NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Last year Brannon Brungard didn’t look like a sophomore quarterback. If fact, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the area as he threw for 1,158 yards and tossed 15 touchdowns. Those stats helped propel the Tigers to a 9-1 regular season, an ITCL Red Tier championship, and an OHSAA playoff appearance.
It’s no surprise that Brannon would have so much success when your father is former standout QB, Mark Brungard. Mark is the only YSU quarterback to lead the Penguins to two straight National Championships back in 1993 and 1994. He was also a 1990 graduate of Springfield.
Brannon admitted that he was a little nervous heading into last season knowing he would be the starter, “It was pretty scary for my first time going in there. They are real big up front. It was pretty scary as a sophomore.”
Brannon very humbly gives a lot of the credit for the Tigers successful 2016 season to his team mates, “I would contribute that to the whole team. We worked hard as a group and we pushed each other real hard. We worked as a team and didn’t care who got the credit for it. We just wanted to win.”
“As the years go on I’ll have more experience and they’ll put more on my plate, but as a sophomore, I think they just kind of told me what to do and I just kind of did it. I didn’t want to get in trouble as a sophomore,” Brannon said with a chuckle.
“It was a fine line to walk as a coach. You have to just try to not think about that’s your son,” father, and coach, Mark Brungard remarked. “You have to put your quarterback in the best spots to lead our team with the offensive talents that you have. He had to be more of a game manager last year, make good decisions, make plays when they were there. But I think there is a little more on his shoulders this year in terms of making throws, making plays, and making runs.”
“Right now with the experience we had last year and the success we had with him, we kind of keep putting more on him. I know coach Brungard has let him have more adjustments to check to things and let him read some things so that he can progress as a quarterback,” Tigers head coach Sean Guerriero said.
“I think I have grown a lot,” Brannon said about the past year. “The play has slowed down a lot more for me. I feel a lot more confident on the field. Last year I was kind of like a deer in the headlights, real scared about everything, but this year I feel more confident going into the first game.”
Brannon explained that having his dad as the quarterback coach is invaluable, “He’s the offensive coordinator and the quarterback coach, so it’s pretty cool. He’s my mentor.”
Both Brannon and Mark explained that there is a field relationship and a separate home relationship, “That’s one of the hardest thing for me to do was to separate him being a coach on the field and Dad at home. But I think we have that balanced out pretty good now.”
“We made a decision when this all happened. I asked all my boys, ‘Do you want me to do this? Do you want me to be a coach or do you want me to be a dad in the stands?’ They said if you have a chance to be a coach we would like you to do that. So with that, we made an agreement that when I get home I would not be a coach and I wouldn’t talk football unless they wanted to. I try very hard not to bring anything home.”
“I think on the field coach Brungard has done a good job with separating where there is no son, but more of a coach type relationship. You don’t know what goes on at home,” Guerriero said with a laugh, “But I know on the field he definitely separates himself and it’s a coach, player relationship. They probably have some home lesson or home meetings that they probably work on.”
Although Brannon admitted that he calls Mark “Dad” on the field, “I usually just call him Dad. He wanted me to call him coach the first time, but I just couldn’t do it. I just have to call him Dad.”
Mark left a very successful head coaching position at Poland Seminary following the 2015 season in order to be an assistant coach at Springfield. More importantly, it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family and coach his three sons Brannon, Brady, and Beau.
“It certainly wasn’t something that happened without a lot of thought and prayer,” Mark explained. “The timing was right to do that. I don’t know many fathers who wouldn’t do whatever they had to do to one, watch their kids play and watch their high school career, and second to help them in whatever way they could. For me, as a coach, I had the opportunity to come over here and coach Guerriero and his staff graciously allowed me to come on board.”
“That’s a special, special thing for me to be up close with my kids. Some fathers would love the opportunity and aren’t coaches, but because I am, I’m able to do that. So it was an easy decision when it was time to be made. It was bittersweet to leave at Poland, but the peace I have here is far exceeding any difficulties,” Mark added.
“It felt pretty special to me just because he had a good run at Poland. He could have done a lot with that program. It felt good that he said that he would never miss any of his son’s games to coach football. He really wanted to be a dad and watch us play,” Brannon remarked.
“His character, of him being a leader. He’s always upbeat, he’s always positive,” Gueirrier described Brannon strengths. “That’s something that has to carry over when we have some adversity in a game or if the huddle is looking to him. They kind of feed off of him.”
Mark and his wife Kari also have a daughter Baelyn in fourth grade who Mark said is trying to figure out what her career will be since it won’t be football. Although Mark admits that she’s tough enough to play football. Brady is a freshman on the Tigers high school football team, while Beau is playing football in eighth grade.
Friday nights this fall will be special for all the Brungard’s as Brannon, Brady, and Mark will share special moments together as father and sons on the high school football field. In addition, with Brannon leading the Tigers, the entire Springfield community may experience some very special moments too.