The Mesquite ISD board of trustees approved Jeff Fleener as the new Mesquite High School head football coach and campus athletic coordinator at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.
Fleener fills the position vacated last month when Robbie Robinson announced his retirement at the end of the school year.
Fleener arrives at Mesquite after spending the last two years at San Antonio Brandeis, where he compiled a 14-9 record and led the Broncos to the playoffs in both seasons.
"There was nothing pushing me to leave, I was very happy where I was at Brandeis," Fleener said. "But the opportunity came up and when you start thinking about what you are looking for, there were just too many boxes on that list that were checked to pass it up."
Fleener established himself as one of the top up-and-comers in the coaching field after serving as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Allen from 2006-2014. During that time, the Eagles solidified their status as a football powerhouse, winning four state championships, including three straight titles from 2012-2014.
Given that success, Fleener naturally became a hot name around the state when head coaching positions opened up. His move to Brandeis was a natural fit, as he is a San Antonio native and a graduate of Madison High School and his father, Marshall, was a long-time head football coach in the area who also served as an assistant athletic director at North East ISD.
While Fleener had ties to his previous job, he also has personal and professional connections here locally.
His wife, Katy, is a 1997 Mesquite High School graduate. Her father, Dennis Hart, served for 33 years as an athletic trainer at North Mesquite High School, and still works for MISD on a part-time basis, and her mother, Esta Anne, worked for more than 30 years as a teacher at West Mesquite.
Mesquite ISD athletic director Steve Bragg talked to Fleener about taking a job with the school district after he graduated from Texas A&M in December 2002, but he ultimately ended up at South Garland, where he spent for four years before going to Allen.
While at Allen, Fleener also built a relationship with Dr. David Vroonland, who was then an assistant superintendent with AISD and is now the MISD superintendent.
“Coach Fleener brings characteristics we value to our current program and where we want to go,” Vroonland said. “His career has clearly shown work and results toward academic performance, building leaders and skill building as well as on overall athletic programs.”
The Mesquite head coaching job attracted more than 50 applicants from around the state. Bragg said they were fortunate to have so many qualified coaches show interest in the position, but they feel they got the right person for the job.
"He's been successful every place he has been and he has that 'it' factor," Bragg said. "If you mention his name any place around the state, they know who Jeff is and they think the world of him. He is still a young guy and he is coming in on the front end of what is going to be a great head coaching career."
At South Garland and Allen, Fleener worked for a pair of highly-regarded and successful head coaches in Mickey Moss, who is now at Rockwall-Heath, and Tom Westerberg, now at Barbers Hill.
Fleener credited both of those coaches, as well as his experience as head coach during the last two years at Brandeis in preparing him for his new role.
"I've learned a lot and especially these last two years, finding out what it is like to sit in the big chair and having to make those tough decisions," he said.
Fleener becomes the 19th head football coach at Mesquite. Robinson, a Mesquite High graduate who had been at the school since 1989, compiled a 39-57 record in nine seasons as head coach. In 2012, the Skeeters posted a 11-1 record before falling to Fleener and Allen in the area finals. They made the playoffs the following season but have not been back since.
Fleener's first official day is not until Monday, but he already had plans to meet with the current team, as well as with the middle school programs this week. It is just the start of a process, one in which Fleener and Mesquite believe will end with the Skeeters back among the top programs in the area.
"I want to hit the ground running as fast as possible. I am going to talk to them (team) for a few minutes and tell them who I am, what I am about and what I expect, but I want to see them work out and see what they can do," Fleener said. "Mesquite High School has a big tradition and is a big football school, so I'm excited to get going."