When told he may be the best well-kept secret among local high school football coaches, Benson’s Chris Determan chuckled.
Coming from Wall, S.D., when he was only 30 and spending the last 18 years coaching in the small town of Benson, Determan has no problem being out of the big-city lights.
Determan has coached Benson since 2003 and has a career record of 133-81-1 dating back to coaching nine-man football in South Dakota in 1996 to 1997 before moving to Southern Arizona.
He will coach the Bobcats (7-0) in the Class 2A semifinals against Arizona Lutheran (6-0) on Saturday at Gilbert Higley High School at 6 p.m.
Wanting a change, Determan sought a head-coaching job in a small-town atmosphere where he and his wife Michelle could relocate. He discovered the head-coaching position was open at Benson at a job fair.
“(Benson) is actually bigger than where I grew up (in Wall); I grew up in a town of 600,” Determan said. “I’m not a big traffic guy. I didn’t want to have to drive … I don’t care if it’s Tucson, Phoenix, wherever if it takes me an hour or 45 minutes to get to the other side of town, that’s too much.
“At the same time, I always liked the small-town kids. It seems like they do a great job and they work hard. When they’re there, they’re there to work. That’s kind of a draw for a small town. We don’t have all the stuff. We’re 45 minutes out from Tucson, so we can still go in and get what we want. But I don’t need to be there.”
A unique aspect of his team — not one senior is a major producer. The Bobcats are stocked with talented juniors who have played extensively at the varsity level before this season.
Determan is five years removed from leading Benson to a 13-1 record and spot in the 2A state championship game. He has coached the Bobcats beyond the opening round of the state playoffs in five out of the last six years.
Although this year’s team is without an impact senior, Determan indicated it does not take a backseat to any of his previous 11 playoff teams at Benson.
He talks about that aspect and about his top players in our latest podcast.
His leaders include:
— His son, Brok Determan, a junior quarterback, who has passed for 281 yards and rushed for 150.
— Junior running back Devin Bowling, who leads the Bobcats with 831 yards on 91 carries with 12 touchdowns.
— Junior running back Jace Barney, younger brother of last year’s rushing leader, Carson Barney. Jace has 401 yards on 76 carries with six touchdowns.
— Junior linebacker Cameron McFarland, the team’s leading tackler with 39. Fellow junior linebacker Ryan Francione is next with 32.
Southern Arizona High School Football Coaching RecordsComplete list of Tucson-area high school football coaches and their overall career head coaching records. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
|Richard Sanchez||Santa Rita||2A||161||77||0||.676||21|
|Matt Johnson||Mountain View||5A||120||67||0||.642||17|
|Rishard Davis||Santa Cruz||2A||56||21||0||.727||7|
|Robert Bonillas||Desert View||5A||35||68||0||.340||11|
|Kevin Kuhm||Rio Rico||4A||33||42||0||.440||8|
|Corey Noble||Walden Grove||4A||27||10||0||.730||4|
|Alonzo Highsmith Jr.||Willcox||2A||20||18||0||.526||4|
|Scott Cortese||Flowing Wells||5A||19||36||0||.345||6|
|Braden Davis||St. David||1A||16||16||0||.500||4|
|Kent Middleton||Pusch Ridge||3A||8||1||0||.889||1|
|Ernie Ivy||San Manuel||2A||7||8||0||.467||2|
|James Hardy Jr.||Ironwood Ridge||5A||5||8||0||.385||2|
|Darius Kelly||Catalina Foothills||4A||4||8||0||.333||2|
|Mike Wells||Palo Verde||4A||4||8||0||.333||2|
|Jay Dobyns||Tanque Verde||2A||3||0||0||1.000||1|
|Brandon Gilbreth||Valley Union||1A||1||4||0||.200||1|
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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.