Editor’s note: This story also appears in the Nov. 29 edition of Preston Hollow People.
For the second time in two years, the Episcopal School of Dallas is looking for a head football coach.
Clayton Sanders’ resignation was first reported Nov. 13 on the website of Vype, a magazine about high school sports.
“In Coach Sanders’ two-year tenure as head football coach, ESD’s program has seen a significant increase in participation and results,” ESD head of school Meredyth M. Cole is quoted as saying in the Vype story. “I know you join me in thanking Coach Sanders for his service to the school.”
The story says Richard Williams, who arrived at ESD with Sanders, has been named interim head coach while athletic director Jerry Reese conducts a nationwide search for Sanders’ replacement. It does not address any reasons for Sanders’ departure.
ESD officials were not available for interviews this week due to the school’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Preston Hollow People became aware of Sanders’ resignation via Twitter on Nov. 22, when he told his followers that he would soon delete his @CoachSandersESD account and asked them to follow @CoachSandersCR instead.
Sanders acknowledged via a Twitter direct message that his new account was because of a new job, but he did not say where he would be coaching nor did he explain what “CR” stands for.
ESD announced Sanders’ hiring in March 2012. He came from the Kinkaid School in Houston, where, as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, he helped lead the Falcons to back-to-back Southwest Preparatory Conference Division I championships.
Sanders replaced Thomas Everett, who was 6-14 in two seasons as ESD’s head coach, and led the Eagles to a 9-10 record, including the team’s first winning season in five years. ESD lost to Kinkaid in the Division I semifinals this year.
But Sanders’ tenure got off to a rocky start. In his first conference game, a 46-17 loss to Arlington Oakridge in September 2012, Sanders and his staff exhibited “egregious unsportsmanlike behavior,” according to a letter penned by Kim MaGee, who was ESD’s interim head of school at the time. He was suspended for one game by the SPC Executive Committee.
In a letter of his own, Sanders apologized to the ESD community. “Our young men have an amazing amount of character, and will adapt and overcome,” he wrote.
Sanders made national news last February when he conducted a “mock 2014 National Signing Day.” He called members of the junior class to his office individually and surprised them by pretending that they were signing letters of intent to play for their preferred colleges and universities. He posted pictures of each player on Twitter, then tweeted, “You dreamed big. Now you have a year to make it a reality!”
Those kinds of gestures made Sanders very popular among ESD’s players. Defensive lineman Paul Cooke wrote this on Twitter on Nov. 20: “There will never be a better football coach that comes through the halls of ESD.”