Tucson High School Sports

Salpointe’s Dennis Bene Trying to Keep “Joy” Alive Coaching Lancers in His Last Games

The news of the hiring of Dennis Bene by his alma mater Salpointe as head coach was published on Page 10 of the March 8, 2001, Arizona Daily Star sports section under a half page devoted to the weather.

Whenever Bene coaches his last game 19 years later — either tonight against Chandler at Hamilton High School at Chandler or in two weeks in the Open Division championship game at Sun Devil Stadium — it will be front-page news.

Dennis Bene hugging Mario Padilla (right) and Lathan Ransom after Salpointe advanced to the 4A state title game last season (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

After 14 regional titles and a state championship in 2013 capping a 14-0 season, Bene is no longer an afterthought. He is a legend with a 184-43 career record, all at Salpointe. He announced in August that he will step down upon completion of the season to devote more time to his family and his Southern Arizona Paving Co.

At practice this week, Bene touched on his career coaching Salpointe with the season winding down.

Top Southern Arizona High School Football Coaching Records

Top Tucson-area high school football coaches and their overall career head coaching records. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
CoachCurrent SchoolClassWLTPct.Years
Dennis BeneSalpointe4A184430.81119
Richard SanchezSanta Rita2A161750.68220
Pat NugentCienega5A136570.70517
Chris DetermanBenson2A125811.60619
Matt JohnsonMountain View5A119660.64316
Tucson Citizen clipping of coach Dennis Bene getting doused after Salpointe won the 2005 regional title.

“I don’t really think about it. I mean, it comes up, obviously, or people ask me about it, but for me personally, it’s like I told people, I’m in a really good place,” said Bene, a record-breaking passer at Salpointe who graduated in 1984. “Right now, my only concern is helping these kids win a football game. They’re a joy to be around. They’ve been a blessing to me.

“I am just super proud of them.”

Bene paused for a bit and looked over at some of his players walking off the practice field. His voice became softer.

Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene has coached more than 20 players to the next level. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“I just want to, you know … we have to win to keep this going,” he said. “Winning allows me to hang around them for a little longer and that’s really a joy.

“Yeah, it truly is. I mean, they are such a great group. I enjoy being around them. We laugh. They make me laugh. We have such good rapport, you know, a strong mutual respect for each other.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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