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Tough news for Wells, Howard
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Staff

Bryan Wells has resigned as Neuqua Valley's football coach.


Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Darren Howard


Bryan Wells



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Published: 3/20/2012 1:21 AM

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Bryan Wells, the only head varsity football coach Neuqua Valley has employed since the program's inception, has resigned.

In an e-mail sent to the Daily Herald on Monday, Wells said that on March 16 Principal Dr. Bob McBride told Wells he "no longer had the confidence and trust in me to lead the Neuqua Valley football program and wanted to go in a different direction. While I steadfastly disagree with Dr. McBride's rationale and decision, I am willingly submitting to his authority as Neuqua Valley's principal and stepping down as head football coach effectively immediately."

Wells could not be reached for direct comment on Monday; athletic director Barb Barrows was out of school until March 26. In a return e-mail on Monday, McBride did not comment on Wells' resignation, it being a "personnel item."

Wells, who with wife Susan sent daughter Kayla through Neuqua Valley and has a sophomore son, Nathan, there now, compiled a record of 71-66 in his 14 seasons. His Wildcats went to the playoffs eight times - each of the last two seasons and six years straight between 2002-07.

Between the 2004-06 seasons Neuqua Valley went 25-6 overall, going unbeaten in the Upstate Eight Conference for all three of its league titles.

Wells' Wildcats went 9-2 in 2005, falling to Bolingbrook 21-14 in the Class 8A playoffs. Last season Neuqua Valley finished 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division.

In his email, Wells, Neuqua's dean of students, called his time coaching the Wildcats "the most rewarding experience of my professional life" and thanked his assistant coaches as well as Barrows for her "unwavering support and vision ..."

Wells is not alone in receiving bad news. Immaculate Conception athletic director and head varsity boys basketball coach Darren Howard has been told his contract will not be renewed after this school year.

"They want to go in a different direction," said Howard, informed by IC Principal Pam Levar on March 15.

"I'm surprised this happened, I'm hurt by it, but it happens in this business," Howard said Monday. "I'm very proud of what I accomplished here and I think my record speaks for itself."

In his 10th year as Knights' athletic director - the fourth in six years when he was hired - the Bloomingdale resident and father of five presided over a department that saw its list of sports grow to 21 from 11, and its coaching staff increase to more than 60 from 19.

Named Class 1A/2A athletic director of the year for 2009-10 within his division by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association, Howard started the Immaculate Conception Hall of Fame in 2006. Though he graduated from retired Weber High School in 1983, Howard was a 2010 inductee as athletic director and coach. During his tenure Knights teams have won state championships in football, baseball and dance.

He'll leave as IC's winningest boys basketball coach, with a 12-year mark of 142-197 and regional titles in 2007 and 2008, the program's first since 1985. This year's team went 24-4, tying a program wins record set in 1967. The Knights went 10-0 in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division to win a conference title also for the first time since 1967.

"It's a special place," said Howard, who will seek options elsewhere in both administration and coaching.

"The people that are here are good people," he said. "It's a school where the alumni come back and they come back because they got a lot of good things out of it. The coaches who work here put in incredible time and effort for not great pay and not great conditions, but they love the kids and they love the job. For the future I hope everything works out and I hope they have great facilities and I hope the school grows and they're successful."