JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Marcus Wells fully understands the challenge in front of him.
The man who was tapped to follow Mark Brunell as the head football coach at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville has been Brunell’s top lieutenant on a staff that he calls a group of brothers. Now, Wells, who was one of the first big recruits from Episcopal in 1990, is taking over for the most successful coach in the school’s history.
“Mark gave a lot of faith and trust in all of our all of us on the staff and particularly with me,” Wells said. “From Day One, when I became the coordinator, Mark kind of tagged me as his associate head coach, and just had a lot of faith in me.”
Brunell spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Eagles. In his final two seasons, he won the first playoff game in school history, then won two more the following year. Can Wells pick up where Brunell left off?
“We all feel like we’re empowered to take the program to the next level,” Wells said. “It started a few years ago where we started to have a little bit of a target on us. And that’s a good thing. It shows that we’re doing things the right way we’re having successes. But we need to build on it, for sure.”
Brunell left the position to become the quarterbacks’ coach of the Detroit Lions, his first NFL coaching job. Wells, who not only graduated from Episcopal but also has taught there and is now an administrator, knows where the pressure points are in the school’s community. He also has two children who have graduated from Episcopal and two more who attend now.
“It is important because knowing what these students go through on a daily basis in our academic classes, and the curriculum that we have, it can be a grind, for sure,” Wells said. “And so, understanding when a student or a player might have to miss the first few minutes of practice because they’re, they’re making up access. And being mindful of that, and then being able to work with that player.”
Wells admitted that the loss of some key seniors will be a challenge to overcome, but he is confident that with continuity with the remaining coaching staff, the team can continue to succeed.
“Mark created an amazing staff. And it’s a staff that’s dedicated to the school,” Wells said. “It’s a staff that has years and years of knowledge of football and also years and years of knowledge and what it takes to be a football player at Episcopal. So keeping the staff intact is of utmost importance. We have a great relationship. All of us are like brothers, we all get along really well. And so, having them still be a part of this is something that we will use to going forward.”