Tim O'Hara, who has guided the Santa Margarita golf team to three CIF-SCGA championships and two Southern Section titles since 1993, is leaving the school and will become football coach at Savanna effective April 2, he said Tuesday.
O'Hara replaces Fred Di Palma, who resigned in December after 12 years, during which his teams were 75-53-4 and made nine playoff appearances, winning the Southern Section Division VI title in 1993.
O'Hara, 40, who was offensive coordinator at Saddleback College in 1998 and held the same position at Santa Margarita from 1992 to 1997, said he does not plan to coach the golf team at Savanna. He recently became a father to his fourth child and said the decision was largely based on the difference in pay between public and private schools.
"This was just too good of a situation," O'Hara said. "I've got to do it financially. You don't see a lot of older Catholic school teachers, especially ones with families. It's an opportunity that if I don't take it, 20 years down the line I'm going to say I should have taken it."
Savanna is also closer to his Orange residence and offered both the opportunity to get back into football and a chance to teach physical education. He teaches English at Santa Margarita.
"[Football] has always been my first love coaching," O'Hara said.
O'Hara started at quarterback at Mater Dei as a senior in 1977. He played at Saddleback College and was the Mission Bowl MVP in 1979.
As offensive coordinator at Santa Margarita in 1997, he coached an offense that scored 651 points and gained more than 3,000 yards in both rushing and passing on its way to winning a second consecutive Division V title.