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Graham resigns as Red Knights’ football coach

By Staff | Mar 27, 2018

In 2014, Earnest Graham took over a moribund program and brought it back to greatness.

On Tuesday, Graham resigned after four seasons as North Fort Myers High School head football coach, citing health concerns and the desire to spend more time with his family.

In a letter to Principal Debbie Diggs, Graham said his coaching responsibilities have made it difficult for him to be a father.

“The head coaching position has made it challenging for me to meet my goal of being 100 percent involved in my kids’ academics and hobbies, as well as living a healthy life. It is time for me to take care of myself and fully support their needs and dreams,” Graham said in his letter.

Graham thanked Diggs and athletic director Joe Bowen, his family and the players he has coached in his time at North.

Diggs, in a statement, said the school was blessed to call Graham one of its own in his time as coach.

“Through his work with our football program, student athletes, fellow coaches, staff, parents and community, he rebuilt a program into one we are all proud of,” Diggs said in a statement.

Graham, who starred as a running back at Mariner High School, played at the University of Florida, then had a nine-year NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retiring after the 2011 season.

Three years later, Graham took over a North Fort Myers program that had seen its glory years slip further in the rearview mirror, and oversaw a team that went from a talented, but error-prone team to an area powerhouse.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, Graham resigned briefly after his first season at North and was in consideration for taking over at Lehigh. He cited a lack of clarity and chemistry with the administration that had taken over at the school.

Last year the team went undefeated in the regular season and advanced to the second round of regionals, where it was beaten by archrival Fort Myers, to finish 9-1.

In his four years at North Fort Myers High, Graham had a record of 25-14 as head coach. His teams were 5-5 his first two years before posting a 6-3 mark in 2016.