After three frustrating seasons, Cleveland High School football coach E.K. Slaughter turned in his resignation Monday morning.
Slaughter compiled a 14-18 overall record with the Blue Raiders, including a 5-5 finish this season that ended without a trip to the playoffs.
"I just decided it was in the best interest of Cleveland's football program and myself and my family that I make this move now," Slaughter said. "I don't regret my decision to come to Cleveland. I'm a better person for my time there because of the people I was able to work with and be around.
"God has great plans for Cleveland High School and great plans for me, and we'll see what those are now."
Slaughter was the offensive coordinator for Red Bank and then became the head coach at Soddy-Daisy in 2008, leading the Trojans to an eight-win season -- the program's first winning record in four years. He then was named Cleveland's coach in the spring of 2009.
Cleveland's 3-8 season in 2009 was its first losing record in 31 years.
Slaughter's wide-open style of offense never took off with the Blue Raiders the way it did at Red Bank and Soddy-Daisy. Cleveland was held to two or fewer touchdowns nine times during Slaughter's tenure, including being shut out twice this season.
"We're very thankful for Coach Slaughter's commitment to the Cleveland program and the players," said Doug Moore, director of public relations with the Cleveland city schools central office. "He has been a strong role model and has a bright future. We wish him well in his endeavors."
One of the area's traditionally strongest programs, with three consecutive Class 4A state championships in 1993-95, Cleveland hasn't won a playoff game since 2002.
Former head coach Benny Monroe, who guided the Blue Raiders from 1979 to '96, winning the three state titles and having the stadium named in his honor, is considered a candidate to return to Cleveland. Monroe came out of retirement to lead Ooltewah to two semifinal appearances before retiring again.
Although he declined to comment specifically on his interest, Monroe did say Monday he would help the program in any way.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...