MIAMI — James Cheatham has stepped down as head football coach at Miami High School.

He will remain as athletic director and assistant principal at MHS.

“This decision has been a difficult one, and is based on what I believe to be best for all involved with the football program,” Cheatham said in a prepared statement. “This will allow me to focus more on the administrative aspects of athletics, as well as other administrator duties, and throw my full focus on assisting coaches and leading the athletic department in a “continuous positive direction.”

“We have numerous challenges in education today and athletics is no exception to these challenges. However, athletics is a vital part of a well-rounded public education experience.”

“Coach Cheatham has done a great job in his time in Miami,” Miami Public Schools superintendent Jeremy Hogan said. “He’s in a very unique position being athletic director, assistant principal and head football coach, wearing those three hats. That can be very challenging in itself.”

Hogan said the position likely would be posted Friday, but the board of education will not officially accept Cheatham’s letter of resignation until its Jan. 9 meeting.

If the resignation is accepted, the interview process for candidates can begin.

“We are going to do our best to find the best coach we can,” Hogan said.

Cheatham was 11-29 in four seasons as the Wardogs’ head coach. They were 1-9 this past season while playing in what could be the toughest football district in the state.

District 4A-3 rivals Wagoner and Oologah finished 1-2 for the third straight year and Tulsa Cascia Hall has been a semifinalist during that stretch, also.

Cheatham succeeded Rick Woods as the Wardogs’ head coach.

While at NEO, Cheatham was defensive coordinator, coordinator of leadership, academic advisor and retention specialist at Northeastern A&M.

“I have enjoyed leading the Wardog football program over the past four years,” Cheatham said. “I greatly appreciate the work and effort of the players, coaching staff, administration, boosters and all those involved in what it takes to operate a football program.

“It has been my pleasure to work with many who have sacrificed greatly on a day-to-day basis to represent Wardog football in a positive manner. I especially want to thank my family for their sacrifices and understanding of the responsibilities of a head coach and running a football program. I am proud of what we, as a coaching staff, have instilled within the program in the attempt to build a standard work ethic and accountability.”

Hogan said he and MHS principal Lisa Munson would coordinate the search.