GOODY, Ky. - The Belfry Pirates saw the third senior from the class of 2020 commit to continue their football career at the collegiate level as running back Ben Bentley pledged his commitment to Youngstown State University via Twitter on Friday, Aug. 30.
"I just felt like Youngstown was a really good fit for me," the 6-foot, 190-pound speedster said in an interview with the WDN. "They run the ball a lot, they are very run dominant team. A lot like Belfry. They played five running backs in their first game this year which is crazy."
Bentley, who grew up in Lenore, West Virginia, said that the family like atmosphere at YSU played a big role in him choosing the Penguins.
"At Belfry its a very big family feel around the football program, and that's something I've always valued about Belfry is how close everyone was. Youngstown sort of has that same feeling and their head coach reminded me of coach (Philip) Haywood, how he speaks to you and just how he acted. I just had a lot of respect for the program from the beginning and I knew that's where I wanted to play."
Youngstown State is a perennial powerhouse in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as NCAA Division I-AA. They claimed four National Championships during the 90's under legendary Ohio State coach Jim Tressell who also won a title as head coach of the Buckeyes. They were in the FCS National Title game as recently as 2016 under current head coach Bo Pelini, who was head coach at Nebraska for eight seasons prior to taking the job at YSU.
Bentley, who was on Belfry's Class AAA State Title team in 2016, said competing for a winning program at the next level played a big role in his decision.
"One of the things I really liked was coach Pelini, I mean his background is crazy, it speaks for itself. But one of the first things he talked to me about was that he would like to win a championship up there if not this year then within the next few of years. You can tell they are really hungry to get back to it and that's something I like. That's how Belfry is, we expect to compete for a state title every year."
Bentley has been a three year starter on defense for the Class AAA powerhouse Pirates and has been a starter in the backfield for each of the past two seasons.
In his first full season as a running back in 2018, he ran the ball 70 times for 873 yards and 12 touchdowns while also adding four touchdown receptions which was tops on the team. For his career he has 25 total touchdowns wearing the red and white, including 27 rushes for 187 yards and three TD's through the first two games of his senior campaign.
Defensively, he has 157 career tackles two games into his senior season, playing mostly free safety each of the past two seasons.
Bentley is the younger brother of former Belfry star and current Louisville Cardinal offensive lineman Cole Bentley, who was a part of the four straight Class AAA State Championship teams at Belfry from 2013-2016, and the son of Fred and Emme Bentley who were both standout athletes for Tug Valley in the 90's.
When asked if the Pirates were the team to beat in Kentucky's Class AAA in 2019, Bentley's answer was pretty straight forward.
"Oh 100 percent, "Bentley said. "I feel like the title is ours to lose this year."
The Pirates are back in action this Friday night on the road at Ohio power Archbishop Alter, which is located in Kettering, Ohio just outside of Dayton. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.