There haven't been too many football programs in the area any better than Henderson the last three years, and one of the past decade's most successful head coaches is looking to continue the trend.

Phil Castles was hired by Henderson ISD in February to replace Dickey Meeks, who left for the athletic director and head coaching vacancy in Pittsburg a month prior. After a four-year stint outside of East Texas, Castles has returned in the hopes of making his mark on another program.

The first seven years of Castles' head coaching career were spent at Elysian Fields (2002-04) and Chapel Hill (2005-08) before he made the move to Corsicana, where he's spent the last four seasons.

Each of his three previous coaching stops began under different pretenses.

In 2002, Castles took over an Elysian Fields program that was 85-27-2 in the nine years before his arrival. He kept the train rolling with a 28-9 record and three consecutive playoff appearances in his three seasons with the Yellowjackets.

His next challenge was taking over a Chapel Hill program that was 26-55 with only one postseason appearance in the eight years prior to the Castles era. The Bulldogs missed the playoffs in his first year -- the only time in Castles' career he has failed to lead a team to the playoffs -- but the next three years helped lay the foundation for what was to come.

Castles led Chapel Hill to a 9-2 finish in his last season as head coach in 2008, the Bulldogs' most wins since 1995. And two years later, under current head coach Thomas Sitton, Chapel Hill played for the Class 3A Division I state championship. The Bulldogs lost to Henderson in the final, ironically enough, but won the state title the next year.

Castles left Chapel Hill after the '08 season for the job at Corsicana, one of the premier football programs in the history of the state. Corsicana will enter the 2013 season sixth all-time in wins.

At Corsicana, Castles led the Tigers to the playoffs all four years he was in charge. His best season was 2011 when the Tigers went 13-2 and reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1994.

Castles now takes over a Henderson program that's 33-10 in the last three years, which included a state championship in 2010, a state-semifinalist finish in 2011 and a trip to the state quarterfinals last season.

The challenge facing Castles and his coaching staff at Henderson will be finding replacements for a bevy of talented playmakers, which included multi-talented quarterback Patrick "Monsta" Brown (2,329 total yards, 24 touchdowns), running back Diamante Wright (1,372 yards, 17 TDs) and defensive end Bo Brady (75 tackles, 28 for loss, 13.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles).

By The Numbers

Phil Castles

Elysian Fields

  • 2002: 8-4 (2A area finalist)
  • 2003: 10-3 (2A regional semifinalist)
  • 2004: 10-2 (2A area finalist)

 

Chapel Hill

  • 2005: 3-7
  • 2006: 6-6 (3A area finalist)
  • 2007: 6-5 (3A bi-district finalist)
  • 2008: 9-2 (3A area finalist)

 

Corsicana

  • 2009: 6-6 (4A area finalist)
  • 2010: 7-4 (4A bi-district finalist)
  • 2011: 13-2 (4A semifinalist)
  • 2012: 4-7 (4A bi-district finalist)