MURFREESBORO — Philip Shadowens has been involved in high school football as a head coach or an assistant in Rutherford County for the past 24 years.
Year No. 25 is in doubt.
Shadowens shocked his Blackman team, parents, coaching staff and Tennessee prep football coaches statewide on Friday afternoon with the announcement that he has resigned as the Blaze head coach after six seasons.
Shadowens, who won back-to-back Class 5A state championships at Smyrna High, cited different philosophies with Blackman’s first-year principal Leisa Justus as the reason for his resignation. He said he has not resigned as a teacher but acknowledged he will likely teach at a different school next year.
“We have different philosophies,” Shadowens said. “We simply don’t agree. Our philosophies are way different. It is not one thing.
“It’s how we hire coaches, and how we run a program. I’ve been doing it for 21 years. Her philosophy is completely different than mine. And she has that choice as the principal.
“But I have a different idea on how to manage a program. It’s always been about the kids, not the adults. That’s how we’ve ran this program.”
Justus confirmed in a press release that Shadowens resigned because of differences of opinion.
“I met today with Philip Shadowens to discuss the future of the Blackman High School football program, and I have accepted his resignation as head coach,” Justus stated in the release. “Mr. Shadowens and I have differing philosophies on the manner in which the program should be managed.”
Shadowens said he will meet with county school officials early next week about his teaching options.
“I will meet with the county on Tuesday. I’m tenured. I’ve been here for 24 years. I’ll be somewhere in the county where it’s the best fit, and where God leads me. It’s been made abundantly clear that’s not here.”
Shadowens is the second coach to leave a District 7-AAA football program in nine days. Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel resigned to take the Christian Brothers position on Feb. 4.
Shadowens made it clear he is not leaving as Blackman coach with another job already lined up.
“I will weigh my options and see where God leads me,” he said.
Shadowens led Blackman to a 59-17 record in six seasons, making the 6A playoffs each year. The Blaze reached the state semifinals in 2013 for the first time in school history.
Justus said she will form a search committee “consisting of a variety of stakeholders.”
“The committee will be charged with conducting a wide and thorough search to identify the very best candidate that exemplifies Blackman’s tradition of distinction,” the release said.
However, it was Shadowens that built that tradition. His Blaze teams never won fewer than eight games. The program reached the second round of the 6A playoffs in his first season, ending a seven-year postseason drought.
He is 179-78 in 21 years as a head coach.
Shadowens spent 14 seasons at Smyrna High, his alma mater, as the head coach. His Smyrna teams won the 2006 and 2007 Class 5A state championships.
He left Smyrna High after the 2007 season to become the football coach at Middle Tennessee Christian where he spent one season. He then replaced Bobby Wells at Blackman.
The Blaze went 11-2 in 2014 and won the District 7-AAA championship, his second at Blackman. Oakland defeated Blackman in the 6A state quarterfinals.
“It’s been a great six years,” Shadowens said. “I was blessed to have the privilege to work for Gail Vick, who hired me (at Blackman). I appreciated everything she did for me for those five years.”
Shadowens coached two Mr. Football winners at Blackman High in running back I’Tavius Mathers and quarterback Jauan Jennings. He coached two other Mr. Football winners at Smyrna in wide receiver Rodriguez Wilks and lineman Adam Smotherman. And his quarterback during his championships at Smyrna was Sonny Gray, who currently pitches for the Oakland A’s.
Contact Tom Kreager at tkreager@<DP>dnj.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.