MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Paul Benefield, Jack Steele & Tim Miller are three of the most successful high school coaches in all of North Alabama. Monday, all three coaches were honored for their career achievements with their induction into the 2022-23 Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
PAUL BENEFIELD: Fyffe High school’s current head football coach just completed leading the Red Devils to their 13th undefeated regular season (10-0) 0verall and sixth perfect 15-0 season since 2014. Benefield, 64, like many of this year’s Hall of Fame selectees, is a 1976 graduate of Fyffe High School. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Jacksonville State University in 1980 and earned his master’s in 1981.
He began his football coaching career back at his alma mater as an assistant coach from 1981-1987. He moved to DeKalb County rival Plainview from 1997 – 1992 and then took his first head-coaching position at another DeKalb County school Sylvania 1992. He compiled a 45-11 record in five seasons leading the Rams to back-to-back 12-1 seasons in 1994 and 1995. He moved back home to Fyffe in in 1997 and for the last 26 years has been nothing short of amazing.
This year’s team finished the regular season 10-0 for the 13th time in his tenure at Fyffe, and counting Sylvania’s back-to-back 10-0 regular seasons, give him 15 in 31 years as a head coach. Since taking over the Red Devils program, Fyffe has gone 292-44 with a 51-game winning streak from 2018-2021 and has been the AHSAA’s winningest football program for the last 20 years. His teams have won five state championships since 2014 and have finished runner-up twice (2007, 2015). His 2019 team outscored opponents 639-43, and his 2014 team set a then state record scoring 751 points in a 15-0 state championship run.
Fyffe two Class 2A crowns in going 15-0 each year in 2018 and 2019, moved to Class 3A in 2020 and finished 15-0 again to claim its third consecutive state title.
Benefield has compiled an incredible 337-55 record, which ranks third all time. His winning percentage of 85.8% is the best in state history for any coach winning more than 200 games. His teams put together a streak of 70 consecutive games scoring 20 or more points, his 58-23 playoff record is one of the best in the state, and his 29 state playoff appearances ranks fourth all-time in the AHSAA.
He was names Alabama Coach of the year in 2007 and 2014, and has coached in the AHSAA North-South and Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classics.
JACK STEELE Jr. : A native of Lawrence County, Jack Steele. 65, graduated from Courtland High School in 1975, and completed his college degree at Alabama State University in 1980. The tough-as-nails basketball coach also attended the Bobby Knight Coaching Academy in 1988 and also earned his USA Track and Field Level I certification.
He began his coaching at Hazlewood High School, Courtland’s chief rival just seven miles up the road, straight out of college in 1981. He remained with the Golden Bears through 1996 coaching a variety of sports including girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ and boys’ track and field, and also serving on the football staff during perhaps the most successful run of any school in the AHSAA during that time.
His basketball teams won several Lawrence County tournament titles, and the boys’ squad won area titles 10 years in an 11-year span during his tenure. The Bears also won the Class 2A boys’ state basketball championship in 1986, was runner-up in 1991 and 1992, and reached the Final Four state tournament four times.
The Hazlewood track program was also super successful with girls’ outdoor state title in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. The boys’ track team won the state crown in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. He served as defensive coordinator during a span when the football team won five state titles and finished state runner-up three times, His defenses posted shutouts in three straight state championship games.
Steele served as athletic director at Hazlewood from 1988-1996 as well –overseeing an athletic program that won 23 state titles during that span.
He also served as head football coach at East Lawrence from 1996-1999 – compiling a 21-21 record and advancing to the state playoffs twice. The 21 wins is second most for any coach in East Lawrence history. He finished his coaching career at R.A. Hubbard coaching girls’ and boys’ basketball from 2004-2008. He led the 2005 boys’ team to the Class 1A Final Four finishing as state runner-up. His girls’ team reached the state semifinals in 2008.
Steele, who amassed a 327-74 overall basketball coaching record, was named Class 2A boys’ coach of the year several times. He was inducted into the Lawrence County Athletic Hall of Fame and was named the Moulton Advertiser’s Male Coach of the Decade.
A deacon in his church and active in community affairs, he has served as president of the Lawrence County NAACP and was third vice president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP.
TIM MILLER: Timothy “Tim” Miller graduated in 1989 from Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery and the University of Alabama in 1983. Little did he know then what the high school sports world knows now.
Nobody coaches girls’ basketball any better them Coach Miller, who is still coaching at age 55. He is the only girls’ basketball coach in AHSAA history to have coached three different high schools (Jeff Davis, Bob Jones, and currently Hazel Green) to AHSAA state basketball championship. His current team, Hazel Green, begins the 2022-23 season with a 59-game winning streak and five consecutive state titles (2018-2022) still alive.
Miller owns a 685-98 career coaching record at the high school level, a phenomenal 87.5% winning rate. He compiled a 128-9 record coaching in junior high. His nine state championships at three different schools are the most of any girls’ basketball coach in AHSAA history and trails the boys’ leader Jack Doss (10) by just one title. He guided Jeff Davis to the 2006 Class 6A state championship; Bob Jones to the Class 6A crown in 2008, 2009 and 2011, and has compiled a 175-8 record in Hazel Green’s five state championships for a winning rate of 95.6%. He is also the only coach to win five titles in a row at the 6A/7A level.
Even more impressive is how they win the games. During that stretch, teams are averaging just over 30 points a game in the post season. In 2014, USA Today named Miller the second-best high school girls’ basketball coach in the nation.
He has received numerous coach-of-the year awards. Miller took one off from high school to work on the University of Alabama’s varsity staff served out the year as interim head coach.