Palmetto High has a new head football coach. He comes from another Manatee County school

Palmetto High School has a new head football coach.

The Tigers hired Eric Sanders this week, according to multiple sources. Sanders replaces Rashad West, who resigned in March.

Sanders spent the last 12 years at Braden River High School. He was a longtime offensive coordinator for the Pirates, before becoming their head coach in January.

“The last 12 years has been awesome at Braden River,” Sanders said. “I have a lot of great memories. The kids there are great. Spring ball was great with them. ... Palmetto, what’s very exciting about it is the tradition-rich community of excellence there. The football program is a premier program in the state when it’s at its best. And I’m just extremely excited and honored for this opportunity.”

Sanders was named the Pirates’ head coach after Curt Bradley left in December to coach at Southeast High.

Under Sanders, Braden River’s offense flourished over the last 12 seasons. His offenses averaged more than 30 points per game in multiple seasons and Braden River’s teams made the playoffs nine times.

“It was not easy,” Sanders said about the decision to leave Braden River after 12 years. “Happened very fast. But the opportunity, I didn’t want to pass it up. And just went for it from there.”

Sanders said he met with the Palmetto players Wednesday and has a parent meeting next week.

“Had a great turnout with the players (Wednesday), told them the vision and our expectations,” Sanders said. “We expect to win district, regional titles right away. That’s our expectation and that’s our plan.”

Numerous offensive players left Braden River to play in college. One player is Ryan Neuzil, who plays for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. Neuzil re-signed with the Falcons in March, and was their backup center in 2023.

Sanders was a two-time All American quarterback at Northern Iowa from 2003 to 2007, finishing second for the Walter Payton Award — the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy — in his senior season.

After college, Sanders was a graduate assistant at Syracuse University from 2008 to 2010, then became a wide receivers coach at Northern Iowa in 2010. He also coached running backs and was a recruiting coordinator in 2011 at Northern Iowa.

In 2012, he moved to Bradenton to become Bradley’s offensive coordinator and associate head coach at Braden River.

Palmetto went 5-5 last season, losing to Sarasota Riverview in the first round of the Class 4S playoffs.