Athens, Texas (The Athens Review) - The Athens Independent School District's Board of Trustees hired a new athletic director/head football coach Thursday night at their monthly meeting.
Paul Essary will take over the reins of the Hornet football program and oversee the athletic department next year.
"This is just like coming home," Essary said, who is from Palestine. "I always wanted the right job with the right people and I know a lot of people who know Dr. Hayes and they spoke very highly of him and I knew it would be great to work with him."
Essary served as head coach at Elkhart from 1996-1998 where they had a 12-18 record. In 1999, he moved to Center to take over the program where he went 15-26. For the past four years he served as defensive coordinator at Deer Park High School near Houston.
"I've always known about Athens," he said. "Even back when I was in school at Palestine we competed against each other and I really feel like Athens is a diamond in the rough."
Prior to joining Deer Park, Essary served as defensive coordinator at Baytown's Lee High School. During his time at Deer Park he helped the team get to the playoffs.
"Paul's passion for kids is what really attracted me to him," AISD Superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes said. "As I looked at what he said to me about working with the kids and football, it was just exciting to hear him talk about it. He comes from a good program there at Deer Park and I just really feel like he was the right guy."
When asked if all the applicants were close in records and ability, Hayes said it was a very close call.
"I don't really want to take anything away from the other applicants, but Paul just stood out among the rest with his excitement," Hayes said.
According to an Athens ISD press release, Essary's defense has been ranked in the Top 10 consistently in the Houston area for the past 10 years and while in Center, he was named District 20-AAA Coach of the Year in 2000.
In that same year, he won the Sportsmanship Award from the East Texas Football Coaches Association, according to the release.
"I understand we (Athens) has been picked to win the district by Dave Campbell's Texas Football and I think that's great," Essary said. "I would much rather be first than last. Every day we come to work as coach and players we are going to work towards the state championship. We are also going to build good character in these athletes."