When Fisher Catholic High School football coach Mike McCann announced his resignation just 32 days before the start of the season, it looked like a mighty blow to a once-proud program still reeling from a pair of disappointing seasons.

When Fisher Catholic High School football coach Mike McCann announced his resignation just 32 days before the start of the season, it looked like a mighty blow to a once-proud program still reeling from a pair of disappointing seasons.

But the school didn't have to search far for a new coach, scooping up the recently retired Mike Hensley.

Hensley, known for running a spread offense, coached Granville for 14 seasons before resigning after last season. He had a 90-53 record and the Blue Aces advanced to the playoffs three times.

"It's been a whirlwind, but I love coaching," said Hensley, whose team will open Friday at Danville. "I was retired and playing golf and here I am, right where I should be. I'm excited about it."

McCann resigned as coach after the school was forced to eliminate his job as athletics director because of budget cuts. The Irish went 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the MSL-Cardinal Division under McCann a year ago.

Although he's only officially been the team's coach since Aug. 10, Hensley has been working hard in practices to install his style of offense, splitting the coaching staff into two groups of offense-only and defense-only.

For a team that ran a wing-T offense almost exclusively last season, it's been a big transition, but one that the players are excited about.

"It's a great thing for the receivers," said senior wide receiver Vince Kittsmiller. "They're talking about 100-yard games, and we didn't have 100-yard seasons last year. It'll add a lot of diversity to our offense."

Kittsmiller will pair with senior wideout Phil Bowes as the two players to likely to be the biggest beneficiaries from an enhanced passing game that will be led by junior quarterback Devin Messerly.

They'll be joined on offense by running back Nick Orlando, a senior who gained more than 1,000 rushing yards last season. Despite the fact that he might not get as many carries in the new offense, Orlando took an instant liking to his new coach.

"He just came in, confident as ever, and made us feel confident," Orlando said. "He made us trust in him. The first thing he said to us was, 'I'm going to earn you guys' respect.' And I feel like he definitely did, for the whole team."

With Hensley controlling the offense, the defense is being run by longtime coach John Young. His first move was to change the base defense from four-linebacker sets to a 4-2-5 to take advantage of the team's depth in the defensive backfield and experience coming back at linebacker in Eric Ragland and Sean Tobin.

"We have to really improve in the secondary from last season. We got killed there," Young said. "We have to work on that. That's our No. 1 priority."

The secondary will be anchored by free safety Tony Dodds, a senior who played every game last year. The starting cornerbacks include Sam Kessler, a 6-foot-3 transfer who played backup quarterback for Liberty Union last season, and senior Josh Eversman. Kittsmiller and Bowes also will be part of the rotation.

Damien Coakley, a sophomore, will play a position similar to strong safety in the five-back sets.

"The attitude so far has been really good," Young said. "The more experience we get, and the more reps we get, the better off we're going to be."

The Irish know the clocking is ticking against them, though, and they don't have much time before starting MSL-Cardinal play on Sept. 19 against Licking Heights.

But what most coaches would see as a challenge, Hensley sees as an opportunity - to restore Fisher Catholic's football pride. The Irish are a combined 7-13 the last two seasons after making the playoffs five consecutive seasons from 2002-06.

"This program is full of tradition," Hensley said. "I coached against them back when Granville and Fisher had some historic battles back in the late '90s and early 2000s, so I'm well aware of what the tradition here is. It's my responsibility, and my coaches' responsibility, to take this program and restore that tradition."