Gary Jessie and Shade Boulware didn't play together on the same football team at Corsicana. Jessie was a senior all-state linebacker in 1993, when Boulware was an eighth grader at Collins Middle School.
"I just remember him being the all-time leading tackler in school history for a long time," Boulware said Tuesday. "Gary was a big name."
Jessie's Corsicana teams from 1991-93 didn't make the playoff run that Boulware's Tigers did in 1997. The Tigers reached the state championship game in Boulware's one season as starting quarterback, losing a heartbreaker to Texas City in the finals at the Astrodome.
"That was a great team," said Jessie, who was off playing for the New Mexico Lobos while Boulware was leading the Tigers.
Fast forward to 2011 and Jessie and Boulware are finally teammates. They have returned home as assistant coaches under Phil Castles in his summer of rebuilding the Tigers coaching staff after several key departures.
Both Jessie and Boulware had eyed a return to Corsicana, even though they were happy at their current schools. This time around the timing was finally right.
Jessie was the defensive coordinator at Class 5A Spring High School near Houston. He had tried to return twice as Corsicana's girls basketball coach while he was an assistant at Ennis, but things didn't work out. This summer they did.
"For me I always wanted to come back to Corsicana," Jessie said. "It just never was the right time, for whatever reason."
Jessie will be a co-defensive coordinator for the Tigers with the defensive line being his primary focus.
Boulware also returns as a co-coordinator on the offensive side with his focus being on the passing game. He was the offensive coordinator for three years at Blooming Grove after stints under Jeff Berry and Dave Henigan.
"It was a good situation," Boulware said of coming back to Corsicana. "I wasn't looking hard. But when Coach Castles contacted me, it was right. There was no reason not to return back home."
The decision is made easier when your alma mater is the sixth winningest high school football program in the state of Texas. That helped make the job attractive as Castles' added two coordinators to his staff.
"For me I've been a few places and nothing matches the mystique here," Jessie said. "The numbers don't lie. All the playoff appearances. All the players in the NFL."
Boulware said he and Jessie can use the tradition of Corsicana football to their advantage with the players. They were both winners and top players for their respective teams.
"There's an atmosphere of tradition," Boulware said. "The kids here know the history and what the teams before them did. That's part of the reason we're here."
The bonus is that both Jessie ansd Boulware continue a family atmosphere on the Tigers' staff. Jessie and his wife TaShaena have been married for 10 years and have Kasey, 17, Trinity, 9, and the lone boy, Zion, who is 6. Boulware and his wife Dani have a 2-year-old daughter, Harper.
Everyone is feeling right at home. With Richey Cutrer also on the varsity staff, that makes three former Tigers among Castles' coaches.
"Richey's a big name in Corsicana football," Boulware said. "He was a guy we all always looked up to."
Jessie said the welcome home has been overwhelming. He was grabbing some lunch on Tuesday when a woman stopped him and hooted and hollered about him being back with the Tigers.
"Everybody knows you and they want a hug," Jessie said.