Scott Earley, new Sanford Seminole football coach

Sanford Seminole High has hired former Lexington, S.C., football coach Scott Earley to replace Rob Vite as its new head coach (July 25). (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE STATE (Columbia, S.C.))

Seminole went out of state to find a new leader for its football program, announcing Thursday that Scott Earley, 42, of South Carolina has been selected as the head coach after a three-week search. He was chosen over five other finalists that all interviewed at the school on Monday.

He replaces Robert Vite, who abruptly resigned on July 2 after two-plus seasons as head coach.

"Two weeks before the season to get someone like this puts excitement back in our program," said athletic director Mike Powers. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us. Scott has a dynamic personality and we feel he’s the perfect person for the job."

Earley has compiled a 103-45 career record at three South Carolina high schools. At 29 years old he landed his first head-coaching job in 2001 at Myrtle Beach and went 72-29 in eight seasons, winning the 2008 Class 3A state championship in his last year with the school.

He then coached at Chapin for one year before leaving for Lexington, where he coached the past three seasons. He resigned at Lexington in March.

"I've always been fond of Florida and the type of football played in Florida," said Earley. "I've had other opportunities [to coach in Florida] and passed but this one I felt the timing and the place was right. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a place where I felt this appreciated."

Earley’s wife has secured a job with the Seminole County school system and they hope to begin moving next week.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Earley said of the rushed hiring process. “We have lots to wrap up here [in South Carolina] and we need to tie up our loose ends.”

He plans to meet with the Seminole players next week.

“It’s definitely going to be hard with the transition from one coach to the next so close to the season, said senior defensive lineman Stephen Ruiz. “But hopefully he can get in here and do a good job.”

“I don’t know much about him but I heard he has a good resume and he’s a good coach,” said senior receiver Milton Williams. “He came from a winning program and hopefully he does the same for us.”

Vite, who resigned after his wife took a job in North Carolina, was 15-12 as Seminole's head coach. The Seminoles were 7-5 last season and lost in a region semifinal.

Football practice is set to begin Aug. 5.

crking@tribune.com