A whirlwind that began developing in late November and finally abated a few weeks ago still makes Pat Samanich shake his head in amazement.
Knowing his longtime friend and colleague, Mark Mueller, was considering resigning as New Albany High School football coach after the 2012 season, Samanich knew a chance to succeed Mueller was "on the horizon."
Now that he has his first head coaching job, Samanich can't wait to dive into his new responsibilities.
"The whole process went so fast," said Samanich, the Eagles' offensive coordinator since 2005 who was approved as coach by the school board March 18. "The job was open internally for three days (after Mueller resigned March 4), and the support from the parents and kids was just overwhelming."
Athletics director Kevin Reed said Samanich, 41, was the only candidate interviewed.
"I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in the state top to bottom," Reed said. "Pat is very deserving. He understands what we want at New Albany. He has great leadership skills and always does what's right for the kids."
Mueller, who was 69-24 in eight seasons, cited family responsibilities in his resignation. Mueller and his wife, Elyse, have three children -- Kyler, 13, Keegan, 10 and Kerinne, 7. The Eagles went 11-3 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Capital Division last season, losing to Trotwood-Madison 33-32 in a Division II state semifinal.
Samanich, a 1989 graduate of Kettering Fairmont who teaches business and technology at New Albany, has coached football since graduating in 1993 from Ashland University, where he and Mueller were roommates. He spent the 1993 season at Mansfield Senior, where Mueller would remain as an assistant through 1999, and was an assistant at Ohio Wesleyan University from 1994-99 before coming to New Albany in fall 2000. He coached quarterbacks, receivers and special teams under coaches Jamie Masi (2000-03) and Mike Golden (2004) then was promoted to offensive coordinator when Mueller became coach in spring 2005.
Samanich said he plans to retain the Eagles' entire coaching staff with the exception of Bob Cavin, who retired. Brian Finn will be the offensive coordinator, although Samanich still plans to call plays, and Bubba Kidwell will become defensive coordinator.
Samanich and his wife of 17 years, Tracy, have two daughters -- Evelyn, 12, and Caroline, 4.
The Eagles open the 2013 season Aug. 30 at home against Reynoldsburg. Non-league games follow at Westerville Central on Sept. 6 and at home against DeSales on Sept. 13 before the OCC-Capital opener Sept. 20 at home against Olentangy Orange.
New Albany will be seeking its fifth consecutive league championship.
Samanich said he doesn't plan to stray from the Eagles' wing-T-based offense. New Albany rushed for 4,013 yards last season and passed for 961.
"We've had such success in that system," Samanich said. "The wing-T has been a great system for us and it emphasizes what our kids do well. We've always been believers in establishing the run. It lets us control the ball, whether we want to go at a slow pace or speed the game up. We consider that to be our strength."
New Albany is expected to return six starters on defense -- juniors Nick Clemons (LB), Tyrell Howard (CB), O.B. Oppong (S), Trey Quillin (DE) and Joe Siegenthaler (S) and sophomore Jack Schroer (DE). Leslie Anokye (RB), Will Mooney (LT), Siegenthaler (WR) and Ryan Wilson (RG) are the expected returning starters on offense.