BILLINGS — After two years in an assistant role, Nick Oxarart is back as Malta’s head football coach.

Oxarart will replace Jim Benn, who took an assistant coaching job at Missoula Loyola last month. Oxarart was officially hired Monday, according to athletic director Travis Somerfeld. The Great Falls Tribune first reported the news.

“Not having anybody in the middle of July, he just stepped up for the kids,” Somerfeld told 406mtsports.com. “We’re just excited for what he brings to the table with his football knowledge, the way he is with kids and just his passion and dedication for football.”

Oxarart coached the Mustangs for three seasons before stepping down in 2017. They made the Class B state playoffs in each of those years and went 18-11.

Somerfeld said Oxarart relinquished the head coaching duties two years ago for financial reasons relating to his family’s ranch. Oxarart, who could not be reached for comment, also teaches at Malta.

With the football season about a month away, Somerfeld ideally wanted to hire someone within the program who knew the playbook, players, etc. Oxarart was Malta’s “No. 1 candidate right off the bat when Jim left,” Somerfeld said.

“It’s a very easy transition,” said Somerfeld, who is also an assistant football coach at Malta. “We’re mostly gonna keep what we’ve had the last few years.”

Oxarart played football for Malta and graduated in 1999. He went on to Minot State and replaced Tad Schye in 2014 as the Mustangs’ coach. He assisted Scott King from 2006 to 2013.

Somerfeld hopes Oxarart will stick around long term.

“Really what the Mustang football program needs right now is consistency,” Somerfeld said.

Though he doesn’t know if Oxarart’s stay will be long, Somerfeld is looking forward to this coming season.

“We’re excited about the change. The kids are excited,” he said. “We’re ready to roll.”

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Email Victor Flores at victor.flores@406mtsports.com and follow him on Twitter at @VictorFlores_BG