2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Benson

Devin Bowling (6) and Angel Rigney celebrate a touchdown (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

2A San Pedro: Benson

2020 record: 9-1, going unbeaten until losing the 2A state title game. The Bobcats have won 15 straight region games dating to 2017.

Head coach: Chris Determan, 134-82-1, 19th season at Benson and 21st overall (coached two years of nine-man football at South Dakota in 1996 and 1997). Determan has the fourth-most career wins among active coaches in Southern Arizona behind Santa Rita’s Tom Joseph (170), Tucson’s Richard Sanchez (161) and Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent (138). Determan found out about the head-coaching position in Benson at a 2003 job fair, where he met Benson High principal Bryan Bullington for an interview. He and his family traveled from South Dakota to Benson sight unseen to take the job when he was only 30.

Key returners:

  • RB/CB Angel Rigney, 5-10, 165, Jr.
  • RB/LB Devin Bowling, 5-9, 180, Sr.
  • QB Brok Determan, 6-1, 170, Sr.
  • SS Dalton Crockett, 6-2, 175, Soph.
  • FB/DT Jace Barney, 5-7, 200, Sr.
  • LB Cameron McFarland, 5-9, 205, Sr.
  • G/DE Ryan Francione, 6-0, 180, Sr.
  • FB/DT Gabe Osuna, 5-11, 180, Sr.
  • RB/LB Tristan Martinez, 6-1, 170, Sr.
Benson coach Chris Determan stands atop a walkway that explains what being a fanatic is all about (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/offensive coordinator: Chris Determan
  • Defensive coordinator: Chris Taylor
  • Offensive line/defensive line: Alex Montijo
  • Wide receivers: Taylor Finch
  • Assistant: Ryan Taylor

Notes: Benson is coming off a unique situation of reaching a state championship game without a senior on the roster. The Bobcats lost 42-7 against Eloy Santa Cruz Valley in the title game but trailed only 7-0 at halftime. Star RB Devin Bowling suffered a leg injury in the first half and did not play after halftime. … Benson coach Chris Determan (pronounced Deht-er-man) is only 48 — he started coaching Benson when he was 30 in 2003. He could conceivably coach at least another 20 years which could put him at close to 300 career wins. According to the AIA, only seven coaches have reached 300 career wins. Paul Moro holds the record with 336. Legendary Amphi coach Vern Friedli finished with 331. … Benson’s forte is running the ball on offense. The Bobcats finished with 2,290 yards rushing last season with 13 different players with at least one carry. Three of them had at least 300 yards rushing — Bowling (909 on 106 carries with 12 touchdowns), Jace Barney (521 on 104 carries with eight touchdowns) and Tristan Martinez (332 yards on 41 carries with five touchdowns). … Determan’s son Brok, a senior quarterback, can also offset the defense with the pass. He threw for 424 yards with six touchdowns last year. He also rushed for 159 yards on 14 carries. … Benson also has a veteran defense with everybody returning. Eleven players tallied at least 20 tackles last season, led by LB Cameron McFarland with 50, DE Ryan Francione with 46 and Brok Determan with 41. … Benson opens Friday at home against Pusch Ridge in a battle of two teams that went deep into their respective state tournaments last year. Pusch Ridge reached the 3A state semifinals and Benson was the 2A state runner-up. … Benson travels to Tucson on Sept. 10 for a much-anticipated matchup with Jay Dobyns’ Tanque Verde team. That will be the Hawks’ first game of the season at its field with the new grass turf the school had installed over the summer.

Benson coach Chris Determan and his team gathered for a film session and run on Saturday morning (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)




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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