Mike Zdebski, who is part of the Michigan High School Football Hall of Fame, will take over Chandler Hamilton’s football program, pending Chandler district governing board approval.

“Coach Z is a man of high character and strong values,” said Marcus Williams, athletic director of the Chandler Unified School District, who was part of the search. “He is a technician of the game of football and takes pride in developing his players into men.”

Hamilton has been a program in flux since last spring when several football players were arrested for alleged sexual assault on other Hamilton players in hazing rituals.

That led to the end of the Steve Belles era. Dick Baniszewski led Hamilton in his only season as interim coach but he did not want to return as a permanent coach.

Zbedski, who has a master’s degree from Michigan State, has 30 years of coaching experience. He is 203-98-1 as a head coach in Michigan. He won state championships in 1996 and ’99 and was state runnerup finish in 2016 at Walled Lake Western High, playing in the highest conference in Michigan. His team last season went 8-2.

Zbedski said he will return to Michigan on Sunday to tie up loose ends, before returning to Hamilton before the end of the school year to get to know the players in the program. Hamilton began losing its edge against rival Chandler four years ago, and has not won a state title at the highest level since 2012. Hamilton has won seven state titles since 2003. The last five titles were won under Belles.

Zbedski is only the fourth head coach in Hamilton football history, counting Baniszewsk’s interim season in which the Huskies went 8-4, losing to Gilbert Perry 72-14 in the state quarterfinals.

“I want to get here as fast as I can,” Zbedski said. “This was really the first time I was looking (for another coaching job).

“We’re a good school in Michigan with some big-time dudes. I was looking at schools that are exceptional schools. When you look in the Southwest, in Arizona, Hamilton has such a great reputation. I feel like I couldn’t pass this up.”

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