After logging more than three decades as a football assistant at the professional, college and high school levels, Phil Zacharias is ready to try his hand at leading a program. The former University of Maryland and Baltimore Ravens assistant was hired this week at Mount Hebron.

Zacharias, who replaces Ross Hannon, had been serving as the defensive coordinator at the school the past two seasons.

“Any coach has aspirations to ultimately be a head coach and build something he can say is his own,” Zacharias said. “You want to use all the experiences you’ve had as an assistant, and I’ve had the opportunity to work under some great coaches. Now I’m excited to see if I can make somewhat of a difference here.”

Zacharias, 53, began his college coaching career shortly after graduating from Salem College (W.Va.) in 1981 and later made stops at Rutgers, Stanford, Maryland and Central Michigan, filling a variety of roles. He also spent three seasons as a defensive assistant with Ravens from 2002-2004.

But after resigning from his position as tight ends coach/special teams coordinator at Cincinnati in June 2010, Zacharias returned to Howard County, where his wife has been a middle school guidance counselor for nearly a decade.

Zacharias had served as the Vikings defensive coordinator in 2008 during his son Jameson’s senior season.

In addition to his coaching duties, Zacharias is now in his second year working in the Ellicott City school’s special education department. He’s also a certified driving instructor.

“I’m sort of re-inventing myself,” said Zacharias, who interviewed for the position last month and had his first meeting with the team on Wednesday. “It’s pretty neat.”

Zacharias takes over a squad that has not produced a winning season since 2004 and made its last playoff appearance the year before that. The Vikings went 3-7 last season and have won a combined 12 games over the past five seasons.

He said he looks forward to the challenge of building the program, adding that there are more similarities than he once realized between coaching at all levels.

“There are some really good high school coaches around here,” Zacharias said. “If you don’t prepare and don’t go about your business, you’re going to get beat bad.”