Mariner High School has reached into Lee County’s football past to lead it into the future.
The Tritons named former Cape Coral High coach James Hale as its football coach Wednesday, replacing Chris Siner, who resigned last week after three seasons at the helm.
“I’m excited. It’s like coming home,” said Hale, who coached at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach the past 13 seasons. “I’ve kept in touch with some of the kids I coached at Cape. I loved Cape Coral and loved the county.”
Hale, 55, coached the Seahawks from 1989 to 1998 and Lehigh Senior High in 1999. During his time in Lee County, Hale was named the Lee County Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He led the Seahawks to their best single-season record in school history at 12-1 in 1993 and compiled an overall mark of 52-31 with the school.
In his one season at Lehigh, his team went 0-10.
Mariner athletic director Vito Mennona and Principal Robert Butz knew Hale well from his time here. Having insight into his personality on top of his success on the field building and rehabbing struggling programs were major factors in his favor.
“It makes it a little easier that we know each other and have a pre-existing relationship, but it’s still a business of doing the right things for the kids,” Mennona said.
“When you’re hiring somebody you don’t know, it’s up in the air, but I’m very confident things will go well because he is the right guy for this job.”
Hale was the first head coach of Arnold High, which opened in 2000, and compiled an 80-52 record. Hale resigned following last season but started to miss coaching, which is when he saw the Tritons position posted on the FHSAA website.
Mariner posted the ad on Feb. 13 after Siner applied for the open Immokalee High position, for which Hale also applied.
Immokalee hired former Estero coach Rich Dombroski and Siner, who lives in Immokalee, resigned Feb. 27 to be closer to his family.
Mariner went 9-21 during Siner’s three seasons.
Hale will meet with school administrators and players today and will be ready for the start of spring practice.
“They’ve had a history and tradition of being good,” said Hale, who added he turned down the Mariner job in 1987. He coached at Lake Wales High from 1984 to 1989 before taking the Cape Coral position. “Hopefully we can go down there and build a program.”