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The 2014 Buford High School football season will mark the start of a new era for the Yellow Jackets.
Buford High head football coach Mike Wells, a fixture with the BHS football program for 30 years, including 13 as the head coach, is yielding his coaching duties to devote himself full time as the Class AA school’s athletics director.
Wells, who has considered the change since the end of the 2013 season, made it official Thursday afternoon, April 10, when he told the Jackets football team and the school’s faculty of his decision.
“I’ve enjoyed my time coaching at Buford, but I feel now is the time to let some new blood have a shot,” Wells said.
The “new blood” is Tripp Watts, a Jackets’ five-year assistant football coach who will serve as Buford’s interim head football coach for the 2014 season. Watts, who played high school football at Lancaster High School under former Bruins coach Johnny Roscoe, has also worked with the BHS boys basketball and baseball programs.
He also played college football at Chowan University in Murfeesboro, N.C.
“It will be different for Tripp, an adjustment, but he works well with the kids and has a good knowledge of football,” Wells said. “Those two factors can carry you a long way.”
Wells served as the Jackets’ interim head coach in 2001 when he replaced Phil Williams as the Jackets’ head coach.
He guided the Jackets for 13 seasons as head coach and fashioned a 60-79 mark, which included four winning seasons and three more seasons of five wins. Wells, a Ware Shoals native, came to Buford in 1984 when he was named an assistant coach under former BHS football coach Sam Page.
Wells, during his time as the BHS head football coach, coached in the state’s two prestigious all-star football games, the 2012 Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg and the 2008 North-South All-Star football game in Myrtle Beach.
“I’ve devoted 30 years to our football program, but now I feel is the time to step away and take care of all of our athletic teams,” Wells said.
“We plan to add cross country for girls and boys in the fall and a girls soccer team in the spring.”
With the addition of the new sports at BHS for the 2014-15 school year, Wells will be leading an athletics department which will field teams in 14 varsity sports.
Contact sports editor Robert Howey at (803) 283-1157