Will Benson had been eyeing one particular coaching position for some time.
It was one of the area’s best programs. It was close to his family’s home in Lake in the Hills. It was one he considered a no-brainer to pursue if it ever opened.
“I even told [Marengo athletic director] Chad [Olson] at Christmas and told him if Huntley opens, I’d apply,” said Benson, who coached Marengo to a 20-11 record last season.
When former Red Raiders coach Marty Manning left for the Schaumburg boys basketball head coaching job this spring, Benson jumped at the opportunity. Benson, who is 46-69 in four seasons as a head coach, officially became the Raiders new coach at the District 158 school board meeting Thursday night.
Benson takes over a program that was 162-68 in Manning’s eight seasons, with four consecutive Fox Valley Conference Valley Division championships and three Class 4A regional titles in the last four years.
“We moved into the Huntley district 3 1/2 years ago and we’ve seen how much the district has improved,” Benson said. “It’s close to home – my commute is 13 minutes round trip from 40 – and the success Marty had built the program to one of the best in the area.
“It really wasn’t about Marengo, I had a lot of fun at Marengo. At no time, did I think that was a one-year deal. It was about Huntley. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to interview, and I was very fortunate to be picked for the job.”
Benson will teach driver education and teach at Huntley High School. For the past two years, he taught P.E. at Harvard, but coached Jacobs sophomore boys team, then Marengo’s varsity. Marengo’s record was its best since the Indians were 27-3 in 2000.
Benson, a 2002 Crystal Lake South graduate, played two years at the University of Dubuque, then transferred to Northern Illinois University. There, he coached with Marty Dello Basketball year-round. Dello was Benson’s coach at South.
“He came in and said this was a job he really wanted,” Huntley athletic director Michelle Jakubowski said. “This is a dream job he always wanted to have. You can see his passion and knowledge for the game. He’s organized, with his practice planning and commitment to the team.
“He came in and took over at Marengo and did a great job. That’s something we looked at too.”
Benson feels many of his philosophies will be similar to Manning’s. They live in the same neighborhood and Manning has aided Benson in coming into the program.
“He’s been tremendous with the transition,” Benson said. “If there’s anything I need, he helps me. It couldn’t have been an easier transition. He wants the program to succeed.”