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Craig Slaughter, Sweetwater High School's head football coach and athletic director the past three years, announced today that he is resigning to accept a similar position at Llano.
Slaughter has posted just a 9-21 record at Sweetwater, with three straight sub-.500 seasons and no playoff appearances, since replacing the highly-successful Kent Jackson in 2009 at a school known for its winning football tradition.
However, he had engineered remarkable turnarounds at his two previous head coaching jobs. First there was a four-year stint from 2002-05 at Hearne, where Slaughter had a 24-19 record at a school that had won just 24 total games in the previous 11 seasons. That was followed by a three-year stint from 2006-08 at Clyde, another perennial loser which went 23-12 and made the playoffs all three years under Slaughter including its first outright district title in 53 years.
It was a different story at Sweetwater, which went just 1-9 in Slaughter's first season, though it did improve to 4-6 in both 2010 and 2011.
The Mustangs also won just two district games in his tenure â€” albeit while competing as one of the smallest schools in one of the toughest Class 3A football districts in the state â€” after making the playoffs each of the previous eight years under Jackson.
But Slaughter, whose first day at Llano will be April 9, had nothing but good things to say about his time here.
"I'd like to thank the people of Sweetwater and the administration," he said. "They've been top notch. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. I just felt it was the right time to give someone else a chance. I wish everyone here nothing but success. There are no hard feelings.
"If you go 9-21, a lot of people might think it would be terrible (coaching) in Sweetwater. But the support here has been incredible. It's been a wonderful three years and I'll miss my time here."
Sweetwater ISD superintendent Terry Pittman expressed similar appreciation to Slaughter, noting that the coach's contract had been renewed by the board just last month.
"When I hired Craig three years ago I was excited about what he could do and I never lost that enthusiasm," Pittman said. "I think he's done a great job. He's been in a tough district, but the kids did a good job every time they went out there. It's been a frustrating thing for him because he's always won."
Pittman said the Llano school board is expected to formally approve Slaughter's hiring when it meets next Monday. Sweetwater trustees will meet tonight, Pittman said, and personnel matters will be among the items on their agenda.
Slaughter's last day in Sweetwater is expected to be April 6, and an interim will be named until a new head football coach and athletic director is hired. However, Pittman said he has already received several calls about the job and that the opening will be posted on several websites immediately. The superintendent said he hopes to have a new person in place here by the first week of May, and expects a lot of applicants before a decision is reached.