Tyler Consolidated's football game with Bishop Donahue in Kidwell on Friday not only means an end of a era for the senior class, but also the final game for head coach Rob Caldwell.
Earlier this month, the Tyler County Board of Education approved his resignation.
"It comes down to three things, basically," said Caldwell, who in nine seasons with the Silver Knights has compiled a record of 36-55 with one game remaining in the 2012 regular season. "I have one daughter in sixth grade (Candace) and another in third grade (Camryn), and both are involved in athletics. And I don't want to miss that time with them.
"Another aspect was the health issue. Earlier this year, I was getting symptoms like I had before I had back surgery, which really scares me. I don't want to go through what happened when I lost 25 pounds in a month and a half before the surgery. It was miserable and I wouldn't wish that on my own enemy."
The final reason? Coach Caldwell would only allude to the fact that perhaps it was just time for a change with the program.
Five years have passed since Tyler Consolidated recovered from a 1-2 start and finished 9-3 for Caldwell's only playoff appearance. One particular coaching memory that sticks with the 1981 River High School (Ohio) graduate occurred that season in a 42-14 first-round win against Liberty Raleigh. On that Saturday afternoon in front of the home fans, Silver Knight Jacob Lohri rushed for 347 yards.
"That would have been a state record, but somebody else in another playoff game that same day upped him one," Caldwell remembers. "Still, it was a heck of an effort."
The following summer, Caldwell coached the West Virginia squad in the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Football Classic to a 17-14 win against its Ohio counterparts at Warren High School.
The pinnacle of Caldwell's coaching career was followed by a pair of .500 finishes with the Silver Knights.
During media day earlier this fall, the lack of bounce in Caldwell's step was clearly evident.
And not because of last year's one-win season. Rather, the effects of two-a-days were wearing on his health.
"Due to the wear and tear over time, two discs in my back were pretty much gone," Caldwell explained. "Usually in the offseason when the players work out, I'm right there with them. I like to mountain bike, hunt, fish and lift weights - but now I have to cut back on a lot of that stuff and try to do what my body allows me."
At 3-6, the Silver Knights want to play spoiler against a Bishop Donahue squad that is 6-3 and ranked 15th in Class A.
"For me, this being my last game is no big deal - I'm more concerned for the kids," Caldwell said.
"This is something they will look back on. During my playing days, it was that last game I remember."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org