By P.J. Tracy
Jonathan Bennett, son of the highly successful football coach David Bennett, finds himself fortunate to be in Murfreesboro.
“Yes, absolutely glad to be here … its a unique chance to be close to home, and I enjoyed my time here as a kid. It’s a unique opportunity overall, a true blessing from God.”
The younger Bennett, who is reserved and respectful with short answers and many “yes, sirs and yes, ma’ams,” was recently hired to be the Murfreesboro defensive coordinator as well as work with receivers.
Other duties for Bennett will include coaching the cross-country team, as well as the strength and conditioning coach for MHS athletics. He will also have teaching duties as a physical education and health instructor.
Bennett, a 2012 graduate of Henderson State University, has spent the past three years in the Mena School District as a coach. A graduate of Dierks High School in 2005, Bennett also spent time as a child in Murfreesboro and Prescott during his father’s tenures as a coach in those locations.
He lists his father as a big influence towards him becoming a coach, stating that otherwise he may have ended up in the farming or trade industries. Taking a page from his fathers playbook, Bennett states that he features multiple defensive formations in his football philosophy.
“I emphasize tackling legs, playing hard and fast with all 11 players flying to the football.”
Bennett also credits former Mena head coach Tim Harper with his development as a coach. The 25-year coaching veteran recently left Mena to take a position in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area at Coweta High School and has stops in Lewisville, Des Arc and Searcy on his resume.
“He was a wonderful guy to learn under, and add to what I already knew,” Bennett said of his Harper’s detail orientation, as well as being a positive learning experience to step away from his father’s football philosophies. Bennett also credits defensive coordinator Greg Tibbitt, formerly of Shiloh Christian, with furthering his education on the defensive side of the football.
He adds laughingly that some of his formation as a coach from his father came from his times of a football player at Dierks where he played at left guard and defensive end.
“We had a good relationship, but he was hard on me as a football player — he’d get fired up and use me as the example to the team.”
Bennett states that while it wasn’t always fun at the time, it definitely helped him become the person he is today through a positive character aspect, and that he enjoys working with young athletes.
In a tip of the cap to his father, he states that “yes, absolutely,” he still seeks football advice from his father and his 33-years of coaching experience. “We talk about football often.”
Having grown up in the local area, Bennett feels that knowing the local traditions and fan expectations will serve him well in his new position.“When I was first at Mena in the 7-4A it was much the same, but when Mena went to the 4-4A it was a learning experience with the likes of Ozark, Pottsville and Elkins.”While at Mena, Bennett also has the duties of coaching the girl’s soccer team.
Bennett, who says his family comes first, has a wife, Elizabeth, along with a 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, along with a daughter in heaven, Eliza, that died shortly after birth.
He states that he might eventually look for a head coaching position, but is very happy with where he is at now. “Probably will, but not for a while … it’s a lot more responsibility, and that’s something I want to put off while I continue learn. This will be a new experience for me as I look forward to get the kids going with character and teamwork and having some fire underneath them.”