CEDAR CITY — Effort and accountability are two of the main themes for Josh Bennett, who was named as head football coach for Cedar High School Monday morning.
Bennett, though this is his first head coaching job in football, is no wet-behind-the-ears rookie. He has been an assistant for the Redmen football program for a decade and has also been a highly-successful track coach at Cedar since 2005.
“I already have a rapport with the student-athletes and a relationship with the school and the community,” Bennett said. “I interact with the kids really well. I think that will be one of the biggest and most unique things I bring to the job.”
The 35-year-old Bennett has coached the secondary and the running backs at Cedar for the past 10 years, working under coach Todd Peacock.
“I started coaching football at Timpanogas High under Coach Frank Brammell,” Bennett said. “He and Coach Peacock are two of my mentors, guys I’ve looked up to and learned a lot from.”
Bennett, who will continue as head coach of the girls track team (as well as assisting the boys team), won a state title at Cedar as coach of the boys track team in 2008. His boys teams have also won region six times and were state runners-up three times.
“Josh has done a lot for our school and in particular in building our track program,” said Cedar athletic director Danny Lewis. “We had a great pool of candidates to choose from, a lot of worthy candidates. But we really like Josh’s coaching philosophy and he already has such a great rapport with the kids.”
Bennett said he definitely plans to update the Cedar offensive scheme, seeking balance out of a spread formation.
“We’re going to change things a bit, spread things out more and make things more difficult for teams to defend us,” Bennett said. “We’ll stil have some option elements from the spread. I think once people see some success and what we can do with it, they’ll get on board. What we seek is balance. In my experience, the toughest offenses to defend are the ones that have balance — 50/50 run and pass.”
Cedar has run the old-school option in one form or another for decades, including the entire tenure of Peacock.
Defensively, Bennett said he wants to make it easier for his players.
“We want to simplify things a little more on defense,” he said. “We want a simple base defense that we can then make more adjustments out of. On defense, a lot of it is about effort.”
The new coach also said he believes Cedar will continue to fit in well in the 3AA South Region in football.
“We absolutely will be competitive,” he said. “We have been very competitive in the past. The last couple of years, we’ve had a lot of close games that didn’t go our way. We just need that extra edge to finish those games now.”
Last season, Cedar was 5-6 overall, but only 1-5 in the 3AA South Region. The Redmen last close region games to Hurricane (13-7) and Snow Canyon (10-7), but also got manhandled by Desert Hills, Pine View and Dixie. Cedar won a road playoff game at Tooele before being eliminated by the Panthers 45-10 in the state quarterfinals.
Bennett, who is married (Amy) and has an adult daughter who is married (Morgan) as well as two other children (11-year-old Madison and 10-year-old Bryson), graduated from Millard High in Fillmore in 1996. He was a receiver and defensive back for the Eagles as they won state that season.
He then attended Snow College as well as Southern Utah University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from SUU in 2005 and returned to earn a master’s degree in 2013.
Bennett said his first item of business is to assemble a staff and begin to evaluate talent for next season. The Redmen have athletic quarterback Mason Fakahua back. The sophomore is the likely candidate to lead Bennett’s new spread offense.
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