Benjamin Franklin High School head coach Dave Jefferies looked out to the assembled media and teams in attendance at the AIA’s Championship event in Tempe Tuesday morning before pausing, looking down to collect his thoughts and sharing a brief story about his father Scott who passed away exactly one month ago.
When top-seeded BFHS (12-1) takes the field against second-seed American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek (12-1) in the 3A Championship Friday night at Campo Verde High School, the Chargers will have their 12th man watching from above.
“He’s just always been a big believer in my abilities as a coach,” Jefferies said to Sports360AZ.com of his father who lost his 12-year battle with cancer. “He would come to camp with us for years and years and see me interact with the kids…he would always kind of joke that he was a glorified water boy, which he was.”
Scott, who was an official “assistant coach” for his son in 2018, called the season spent together as a “bucket list” moment between father and son. Dave Jefferies said the wins and losses (the Chargers finished 7-5 last fall) were inconsequential compared to spending the last few years growing closer to the man he grew up admiring.
“He’s been a hero of mine my whole life,” he said.
One trait Jefferies learned from his late father was to take accountability for your actions. Dave has preached the same to his own son, Zach, who has rushed for over 3500 yards for his dad at Ben Franklin.
Dave shared the story back when he was a sophomore at Cibola High School in Yuma and wanted to quit JV football. Younger Jefferies “begged” his father to tell Coach Tim Lino, the varsity coach at the time, he was no longer interested in playing because the team wasn’t winning and his love of the game had passed.
So he thought.
Not only did Coach Lino not allow Dave to quit, he would inspire him to become a coach, something which would have never happened if elder Jefferies made the call and took the easy way out for his son. Reflecting back, Coach Jefferies describes his prep playing days as “one of the best experiences of my life.”
Coach Lino, who’s in education adminstration now, surprised Jefferies by flying in from Hawaii for his father’s funeral a few weeks ago and got watch his former player coach for the first time against San Tan Foothills just hours before laying his father to rest.
Wherever Dave Jefferies goes and whatever he does on and off the field, he’s well aware who’s watching it all from above.
“I truly believe he does see what’s going on right now, so I feel real happy about that,” Jefferies said. “I feel like I’m still sharing that moment with him.”