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Geibel seeks progress as season develops

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Geibel quarterback Brandon Kushnar practices at trianing camp.
Geibel quarterback Brandon Kushnar practices at trianing camp.
Geibel's Dawson McIntyre for TAB
Geibel's Dawson McIntyre for TAB

The 2012 football season couldn't have been more difficult or trying for Geibel.

The Gators had to deal with the unexpected resignation of coach Sean Benjamin as well as the forfeiture of the first two games due to low numbers.

But Geibel managed to take the field for its final seven games of the season. And even though the team suffered a series of lopsided losses (the closest game was a 34-6 loss to Mapletown), the Gators took solace in the fact that they didn't quit on a tough situation.

This year, new coach Pete Nace believes things are bound to be better. The Gators are still in a numbers crunch, but Nace, hired in June following the resignation of Bob Petrella, knows his small but dedicated group will soldier on, no matter the size of the inevitable uphill battle.

“We don't think about (last season),” Nace said. “We just go forward. These kids aren't going to quit.”

Nace served as an assistant coach for the Gators, but admitted he wasn't expecting to be leading the team this year.

“It was daunting at first,” he said. “Jumping up to head coach was something my family or myself hadn't thought about. But we're going to rise to the challenge. The kids have taken it in stride. It's been tougher on me trying to figure out what sets and what defense we're going to run.”

One thing the Gators have going is team chemistry. Geibel expects to bring at least six freshmen into the mix this season, and the young players have had no trouble forming a bond with the older players.

“The kids know each other, and everybody has seemed to jell,” Nace said.

Geibel expected to enter training camp with approximately 16 players on the roster. It's not a lot, but it's better than the small number it had to start last season, which prompted the two forfeits as players recovered from preseason injuries.

“We've recruited all the boys several times,” Nace said. “Now it's up to them as to whether they want to come out or not.”

With such a small roster, Nace knows his team must stay healthy.

“We're teaching more technique rather than bare-knuckle drills,” he said. “They went through such challenges last year, and everybody had to play almost every down. There wasn't much relief. This year, they'll get some breathers, especially on offense.”

Leading the offense will be returning quarterback Brandon Kushnar. The senior knows the challenges ahead but is looking forward to the season.

“We grew as a team together last season,” he said. “We haven't really talked about goals. We just want to take it one game at a time.”

Kushnar, despite the team's struggles, is still proud to be a Gator.

“It's my senior year and last year playing at Geibel,” he said. “It's my last season to put on the Geibel uniform and I wouldn't trade it.”

Kushnar should get help from running backs Brent Plisko, Dawson McIntyre, Zach Lindsey, Johnny Pokol and Eric Plisko.

The offensive line features Jacob Nace, Mario Ruggieri, Chris Barnhardt and James Cox. Chris Palya, Seth Clark, Dalton Elcock, Noah Geary and Dakota Wilson also can play on the offensive line. Mike Oppman is a tight end.

Nearly everybody will play as a defensive lineman or defensive back.

This season figures to be a learning experience for the Gators.

“We just have to teach them the game,” coach Nace said.

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