Football: Smith ready to make his mark

Bryan Smith, right, is San Benito High's new football coach.

Bryan Smith was overwhelmed with emotion after he was announced as San Benito High’s new football coach on Tuesday. The 40-year-old Smith takes over for Chris Cameron, who resigned after 22 years.
“I’m thrilled, but at the same time I’m being respectful to coach Cam and the process he went through to make his decision,” said Smith, who has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2007. “Coach needs to be honored and recognized for his tenure and all the things he’s done for the program. He’s truly been the ultimate professional in terms of going about taking care of the program every single day.”
Smith got a first-hand look in what it takes to be the man in charge of running a competitive high school football team when he spent the last off-season with Cameron overseeing returning and incoming players for conditioning and strength-training sessions in the weight room.
When someone of Cameron’s stature steps down for the school’s signature sports team, it must replace it with another dynamic coach who understands the demands and rigors of the job along with all of the responsibilities that come along with it. That’s exactly what the Haybalers get in Smith, who was a three-sport standout for the school in the early 1990s before playing semi-professional football for the Central Coast Barnstormers, eventually making the AFA Semi-Pro Hall of Fame in 2014.
With the exception of one year since 2000, Smith has been coaching, including a stint as San Benito’s freshmen head coach from 2000 to 2001. Smith has paid his dues, and he takes over his alma mater feeling fully prepared to lead the Balers to continued success.
“Chris has been the best teacher I could’ve possibly ever had,” said Smith, who thanked his wife, Marla, his parents, Mike and Rita, his sister, Nicole Schneider, and his son Cadence for their undying support. “I will put my tie on things and do some activities differently for sure, but I’ve had the opportunity to learn from the best with him and (former defensive coordinator) Tod Thatcher in terms of X’s and O’s, scheme-wise and work ethic.”
Smith pointed to a couple of special mentors in his life, Romaldo Martin, and the late Julian Flores, as being people in his life who affected him in a number of life-changing ways.
Like many successful football coaches, Smith uses the sport as an outside classroom, teaching teenagers life skills that they can utilize in all phases of their lives. Smith, who has been teaching physical education at San Benito for the last nine years, earned the Educator of the Year award in 2014.
In 2002, Smith earned Teacher of the Year honors while at Maze Middle School.
“If we can teach and play football well and teach life lessons to our players, then we’re doing the right thing and headed in the right direction,” Smith said. “We’ll continue to preach about being good in school, being good people and honorable.”
Even though Smith will be expected to sustain the Balers’ success, he welcomes the challenge.
“The expectations are high, but that’s why we’re in this,” he said. “I’ve been around the game long enough to know pressure comes with the territory. But there’s no reason to shy away from it; rather, I’ll embrace it. This team gets so much support from the community, and we want to continue to put together a product people can be proud of.”

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