WHITESBORO — Cody Fagan has been hired to be Whitesboro’s head football coach and athletic director, ending a search that started when the school board voted to let the contract of the school’s all-time winningest coach run out at the end of the school year.

Fagan, who served as the head coach at Corsicana Mildred and compiled a 9-10 record in two seasons with a playoff appearance in 2017, was approved to lead the Bearcats after the school board’s 5-0 vote in a special meeting on Friday afternoon.

“This place has been good and good for a long while,” Fagan said. “Any coach has a list of jobs they keep an eye on if there is an opening. This fit the bill for me.”

This past fall the Eagles were 3-6 and 2-5 in the 7-3A (II) standings. Mildred started district 2-0 before ending the season on a five-game losing streak to tie Scurry-Rosser and Blooming Grove for fifth place, two games back of a postseason berth.

Mildred went 6-4 in his first season with a 35-19 loss against Buffalo in the bi-district round of the playoffs after the Eagles went 3-2 to place third in District 11-3A (II). The six wins was their most in four years and an improvement over a 5-6 mark and fourth-place finish in 2017.

“There’s a lot of the same principles. I don’t know about terminology but you want to keep it as similar as possible,” Fagan said. “There will be some changes but the overall athletic program is very competitive and I want to see that continue.”

Fagan, who played safety for East Central University, was the defensive coordinator at Midlothian for two seasons before taking over at Mildred and previously was an assistant at Red Oak, Ardmore (Okla.) and Ada (Okla.).

“Working my way up through the years was as a defensive guy, secondary guy,” Fagan said. “We’re going to hang our hats on playing defense.”

There were 120 applicants for the opening, which was narrowed to two finalists.

“We went across the gamut. We interviewed 12 and each was for two hours,” Whitesboro superintendent Ryan Harper said. “Coach Fagan stood out with his enthusiasm and structure. He’s genuinely eager and excited to be in Whitesboro. He’s eager to be a part of our team.”

Fagan replaces Eddie Gill, who did not have his contract renewed in February by a 4-3 vote, and has that as a backdrop in establishing new relationships with the returning players.

“It’s a tough situation,” he said. “I had nothing to do with it and they had nothing to do with it. So we have some common ground there. I just ask them to give me a chance to be their coach.”

Added Harper: “You’re going to treat the hiring process the same no matter how you have to make the hire. We’re moving forward.”

Gill was the program’s winningest football coach by a wide margin with a 72-73 mark in his 13 seasons, 34 more than the runner-up. From 1976 to 2005 before Gill’s arrival, Whitesboro won a total of 71 games.

The biggest achievement was getting the Bearcats to the playoffs for the first time in school history, breaking through in 2011 — the school’s 100th season — and earning the first postseason win in 2013. Whitesboro has made the postseason every year since the initial trip, including a 7-4 record and bi-district loss to Jim Ned in 2018.

In 2017 Whitesboro was 9-4, won the district title — the third under Gill — and made the region semifinals for the second time in his tenure. He finished with seven playoff wins at the school.