Corsicana head football coach Steve Hoffman is leaving.
Hoffman, who turned the program around, lifting the Tigers from a question mark to an exclamation point in his six years at CHS, is heading south toward home and a new beginning at Johnson High School in Buda, Texas, where he will open a new high school in the fall and build the football program from scratch.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Hoffman, who will be 40 minutes from his parents and family. "We will have freshmen and sophomores my first year and have a JV team, and play varsity the second year.
"It's a chance to be close to my family, my mom and dad, and it's a great opportunity to open a new school."
Hoffman is from the San Antonio area, and after graduating from Texas Tech, he started his coaching career in that area. Johnson High School, which will eventually be a Class 5A school, is Hoffman's sixth school and his third as a head coach. He has been successful turning programs around everywhere he has coached.
After a tough start in which the Tigers went 3-6 and 3-7 his first two years, the program improved dramatically in 2016 when the Tigers turned a slow start into a strong run. Hoffman's teams reached the playoffs the last three seasons and lost only three district games over that stretch.
The Tigers would have reached the playoffs five consecutive years if not for the Lufkin situation. Lufkin played in the 16-5A district for two years with a Class 6A enrollment, and if the much larger school played in the correct classification Corsicana would have seized playoff spots both years.
The 2018 Tigers are by far Hoffman's best team. They went 9-3 and clinched the district title early with a 7-0 start, and then defeated Lake Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Tigers had their best season since 2011, winning their first outright district title in 14 years and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Who knows how far this team might have gone had quarterback Blake Hoffman, the coach's son and the two-time winner of the Golden Circle's Del Thrash award and a two-time district MVP, suffered an injury in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the game in a 28-20 loss to Burleson Centennial.
Unlike most coaches who leave one program for another, Steve Hoffman is leaving the cupboard stuffed and overflowing with talent. There are 11 players returning who were named to either the first or second team on the District 8-5A DII all-district team.
The biggest question until Friday for the Tigers was how will they replace Blake Hoffman, a three-year starter who ran and threw for a combined 7,032 yards -- the most by any player in Corsicana's long and storied history. Now the question is who will replace Steve Hoffman. l
"Whoever comes in to coach here, it will be a good situation," Hoffman said. "We got better every year since I got here. I'm extremely proud of that. We've done a really good job with that.
"It's hard to leave. It's really hard," he said. "It's a tough decision. The program is on the climb, and there are great coaches here. I'm leaving a program on the way up. It's going to be good for the coach who is coming in."
Hoffman will leave immediately but the family will stay in Corsicana until after Blake graduates. Hoffman's daughter Caroline is a sophomore and will run on the track team this spring, and Blake will play baseball. Hoffman’s wife Emily and their four children will join him after the school year is over.
"It's a very tough decision to leave," coach Hoffman said. "I love Corsicana. I love these kids. I love (CISD Superintendent) Dr. Frost. She is one of a kind and great to work for. She's an outstanding superintendent. And I loved working with the coaches here."
Hoffman will take many lifelong memories with him.
"The best memory for sure is this year's football team," he said. "I've had these seniors since they were in seventh grade. The kids in Corsicana are the best kids and having those kids from seventh grade through their senior year is something I will cherish the rest of my life. I loved being in Corsicana."