Zach Harrell and John Ward are the new football offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, at Sweetwater High School under Shane Mobley, who was hired in April to serve as Sweetwater’s head football coach and athletic director.
If Harrell’s last name is familiar, it should be. His father, Sam Harrell, won three state titles as Ennis’ head coach between 2000-04. He played for Gordon Wood at Brownwood and has recently returned there to be Bob Shipley’s quarterback coach. Zach Harrell’s brother, Graham Harrell, played quarterback for his father at Ennis and set several state passing records before going to Texas Tech University, where under head coach Mike Leach he became the first quarterback in NCAA history to post multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons. Among his collegiate honors was receiving the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He now plays for the Green Bay Packers. Zach’s grand-father served as an assistant to Gordon Wood in Brownwood, and brother Clark played quarterback at both Tulsa and Abilene Christian University.
So football has been a big part of the Harrell family for a very long time.
Zach also played for his father at Ennis in high school, and was an all-district receiver for the 2000 team that won the school’s first state title. While in college, he often returned to Ennis on weekends and spent lots of time with the coaching staff, helping to confirm his decision to become a coach.
For the last two years, he was at Class 3A Van whose spread attack had over 3,100 passing yards and averaged 43 points a game, making it one of the most prolific high school offenses in the state. He also coached at Prosper, Denton Ryan and Alvarado, and all those teams made the playoffs every year — as did Van in both 2010 and 2011. But now he’s excited to be in Sweetwater. “These kids work as hard as any kids I’ve ever been around,” he said. “I think that it’s going to be a great fit.”
Ward has over 20 years of coaching at both the high school and college level, most recently at Class 1A Moody which reached the D-I area finals. He began his career at Howard Payne University in the early ‘90s, where he played collegiate-ly, and moved to Hardin-Simmons as defensive line coach under Jimmie Keeling for the 1993 team that made it to the NCAA Division III semifinals. For the next 12 years he was a defensive assistant, first at Class 2A Cooper and then at Brown-wood, before taking his first head coach job at De Leon. He was also head coach at McCamey and Thrall before coming to Moody last year.As head coach, all his teams made the playoffs.
“I have been blessed to be around some great men and great kids,” he said. “Coaching is a ministry, and it’s been a blessing.”