CEDAR CITY – Josh Bennett, a 10-year assistant with the Cedar High football program, was named its new head coach, the school announced Monday.
Bennett was selected to replace Todd Peacock, who resigned in November after 24 years at the helm.
The 35-year-old Bennett, who coached the secondary and running backs under Peacock, knows he has big shoes to fill in his new role.
“Todd Peacock set the standard,” Bennett said. “He had a great rapport with the kids and is an all-around good person. I learned how to treat the kids from him.
“There are a lot of family influences, and this is a great opportunity. I love working with the kids.”
Peacock wrote a recommendation for Bennett, who had to go through an interview for the job with a nine-person search committee that included Cedar athletic director Danny Lewis. Lewis said while there were viable candidates both in-house and outside, Bennett proved to be the best fit, primarily with his experience under Peacock.
“His philosophy matched up with our expectations,” Lewis said. “He knows the kids and what it takes to continue the program.
“I know people will be surprised by this, but we didn’t talk much (in the interview) about x’s and o’s. He has ideas on what he wants to do.”
Bennett added: “The interview was a little nerve-wracking. Tough, but interesting.”
Bennett graduated from Millard High and was part of the Eagles’ 2A state championship football team in 1996. His grandfather was a head coach at the school. Bennett received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah in 2005 and his master’s in 2013.
The new head coach of the Redmen said the days of the team being strictly a run-first option offense are no more.
“I want to add a little more balance to the offense,” Bennett said. “You keep the defense off-balance when you can incorporate the run and the pass. They complement each other.”
Bennett was exposed to an interesting situation that seems to fit his approach in this year’s regular-season finale. With a playoff berth on the line, Cedar trailed Payson 13-3 at home at halftime, which led to some creative thinking by Peacock.
The coaching staff left the locker room and left the kids to figure things out on their own.
“He made the right decision at the right time,” Bennett said. “The kids are the ones who have to go out and play. (The coaches) felt they needed to get together, talk, and figure out what they needed to do to fix this.”
After all heads came together, Cedar rallied for a 23-13 win and got in to the 3AA playoffs.
Bennett said one of his first acts as head coach will be to hire a staff of assistants. He also carries the additional role of girls track team coach at Cedar.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter, @Tomzsports.