PANAMA CITY BEACH — Arnold Principal Keith Bland said on Friday he intends to have a new head football coach in place by Jan. 28.
The search for James Hale’s successor netted 68 applicants when the position came open after Hale announced his resignation following 13 seasons as the school’s only football coach. Bland said he was joined by Arnold Assistant Principal Gordon Pongratz and Athletic Director Karisa Wesley in narrowing the field to 10 applicants.
They have formed a committee that included two parents, one with players in the football program and another with ties in the community, and will interview the candidates on Thursday and Friday. Bland said the goal is to offer the job to one of the 10 on Friday with a weekend to shore up the decision.
Bland said Arnold’s opening drew immediate interest and produced a high volume of inquiries. He said some coaches that weren’t chosen for Mosley’s football opening also applied at Arnold, while some made it clear they solely inquired with the Marlins’ program. He added that none of the other three finalists for the Mosley job are in Arnold’s Top 10.
“We cut it to 10 based on our minimum qualifications,” Bland said. “That included experience in the state of Florida, coaching experience, just in general on the high school level, and leadership qualities.”
The new hire will take over a program that made four postseason appearances under Hale. The Marlins had two 10-1 seasons under his guidance and 40 players accepted college scholarship offers during his tenure.
Football coaches in Bay County are hired to administrative positions. The starting salary with no previous experience is $58,514.