From Paetow to Pearland: Oilers tag Gotte as head football coach
A little more than two months after leading Katy Paetow to its first state football championship, B.J. Gotte is trading the baby blue “P” of the Panthers for the maroon “P” of Pearland High.
Gotte was approved Thursday afternoon via vote of 7-0 by the Pearland ISD board as the Oilers’ head football coach/campus athletic coordinator. He leaves Paetow after impressively building a program from the ground up to Class 5A, Division I, state champion in five years.
Gotte replaces Ricky Tullos, who left Pearland after four seasons for Bryan High in mid-January. Tullos went 33-11 as head coach of the Oilers.
VYPE first reported the news of Gotte’s impending hire on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a small-town community,” said Gotte, 42. “The opportunity for your son to go to a school where the stands fill up every Friday night in a 12,000-seat stadium in the parking lot behind your high school … to give my son that and put our kids there was something I had to take a hard look at. It’s not a one-horse town, but it’s pretty dang close. It’s that small-town feel, like I grew up in when I was at Katy. Pearland is the mothership of that district.”
Gotte was hired eight months before Paetow High School opened in August 2017. He went 35-13 in leading the football program, his first head coaching job.
The Panthers had a 3-7 record in their inaugural varsity season in 2018. From there, they went 8-3, 9-2, and then 15-1 last season, earning a share of the District 10-5A, Division I championship before rolling through the postseason to become the second school in Katy ISD to win a state football title.
Paetow played in arguably the most memorable game of the playoffs, topping College Station, 27-24, in overtime on Jacob Brown’s 2-yard rushing score in the state championship game.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Gotte said of leaving Paetow. “Katy is where I’m from. It’s home. When I went to Paetow, I went with the intent of raising my family there. That’s why you take it, is to be there.
“But every coach always has a list of schools in their mind where, if they ever reached out or an opportunity ever presented itself, you at least have to listen. Pearland was one of those places.”
Gotte is a winner, having been a part of four state champions: three as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Katy (2003, 2012, 2015) and one as offensive coordinator at La Marque (2006).
He played on the offensive line for the legendary Mike Johnston at Katy in the ’90s, graduating in 1997. As a sophomore, Gotte helped the Tigers to the state final against Plano. He also coached under Johnston from 2001-2003 as an assistant offensive line coach and was assistant coach and offensive coordinator under Gary Joseph, who succeeded Johnston in 2004, from 2009-2016 after stints at Deer Park, La Marque, and Flower Mound Marcus.
Gotte said Pearland “made a pitch I couldn’t refuse.”
“I wasn’t looking,” said Gotte, who said Pearland administrators approached him about the opening a little more than two weeks ago. “Obviously, you win a state championship, you build a program from scratch, it’s rolling … everybody’s probably scratching their heads. But you always try and look at situations that give you longevity and do things a certain way. My son is 7, and growing up in a place where it has a sense of community, in this day and age of mega-school districts and everybody lives in this neighborhood, but they’re from another town ... very rarely can you say, ‘I’m from here, and that’s what my school’s called.’ It’s like in college. College coaches will tell you all the time, ‘Anytime a school from ‘The University of …’ calls, you listen.
“In my mind, as a high school coach, anytime a school calls that’s named after the city, and there’s no namesake to it, you pay attention.”
Gotte, who spent kindergarten through high school in Katy, said the move is bittersweet.
“I’ve worked so hard to get (Paetow) to where it’s at,” he said. “I wish I could’ve enjoyed it a bit more, because now I’m turning around and starting over again. At the same time, coaching is unique. Good jobs open up every now and then, every 5-10 years, and this is one of those good jobs.”
Gotte is scheduled to start in Pearland on Monday.
Katy ISD posted the Paetow opening for a head football coach/campus athletic coordinator on Thursday.
The job is required to post for 10 business days. Katy ISD athletic director Debbie Decker said the expectation is to start organizing interviews after the job closes March 10.
Interviews won’t start until after spring break. Katy ISD's spring break is March 14-March 18.
The search committee is led by Decker and Paetow principal Mindy Dickerson.
“That job is open and posted, and as far as leaning any of which way, we don’t even know who’s applying,” Decker said. “We’re waiting to see who feels like they’re the best person for the job, and then we get the fun part of going through and getting the interviews and seeing what the best fit is.”
Typically, 2-4 finalists are brought in for interviews. Depending on experience and credentials, it could be more. Dickerson told Paetow coaches and student-athletes that the district will get the best person for the job.
“The fact they had the success they did is incredible, especially in the timeline they were able to do it,” Decker said. “It’s a credit to the coaches and the kids and the whole school community over there at Paetow High School.”