Craig Holden, Benicia’s former sporting director and head football coach, was recently sacked. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
For the first time in two decades, Benicia High School has a new head football coach.
The school announced on Friday the hiring of Scott Swartz as the program’s leader, just two weeks after the school said longtime coach and athletic director Craig Holden had “resigned”.
Swartz previously coached for the San Francisco 49ers, Oregon State University, San Jose State University, Northern Arizona University and other high school programs.
The school announced the hiring in a Twitter post, adding, “Coach Swartz will be offering the Spring Ball for ninth through eleventh graders who plan to play soccer in the fall season beginning Monday. Students should meet at the stadium at 3:45pm. More information on summer training and the start of the fall season will follow shortly.”
Although an April 13 Benicia Herald article said Holden was fired from the school, Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Damon Wright says that is not the case.
“The Benicia Unified School District has not fired Mr. Holden,” Wright said in an email to the Vallejo Times-Herald. “Mr. Holden resigned as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach on April 19 and the Board accepted his resignation on April 20. Both the coaching and Athletic Director positions are scholarships at will. Mr. Holden chose to to step down at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Mr. Holden will continue to serve as a physical education teacher for BUSD.”
When asked if Holden was fired for disciplinary reasons, Wright could only say, “Employee resignations are personnel matters and confidential. Mr Holden managed the BHS football program for 23 years and the athletic department for 18 years. BHS Athletics enjoyed tremendous success during his tenure. Our athletic program is well respected and we will continue to develop phenomenal student athletes and prepare them for success beyond high school.”
Holden is stepping down after being named Football Honor Coach by the North Coast Section in 2022 after a 2-8 season. In 2021, Benicia won the North Coast Section league game but lost away to Windsor.
Wright said he looks forward to hiring Swartz. Ron Wheat was appointed interim athletic director for Benicia, a role he held before Holden took over.
“The district remains committed to supporting Coach Swartz during this transition and throughout his tenure,” Wright said. “BUSD is actively recruiting an athletic director and hopes to fill the position soon. We thank our student-athletes for their resilience during this transition and will continue to support their growth.”
Phone calls and text messages to Holden and Benicia High Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt were unanswered at press time. Holden’s former Twitter name no longer exists.
According to maxpreps.com, Benicia varsity soccer is set to start the 2023 season with a home game on September 8 against Maria Carrillo.