Darren Johnson is back and he is more energetic than ever.
Johnson, the former football head coach at Kailua and Kaimuki, was introduced as Campbell’s new head coach Friday.
Peanut butter and jelly? Lobster and melted butter?
After the initial jolt of realizing that Johnson — the North Shore boy — is taking his football knowledge Westward to Ewa Beach, it strikes up the idea that Johnson and Campbell are the perfect match.
Adjectives that come to mind are blue collar and hard-nosed. More simply, running game, clock control, defense.
Kind of funny from a former All-State quarterback, but that’s who Johnson is. When his son, Kawehena, took to the field as a young boy, Johnson taught him all positions, but finally concluded, “This boy is a safety.” The Kahuku brass at the time wanted him as a QB, but obviously made the correct decision since Kawehena was named the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s defensive player of the year in 2012.
Hawaii Prep World caught up with Johnson on Friday, and the man was so excited that it seemed like he just won the lottery.
“I honestly can’t wait to get going,” he said a few hours after meeting his Campbell players for the first time. “There is a fire over there that the kids are hungry for. There’s a lot of good-looking young athletes. I made it real clear that we will have mandatory study hall and that academics is a mandatory thing and we will not have voluntary things.
“This is how I put it to the kids: We are in a great place, a great conference. Kahuku is going to look like the Alabama of high school. Then you take Campbell. We’re in the SEC. We’re gonna be the LSU.”
Johnson, who lives in Punaluu, said he will not mind the drive to and from Ewa Beach. It will give him time to think about his plans.
“Campbell’s whole athletic program does well. I watch,” he said. “The community sports, too. They win. Ewa and the North Shore are battling each other. Ewa’s baseball program is superior to the North Shore. They love their sports, they love their teams, they love their programs.”
Johnson, who said this will be his last head coaching job, has set a goal to elevate the Sabers so they “beat the top-tier dogs.”
“We have to raise that bar and show them the way. To do it, we need to keep everybody home,” he added. “Keep them right here, playing for Campbell. They don’t need to be going away. The curriculum is a good one.
“We had a great turnout today. I told them that I can’t do anything with them if I’m leading them to water and they’re not drinking it. If that happens it’s because they didn’t want to do it. We will do it together, but you’ve got to do your part.”
Johnson believes Amosa Amosa, the outgoing coach, did a good job and left the program in good shape.
Darren Johnson through the years
High school athletics
>> Kahuku, Class of 1983
>> quarterback in football
>> point guard in basketball
>> played baseball
>> ran track
>> signed to play for Hawaii Loa
>> played for Arizona Western
>> played for the University of Akron.
Assistant coaching jobs
>> 1989: Arizona Western offensive coordinator
>> Spring 1990: Rocky Mountain College quarterbacks coach
>> 1990: Kahuku quarterbacks and wide receivers coach
>> 1991 to 1995: Kahuku offensive coordinator
>> 2006: Kahuku offensive coordinator
>> 2009 to 2013: Kahuku offensive coordinator
>> 2014: Kapolei offensive coordinator
Head coaching jobs
>> 1996 to 2003: Kailua
>> 2007-08: Kaimuki
>> 2017: Campbell