The resume Dane Johnson brought to the interview for any head football coaching position he sought certainly didn’t have his back.
But when you come out of a situation that the early 1990s three-sport Carroll standout experienced at Flower Mound High School, it probably begged the question of who was willing to give him a chance.
From 2012-2015, Johnson headed an inherited program that had never been known for football success. In its history, Flower Mound has produced only two playoff appearances.
Between 2012-2015 under Johnson, the Jaguars didn’t come close to the postseason. No season produced more than three wins. The Jaguars were 7-33 in his four seasons. Not surprisingly, Johnson was told he was longer that program’s coach shortly after the 2015 season.
Yet Saginaw offered an opportunity because of a relationship. Athletic director Brent Barker (a former Carroll baseball coach) went through the due diligence of checking with coaches and administrators to collect the context behind Johnson’s record.
Barker was satisfied. The Eagle-Mountain school district was satisfied. On March 28, Johnson was approved as Saginaw’s new head football coach. Johnson replaced Mike Peters.
“I’ve been in the business for 16 years and seven as a head coach,” Johnson said. “The relationships get the interviews. But that’s it. There are more people you have to convince who didn’t know me. I realized that they had to believe in who I was and why I would be successful.”
Johnson’s career marks the time. For longtime residents in this area who may have watched Johnson play in the early 1990s for Bob Ledbetter, Ken Cook and Steve Lineweaver, Johnson turns 41 in July.
While his name will be connected to his exploits at Carroll and then in college at Texas Tech, Johnson got into coaching because he wanted to show he had something to offer the game.
He didn’t mind taking on a challenge. When he arrived at Boerne, he guided the program to the postseason in his second season. It was the school’s fifth overall playoff appearance.
At Flower Mound, the team’s worst enemy was the company it kept. It shared the same district with Allen during its great state championship runs, the Plano schools and rival Flower Mound Marcus.
When the numbers aren’t there to compete week in and week out, you get a lot of long Friday nights. It’s probably pretty fair to presume that Flower Mound will continue to fight to shed its doormat image.
“I was surprised I was relieved,” Johnson said. “If you’re looking at wins and losses, then sure. But I felt like we were developing the program and the middle schools. You always know as a coach that not winning is a possibility. But if you take care of the other stuff, people will see that. But it just was not their vision.
“There always the opportunity where you want to compete. I had a lot to prove to myself. Any time you go through what I went through, it will make you stronger.”
Saginaw hasn’t exactly been a power. Since the school opened in 2006, the Rough Riders have managed only two winning seasons and three playoff appearances (they are 0-3). The expectations will be reasonable.
The school moves into a new 5A district that will include state power Aledo. After that, there’s a chance to win every Friday against the rest of the district including Saginaw Boswell, Saginaw Chisholm Trail, Justin Northwest, Northwest Eaton, White Settlement Brewer and Azle.
There will be spring football in May. Johnson needs to use the time to know what he has before fall camp starts. Saginaw has a non-district schedule of Burleson, Keller Fossil Ridge and Fort Worth South Hills.
“It’s a school that’s hungry and wants to do well.” Johnson said. “We want to establish the right attitude in the first couple of weeks. We want to make sure we are connecting with the kids. This is a school that’s under the radar.”