By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the PRESS
If one thing is for certain, it’s that the San Benito athletic director/head football coach position is among the most sought after in South Texas.
But that’s about it.
As of Friday, 37 are vying for the Greyhounds top spot, according to a list of applicants provided to the San Benito News by San Benito CISD.
There are some familiar names on the list, and some not so familiar. In addition, the deadline for accepting applications is Feb. 21, so the list could expand.
“We’re happy with the progress and we were able to announce to the community the opportunity to include their input by taking the survey online (sbcisd.net),” said SBCISD Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ismael Cantu. “We would like to get the community, especially in the comments section, to give us their opinion of what they’re expecting of the head football coach in San Benito.”
Among the current head coaches on the list is PSJA Memorial head coach Gus Cavazos, who’s a well-known coach in the area with a solid track record of success. Cavazos coached at Rio Hondo from 2004-07 and has captained the 5A Wolverines since 2008. He has a 64-44 career record, including the playoffs. His teams won 32-3A in 2005 and 2007 and Cavazos helped Memorial reach the playoffs in Alamo in 2010-11. In all, his teams have captured four district titles in 10 seasons.
Also, Port Isabel’s Monty Stumbaugh, who has 102 career victories, 11 playoff appearances and six district titles in 13 seasons with the Tarpons, is on the list. Stumbaugh led PI to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2003 and added state quarterfinal appearances in 2004 and 2012. The Tarpons went 12-1 this past season with a berth in the regional playoffs and capped their first perfect regular season since 1994.
Brownsville Lopez coach Jason Starkey, who played in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, San Benito native and Raymondville head coach Joe Gonzales and Kingsville head coach Robert Wilcox, who has a 125-98 record in 20 seasons at various schools, have applied. Also, Poteet’s Hank Willis, Nic Williams (Grants, N.M.) and Jeff Schaum, who recently worked as athletic director and head football coach at Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida have thrown their names in. Schaum’s coaching career included a graduate assistant position under Bobby Bowden at Florida State as well as head coach of Cisco Junior College at one time.
Former San Benito defensive coordinator and Brownsville Porter head coach Rudy Gonzalez is also on the list. Gonzalez was the defensive coordinator under the legendary Tommy Roberts in the 1990s and also served as ’Hounds’ interim head coach during the 1996 season. Gonzalez is revered in town and was most recently the defensive coordinator at Sharyland before retiring and sitting out last season.
Other local hopefuls with head coaching experience include Joe Solis, who has a 135-71-1 career record with Lyford and Edcouch-Elsa. Solis won six straight 32-4A titles with the Yellow Jackets from 2003-08 and parted ways E-E after the 2012 season. Also on the list are former Harlingen South coach Gilbert Leal, former Edinburg High coach Joey Caceres, and former PSJA High coach Rich Lucero.
Notable local assistants vying for the post include Harlingen South offensive coordinator and San Benito native Danny Cortez, Harlingen quarterbacks coach Bobby Lucio, current San Benito defensive assistant Michael Mull and former San Benito and current Donna defensive assistant Sergio Nunez.
The new coach will replace Spencer Gantt, who agreed to part ways with the district on Jan. 14. Gantt went 28-26 in five seasons in San Benito with three playoff appearances and a 32-5A co-district championship in 2011. Currently, head baseball coach Ramiro Partida is serving as the interim AD/coach. The ’Hounds went 3-7 last year and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
Editor’s Note: The PRESS is set to publish an updated version of this story in this Thursday’s edition.