Maplewood football coach abruptly resigns

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 5:13pm

Ralph Thompson has resigned as Maplewood High football coach after guiding the Panthers back to respectability during his eight seasons.

“There was a lot that went into it (resigning), some of which I’d rather not get into,’’ Thompson said Tuesday afternoon. “But it’s not anything negative with the school or a having a situation where I’m leaving without any talent returning.

“I just found myself looking at my children growing up without my being there to share that process with them,’’ he said. “I have a step-daughter age 13, and a daughter, 8, and sons 7 and 5, and I was spending too much time without them. I’ve been a little selfish in regards as to how much time I’ve missed with my family.’’

Thompson, 38, finished with a 49-44 record in his eight seasons. But the Panthers were 46-17 in his final five seasons, taking his teams to the playoffs all five years. His best team was the 12-3 Chris Simpson-led team of 2007 that went to the state 4A finals before losing to Maryville. It was just the school’s second finals appearance.

“I felt like I helped build the program back into a position of respectability,’’ said Thompson, a former star defensive back at Hillwood High and at Georgia. “I feel like whomever gets this job will have plenty of talent, it’s just a matter of harnessing and channeling that talent to be as good as it can be.’’

Thompson’s last team went 8-5 and reached the quarterfinals before losing to Whites Creek and also boasted the Class 4A Mr. Football winner, tackle James Stone, who signed with Tennessee earlier this month.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking on this, and it just seemed to be the right time,’’ Thompson said. “I’d like to try something a little different.’’

Thompson didn’t rule out coaching in the future.

“That may come along sometime down the road,’’ he said. “But at this point, I want to spend more time with my family. Coaching really consumed so much of my time and commitment, and it’s time I gave some of that back to my family, who comes first.’’

Thompson said he had “no idea’’ about who the next coach at Maplewood might be. Applicants for the job should contact Metro Schools athletic director Scott Brunette, who's been busy this winter with coaching vacancies, at his office, 259-8783.