HANNIBAL, Mo. -- It took Quentin Hamner longer to mull over the offer to succeed Mark St. Clair as Hannibal's football coach than anyone, himself included, expected it would.
"I have so much respect for the football family at Keokuk," said Hamner, who spent the past year as the Chiefs' head coach. "It's a football town, too. I want people to understand that."
But it's not Hannibal, and Hamner couldn't ignore that.
"It's the best football job in the area," he said.
Now it's his.
Hannibal athletic director Clint Graham announced Monday the school was hiring Hamner as the Pirates' next coach. He will be formally introduced Friday during a press conference at the Board of Education office, then will meet his new team for the first time.
"When I was a kid growing up, even when I was coaching in Kansas City, I looked at Hannibal football and said, ‘That's me,'" Hamner said. "Mark St. Clair has a lot of the same qualities I have, a lot of the same passion for kids. It's an honor and a challenge to follow him. I'm looking forward to what's in front of me."
Hamner, 37, graduated from Clark County in 2000 and Culver-Stockton College in 2004. After spending his first four seasons as an assistant coach at Harrisonville, Mo., Hamner returned to Kahoka in 2008 as Clark County's defensive coordinator and helped the Indians win the Class 2 state championship that season.
After three seasons as an assistant, he succeeded Matt Smith as Clark County's head coach in 2011. In two seasons, Hamner led the Indians to a 19-5 record, including a 12-1 mark and state quarterfinal appearance in 2012.
He left the next season to join the staff at Park Hill in Kansas City, then moved to Staley in 2016 before taking the job at Keokuk. During his five seasons at Park Hill and Staley, Hamner was part of staffs that made two state semifinal appearances and won a Class 5 state championship in 2017.
"His knowledge of the game and his passion for the game are impressive," Graham said. "His resume speaks for itself. It seemed like a really good fit throughout the interview process, and we think he will do a great job here."
Hamner, who led Keokuk to a 2-9 record last fall, knew he had to apply for the Hannibal job when it officially opened.
"If you don't take this opportunity, this opportunity may not come back," Hamner said.
He emerged for a pool of seven candidates as the choice to take over a team that reached the Class 4 quarterfinals last fall and returns two 1,000-yard running backs.
"We had a tough decision to make," Graham said. "We had several conversations, and we felt he was the right fit."
Hamner knows how tradition-rich the Hannibal program is. He wants to continue to elevate it so it remains the best job in the area.
"I just hope I can represent what it should look like," he said.