HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Damien hires Derby to coach football
Brian Derby is used to putting out fires.
Now he's hoping to light a fire under the Damien football program.
The school announced yesterday that Derby, a firefighter by profession, is the new coach. He succeeds Dean Nakagawa, who was released after the football season.
Derby, 43, is well-known for his free offensive-line clinics. His teaching has influenced the techniques of many athletes at the high school and college levels both in Hawaii and on the mainland.
He was mentioned as a possible candidate when the Kamehameha coaching position opened, and was also a potential candidate when the job at Saint Louis was available in 2003.
He pulled his name out of the hat on both occasions and now is coaching at the same school as his brother, Terry, who became the new baseball coach recently.
"I never gave it any thought at first. I was happy for him taking over the baseball program. How I am with football, he is with baseball. Really attentive about the finer details," Derby said.
This is his first head-coaching position, quite a task in the tough Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
"I'm not going there to lose. I'm not used to losing, and I don't plan to start. The people I'm bringing will take care of these kids, love 'em and work to be the best that they can be," he said.
The quality of character is a big element, Derby noted, regarding everyone in the program from top to bottom.
"Dean brought in good kids. They're in college, which means they're qualified. He did the job, helped them get an opportunity for a better life," Derby said. "All this football is not just about winning. I want to win in life, and I want these kids to be successful in life. I'm not looking for All-State athletes. I want All-American people."
Derby's passion for teaching offensive linemen doesn't mean Damien will be a run-first football team. He spent much time in recent years working with Kelii Morgado and his Kauai Red Raiders squad.
That team uses the run-and-shoot. Damien was a power running team during Nakagawa's era.
"That's definitely out. We will definitely throw the ball a lot more. I've always been a guy who's flexible. In the ILH, you can't just line up with two tight ends and tee it off," he said.
"We're putting away the Sherman tank and bringing out the Stealth fighters. My goal is to take Damien to another level."
During his time at Punahou under then-head coach Dan Morrison, balance was key.
"Good teams will shut down the run. If you can't throw, then it's gonna be a long game. At Punahou, we could throw for 200 yards and run for 100," he said.
Developing the passing game, he added, is a matter of making a commitment to it.
"(Damien) never threw the ball. If you throw the ball, the quarterback gets more work. If you hand off all the time, and he has to throw pinpoint passes all the time," Derby said. "There are some good skill guys there who can become good quarterbacks."
Derby said that the coaching staff is being formed and wouldn't rule out the possibility of enlisting the help of athletic director Pohai Lee, a former offensive coordinator at Baldwin.
"I'm surprised guys last year didn't tap him for some answers. He's been around football since birth. You can never tap enough knowledge from someone like him," Derby said. "I love learning the latest things every single minute."
Derby is married with two children, 16 and 11.