New Kokomo football head coach is seen calling defense for the Kats during the Class 5A state finals last November. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

KOKOMO, Ind. – When asked why he thought he was ready to be the head coach, newly-approved Kokomo High School varsity football coach Richard Benberry Jr., cited great teachers, such as Brett Colby at Kokomo and Jason West at Warren Central.

“Some great football coaches worked with me and took the time to share their experiences with me; and now, I can bring 17 years of knowledge to the football field,” Benberry explained. “For the returning players and coaches, this should be an easier transition. They know me, and my expectations. Coupled with what Coach Colby created during his 11 seasons, I hope to continue building on those Kokomo football traditions.”

At its regular monthly meeting on March 5, the Kokomo School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved Benberry as the new Kokomo varsity football head coach. Benberry, 39, and his wife Carolyn have two children: a daughter Chandler (6) and a son Carter (3).

Benberry has spent the past three football seasons as the Wildkats defensive coordinator. Coach Benberry still remembers that first serious football meeting with Colby.

“We sat down and Brett allowed me to sell him my defensive philosophy,” Benberry explained. “It took only one meeting, and that speaks volumes about Coach Colby. At the end of that session, Coach Colby stands up, shakes my hand and says: ‘I believe in you … Let’s go!’ That trust was huge, and it never wavered during our three seasons working together.”

KHS Athletic Director Jason Snyder is excited to have Benberry leading the Wildkats football program.

“Coach Benberry has been a major part of the recent success of our Kokomo football program, and his familiarity with the program is going to allow for a smooth transition for our players and coaches,” Snyder said. “We hope to continue building on the foundation Coach Colby has established, and we feel Coach Benberry can lead our football program to continued success.”

The other key piece of coaching knowledge that Benberry learned from Colby was: “relationships are important!”

“I learned that it was important to have a relationship with each and every player,” Benberry noted. “Those relationships must be with ALL players, and not just some players. The proof is in the pudding … look at Coach Colby’s record: seven NCC (North Central Conference) titles, three sectionals, two regionals, and a semi-state … those relationships and that success galvanized this community and I simply plan to continue that tradition.”

Before coming to Kokomo, Benberry spent the 2013 football season as the varsity defensive line coach helping his alma mater (class of 1996) Warren Central and head coach Jason West win the Class 6A state championship.

“With Coach West, everything had a family atmosphere – meetings, practice, games,” Benberry said. “I also learned that the game of football lasts for a few moments, but those relationships last a lifetime. Coach West also helped me understand organizational skills … in a program that big, you have to trust people to do their jobs. Since then, I have learned that is true no matter what the size of the program.”

Overall, Benberry has 17 years of experience in coaching football, including assistant offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech in 2012; varsity safeties coach/junior varsity defensive coordinator at Guerin Catholic from 2009 to 2011; and varsity linebackers coach/junior varsity head coach at Lawrence North from 2003 to 2008.

“Those coaching experiences have made me a more well-rounded coach,” Benberry explained. “Coaching different skills areas allowed me to learn on the job. My coaches have been great teachers; but at the same time, they allowed me to learn by seeking my input. I even helped coach quarterbacks as I was asked to help them learn how to read defensive coverages.”

Benberry views his new position as varsity head football coach with a “hold the rope” mentality.

“Everyone has a job to do while holding the rope, but one person has to be in that anchor spot … I am that anchor with the rope tied around my waist,” Benberry said. “To win, we must pull as a team. If someone slips, I am the anchor while they regain their footing. But we – the players, the coaches, the school, the organization, the community – must pull together if we are going to continue building the football program and continue being successful.”

In order to focus on coaching and family, Benberry requested a non-administrative assignment at Kokomo High School for the 2018-2019 school year. The Board approved Benberry’s request as part of the football coaching recommendation. Benberry’s first regular season varsity game as head football coach will be at on August 7 at New Palestine.

Courtesy of the Kokomo School Corporation

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