WHEELING, W.Va., July 17, 2017 -- Wheeling Jesuit President Dr. Debra Townsley announced Monday that the university has chosen Martins Ferry native and Purple Rider football standout, Zac Bruney, as the head coach of its newly founded football program.
Bruney comes from a family with a storied football legacy. His father, Dave Bruney, has been the head coach at Martins Ferry High School since 1979, and is a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame. His late uncle, Fred Bruney, played at The Ohio State University in the 1950s and went onto a successful career as a player and coach in the NFL.
A 2004 graduate of the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, Bruney was a quarterback for the Purple Raiders. The team captured the 2001 and 2002 NCAA DIII National Championship. His team also finished as the 2003 National runner-up and 2004 National Semi-finalist. As a starter at quarterback, he led Mount Union to a 27-1 record. He also was a finalist for the Gagliardi Award as the Most Outstanding Player in Division III.
Following graduation, Bruney became an assistant coach at his alma mater for two years, before becoming a graduate assistant coach with the University of Toledo. There he served as the assistant coach for wide receivers. Bruney returned to Mount Union in 2009 to become the Purple Raiders offensive coordinator. From 2009-2012, the program racked up a 43-3 record, captured three OAC championships and were the NCAA DIII National runners-up three times.
In 2013, Bruney became an assistant coach at Ohio Dominican University (ODU) and since 2015 had served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. During his four years at ODU, the Panthers amassed a 36-10 record, captured the 2013 GLIAC championship, won the 2014 GLIAC South championship and were an NCAA DII Regional finalist.
“Zac has great drive and the initiative which will be necessary to grow our football program. But, more importantly, he is committed to developing young men to excel academically, socially, and spiritually in the true spirit of our mission. I know Zac will produce young men who will be successful on the field and in life. All of us at Wheeling Jesuit are happy to welcome Zac to the WJU family and we are glad we could bring him and his family back home to the Ohio Valley,” said Dr. Townsley.
Bruney said Wheeling Jesuit is a great place, because of the great people who are a part of the university. “I’m truly honored and humbled at the trust the leadership has given to me to start our football program,” he said. “This area is home for me. This is where I was born, where I was raised and where I grew up. This job – this program getting its start is always something I’ve kept an eye on from afar. Timing is everything, and for my wife and I, and our two young children, the timing is perfect. Now, it’s time to go to work.”
Bruney noted, “College head coaching opportunities are fleeting – they are rare. And the rarest of opportunities, is starting and building a program from the ground up – this is probably toughest. So, we have a daunting task ahead of us. I want to thank President Townsley, Dr. Dentino, and every member of the search committee that were a part of this process ¬– It was a detailed and highly structured process, which means it was done the right way.”
Townsley said that a committee made up of WJU coaches, administrators, faculty and staff, along with representatives of the Cardinal Athletic Club, spent three days interviewing candidates for the football coaching position. She said WJU received inquires for the job from across the country.
Cardinal football will begin with an exhibition schedule in 2018-19 while building the capacity to play a full season during the 2019-2020 season. Wheeling Jesuit is a member of the Mountain East Conference. In the past two years, WJU has won eight conference championships and six conference tournament championships. Additionally, Wheeling Jesuit student-athletes maintained an overall GPA above 3.0 and 280 earned a place on the MEC Academic All-Conference team.