Bruney begins building process at Wheeling Jesuit

WHEELING — Zac Bruney is navigating in uncharted waters.

The Martins Ferry native has a football playing and coaching resume as good as any 35-year-old. It doesn’t include, however, a recipe for how to build a grid program from ground zero.

Bruney was named Wheeling Jesuit University’s initial football coach just 13 days ago. It’s a daunting task but one the former Purple Rider and Mount Union quarterbacking star has already started putting a game plan in place.

The Cardinals will not field a team in 2017. They will play an exhibition card the following campaign before emerging into a full-fledged Mountain East Conference grid member in 2019.

“It’s kind of crazy not having a team to address or any hustle and bustle that goes with the season. But this fall it will be about marketing the Wheeling Jesuit program and my new position. Basically, I will be focusing on players and coaches in Ohio, updating them on how things are going at Jesuit,” Bruney said. “I will be going out to pre-season camps and making myself visible even at some practices with as many programs possible, trying to brand myself and the program. Social media becomes very important as it provides instant information to coaches and potential student-athletes.

“It will be tough getting recruits on campus in the fall since we won’t have any home football games. We will try and get them on campus with day visits to show them what we have,” he continued. “It will be a unique process. I don’t have the exact combination of on-road visits and campus visits while taking in as many Friday and Saturday games as possible.”

For the present, Bruney is taking care of the homefront.

During a phone interview Thursday, he was still moving into his office at Wheeling Jesuit. Along with that, he was dealing with relocating from Columbus back to his Ohio Valley roots.

“My wife and I are spending time house hunting in the valley while also looking to sell our home in Columbus. We just put it on the market a few days ago and we already have three interested parties,” Bruney offered. “This will be the first year since third grade I haven’t been on the field as a player or coach.

“But that will give me more time to spend with my wife and kids. Football coaching can become a grind and keeps you away from home in the fall,” he added. “It will be nice to have more time with them. It will also help recharge my coaching batteries and make more more anxious getting started.”

Before landing players, Bruney must assemble a staff. He also has a game plan in place to surround himself with the best possible assistants.

“I am starting to get resumes and emails from interested coaches. I take my time to hire the right staff,” Bruney said. “The first hire will likely come down the pike in a couple of weeks. The rest of the staff will be put in place by December.

“Then we must put together our first recruiting class in February. So really, it isn’t that far away,” he continued. “We will then add some players in the spring. It’s is going to be challenging but fun putting everything together.”

When asked what people can expect when the gridiron Cardinals take flight, the former Ohio Dominican University assistant head coach and offensive coordinator once again had his plan in place.

“Our expectations are that we are going to compete and play hard and take on the persona of our school and area – and we are going to the right things. If you do the right things every day, the wins and losses take care of themselves,” Bruney stated. “But you also must understand your clientele. We will be playing a lot of young kids. We will have 18- and 19-year-olds going against 21- and 22-year-old men.

“But our message is that we are going to compete with everyone on our schedule. There will not a team on our schedule that we feel we can’t beat,” he added. “We realize football is a success-driven business and you are judged on winning, and we will work to win. We will put the best product on the field we can based on the kids we have. If we are the hardest playing unit each each week, we will be all right.”


COLTON HURLEY, son of Steph and Chris Hurley of Cary, N.C. and grandson of Ron and Jo Lucas of Tiltonsville, gained championship honors recently in the United States Powerlifting Association National Championships, staged in Las Vegas.

Hurley, age 16, holds the North Carolina state records for squat, deadlift, bench and overall total and holds the American record for squat — 468 pounds which he broke at age 15. Hurley is the national champion in the 16-17 year age group and 90 kg weight group, on the strength of his 1,251 lift total in Las Vegas.

He is a rising junior at Green Hope High School in Cary, where he plays football and track & field. Hurley started lifting weights on his own in eighth grade. His goal is to continue competing in powerlifting meets, eventually playing college football and pursuing a degree in exercise physiology.


OUR PRAYERS and condolences go out to the families of Mark Rose and Bellaire High head football coach Mark Spigarelli. Rose, a former St. John’s football standout, died last weekend at age 51. Spigarelli’s mother, meanwhile, was tragically killed in a two-vehicle collision Tuesday.

HIGH SCHOOL football practice officially kicks off this week in the Ohio Valley. Regular season play debuts Thursday, Aug. 24.

ALABAMA HEAD football coach Nick Saban is exactly right when he said this past week all Power 5 schools should only play Power 5 schools.

MARTINS FERRY continues to draw praise for how well the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game played out Saturday. OVAC officials may want to give serious thought to rotating between Wheeling Island Stadium and the Dave Bruney Football Complex every other year.