Before Darrin Fisher took the interview, he talked with his wife and told her he knew he was going to get the job.
“I just had confidence,” Fisher said. “I think all the things they were looking for was all of my strengths. I just had a good feeling.”
Fisher, the former Goddard High School defensive coordinator and baseball coach, has been named the next Eisenhower head football coach, replacing Marc Marinelli, who resigned after the 2018 season. Fisher was a finalist for the Goddard job available after last season, but didn’t get it.
Now he will coach the Lions’ crosstown rival in his first head gig since he was at 8-man Canton-Galva. He said he knows that won’t sit well with some.
“There was some hesitation when it first came open,” Fisher said. “I know it’s a good spot, good community with some good athletes, but initially I was like, ‘What’s that going to be like?’”
Tom Beason, the man who earned the Goddard job after Scott Vang became the El Dorado athletic director for the 2018-19 school year, said there is no ill will toward Fisher — until they play each other next season.
Beason said he and Fisher are “best friends,” and Beason even encouraged Fisher to apply. After all they achieved at Goddard, Beason told Fisher he knew he was ready.
Last season, the Lions reached the Class 4A state championship game against Bishop Miege. Few anticipated such a run with a first-year coach, first-year starting quarterback and an overall discrepancy in talent.
But Goddard beat No. 1 seeded and undefeated McPherson 15-14 on a last-minute interception in the end zone. Fisher was the designer of one of the best defenses in Kansas.
“We knew coming into the season as coaches that we would have to put on our best game,” Fisher said. “We had to find out as coaches, how good are we really when we don’t have a stacked deck? And I think that validated it for us here, saying what we’re doing is right and a good recipe for success.”
Fisher will take over a group of Tigers that finished 3-6 and lost 20-7 in the first round of the 2018 Class 5A playoffs.
Marinelli finished his six years as coach with a 22-38 record. He took Eisenhower to two regional championships, one sectional title and a semifinal appearance (in 2015). After his resignation, he said he believed he had taken the program as far as he could.
Marinelli has since been hired as the defensive coordinator at Wichita Northwest, which reached the 5A state championship game.
Fisher said he will change things up at Eisenhower. He said to expect the spread offense.
“I probably have watched them more than any other coach besides their own coaches,” he said. “I know they have athletes, and when you have special athletes like they have, they need space and and ways to get them the ball more frequently.
“The flexbone used to give me fits, but I don’t know it well enough to run it. My big thing is I want to showcase athletes.”
Fisher is also the Goddard baseball coach. Under his guidance, current players are committed to Cowley and Johnson County community colleges. He said he will finish the school year fulfilling his Goddard duties. He will not serve as Eisenhower’s baseball coach this season, but said he will help however he can.
Fisher said he is focused on football and getting to work with a program he believes has a chance to be successful this fall.
“I think building a program up from the bottom is what I’m most excited about,” he said. “With the knowledge I know now, I feel like I’m in a position where I can be successful. In my first head-coaching job, I was just excited to have a job. If I could go back, I’d whoop my own ass.”