Benson coach builds steam
Prep Focus • Techman returns with goal of restoring a fabled program
From 1970 through 1997, the last year Bill Dressel was coach, Benson had only three losing football seasons and never dipped below 4-6. The Techmen won seven league titles and the '88 state championship. No PIL team has ruled the state since.
So in the '80s, there was little question where middle-schooler Anthony Davis would attend high school.
'I grew up down the street from Walter Bailey, who was Mr. Everything at Benson,' Davis says. 'When I was like in eighth grade, he said, 'You're going to Benson.' Their football team had already won a city championship, and it was hard to argue with a guy like that.'
Now Davis is back -he's Benson's new head coach, the man entrusted to restore a program that slipped to doormat status in recent years. Benson failed to win or tie a game last year for the first time ever (not counting the 0-2-0 season of 1918). A 20-point loss to Franklin was Benson's best showing, and a 62-0 loss to Grant ended the four-year coaching era of Doug Bilodeau.
When the school began looking for a successor, 'I asked our coaches what they felt the needs were,' Athletic Director Bruce Alton says. 'We all wanted someone who understood the culture and history of Benson, and lives in our community.'
Davis, a 1992 grad, has a zeal for Tech athletics.
He chuckles when he recalls attending Benson with fellow freshman Diallo Lewis, who later transferred to Jesuit and now is Grant's successful head coach. 'We had 80 kids out for freshman football, and the freshman team didn't lose a game for four years,' Davis says.
What made Benson so good?
'There was a winning culture here,' says Kory Murphy, a '91 Benson grad and former University of Oregon receiver who will be on Davis' staff. 'It's time to re-establish that. It's a real honor to be back.'
Others on Davis' staff: Alistair Rolle, David Brannon, Nick and Paul Feigner, Tyrone Sellers, Leon McKenzie Jr., Reggie Kearney and Michael Wickam. Most of the assistants have ties to Benson or the PIL.
Davis says Tech will use all of the field on offense.
'We can't play in a phone booth,' he says. 'The kids here are exceptional athletes, and we've got to find ways to get the ball to them in open space.'
Davis says Benson will get more good athletes, too.
'Kids will hop on board,' he says, 'once they see what we've got going here.'