A familiar face will be taking over Santa Fe athletics and its football program.
The Santa Fe ISD school board voted 7-0 at its meeting Monday to promote defensive coordinator Matthew Bentley to the athletic director and head football coach position.
Bentley has been an assistant coach on the Santa Fe football staff for the past five years, coming over from Pearland with former Indians head coach Mark Kanipes.
The steady progression of the Indians’ on-field success that occurred under Kanipes, who took the head football coach job at Brazosport in February, is something Bentley said he looks to continue.
“The mentality that we’ve built since we’ve gotten here has been really, really good,” Bentley said. “We’re competitive right now, and we just need to keep that train rolling and keep moving up — keep these kids believing that we can compete and that we can win, and we have done that.
“If we can keep moving in the right direction, hopefully, the sky is the limit,” Bentley added.
Last season, Santa Fe’s football program earned its first playoff appearance since 2009 and first winning season since 2010 in Kanipes’ fifth season at the helm. In the two years prior to the arrival of Kanipes and his new staff, which included Bentley, the team was a combined 2-18.
“Kanipes is brilliant, especially on the football field,” Bentley said. “His mentality and mindset on the field, you can’t beat that. And that goes back to his La Marque days with (Alan) Weddell and Tony (Heath) and all those La Marque guys. You can tell it was a different breed of coaches back then. So, it’s good to learn from those coaches, which I have.”
Scheme-wise, Bentley said he and his staff will adapt to the team’s personnel in what he anticipates will be a smooth transition, given his experience in the program with Kanipes.
The school board members all offered their congratulations and support for Bentley, and also praised the athletic program’s work with its kids off-the-field, expressing a desire for that to continue.
“I love molding kids into young men and young women,” Bentley said. “Entering junior high, as a sixth or seventh grader, they don’t really know what they want to do, they end up trying athletics, and it just molds them into model citizens. They go out and become successful, and end up doing great things for the community.”
Bentley was an assistant coach at Pearland for four seasons, and had previous stops at Fort Bend Kempner and Alvin — his high school alma mater where he graduated in 2002. A defensive lineman in his playing days, Bentley received a scholarship opportunity with the University of Houston, where he was a four-year player, and earned his college degree.
At Santa Fe, Bentley began as a defensive line coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator. Since Kanipes’ departure, Bentley also had been acting as interim athletic director.