Morristown East hopes familiarity will lead to football success
Newly named Morristown East football coach Dewayne Wells talks with the returning players on Monday morning at the school. Please visit www.citizentribune.com for video of Monday’s interview featuring Citizen Tribune Sports Editor Matt Daniels and Wells.
Dewayne Wells was officially introduced as the new football coach at a breakfast for team players Monday morning at East High.
But he is certainly no stranger to Hurricane football as he has served as defensive coordinator the last two seasons under the departing Dwayne Hatcher.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead the Morristown East football program,” Wells said. “I appreciate the confidence that the administration and the committee has shown in me.”
East athletic director Morgane Watkins introduced Wells saying the team was there to celebrate and told the players that they were the first priority during the entire process of finding a new head coach.
“I wanted this (meeting) to take place first because we wanted the players to know who the coach was before anyone else.
“But social media being what it is and all, I know all of you already know. I know it has been emotional for you not having a coach but I told you all that we were going to find you the best man and you already had him right here.”
Wells then told the team, “I can’t tell you how excited I am. Coach Hatcher is a very good friend of mine and he told me he was leaving. On that day, I pictured myself standing up here as your head coach because I want to be a part of this great group of young men sitting here before me.”
He too said he had wanted the players to know first so when the word got out he had tried to call the players individually to tell them and then joked about some of the responses he got to his calls.
Wells told the team. “I’m really looking forward to where we go from here. I’ve talked to the coaches on staff and we’re going to make some adjustments to get through spring practice and then we’ll address that.”
Wells, who has nearly 30 years coaching experience at both the high school and college levels, told the players he was glad to be back in the seat of head coach. “I’ve been there before and I welcome this opportunity to lead such a great group of young men.
“We have high expectations for this group to build on what we did last year and we’ll talk about that as we go,”
he said. “We’ll hit the ground running on a lot of things. I not going into great detail right now but we’re going to talk about accountability and responsibility.
“And we’re going to talk about you all taking more ownership in what we’re trying to do on a daily basis. I look forward to getting to know each of you better on both sides of the ball. I want what’s best for East High football.”
The coach said, “There will be some adjustments for you…there always is with a new coach. As far as personality, I like to hug players a little more. I get excited on the field.
“I want you to enjoy this experience you have because you only go through high school once. This is a time in your life that you want to use wisely for the next 2 or 3 years or how many you have left in high school.
“So, I want help yupi grow and to reach your full potential as a person, a student and a football player. I want you to be at your best by the time that you finish at Morristown East so that whatever you choose to do after you graduate, you will be successful.”
Wells is a 1978 graduate of Campbell County High School where he was head coach for 10 seasons starting in 2001. He was also head coach at Tusculum shortly after the program was revived after not playing football for 40 years. His experience also includes college stints as an assistant at Cumberland (Ky.) and as a high school head coach in Georgia.
Watkins said, “We’re excited to be able to hire the new coach from within. The kids already know him and not only that they respect him. We’re excited that he has the experience he does as a head coach. I expect him to not only lead us but to take this team to a whole new level.”
Wells said the transition in coaches should be easy. “That part of it is good. I know the kids and they know me as far as knowing my personality and knowing who I am.
“But of course there will be some transition on the offensive side of the football,” he added relating to the fact that Hatcher called all the plays while he ran the defense. “I’m going to be on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Hurricanes will start spring practice next week, probably on Wednesday or Thursday. “Right now, we’ll get through spring practice with a very simple plan. We’ll shuffle the coaches around some for that. Coach (Jason) Dean will be doing the offense in the spring.”
Wells’ reason for saying the coaches will be shuffled for spring is the fact there are 3 vacancies on the Hurricane coaching staff at the present time.
When asked what type offense his team would run, the new head man responded, “We’ll be a spread team, shotgun going into the spring. We’ll add some variations to what we do but what we do and how much we do will depend on how much progress we make. We lost some key people on offense. We’ll be breaking in a new quarterback and our leading rusher is gone and we’ll have some new offensive linemen. So we have a lot of work to do.”
Wells said his defense should be pretty set for spring practice with a great nucleus of returning players. “We won’t have as much to do on that side of the ball as we have a lot of people coming back to the defense.”
Under Wells’ direction, that defense led the Inter Mountain Conference last season as the Hurricanes had a great 10-2 season, making the second round of the TSSAA playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Maryville.
In closing the coach said, “Once again, I’m grateful for the opportunity and to the administration and the committee. The last weeks have been kind of up and down not knowing what’s going on but I’m truly thankful to be able to lead this group of young men.
“I picked East when I was looking to make a coaching move because I wanted to come here and be a part of a good program. And it’s just worked out.”
-By Derwin Helton, Tribune Sports Writer