Week nine of the football season is in the books and this week we shift our focus to the central coast as the San Benito Haybalers, led by head coach Bryan Smith, defeated the Seaside Spartans with a final score of 47-20.
Heading into the game, Smith was excited about his team’s chemistry. “We have a lot of seniors and they know how important this game was to us and our team, he said. “We knew Seaside was going to be a great game and we had to rally together and focus on executing our game plan.”
The Haybalers took an early 20-6 lead thanks, in part, to running backs Stevan Navarro and Juan De Leon. Together, they rushed for over 250 yards and five touchdowns. Smith was adamant that the rushers could have put more points on the board if they capitalized on every possession. “We got into the red zone six times but only scored on three possessions,” Smith said. “[At half time] I made it clear, good teams do that, but excellent teams convert and score on every possession.”
The Haybalers understood their coach’s halftime message. “We were fired up the second half and you could tell the energy was different,” Smith recalled. “We were flying around making plays.” San Benito ended up scoring 28 second half points while Seaside scored 14, leading to the final score of 47-20.
When asked about his offense’s success, Smith didn’t hesitate to speak about fullback Matt Felix. “We run a two tight end wishbone offense and the person carrying the fake is almost as important as the one carrying the ball,” Smith said. “Matt was executing his fakes so well that it was opening up lanes for our running backs. That’s a great representation of selfless team play. The offensive line and Aiden Pung did a great job all night too.”
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, Smith had nothing but praises. “They all played so tough,” he said, “Sideline to sideline and all the way to the whistle, they kept playing. Marcus Aranda, Kristian Espinoza, Albert Rodriguez, and Owen Branon were really flying around out there. I think they really set the tone for our team, and our defensive coordinator, coach [Todd] Thatcher, has been instrumental to our defense’s success.”
Bryan Smith has been coaching high school football for 18 years. His coaching resume includes a stop at Gavilan Junior College in addition to San Benito, where he has coached for 3 years. Smith spent his first 10 seasons as the Haybalers’ offensive coordinator, before making the jump to head coach three years ago. Smith himself played football at San Benito. After graduating, he played at Gavilan Junior College before transferring to Chico State, where he finished his career. He is also the Physical Education teacher at San Benito and enjoys interacting with the student body. “I really enjoy trying to help students understand that being healthy is more than being physically fit,” Smith said. “There’s so much more to health and wellness mentally, socially and just how you treat others with respect.”
When asked about receiving the Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week Award Smith said, “I know Charlie was a great football coach and when I found out I won the award I was caught by surprise. But, I think it is a great achievement. It means a lot to me and I am honored to be a part of the coaching roster who has won it in the past.”
As our Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week presented by U.S. Bank, Coach Smith will receive a $1,000 grant for the San Benito Haybalers football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, he will also receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. Coach Smith will also be invited to visit the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will officially present him with his award. He will also be featured on the 49ers Cal-Hi Sports Report on Sundays at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m. on NBC Sports California and re-broadcast throughout the week.
Congratulations, Coach Smith!