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2022 Southern Arizona high school football preview: Benson Bobcats


3A South: Benson

2021 record: 10-3 overall, 4-1 2A San Pedro (champion)

Head coach: Dustin Cluff, first year as a head coach after serving as an assistant for 14 years at Flagstaff Sinagua, Show Low and Eager Round Valley. Hired to replace long-time coach Chris Determan, who was not retained after coaching the Bobcat program for two decades.

Dustin Cluff is in his first year as a head coach, leading the Benson Bobcats (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Key returners:

  • CB/RB Angel Rigney, 5-11, 165, Sr.
  • QB Dalton Crockett, 6-2, 175, Jr.
  • RB/LB Colton Tyra, 5-7, 155, Sr.
  • CB/WR Logan Rutledge, 5-8, 130, Sr.
  • G/DE Adrean Evans, 5-9, 170, Sr.
  • TE/DE Aiden Finch, 5-11, 145, Sr.
  • WR/LB Conner Curtis, 5-8, 145, Sr.

“It’s exciting. All of my staff is Benson alumni. They’re teaching me a lot about the culture and the tradition and things that are here. I really love the valley here in Benson. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places. Growing up in the White Mountains, this is an area south of Tucson that I didn’t really know anything about. My wife is from the Gila Valley so that’s as far south as we’ve came. Benson’s never been on my radar. As a kid growing up, you Benson athletes, wrestling, track, baseball, things like that. As far as this part of the state, it was completely oblivious to me, so it’s been a real neat experience to come down here.” — Cluff

“I’m not sure you can really prepare for that (losing 13 seniors). You’ve got to be there and learn in the moment. … We’re in a good spot. I think we can keep inching up to where we’ve been. A lot of people don’t think we can but we’ll shut them up.” — Finch

Benson is going to a more pass-oriented offense with Dalton Crockett at QB under new coach Dustin Cluff (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“Makes me be a leader more and take care of the little guys. Push them to where this program can strive (for). Coach (Cluff) is doing well. I like what he’s running. We’re doing pretty good. … He expects highly of us even coming from a different school.” – Crockett on being one of the lone returners from last year’s team that made the Class 2A playoffs under former coach Chris Determan.

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Dustin Cluff
  • Offensive coordinator: Dustin Cluff
  • Wide receivers: Taylor Finch
  • Offensive/defensive line: Alex Montijo
  • Assistant: Ryan Taylor
  • Assistant: Talen Palmer
  • Assistant: KJ Nyberg
Benson first-year coach Dustin Cluff has experience coaching at the 3A level at Show Low and Round Valley (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: Benson went in a different direction not retaining veteran coach Chris Determan, who was 144-85-1 in 19 seasons at Benson and 21 years overall (coached two years of nine-man football at South Dakota in 1996 and 1997). The reported change occurred because the district wanted a change from the run-oriented wing-T offense Determan ran to more of a passing attack Cluff was hired to implement. … Cluff’s staff consists of former Benson players who played for Determan. … Dalton Crockett, a junior, is taking over at quarterback after the graduation of Brok Determan. Crockett has good size at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds and has shown an accurate arm in practice. … The Bobcats must overhaul their roster with newcomers after 13 seniors departed after last season. Crockett is the top returning rusher (93 yards on 12 carries). Six players above him on the rushing chart graduated, including leading rusher Devin Bowling (1,516 yards on 145 carries with 17 touchdowns). … Benson made the move from 2A to 3A after the school year. The Bobcats will compete in the 3A South with Sabino, Pusch Ridge, Thatcher, Safford and Palo Verde. Their non-region schedule includes games against former 2A San Pedro foes Tombstone, Willcox and Bisbee. The Benson-Bisbee rivalry game is at Bisbee this season on Sept. 9

Keep an eye out for: Colton Tyra, a senior running back who will be counted on to provide Benson balance with its new emphasis on the passing game. A strong, compact runner at 5-7 and 155 pounds, has shown good vision and running ability in practice.

BENSON (3-2, 0-1)

Bobcats compete in the 3A South. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
8/19TombstoneW, 20-161-00-0
8/26@ San Tan FoothillsW, 21-142-00-0
9/2WillcoxL, 56-252-10-0
9/9@ BisbeeW, 55-183-10-0
9/16@ Pusch Ridge*L, 59-03-20-1
9/23Palo Verde*
10/7@ Thatcher*
10/14Phoenix Christian
10/21Safford*
10/28at Sabino*

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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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