Dan O'Brien, who spent nearly a decade in the Gophers football program and since then has coached St. Thomas Academy, is the new head football coach at Holy Family, the school announced Thursday.
He'll have well-experienced help. Dave Nelson, coach of high school state champions at Blaine and Minnetonka, and Jeff Ferguson, who led Totino-Grace to eight state championships, will be two of his assistant coaches. Both are members of the Minnesota Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
They'll be on hand when Holy Family, which went 0-9 the past two seasons and last had a winning season in 2018, opens a new athletic complex in fall 2023.
O'Brien went 49-5 as coach of St. Thomas Academy, and his teams twice reached the state title game. He spent six years as the Gophers' director of football operations and three years on the staff, coaching special teams and defensive backs and as assistant to the head coach. He also has held coaching and administrative positions at Hamline and Concordia (St. Paul) and coached in high school at Lakeville and Bemidji.
Nelson led Blaine to a state title in 1988 and Minnetonka to a state title in 2004 and has 267 career victories. Ferguson coached 18 seasons at Totino-Grace before retiring in 2020, putting up a record of 187-35.
"To say that we are excited to be welcoming Coach O'Brien, as well as Coach Nelson and Coach Ferguson, to our athletic program and our school family would be an understatement," Holy Family President Mike Brennan said in a statement. "Holy Family simply could not be happier with the outcome of our search."