The gathering of football coaching talent this spring at Sahuaro High School, under head coach Al Alexander, is like a reunion of the staff who worked under Dennis Bene at Salpointe.
“That’s what it is; it’s like a mini party,” said Alexander, who will be in his second season at Sahuaro this fall. “We’ve got so many great dudes out here, you know?”
Bene, the legendary Salpointe coach who led the Lancers to the 2013 state title, is on the staff for the second consecutive season as the offensive coordinator. Six of Bene’s former staff members (including Alexander) are part of Sahuaro’s group of coaches this spring from his time as head coach at Salpointe from 2001 to 2019.
Dave Ivey, offensive line coach
Jay Dobyns, volunteer coaching during spring football practice
Mark Texeira, defensive coordinator
Rob Lewis, linebackers coach
John Williams, defensive backs coach
Two former Lancer standouts are coaching the Cougars as well — wide receivers coach Cam Denson and tight ends and H-backs coach Jack Dobyns (Jay’s son who is also volunteering during the spring). Denson joined Alexander’s staff last year. Jack Dobyns coached with his dad at Tanque Verde in two out of the last three years.
Jay Dobyns, who resurrected Tanque Verde’s program in his three years with the Hawks before resigning after last season, is back at his alma mater coaching alongside Williams, a fellow Class of 1980 graduate at Sahuaro.
Williams was the elder Dobyns’ defensive coordinator at Tanque Verde after they both moved to the eastside school from Salpointe.
Alexander said he will try to talk the Dobyns duo into staying in the fall and help coach the Cougars.
“I understand where Jay is coming from,” Alexander said. “He told me he is out here just for the spring as a volunteer, but he might mull it over.”
Alexander added that another Sahuaro legend is contemplating a return to the program — former head coach Howard Breinig, who is 82.
Breinig, team captain at Arizona in 1962, was the head coach at Sahuaro from 1979 to 1994. His tenure was highlighted by his selection as Arizona 4A Coach of the Year when the Cougars were co-champions in 1994. His Sahuaro teams were state runner-ups three times.
“It’s so funny, Breinig called me up, and he told me he wants to break down film with us,” Alexander said. “He’d be our honorary coach. That’s another legend. We’re loaded over there. The kids are fortunate.
“He just wants to be involved. I can understand and by meeting him years ago, I can imagine him sitting at home is just killing him right now. Not having football in his life must be difficult. Our former athletic director (Sandy Novak) approached me with it. She was like, ‘What do you think?’ I was like, ‘Heck yeah.’ I mean, that’s a no brainer.”
Also part of Alexander’s staff heading into the 2023 season are Scott Bushey as running backs coach, Lu Miller as defensive backs coach, Mike Bravin as defensive line coach and Brandon Lopez as strength and conditioning coach.
Lopez is a former Cienega and Arizona linebacker.
With so many established coaches, when someone must miss a day or two, there is no drop-off in instruction for the players.
When Bene went to the NFL Draft at Kansas City last week to be with Bijan Robinson, his former star running back at Salpointe, Jay Dobyns worked with the offense in his place.
“Back in the day at Salpointe, Dennis couldn’t leave, you know what I mean?” Alexander said. “In August, he is taking his daughter to college and will miss four days. He’s going to be gone, but he won’t be letting our kids down.”
Alexander will miss Sahuaro’s last two practices of the spring this Wednesday and Thursday because he will be in Atlanta to attend a ceremony for his daughter Aleena, a former Salpointe and Embry-Riddle softball standout who is earning a license to be a private investigator.
She majored in Forensic Psychology and minored in Global Security in Intelligence at Embry-Riddle. She interned as a file clerk at the law firm Farhang & Medcoff.
“The cool thing about our staff is I can leave and go see my daughter graduate because, trust me, the team will be in good hands,” Alexander said. “I don’t have to close down practice. Wednesday and Thursday, I won’t be at practice. They’ll be running the practice. I’ll be enjoying a special time with my baby.”
After this week, the next opportunity for the coaches to work with the players will be during summer workouts that start in late May and early June.
Sahuaro’s 2023 season begins Aug. 25 with a home game against rival 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.