High School Football

Art teacher, coach wins his 100th game. This rare combo built a state football powerhouse.

Most high school football coaches teach a small group of subjects with physical education, history or math topping the list. That makes sense as football remains a sport dedicated to power, strategy and angles.

But Mountain View’s Judd Benedick has never fit into any boxes.

The Mavericks’ art teacher has built a perennial state power in Meridian, and he reached another milestone last Friday with his 100th career victory in a 50-7 rout of Centennial.

Benedick’s career path may sound strange, but it’s also part of the reason he has won so many games, Mountain View Athletic Director Luke Wolf said.

“He can speak to all audiences,” Wolf said. “He can speak to his advanced drawing kids about lines and shading. But then in the same breath, he could flip the switch and a lunch meeting starts, and he can start breaking down coverages and tendencies with an offense.

“The best way to put it is he just has an extremely well-rounded, sound mind.”

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The Mountain View football team congratulates Mavericks coach Judd Benedick after he won his 100th career game last week. Courtesy of Luke Wolf

That 47-year-old mind enters the week with a 100-35 record, and he has posted only one losing season and missed the playoffs twice in 13 seasons. But Benedick has never focused on the stats. He has instead tried to live up to what he calls the “right way” of coaching he learned from three figures in his life.

His Optimist coach, Dan Hardee, showed him the value of teaching without yelling. He idolized the respect given to his father, a longtime teacher and coach at Hillside Junior High. And legendary Pacific Lutheran University coach Frosty Westering showed him how to treat players as more than Xs and Os on a chalkboard.

Benedick played in three NAIA national championship games under Westering, and the school inducted the former linebacker into its hall of fame two years ago. But he said Westering’s coaching staff always cared more about the players than wins and losses, something he vowed to replicate when he started his own program.

“More than anything, 100 wins is a number,” Benedick said. “But it doesn’t tell the story of the lives that you’ve got to impact and interact with. And I’ve got just as much from them as they’ve got from me.

“All those groups of people that have come through, whether it’s coaches or kids, they’ve changed my life and impacted my life.”

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The Mavericks mob Mountain View football coach Judd Benedick after winning the 2016 state championship at Albertsons Stadium. Kyle Green kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Wolf preceded Benedick at Mountain View and stayed on to coach the Mavericks’ defensive line under him before pursuing an administrative career. He said it took time for Benedick’s alternative message to sink in with teenage boys.

“He uses the word love a lot in our program,” Wolf said. “It took awhile for the kids to buy into that word is not just about a relationship or feelings. It’s about trust. It’s about care. It’s about understanding. It’s about perseverance.”

That message helped transform Mountain View from a good program into a perennial state power. The Mavericks won a single playoff game in their first 11 years. But in the past five years they have reached the semifinals every year and played in three state championship games, winning the program’s only title in 2016.

Benedick said he’s grown as a coach, learning how to better manage his program, work with people with differing interests, delegate tasks and stay organized.

“I’ve got to admit, as an art teacher, you’re not always that way,” Benedick said. “As an artist, you’ve got to be creative and kind of out of the box. But there’s not room for that side of things when you’re the head coach. There’s always something that you have to lay out and detail and line out for people.”

Capital coach Todd Simis has battled with Benedick for Southern Idaho Conference and state championships for many of the past 13 years. He said he can expect three things from every Benedick-led team: a stout defense, a fundamentally sound team and classy players developed in a program built the right way.

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Mountain View football coach Judd Benedick gets doused with water after winning the 2016 state championship. Kyle Green kgreen@idahostatesman.com

“He’s a guy the kids and coaches want to follow and want to play for,” Simis said.

Benedick joins a growing list of active coaches in the 5A and 4A SIC who have reached coaching milestones in recent years. Middleton’s Bill Brock and Bishop Kelly’s Tim Brennan have both surpassed 200 career wins, and Simis, Vallivue’s Layne Coffin and now Benedick are all members of the 100-win club.

And at only 47 years old, Benedick will continue to climb the list, according to Simis.

“If he stays with it,” Simis said, “he’s probably going to get another 50 to 100.”

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Rocky Mountain hoists the Herb Criner Bowl trophy after beating rival Eagle last season. The Grizzlies have won three in a row against Eagle. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

Eagle at Rocky Mountain, 7 p.m. Friday

Sad news out of Eagle as junior quarterback Ben Ford is out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, Mustangs coach John Hartz confirmed this week. Ford injured his knee while scrambling on a rugby punt in last week’s loss to Timberline and awaits surgery.

The No. 5-ranked Mustangs (5-2) don’t have to start from scratch, as backup and sophomore Mason McHugh has become a larger and larger part of the offense the past couple of weeks. He has impressed with a rocket arm in a limited role. But making your debut against the state’s top defense (9.0 points per game) is a tough task for anyone.

No. 1 Rocky Mountain (7-0) still has plenty to play for and can wrap up a 5A SIC title with a win.

Rocky Mountain 28, Eagle 14

Borah at Mountain View, 7 p.m. Friday

I vowed to stop picking against Borah (5-2) quarterback/master-of-everything Austin Bolt. But he can’t beat everybody on his own, can he?

I’m rolling the dice with No. 2 Mountain View (6-1), which clinches a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win.

Mountain View 35, Borah 29

Vallivue at Nampa, 7 p.m. Friday

Vallivue sits third in the state media poll and leads the 4A classification with 46.9 points per game. But the Falcons (5-2, 4-2 4A SIC) have yet to show they can throw the ball at all against the 4A SIC’s top teams.

No. 4 Nampa (5-2, 4-2 4A SIC) has the athletes to keep Lan Larison relatively in check, and has plenty of firepower of its own at 41.3 points per game.

Nampa 36, Vallivue 30

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Michael Lycklama has covered Idaho high school sports since 2007. He’s won national awards for his work uncovering the stories of the Treasure Valley’s best athletes and investigating behind-the-scenes trends.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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