Local coaches achieve milestone victories in NCS openers

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Fortuna’s Mike Benbow looks on during a recent game.

By Ray Hamill — A pair of local coaches enjoyed milestone victories over the weekend in the opening round of the North Coast Section football playoffs.

On Friday night, Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow guided the Huskies to a 36-0 win over Middletown in the Division-6 playoffs and tied his old head coach for most wins ever in program history.

On Saturday afternoon, St. Bernard’s Matt Tomlin recorded his 100th career win as a head coach when the Crusaders took care of business against Terra Linda by a score of 45-7 in the Division-5 playoffs.

Both coaches have previously won state titles and consistently have their respective programs contending for the Big 4 championship, which they shared with Del Norte this season.

The win for Benbow was his 121st with Fortuna, tying him with Dick Cahill, whom he played for.

Cahill coached at Fortuna from 1975 through 1995.

Benbow won a state championship with the Huskies as a head coach in 2017.

Tomlin’s win was his 97th at St. Bernard’s, having also won three games during his first head coaching job at Piner.

Tomlin has been with the Crusaders since 2013 and has won two state championships, in 2015 and 2019.

“I just feel very fortunate to have been able to coach at Piner and St. Bernard’s and I’ve been able to coach a lot of great young players,” Tomlin said after Saturday’s milestone achievement, while also paying tribute to the schools’ administration and all his assistant coaches over the years. “100 wins is a tribute to everybody that’s been a part of it.”

Both head coaches will try to add to their legacy when their teams play NCS semifinals next weekend.

St. Bernard’s coach Matt Tomlin on the sideline Saturday.

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