- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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He saw the excitement in his best friend but knew it wasn’t time. He figured the offer would come, the potential of a culmination of conversations started 20 years ago at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., but he didn’t want to take it.
Scott Dreisbach had always contemplated coaching but now, now wasn’t right. He had a good job in Houston in the oil and gas industry with Depco Power Systems. His family was settled.
Mike Rosenthal asked anyway. Dreisbach had been his quarterback at Penn High and the two went divergent paths for college -- Rosenthal to Notre Dame and then the NFL; Dreisbach to Michigan and then the NFL and Arena Football League. They both had ended up in Texas and Rosenthal landed his first head coaching gig, at Austin High School, in December.
"The two had been together that day, and Dreisbach saw the excitement. Then he got an offer to run Rosenthal’s offense. He said no.
I asked him immediately, ‘So, are you ready?’” Rosenthal said. “He’s like ‘No, no, no.’ I said it’s yours if you want it.”
Dreisbach didn’t want it at first. Rosenthal asked again a month later. Dreisbach said no. Round and round the two friends went with the same question.
What would it take for you to drop everything and change your career? To pull yourself away from a path with proven success to try something completely different, even if it was your dream going back to high school? Would it take one phone call? Five? Ten? The continual pleas of a best friend?
““He called me up and said ‘Man, I need ya,’” Dreisbach said. “So I talked about it, prayed about it and here I am. But you know what, it was something I wanted to do, always loved doing and it was, I know for a fact, if it were anybody else I wouldn’t have done it.
“But he’s one of my best friends and working with him is the perfect situation.”
This was, after all, what the Notre Dame and Michigan grads had talked about back in those days at Penn, even if it did take Rosenthal asking around 10 times and a conversation between Dreisbach and his wife, Mecca, and their 6-year-old son, Davis.
Selling oil and gas was good. Having a chance to take his son to school every day and having him around his job on a daily basis was better. So the next time Rosenthal asked -- Rosenthal said he thought by this time it was a 50-50 shot -- he changed his mind.
Dreisbach said yes.
“In the oil and gas industry, it was dad is here sometimes, dad is not here sometimes,” Dreisbach said. “I wanted [Davis] to be a part of what I do and there’s no better way than to be at practice kicking the balls around and being a part of coming to the office and being around players.
“That was a no-brainer.”
So was working with his best friend. Rosenthal was a first-time head coach. Dreisbach last called a high school play his last high school snap at Penn. He had done some playcalling in the Arena League, but hadn’t been a coach before and they’d be taking over a program that went 2-9 last season and hadn’t had a winning year since 2008.
The challenge difficult, they had their blueprint. Penn is one of the top programs in Indiana and in the Midwest, having won five state titles and been state runner-up five other times.
“A lot of the stuff we do here is patterned after what we did back then,” Rosenthal said. “It’s easier for me to implement them because he knows exactly what I want and what we want to do with the program.
“I don’t have to explain it to coaches that have never been around it. He knows exactly what I want.”
He is also learning how to coordinate on the high school level. Rosenthal, Dreisbach and Austin High are 0-3 this season but have played a tough schedule. They’ve scored points, but more than anything else, they are building for the future.
This is what they thought they’d end up doing as kids -- teammates and best friends turned college rivals and then close friends and teammates again teaching the next generation about football.
He saw the excitement in his best friend but knew it wasn’t time. He figured the offer would come, the potential of a culmination of conversations started 20 years ago at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind.