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Updated at 8:42 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, with more information.

While a three-peat or 54-game winning streak will be nearly impossible to re-create, Cleveland High School's new head football coach hopes to bring fear back to the program.

With an average of just 5.6 wins per season over the past decade, the Blue Raiders will look to Marty Wheeler to get them back among the state powers.

"Cleveland used to be a team nobody wanted to see coming," the 44-year-old Wheeler said in a phone interview with the Times Free Press after his hire was announced Monday. "The success they had in the (19)90s is hard to rival. As a guy looking from the outside in, you are trying to re-create that type of environment and program."

For the past 10 seasons Wheeler helped provide an electric atmosphere at Covington High School in West Tennessee's Tipton County.

He led the Chargers to a 85-38 (.691) overall record with back-to-back Class 3A state title appearances in 2017 and 2018 along with a Class 4A final in 2012.

"My philosophy has always been to play football the way it's supposed to be played," said Wheeler, who was the head coach for Ripley High from 2006 to 2008. "We want to be the strongest and most physical team out on the field every Friday night. We also play to win and never to beat ourselves."

Covington claimed five region championships, won 11 or more games on four occasions and achieved school-record 14-win seasons in 2012 and 2018 under Wheeler. Two months ago the Chargers nearly captured the program's first state championship in six career appearances but fell 21-14 to Alcoa's four-peat.

Wheeler considers Cleveland a "great" place to raise a family. He and his wife have two daughters.

"This school has excellent academics, and the history of its athletics is high, too," Wheeler said. "As soon as I get there, the first thing I am going to concentrate on is building relationships with our student-athletes. We want our guys to trust us and know our vision toward success."

Wheeler will be introduced to his new team this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Raider Arena lobby. He takes over for Knoxville Halls coach Scott Cummings, who resigned from Cleveland on Dec. 27.

From making trips to the state championship game as a defensive coordinator with Covington in 2003 to a final state-title appearance with the Chargers this past year, the new Blue Raiders' head coach hopes to achieve similar success over the long haul in Bradley County.

"At the end of the day it takes a lot of people to be successful," Wheeler said. "It's not just one guy. My number one goal is to surround our players with the best possible people I can surround them with to coach them up as players and young men."

Wheeler has coached numerous all-state players and a 2012 Mr. Football finalist, Johnston White, who went on to rush for over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with Arkansas State.

Covington also had a 2018 Mr. Football semifinalist in sophomore running back Marcus Hayes.

"I am excited to help this football program get back to where it is supposed to be," Wheeler said. "We want the atmosphere inside our stadium to be special every Friday night."

Cleveland's last playoff victory came in 2014.

"We are extremely excited for Coach Wheeler to join our team at Cleveland High School," athletic director David Turner said. "He has tremendous energy and passion for the game of football.

"His strength in coaching is definitely his ability to build meaningful relationships with his players. He has maintained a high level of success over his coaching career that will translate to our program."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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