A new face will lead the Italy Gladiators football program onto the gridiron this fall after a unanimous vote by the board of trustees Wednesday evening.
At the recommendation of Italy ISD Superintendent Lee Joffre, the board approved the hire of Craig Horn, 41, as the new head football coach and athletic director in front of about 40 players, parents and community members inside the Italy High School cafeteria.
A total of nine candidates were interviewed, according to the superintendent. Horn has a 101-30 career record as a head coach.
Joffre said Italy ISD looks forward to a “new level of excitement: across the district and the town with Horn at the helm of the football and athletic programs. He also noted Horn “brings a new level of legitimacy to our program that I think will get a lot of people’s attention.”
“We expect him to bring his winning culture to Italy and help develop that same culture here,” Joffre added. “We know that it is going to take a lot of work and we look forward to standing behind coach Horn as he brings our athletic program to the next level.”
Horn replaces David Weaver, who took the Gladiators to three-straight bi-district championship appearances and compiled a 17-16 overall record in his three seasons as the head coach. Joffre noted Weaver left on good terms with the district and also stated he is very appreciative of the successes achieved by the former head coach and athletic director while with IISD.
The most recent highlight to Horn's 16-year coaching career came in the 2017 Class 2A Division II state championship when his then-undefeated Tenaha Tigers squared off against also undefeated Muenster. The Tigers ultimately fell at AT&T Stadium, 27-20.
He amassed a 37-8 record while at the helm of the Tenaha football program before stepping down in late April.
Horn also helped win a 4A state title in 2003 while an assistant coach at La Marque, where he coached from 2002-06. He then took his first head coaching gig at nearby Itasca (2007-10, 30-8) before leading Hubbard (2011-14, 34-12) and then Tenaha.
A 2017 Corsicana Daily Sun report noted Hubbard stepped down from his post with the Itasca Wampus Cats in 2010 after a 3-2 start to the season and also briefly held a position as a head coach in Brady before jumping on the opening in Tenaha.
Just after the board's approval, Horn expressed his excitement for the opportunity to join the Gladiator community, which he noted is "very demanding of success."
"We are going to work hard and we are going to be disciplined because that is the only way to be successful," he added. "I am a win every day, all day kind of guy."
Horn and his wife have seven sons — two who have graduated high school, a junior, freshman, two in sixth grade and one not yet in school.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith