking forward to the new expanded role,” Baur said. “I feel very good about our team. I know St. Mary’s will be a huge challenge for us.”

CHANGING TIMES

East Grand Rapids

Former coach: Peter Stuursma – seven state titles in 16 years (five straight Division 3 titles, 2006-10).

New coach: Casey Longo, the former offensive coordinator takes over for Stuursma, who is now head coach at Hope College.

Mendon

Former coach: John Schwartz – 10 state titles in 27 years, overall record of 274-48.

New coach: Bobby Kretschman, 10-year assistant coach at Mendon.

Warren De La Salle

Former coach: Paul Verska – 2014 Division 2 state champs, 2006 and 2008 state semifinalist.

New coach: Mike Giannone, former Macomb Dakota head coach who won Division 1 state titles in 2006 and 2007.

Macomb Dakota

Former coach: Mike Giannone – Division 1 state champions in 2006 and 2007; 158-51 record in 18 years.

New coach: Greg Baur, defensive coordinator at Dakota since 2005.

Allen Park

Former coach: Tom Hoover – 178-49 record in 20 years; 2003 Division 3 state finalist.

New coach: Tom Danosky, Allen Park assistant since 2002.

Detroit King

Former coach: Dale Harvel – passed away this summer, guided King to Division 2 state title last year with 14-0 record.

New coach: Tyrone Spencer, King defensive coordinator since 2010.