SAN ANTONIO — Danny Padron couldn’t resist returning to the game he loves.
Three-and-a-half years after resigning as head football coach at Texas Lutheran, Padron has come out of retirement to return to the sideline and take the same job at Antonian High School.
Antonian Athletic Director Devlyn Lovell confirmed Padron's hiring Saturday afternoon.
"Danny has got loads of experience, obviously," Lovell said. "He was actually a coach at my high school when I was at Clark, and he's just an outstanding man and fantastic coach. We're just so excited to have him as part of our program."
Padron succeeds Van Fuschak, who went 63-37 in nine seasons at Antonian before retiring in February.
Padron said Saturday that Bryan Dausin, another former Greater San Antonio high school coach, will be his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Dausin, who has been defensive line coach at TLU the past two seasons, led Roosevelt to a state championship in 1995. He also was head coach at Marshall (1997-2001) and Warren (2002-2017) before joining Carl Gustafson's staff at TLU in 2018.
Padron, 68, had a long career in the high school ranks, including two stints at Clark and one each at Judson and O’Connor, before going to TLU in 2010.
“That passion just never leaves you,” Padron said. “I realized that after three years of being out of the game, I really missed it. I missed the relationships with the kids, coaches, teachers and staff. It's just a community thing. I'm in good health and still have that eagerness to compete."
Padron coached at TLU for seven seasons before retiring after the 2016 season. The Bulldogs went 40-30 and made the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2014 under Padron, losing in the first round.
In the end, Padron figured Antonian was an ideal school for him to resume his career.
"I’ve been very fortunate to be with good programs," Padron said. "I’m a Catholic and I live in Castle Halls, down the street from Antonian. That makes it convenient, but it’s also a Catholic school. I’ve always looked to coaching as a ministry.
“I have people in our church (St. Matthew) who have children and now grandchildren going to Antonian. They were at Clark when I was teaching and coaching there, and they’ve been talking to me about going to Antonian for about 20 years. That’s always been in the back of my mind. I’ve always been interested in coaching at a Catholic school.”
Antonian advanced to the TAPPS Division I state semifinals last year and finished 9-4.
“Van and his staff have done a great job,” Padron said. “I think they’ve done a great job of keeping the standards high and bringing up good kids. They had a tremendous season last year.”
Padron said he hopes to retain most of Fuschak's varsity assistants, including Fuschak's son, Blake, who has been offensive coordinator since joining his father's staff in 2011.
"We would love to have Blake," Padron said. "I've done a lot of film study. I thought they did a really great job on offense. Blake did a super job. You don't want to change anything that's going for you.
"Most of our coaches will be the guys who were on the previous staff. That's our plan anyway. They've had great staffs. They'll have first shot. Hopefully, we can get as many of the guys that were there previously, but we'll see how it works out, how it fits."
With Antonian closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Padron plans to introduce himself to his new players via email instead of having a Zoom conference with them.
"In the email we send out, we will invite them to a meeting at the end of this month or the beginning of June," Padron said. "We'd rather meet with them in person, if possible. As soon as they allow us to meet indoors – and I imagine we'll still have social distancing going on at that time – it would be better thing."
Padron coached at O’Connor for eight seasons before taking the TLU job, going 65-30 and guiding the Panthers to the playoffs seven times. His best season was in 2003 when O’Connor reached the state quarterfinals and finished 11-3.
Padron’s son, Andy, coached on his staff at O’Connor and went with him to TLU. Andy Padron was the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator for six seasons before leaving late in 2015 to join former Steele coach Mike Jinks’ staff at Bowling Green.
Danny Padron remained one more season at TLU before retiring.
“I could have been happy to be there for five, 10, whatever, years,” Padron said. “But without him (Andy) there, it just wasn’t the same. The drive (to San Antonio) and the recruiting were getting to me. You’re preparing for your team and you’re also thinking about your son up there.
“We wanted to be a part of that. That first year out, we did a lot of traveling and got a chance to go up to Ohio and watch Andy’s teams at Bowling Green. The next year it was the same way.”
Jinks and his staff got fired at Bowling Green in 2018. Andy Padron was hired as offensive coordinator at DeSoto High School last year and is still on the Eagles’ coaching staff.
“They have better athletes at DeSoto than they had at Bowling Green,” Padron said, chuckling. “Last year he (Andy) was back in DeSoto, so I got to watch Texas high school football. That never leaves you. I always stay current. He sends me all his game films and I watch and critique.”
Although Padron left coaching three seasons ago, football was never far from his mind.
“That’s always been my hobby,” Padron said. “People talk about playing golf. I do football. I’m a chess player and I miss that part of the game. Love the preparation. I love the chess game. It’s all about relationships. That’s what you really miss, the relationships with the players and the coaches.”
A member of Jay High School’s first graduating class in 1969 at age 17, Padron was a fuzzy-faced 16-year-old when he quarterbacked the Mustangs’ football team as a senior. Two years after graduating from high school, Padron was 19 when he started his coaching career under Stuart McBirnie at St. Gerard.
Padron remained at St. Gerard after he graduated from St. Mary’s in 1973, and was the Royals’ head coach in 1975 when George Pasterchick left to be an assistant coach with the San Antonio Wings in the World Football League.
Padron served a two-year stint under McBirnie at Alamo Heights during the football seasons of 1976 and 1977, and joined the staff of Mike Honeycutt at newly opened Clark in 1978. Padron stayed with the Cougars for 10 seasons before D.W. Rutledge hired him as offensive coordinator at Judson in 1988.
After five seasons, Padron returned to Clark in 1993 and remained with the Cougars until becoming head coach at O’Connor in 2002.