Munford head coach Nick Markle did not believe this was a good time to leave.
The Cougars return quite a bit of talent next year and he thinks Munford could be the team to beat in its league in 2020.
But an incredible opportunity came his way and he could not turn it down.
Markle, who led the Cougars to three playoff appearances and went 27-17 in his four seasons at Munford, resigned this morning to take the head coaching position at Union City, which has won four state titles over the past nine seasons.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a good time to move,” Markle said. “Munford is in a really good position to be competitive for the next five seasons, at least. But a job like Union City doesn’t come open very often. I felt like I had to jump on this now. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often and I felt like I would have regretted not taking it.”
Markle was an assistant coach at Munford for two seasons under J.R. Kirby, who resurrected the program quickly when he took it over. When Kirby, who is now the head coach at Covington, left Munford to go to Crockett County, Markle was hired as his replacement and took the program to new heights.
After a 5-5 record his first season, Markle led the Cougars to nine wins in 2017, six in 2018 and seven last year. Munford won its first playoff game in a decade in 2017. Munford hosted playoff games in 2017 and last year, which was the first time that had been done since 2006.
Markle replaces Darren Bowling, who resigned two weeks ago to take the head coaching job at Olive Branch High School in Mississippi. Union City went 7-5 last year, losing in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Bowling had been at Union City for 12 seasons. Markle began his coaching career at Union City as an assistant under Bowling in 2009, the year the team won its first state title.
Markle told his players today he was leaving.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Markle said. “This was probably the toughest day of my life. I love those guys and I love the coaches. The booster club has done nothing but support me. This is definitely one of the most difficult afternoons I’ve ever had. Without that opportunity I would not have had this one. Everybody’s been great.”
Munford principal Dr. Courtney Fee said, “Since Coach Markle joined our program, and especially since he’s been head coach, our program has simply gotten stronger. Whether you measure this in wins, in competitiveness or from the aspect of building young men, the program’s as strong as I’ve seen it. Our loss is Union City’s gain.”
Now, of course, the Munford administration turns its attention to hiring a coach who can continue the progress.
Markle said he believes Slade Calhoun, a current Munford assistant who has head coaching experience at Haywood High School, is the right man for the job.
“I think they’d be foolish not to hire Slade,” Markle said. “He’s the best coach I’ve ever coached with. I think he would be a steal.”
Markle at Munford