WEST VALLEY CITY — When Hunter High administrators sat down to review the applications for a new football coach, there was one name they were surprised to see — former Alta head coach Les Hamilton.

"We were kind of shocked when we saw his name," said Pam Olsen, one of the school's athletic directors.

It turned out to be a pleasant surprise as administrators hired Hamilton on Saturday.

"He's got a lot of experience," said Olsen. "He's had a lot of success."

That success has the community excited about Hamilton's return to Utah prep football just six months after he resigned to pursue a job opportunity in Chile.

Hamilton said he wasn't planning to return to Utah when he brought his family home a few weeks ago. His oldest son was struggling with the school because teachers only spoke Spanish in the seventh grade.

"He came home and said, 'Dad, school is horrible,'" Hamilton said. They home schooled him for four months, but Hamilton's new job kept him away from home much of the time.

"In April I was only home five days," he said. "I thought, 'If I'm on the road traveling this much, my family might as well be home. I was planning on heading back down (to Chile) after a week."

But while he was in Utah, he got a phone call about the Hunter job.

"Head coaching jobs never come open in June," Hamilton said. He talked to his wife and "one thing led to another and I applied."

He will meet his players at 8 a.m. Monday during a conditioning practice that volunteer assistants have been supervising since former coach Dustin Pearce resigned in May. A parent meeting with Hamilton is schedule for 7 p.m. Monday night.

"He is just jumping right in," said Olsen.

Hamilton said he couldn't be more excited to return to coach, even though he had an extremely disappointing experience at the end of his career at Alta. Just weeks after Hamilton announced his resignation, the parent of a former player leveled allegations of financial irregularities in the program as well as, accusing Hamilton of accepting bribes, taking apparel from the concessions stands and withholding college recruiting letters from students.

The Canyons School District investigated the allegations and cleared Hamilton of any wrongdoing less than a month later.

But Hamilton said the experience did sour him on the idea of coaching — at least temporarily.

"It did for a while," he said. "But the last few days I woke up excited for the first time in a long time. Even when we were in Chile, I told my wife, 'I'm a football coach. That's what's in my heart, that's what's in my soul.' I am real excited to get back to doing what I'm meant to be doing."

Hamilton will teach as well as coach at Hunter High. His expectations areas high as the community's hopes are.

"Hunter always has great athletes, so I'm excited," he said. "They're known for smash-mouth, straight-up football, and we're doing to do that, but obviously I'm going bring some of the things I like to do."

With the Hawks, the 38-year-old coach compiled a 60-18 record with two state championships in 2007 and 2008 along with a 74-29 overall record as a head coach. In Hamilton's six years at Alta his teams won at least a share of the region championship five times and advanced to the semifinals five consecutive times throughout the same time span from 2005-09.

Under Pearce's leadership, the Wolverines advanced to the semifinals in 2009 and the quarterfinals in 2010 after going 13-19 the three previous seasons.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com; tphibbs@desnews.com