KCHS football coach Cokinos steps down

Former Irish coach Steve Matthews and longtime prep coach Philip Shadowens named co-head coaches

By Dan McWilliams

Steve Matthews

Dean Cokinos, named head coach of the Knoxville Catholic High School football team Dec. 22, stepped down this summer shortly before practices began for the 2023 season.

“Coach Cokinos won’t have the opportunity to move to Knoxville with his family, unfortunately, so we have named Steve Matthews and Philip Shadowens co-interim head football coaches,” said a KCHS spokesperson.

Mr. Matthews, a former KCHS head coach for eight seasons, will lead the Fighting Irish offense while Mr. Shadowens—a longtime head coach himself—directs the defense. Both were hired as KCHS assistants early this year after Mr. Cokinos was named head coach.

Mr. Cokinos had been the head coach of arena football teams in Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Atlanta; worked in international football operations and as a head coach in Germany; coached in the collegiate level at UMass, Austin Peay, and West Alabama; and coached special teams and linebackers at Brentwood Academy and Ensworth in Nashville in the last three seasons. His head coaching regular-season record is 165-86-1, with an 11-6 postseason record. His teams qualified for the playoffs 13 times, appeared in the semifinals seven times, and were five-time conference champions and twice league champions. Mr. Cokinos succeeded Korey Mobbs as Knoxville Catholic’s head coach after the latter resigned following two seasons at the helm.

Philip Shadowens

Mr. Matthews coached the Fighting Irish from 2013-20. He resigned in spring 2021 after an arrest on DUI and drug charges. He won two state championships at KCHS, in 2015 and 2017. Mr. Shadowens captured two state titles at Smyrna during his head-coaching career. He has also served as head coach of Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro, Blackman in Murfreesboro, William Blount in Maryville, and most recently at Eagleton College and Career Academy in Maryville. His career head coaching record is 196-134.

The Fighting Irish kick off the season at home Aug. 18 against Lakeway Christian of White Pine. Knoxville Catholic will be in a rugged Division II-AAA East Region made even tougher with the addition of Lipscomb Academy, which won the state title last year at the Division II-AA level. Also in Division II-AAA with KCHS are Baylor School of Chattanooga, Brentwood Academy, McCallie School of Chattanooga, and Montgomery Bell Academy of Nashville.

The Fighting Irish will play their region opponents in the last five weeks of the season. Before that are a road game at Brevard, N.C., on Aug. 25; a home game against St. John Paul II of Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 1; a road contest at Ensworth on Sept. 8; and a home game against Briarcrest Christian of Eads, Tenn., on Sept. 15. The region games follow an open date Sept. 22.

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