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Football: Dawson's Eric Wells to resign at end of 2017 season

Chron logo Chron 10/3/2017 By Ted Dunnam, tdunnam@hcnonline.com
Dawson head coach Eric Wells will become Pearland ISD's new assistant athletic director. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson head coach Eric Wells will become Pearland ISD's new assistant athletic director.

Eric Wells, the only head football coach in the history of Dawson High School, will resign those duties at the end of the current season to become the Pearland Independent School District's assistant athletic director.

His hiring is expected to be approved at the Pearland ISD Board of Trustees meeting next week.

Wells-coached teams never failed to reach the playoffs when the Eagles were blessed with their first senior class in 2009, and Dawson never experienced a losing season under Wells' guidance.

Dawson head football coach Eric Wells says will conlcude 27 years of coaching this fall. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson head football coach Eric Wells says will conlcude 27 years of coaching this fall.

Wells said he would love to continue coaching the Eagles, but matters beyond his control prompted a change.

Dawson head football coach Eric Wells hopes to guide his team to the playoffs again this fall. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson head football coach Eric Wells hopes to guide his team to the playoffs again this fall.

"If I wasn't having a few health issues, it wouldn't have been an issue because I love coaching and being at Dawson High School," Wells said. "I just had to look at getting out of the sun.

"It's been a concern ever since I started coaching, but moreso the past five or 10 years."

The fair-skinned Wells frequently has skin cancers removed, and his condition has progressed to the point that he felt that a career move was necessitated.

"It was tough talking to my coaching staff and team and being upfront and honest," Wells said. "It was one of the toughest things I've ever done in coaching.

"I've always loved every aspect of coaching, especially from the very first day we opened these doors here at Dawson and started a tradition."

When Dawson first played a varsity schedule in 2008 with freshmen, sophomores and juniors, the Eagles produced a 4-4 record during a hurricane-shortened season.

That campaign represented the only time Dawson didn't post a winning season under Wells' watch.

The following year, Dawson produced a 12-3 record and reached the Class 4A state semifinals, losing to eventual state champion Austin Lake Travis, 57-12. Two years later, the Eagles followed almost a repeat route, again reaching the state semifinals and again falling to Lake Travis, 45-14.

Once again, Lake Travis went on to win the state title.

Dawson football coach Eric Wells has led the Eagles to the playoffs every year since the school has had a senior class. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson football coach Eric Wells has led the Eagles to the playoffs every year since the school has had a senior class.

In the first seven years the Eagles reached the playoffs from 2009 to 2015, Dawson never exited the playoffs in the first round.

Even when Dawson was elevated in classification – from 4A to 5A to 6A – the Eagles still continued to win against schools with much larger enrollments.

In 2014, competing on the Class 6A level, Dawson advanced to the Region 3 championship where it lost to powerhouse Katy, 63-20. Katy eventually was beaten in the state championship game to Cedar Hill, 23-20.

"I'm most proud of the culture that was built at Dawson from 2007 until today – the family atmosphere and everybody supporting everybody," Wells said. "That was something that was high on the priority list.

"Obviously, we've had some great seasons here, reaching the state semifinals twice against Lake Travis, but just seeing how far we've come since the school first opened has been the most rewarding aspect of this job."

Ben Pardo, PISD Director of Athletics, said Wells taking the newly-created position benefits the former Dawson coach as well as the school district.

"Years ago, there as an assistant athletic director, but that hasn't existed the past seven years," Pardo said. "It was reevaluated, and we felt an assistant athletic director was needed.

"First and foremost, Eric has done a phenomenal job at Dawson. Eric was looking for something different and he still wanted to have an impact in PISD, and this will provide that for him. I have no doubt he'll do an exceptional job in this position."

At the end of this football season, Pearland ISD will open both of its head football coaching positions to applicants. Former Pearland head coach Tony Heath retired in July and former Oiler defensive coordinator James Farmer is serving as interim head coach.

Dawson head volleyball coach Jason Karim is also resigning at the end of this season to take an assistant principal job at the school, leaving Pardo and Wells with some big shoes to fill in at least three coaching positions.

"It'll start off with whirlwind," Wells said. "We'll have to see what happens there.

"I'll just be excited to start a new adventure, a new chapter. I'm excited about the opportunity to mentor young coaches.

"I think that's one of my strengths because I had great mentors with Tony and coach (Alan) Weddell, and even when I was a graduate assistant."

When Wells finalizes this campaign, it will end 27 years of coaching – 11 at Dawson, 10 at Pearland and six at La Marque. Entering this season, Wells had fashioned an 83-31 career, and the Eagles are 2-1 in 2017.

"Ben Pardo is a great guy and a great mentor," Wells said. "I'm looking forward to get going in the second semester in January.

"I'll definitely miss coaching, but I feel like this was a door somebody was opening up for me for a reason."

***

Here is Eric Wells' career coaching record at Dawson High School:

2008: 4-4

2009: 12-3 (state semifinals)

2010: 8-5

Dawson football coach Eric Wells flashes a big smile as his gives a fist pump after his team scores a touchdown. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson football coach Eric Wells flashes a big smile as his gives a fist pump after his team scores a touchdown.

2010: 12-3 (state semifinals)

2012: 12-1

2013: 11-3

Dawson head coach Eric Wells gets a hug from Derry Ruth (80) as they celebrate the Eagles' come-from-behind victory over Richmond Foster early in Wells' career. © Hearst Newspapers Dawson head coach Eric Wells gets a hug from Derry Ruth (80) as they celebrate the Eagles' come-from-behind victory over Richmond Foster early in Wells' career.

2014: 8-5

2015: 8-4

2016: 8-3

Total: 83-31

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