RUTLEDGE – When football season starts in August, Chad Tate will be on the field, but in a different capacity.
Tate announced Friday, February 5 that he is stepping down as head football coach but will remain at Grainger High School as the athletic director and assistant principal.
Tate has had a successful run in Rutledge as he won 41 games, advanced to the postseason five times in eight seasons and didn’t have a losing record in the past six years. That’s not an easy task as the last four TSSAA class 4-A state champions, Greeneville and Elizabethton, are teams the Grizzlies have to match up against each season in conference play.
“It is something I have been thinking about a lot since the end of the season,” Tate said. “I feel like if you’re a football coach and you are doing it the way you are supposed to be doing it, you kind of question if you want to come back every year. It’s a 365-days-a-year job and you are always going at it, and if you are doing it right, you might think about not coming back every year.”
Grainger’s run-heavy offense has produced multiple all-stars such as Jacob Bunch and Dawson Holt. Both players were named to the All-State team, with Holt receiving the honor in both his junior and senior seasons. Bunch (162 yards per game), Preston Owens (138 yards per game) and Holt (146 yards per game in 2019, 127 yards per game in 2020) were three players who eclipsed the century mark in rushing in every game per average under Tate. The Grizzlies averaged 230 yards as a team in 2020.
Tate said one of the reasons for his success was the men he surrounded himself with to teach the Grizzlies how to play the game the right way.
“I had an outstanding coaching staff and for the most of the last six years, we had the same coaching staff. I leaned on those guys so much. I think one of the reasons for our success was the coaching staff, because of the time and commitment they made. It’s been amazing,” he said.
So what does the future hold for Tate? While he said now was the right time for him to step away from the game, he didn’t completely slam the door shut to a possible return to the sidelines sometime down the road. “I’m not saying I will never coach again,” he said. “I am not closing any doors because you never know what opportunities might be out there, but right now, this is the decision that is best for me and my family.”
The search for Grainger’s next football coach will begin immediately.