There will be a new face on the football sidelines at St. Frances Academy in the fall. Joseph Garner has stepped down as coach, and the east Baltimore school recently selected Messay Hailemariam as his successor.

Garner will be the lead for Coppin State University’s venture into football, coaching the junior varsity in the fall. Garner, who teaches at Coppin, said the school’s long term goal is becoming Division I and joining the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference around the 2015 season.

“It’s a chance to go back to the college level,” said Garner, who was an assistant at McDaniel College for two seasons before going to St. Frances. “I’m excited about bringing college football to Coppin.”

St. Frances hired Hailemariam, a former assistant at St. Vincent Pallotti, in mid-February. He becomes the third coach in as many seasons for the Chase Street school.

“He’s the right man for the job,” said St. Frances athletic director Nick Myles. “We’re trying to build from the ground up. It’s been rough to say the least.”

“Everybody said not to take the job, everybody said it’s too tough, everybody said it’s impossible,” said Hailemariam. “I can only imagine what the kids in the program feel like.”

Mike Clay, the program’s first coach who previously guided St. Mary’s to a MIAA B Conference championship, resigned with three games remaining in the 2009 campaign. The Panthers finished 2-9 with seven straight losses. More than a dozen players transferred.

With a small roster, St. Frances went winless (0-9) last season as a member of the MIAA B. The Panthers will move down to the C this fall.

Hailemariam realizes it will take time to get St. Frances football on stable footing.

“I trust the staff I’m bringing will establish a football culture to St. Frances,” said Hailemariam, who spent the past two years as owner of the Maryland Maniacs indoor team in Prince George’s County. “It has a storied history, but it has an established basketball program so I feel like football is the next step. I believe there’s a commitment in the faculty to develop a powerhouse, but it’s going to take five years.”

Hailemarian graduated from the University of Maryland in 1996 where he was a football walk-on. He served as an assistant at Prince George’s County’s High Point for five seasons before going to Pallotti.

Hailemarian said he wasn’t sure if wanted to lead a program after leaving the Laurel private school a couple of years ago. He believes St. Frances is his “calling.”

“This program is in need of someone who willing to take a chance, and they took a chance on me,” said Hailemarian. “Hopefully what I envisioned for the program will manifest and St. Frances becomes a powerhouse.”