High School Sports

Coaches forged friendship

Over the past week, Gardner-Edgerton coach Marvin Diener and Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling have talked on the phone and sent text messages.

Even though their football teams, both 12-0, play each other today in the Class 5A championship game.

"We're really close friends," said Diener, who coached at Salina Central before becoming Gardner-Edgerton's coach in 2006.

"... We talk a lot, and this weekend, we were breaking down each other's (game) tapes. He asked where our kids were lined up in a certain formation. I told him and asked if he'd like me to send our whole playbook."

Diener paused to laugh, then continued, "That's how open we are. Obviously, I have a great respect for Randy."

It's mutual.

"There was no doubt in my mind that when he went to Gardner that they would be in this (title) game before long," Dreiling said. "He would will them into this game, whether they wanted to or not."

In Diener's second season at Gardner-Edgerton, the Johnson County school won a playoff game for the first time. While at Salina Central, Diener was 170-42 in 19 seasons with six state championships.

Dreiling, in his 13th season at Hutchinson, took over a program mired in a 26-game losing streak. The Salthawks have won five straight titles, including four in Class 6A.

The two are similar types —extremely intense, brutally honest.

There's no doubt that when they tell you something, they're telling it as they see it. You just might not like how it's being said.

The two have known each other for years, dating back to Dreiling's time as a Salina South assistant.

Diener even played a role in Dreiling taking the Hutchinson job.

"We talked a lot then. When he took the job, there had been quite a few good coaches not do too well at that job," Diener said. "I told Randy, 'There's really not a bad job. It just takes the right coach to make it good.'

"... He's the one who sold himself in the interview, but I believed he could go in there and do what a lot of coaches weren't able to do at Hutch. He's developed that program into the premier program in the state."

Football coaches are an intense bunch, so strong friendships can be rare within the coaching fraternity.

But, as Diener said, it doesn't have to be nasty. He remains friends with former Salina South coach Ken Stonebraker, even though their teams were bitter rivals.

Dreiling adds that this game is about preparing their own players and giving them a chance to win. Not about two friends coaching across the field from each other.

"In the end, it's not me against Marvin," he said. "If it was between me and Marvin, I'd whip him because he's a lot more out of shape."

Told of Dreiling's joke, Diener laughed.

And he laughed again when told that Dreiling said, "Honestly, I'm one of the few guys that can stand him."

"We've always said it's a good thing that we're friends because no one else likes us," Diener said. "I would say he's right and it's reciprocal."

Diener, who admitted that Dreiling's better at golf than him —"But I'm getting better," he said — had his own point to make to Dreiling.

"The thing about Randy, he's getting old, too," Diener said. "I don't know if he's looked in the mirror. There's no question.

"As for him whipping me, I don't know what it would look like in a wrestling match other than ugly. And if we ran an open 400, he'd have to spot me quite a ways."

Today on the field, neither will spot the other anything.

But bet that they'll be talking in the future. On the phone, on the cell, on the golf course.

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