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LONGVIEW -- Spring Hill ISD's school board unanimously approved Mark Sartain as its news head football coach and athletic director during a special meeting Monday night.

Sartain has spent the past few months as an assistant coach at Union Grove, but is a head coaching veteran at the high school, junior college, and four-year college levels.

"We had some good applicants. It was a very tough decision. Coach Sartain's character just kept shining through," said Spring Hill Superintendent Wes Jones. "He's from this area. I felt like he would stay and take our kids to the next level, not just football, but all the programs. He has the experience, the character, and he's connected with this area so he can get coaches to come in and help him, so I think our kids and our staff are gonna benefit from him being here."

Sartain's most recent head coaching job was at East Texas Baptist University, an NCAA Division III program. Sartain led the Tigers to a 26-34 record in six seasons, including a 3-7 campaign in 2012 before his November resignation.

Before that, Sartain was head coach at Trinity Valley Community College for four seasons, including one conference championship. He has high school head coaching experience at Cross Roads, Eustace, and White Oak, with the Roughnecks' tenure being the longest at eight seasons. Sartain had a 43-41 record and three playoff berths at White Oak.

Jones said he received "about 20" applicants for the dual position.

Sartain replaces Bobby Chadwick, who left Spring Hill less than two weeks ago to be the athletic director at East Texas Charter School in Longview. ETCS does not field team sports, but competes in individual athletics such as cross country, tennis, golf, and track and field.

Sartain is the fourth head coach/AD at Spring Hill since 2009, which was Robert Bero's final year with the Panthers. Bero, now an assistant at Gilmer, led Spring Hill to a 23-28 record and one playoff appearance. Bill Poe then guided the Panthers to a 6-14 record in 2010-11 before Chadwick's lone season, the Panthers' 3-7 campaign in 2012.

Spring Hill has shared a district with four teams that have advanced to Class 3A state championship games in the last four seasons, including three that won state championships: 2009 Gilmer (3A D-I), 2010 Henderson (3A D-I), and 2010 Carthage (3A D-II). Gilmer advanced to the 2012 3A D-II championship before losing to Navasota this past fall.

The "District of Doom" has made retaining coaches difficult, Jones said.

"That's one of the challenges. We're in a tough district and that's been one of the tough issues as far as a coach coming in here and being able to withstand rebuilding," Jones said. "I think he brings that to Spring HIll, that he's gonna be able to withstand that pressure and do well with our kids. I think they're gonna respond to him, and he's just a quality person. My son is gonna be a senior next year and I look forward to him playing for (Sartain)."

Sartain will attempt to take Spring Hill back to the level that the Panthers enjoyed under Steve Gaddis, who led them to a 59-23 record from 1998-2004. Gaddis' final five seasons with Spring Hill ended with at least a first-round playoff appearance. In eight seasons since, the Panthers have reached the playoffs twice: first-round exits in 2006 and 2007 under Bero.