Matt Middleton accepted the head football coach position at Cedar Creek in hopes of recreating the magic he once had at Prairie View Academy.
In his last two years coaching at Prairie View from 2015-16, Middleton compiled a 21-6 record, which included back-to-back district titles.
"I'll be candid and frank with you. When I went to Prairie View, that was the most fun I've had coaching," Middleton said. "It was a small feel. Everybody was involved. The overall atmosphere. It's a family atmosphere, and don't get me wrong it's a family atmosphere here too. It's just so big here that there are still so many kids you don't come in contact with, but I feel like I've thrived in that environment before. People don't realize what it's like when you get to see a little second grader in the hallway, knowing you'll probably get to coach that kid one day."
Middleton took over as the Chiefs head football coach in 2017 after his stint with Prairie View. The Chiefs went 3-3 last season after a bowl victory against Benton. After that 21-17 victory, Middleton told The Ouachita Citizen the win was huge for the program and its future.
West Ouachita athletic director Mitch Thomas said the school hated to see Middleton go but understood why he would want to "downsize."
"It's just a situation where he wants to go to a smaller school," Thomas said. "Both of his kids will be able to go with him, and he can be a lot more hands on at a smaller school like that. We hated to see him go. Matt has done a great job, and it was a really tough decision for him. We wish him the best, but this occupation, it happens."
Reflecting on his time at West Ouachita, Middleton said he knew it would be a long process but felt progress was made.
"It was a very difficult transition," Middleton said. "Obviously you want to win and win big, but our goal was to try and get competitive. We were getting closer."
Offensive coordinator Mike Rainwater will take over as head coach for the Chiefs.