U-High tops McKinley; Northeast edges Tara _lowres

Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- McKinley coach Robert Signater.

McKinley High football coach Robert Signater resigned on Monday, saying ,“It’s time to move on.”

Signater spent eight years as head coach at McKinley, compiling a 35-44 record. The Panthers finished 3-7 this fall, including a 1-4 record in District 5-5A. He has a career record of 76-62. Signater said he plans to remain at the school as dean of students.

The resignation of Signater came on the same day that Zachary High hired assistant coach Jonathan McClinton as its new boys basketball coach. McClinton replaces Kenny Almond, who resigned on Friday just before starting his second season at the school.

“The thing I’ll remember most is obviously the kids and the things we were able to do,” Signater said. “The last four or five years, we’ve sent more kids to college to play than had been done in a long time, and I’m proud of that.

“We had kids go to Ivy League schools and top academic schools like Tulane. They’ve gone to small schools, larger schools or junior colleges. Helping them to get that chance to play was important.”

Signater came to McKinley in 2008 to replace Robert Valdez, who left after one season to coach West St. John. Valdez returned to Baton Rouge this fall as the head coach at Scotlandville.

Signater compiled a 44-26 record in five seasons as head coach at Class 2A Clinton, a school consolidated two years later to form East Feliciana. His 2007 Clinton team was 11-2 and reached the semifinals.

Because he had been a McKinley assistant for four years earlier in his career, he settled into the job quickly. There was immediate success, including a 6-3 record in 2008 and a 7-3 mark in 2010, both on Class 4A. The Panthers moved back up to 5A in 2011 and have not had a winning season, though they have finished 4-6 three times.

“I appreciated the chance to compete at the highest level, 5A, but I also know how hard it is,” Signater said. “Expectations are very high, which is tough because we don’t have all the things a lot of other 5A schools have.”

Signater said he would not close the door on coaching again, but also said he is interested in administrative roles.

McClinton hired

Zachary High Principal Joe LeBlanc said hiring McClinton as the Broncos’ boys basketball coach was the obvious move.

“If it hadn’t been for the fact that Kenny Almond applied last time, he probably would have been our choice. He had opportunities to go other places, but I’m glad he stayed with us,” LeBlanc said.

The 26-year-old McClinton played football at Central High and Nicholls State and has been a ZHS assistant for four years. He is the fourth ZHS head coach in four years.

“I look forward to the opportunity and the challenge,” McClinton said. “The biggest thing is bringing some stability to the program. That has to be the first goal.”

Almond, who has 892 career wins, resigned last Friday. The Broncos were 16-14 last season.