Berk's Beat: Bene opts for room with a view

Dennis Bene says he has a better view in the press box of what opposing defenses are doing, but he can't communicate with his team as well.


There was a really weird play in Salpointe's Catholic 35-7 win over Mountain View in the quarterfinals.

Trailing 21-7 and building momentum, Mountain View had the ball around midfield. Quarterback Cody Rochon threw a long pass that was intercepted by Salpointe safety Jay Williams. Williams had a nifty run back, near the original line of scrimmage and fumbled before going down.

Mountain View recovered, but there were multiple penalty flags on the field.

The referees huddled for more than a minute to sort out the play.

Salpointe coach Dennis Bene probably had a million questions for the referees. But, he couldn't ask them. Not directly, at least.

Bene has stationed himself in the press box since Week 2 and takes the game in from up there, rather than the sideline like most head coaches.

He said it gives him a better view of what opposing defenses are doing and allows him to call plays at a more effective rate.

But there are drawbacks, and not being able to communicate to the referees and his team when things aren't going well is one of them.

"The second half we were starting to unwind a little bit, and I wish I was down there to settle things down a little bit," Bene said. "It's one thing if your assistants are doing it, it's another if you are doing it yourself.

"That's the big thing: I'm not down there to manage the sideline and the game."

But, the coaching arrangement has worked for the Lancers.

After losing to Crespi (Calif.) in the first game of the season, Bene decided to head to the press box for the team's second game against Scottsdale Chaparral. The move produced a win, and he hasn't been back to the sideline since.

He designates a head coach on the sideline to deal with the referees and get through to the players when needed.

Naturally, he turned to his little brother, Rocco, who coaches linebackers.

"When he told me I was going to be the designated head coach, I went in with all these ideas," Rocco said. "Then that first quarter was just a blur. You gain an appreciation of what he does every Friday."

Rocco has served as the head coach on the sideline and will relay messages from Bene to the players and referees.

"I was more intense as an assistant, knowing my big brother was down there to keep everything in check," Rocco said. "Now that his seat is above the stadium, I try to control my emotions better."

Falcon heading to Cornell

Catalina Foothills senior midfielder Jack Ferguson has committed to play soccer at Cornell next season.

Ferguson is a two-time Daily Star first-team Southern Arizona selection and helped lead the Falcons to the 2011 state championship as a sophomore.

Cornell is ranked No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 at 15-1-0.

Ex-Titan contributes at Mo.

Palo Verde graduate Darian Saunders is contributing to the Missouri women's basketball team as a true freshman.

Through two games, Saunders is playing 17.5 minutes per game and averaging 5.5 rebounds a contest.

In a 67-51 win over St. Louis on Nov. 9, Saunders played 19 minutes and had seven points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Saunders and the Tigers will travel to Cancun, Mexico, over Thanksgiving for three games as part of the Cancun Challenge.

Offers keep rolling in

The Colorado football program offered scholarships to a pair of local products while in Arizona to play the Wildcats last weekend.

The Buffaloes extended offers Salpointe's Cameron Denson and Sabino's Matt Bushman.

Bushman, a tight end prospect, also received an offer from BYU this week, according to Scout Recruiting Services. He now has offers from Colorado, BYU, Utah and Arizona. Denson holds offers from nine schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah and Washington.