By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Corsicana ISD will begins its search process right away for its next head football coach, that after outgoing coach Phil Castles accepted the football coach and athletic director post at Henderson High School on Tuesday.
Superintendent Dr. Diane Frost said Wednesday that the school district will look for the right person, on and off the field, to lead the sixth winningest football program in the history of the state.
“We will find the person who is the best fit for the district who has the talent to take our program to an even higher level,” Frost said. “Our players, who have invested so much into this program, are our first priority.
“We will ensure that the new head coach works well with student athletes and is invested in both our players and our community.”
Henderson ISD confirmed Wednesday in a press release that it is offering Castles a position as athletic director and football coach.
HISD superintendent Keith Boles will recommend Castles to the Board of Trustees at a noon meeting on Monday.
Castles met with his Corsicana players and coaches Wednesday morning and told them he has taken the job at Henderson.
It will end a four-year run with Castles in charge of the Tigers football program.
“I’ve verbally accepted the head coaching position at Henderson,” Castles said Wednesday morning after his players departed for classes. “They have to do their stuff over there in Henderson.”
Castles’ hiring in Henderson won’t be official until Monday, when the Henderson ISD school board approves him.
Castles ends a four-year run at Corsicana that included four playoff appearances and a state-semifinal season in 2011, the Tigers’ deepest run in the postseason since 1997.
Corsicana was 30-19 under Castles and ended a drought that saw the Tigers miss the playoffs in 2007 and ‘08.
“Coach Castles has been more than a successful coach for Corsicana ISD,” Frost said. “He was hired to restore pride and success to an established program, and he exceeded these expectations, going to the playoffs every year with a very deep year in 2011.
“Coach Castles has also been a role model for our players and a valuable member of our community. It has been my pleasure to work with a head coach of such integrity and character, and I wish him success in his new role.”
Castles was a natural fit for Corsicana. His father, John, graduated from Corsicana High School in 1962. As a kid, Phil spent many summers in Corsicana visiting relatives.
Castles was a Tigers assistant coach for a season in 1998 under Tom Wilson. He was hired by then Corsicana superintendent Don Denbow, another Tiger coaching legend.
“This program here in Corsicana means so much to me because of my dad and all the summers I spent here as a kid,” Castles said. “There’s something special here with Coach Wilson and Donnie Denbow and the tradition here.”
Corsicana hadn’t won a playoff game since 2005 before the Tigers beat West Mesquite in the 2009 Class 4A Region II bi-district playoffs in DeSoto. The Tigers lost to Marshall the next week in an area round game in Tyler.
The Tigers had a memorable season in 2011, winning four playoffs games before falling to eventual state champion Aledo in the state semifinals at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers’ 13-2 season was a culmination of hard work that went back to a boot camp Castles had for his new players in the spring of 1999. He stressed physical play, and Corsicana was one of the best in the state at running the football during Castles’ four seasons.
“It was a blessing I feel like to bring back some of the old Corsicana back and the physical part of the game,” Castles said. “That part of it, I told the kids to keep up the hard work and be proud to be a Corsicana Tiger.”