December 21, 2017
By David Nordby The Brillion News
BRILLION – It was a special night for a Brillion alumnus last Friday. 2002 Brillion High School Graduate Corey Behnke, who is in his 10th season as the Chilton boys’ head basketball coach, coached his team to a 52-42 win.
“It’s always fun and special coming back here, but we haven’t had a win,” he said after the game.
Chilton’s win snapped a 21-game winning streak by the Lions. February 1, 2007 was the last time the Tigers beat them. Behnke coached 19 of those losses.
“It meant the world,” Behnke said. “It’s special because we haven’t had success against Brillion.”
“We have a young, talented team,” Behnke said. “No matter where we played tonight for them to put a full game together defensively the way we did, that’s what makes it really special tonight.”
Trae Williams scored 12 points to lead Brillion. The Lions had 10 other players score in the game, but fell behind early and couldn’t catch up despite a strong effort to close the gap in the second half.
Behnke’s run with Chilton started quickly. He played football for two years at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on the offensive line and quickly moved into a physical education teaching and coaching career after graduation.
“I wasn’t necessarily ready at the time, but slid in and here we are,” he said.
Ten years later, he earned his first win against his former school. Behnke is not shy about sharing why he wanted to become a coach.
“I played for [former coach Peter Kittel],” he said. “Playing for him inspired me to want to coach.”
Behnke played for Kittel in football and basketball. He says that he learned “everything” from Kittel, and is still continuing to, even hours prior to the game in Brillion.
“Even today when I got here I was picking his brain on how to handle certain situations. Not x’s and o’s stuff because he’s loyal to Brillion, but personnel wise, how do you teach life skills to these kids. That was the thing that Mr. Kittel always did for me growing up and it was about more than athletics,” Behnke said. “He’s always been someone I can go to and will be.”
Another coach of his while in high school, Jeff Schlender, encouraged him to run track instead of playing golf after his freshman year of high school. Schlender advised Behnke that track could be more beneficial for his post high school football options.
“I don’t know if it was truthful or not, but it sold me, and I got a couple letters in the mail,” Behnke said. “I had so much fun doing track … I got to finish my senior year at state in the shot put … I got to compete for another coach that I love and admire in Coach Schlender.”
Coaching has been extra rewarding for Behnke since the start of the 2015 season, because he has his dad, Bob, on the sideline with him.
“I love it,” Corey said. “It’s an opportunity for me to see him every day and coach with him every day. He was my first coach growing up.”
Bob played for Brillion in the 1960’s. Many members of the Behnke family still live in Brillion and returning to the new high school building where he spent his senior year doesn’t lose its luster for Corey.
“Every time I walk back in here … just little memories everywhere,” he said. “I still see some of the people that came from the community that watched when I played … that doesn’t get old.”
Chilton 27 25 – 52
Brillion 11 31 – 42
Chilton individuals: Will Kaptral 20, Ryan Broeckel 9, Camden Bowe 6, Peyton Meyer 6, Jake Criter 4, Cole Woelfel 3, Ben Mueller 2, Auggy Diaz 2. Totals: 11-23 (2), 8-15 (3), 6-10 (FT). Three-pointers: Kapral 6, Bowe 2. Fouls: 16.
Brillion individuals: Trae Williams 12, Avery Wenzel 4, Brock Behnke 4, Tanner Hanson 4, Dylan Mentzel 4, Dylan Schwartz 3, Zach Bonick 3, Tyler Schmidt 2, Mikamen Rinehart 2, Ben Brouillard 2, Derek Suess 2. Totals: 12-33 (2), 12-16 (3), 2-12 (FT). Three-pointers: Wenzel, Williams. Fouls: 16.
This story appeared in the December 21, 2017 edition of The Brillion News.