Ben Connot has won with Winner and Colome.
His next challenge is to win with Rapid City Christian.
The Winner graduate was recently named the head football coach of the Comets, who finished 2-6 last season and were bounced 80-8 by Lemmon/McIntosh in the first round of 9AA playoffs.
Rapid City Christian has won 11 total games since 2015, but Connot welcomes the challenge of turning things around.
“It’s a different challenge for me,” Connot said. “Obviously I am in Winner, Colome where it’s football-rich country down here and it’s a little different out that way. Hopefully I can teach them something, rub off on them and see if we can start winning football games.”
On the field, Connot said the Comets were young last year and they return an athletic class of soon-to-be juniors. Off the field, Connot was blown away at what Rapid City Christian has to offer.
“It’s growing so fast out there,” Connot said. “It’s a school that’s really getting a lot bigger and it’s something I kind of want to be a part of as well and they have everything in place and they are ready to go.”
The school purchased the Hart Ranch Arena in 2003 and it has 20 acres of land and more than 67,000 square feet of space on site. The school has undergone numerous renovations in the past several years, including a football field and gymnasium. Connot said there’s also preliminary discussions about an auxiliary gym and a weight room.
He’s also heard positive feedback about the fanbase and how they support their athletics.
“Everybody had nothing but great things to say about the school and the kids and the fan support they have for their sports,” Connot added. “It was a lot of good things and a lot of positive things I heard.”
Connot was an all-stater on the gridiron and the Joe Robbie MVP of the 2012 state championship game. He guided Colome to the 2018 Class 9B state championship as head coach.
He spent this past season as an assistant coach for his former coach Dan Aaker at Winner, which finished as the Class 11B state runner-up.
“I learned a lot from (Aaker) there and just seeing how he runs things, more than the X’s and O’s and the standpoint of teaching football players,” Connot said. “But seeing how he handles his business in certain situations that a lot of people don’t understand you have to do as a head coach. That was great and he was open about everything.”
The new opportunity also gives Connot a chance to return to the Black Hills. Connot, 25, attended South Dakota School of Mines after high school for a year. He then finished his college education at Black Hills State University, which is where he met his fiancée and former women’s basketball player, Keely Bertram.
“I want to be back out there,” Connot said. “It’s tough to leave the Black Hills once you’ve been there for a while.”