Morristown East High School hired its new head football coach Monday night, plucking its new coach from a Five Lakes Conference and Lakeway Area rival.
East principal Joseph Ely and athletic director Morgane Watkins jointly announced the hire of Cocke County High School head coach Caleb Slover as the new skipper for the Hurricanes Tuesday morning. Slover was offered the job Monday night, he accepted, and he resigned his position in Newport before informing his team of his decision at a team meeting early Tuesday morning. Slover is scheduled to meet with his new team at 9:15 a.m.
Slover, a native of Lake City and graduate of Anderson County High School and Tusculum University, has been the head coach of the Big Red for the past six seasons, guiding the Newport school to an 18-44 record and 8-30 region mark in his six years.
Slover led the Fighting Cocks to a 7-4 record and a TSSAA Class 5A state playoff berth this season, marking the first time CCHS finished better than .500 in a season since 1996 and just the second playoff appearance for the program since 2002 and first since 2011. For his efforts, the Citizen Tribune named him its 2018 All-Lakeway Area Football Coach of the Year.
Slover was a prolific passer in his two seasons as the quarterback at Tusculum, setting six offensive records that have since been eclipsed. He passed for 4,973 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career with the Pioneers after playing junior college football at Georgia Military College. He is a member of the Tusculum Sports Hall of Fame.
After a three-year stint in the Arena Football League 2, Slover was hired as an assistant coach at Tusculum under former coach Frankie DeBusk. He spent seven seasons at Tusculum on the coaching staff, finishing up as the running backs coach and director of football operations before accepting the job at Cocke County.
Slover took over for departed coach Greg Hacker in Newport, and he sandwiched a pair of 1-9 seasons around a 3-7 mark in his first three years before going 2-9 in his fourth year with a postseason game against Seymour in the CAREacter Bowl in Knoxville.
These past two seasons, Slover led the Fighting Cocks to an 11-10 record, eclipsing his wins total by four from his first four years as head coach. He took CCHS to the playoffs in November, losing in the first round to eventual Class 5A state champion Knox Central, 48-6.
Known for his high-scoring aerial attack, Slover brings a new offensive style to Morristown as he takes over a Hurricane program that was under the tutelage of Dewayne Wells the past five years. Wells was 21-33 as the head coach, guiding East to the Class 5A playoffs in four of his five years. The only year the ‘Canes missed the playoffs under Wells was last season, when Cocke County claimed a 40-37 victory on Oct. 19 to claim the final playoff spot in Region 1-5A.
Slover was the first head coach to finish six seasons at Cocke County since Wes Jones did so in the 2005 season before leaving to take over as the offensive coordinator at Austin-East.
For more on this developing story, see today's edition of the Citizen Tribune.