Chris Bennett is out as Eagles’ football coach

January 14, 2014

By Josh Liebeskind

Issaquah High School football coach Chris Bennett was informed late last month that he would not be retained for next season.

Coaches work off year-to-year contracts. Bennett said he was taken by surprise when informed of the decision.

File Chris Bennett, during the team’s first practice Aug. 21, told players that doing every task right, no matter how big or small, prepares them for success.

Chris Bennett, during the team’s first practice Aug. 21, told players that doing every task right, no matter how big or small, prepares them for success.

“To be honest, I was just told that my contract was not going to be renewed and when asked why, I wasn’t given a reason,” said Bennett, who compiled a 44-23 record in six seasons, along with an appearance in the 2008 state-title game.

Issaquah Athletic Director Luke Ande declined to comment on the reasons behind the decision. Ande said the decision was made by a group of people, although he declined to specify those who were involved.

“There’s a handful of things that are thought about and taken into account whenever making a decision like this,” Ande said.

Bennett has coached in some capacity at Issaquah for 13 of the past 14 years and won Coach of the Year awards as an assistant and a head coach from both the Washington State Coaches Association and National Football Foundation.

He was named the KingCo Crown Division Coach of the Year this past season after leading Issaquah to a 6-4 record and a first-round playoff loss at Union.

“I think it’s a real shock for most people in the football community as well,” Bennett said. “Not only at our school, but from around the league and all leagues, and people I know. I’ve been super successful and super proud of what was built at Issaquah. We built our program into one of the most competitive programs in the state, year in and year out.

“A lot of great people that I’ve been fortunate to work with there and a lot of great players and families that I’ve become real close with over the years, there’s such a sense of pride and accomplishment from all those players and families and community,” he added. “It’s caught everyone off guard, including myself.”

Controversy preceded Bennett’s hiring at Issaquah in 2008. After a year as head coach at Sammamish High School in Bellevue in 2006, he was selected as Issaquah’s coach in 2007, but resigned soon after for misrepresenting information on his résumé — he listed a stint as a walk-on football player at Washington State University, but later said he only attempted to walk on.

Bennett served as a volunteer coach at Issaquah for the 2007 season, and then took the head-coaching reins the following year.

Bennett said he has been offered assistant jobs at a few other programs, but has yet to decide how he would like to move forward. He is also interested in possibly being a head coach again.

Issaquah posted its head-coaching vacancy on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s website Jan. 6. Ande said he prefers to hire someone as soon as possible, but will not rush the process and has no timetable.

“We wish him the best,” Ande said of Bennett, “and look forward to see what he does in the future.”


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