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Geibel will have to overcome shorthanded roster this season

| Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Sean Benjamin, adjusting the pads of Jon Nace during preseason, resigned before Geibel played a game. (Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier)
Geibel's Jon Nace practices Thursday, August 2, 2012 at Geibel Catholic Middle/High School. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Geibel's Brandon Kushnar practices Thursday, August 2, 2012 at Geibel Catholic Middle/High School. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier

New Geibel football coach Sean Benjamin knows that he has his work cut out for him as he tries to transform the Gators into a competitive program.

Benjamin, who served as an assistant coach under Angelo Dippolito in 2003, is glad to be given the chance to mold the Gators.

“I'm excited to be back at Geibel,” Benjamin said. “To come back and try to give my knowledge and help build the program is what excites me every day.”

For Benjamin, the first task likely will be trying to persuade Geibel students to join the team. Heading into training camp, the Gators had a preseason roster of just 13 players, although Benjamin was hopeful that a few more would join the team before the start of the season. Despite the low numbers, Benjamin and his staff remain undeterred.

“Coaching football doesn't change,” Benjamin said. “We don't let (low numbers) affect our practices. They come to practice and they work hard, and we practice the same way whether we have 30 kids or 13.”

The Gators, coming off a 1-8 season under former coach Ron Marciante, lost 13 players to graduation, and with such a small roster, every player will be expected to contribute. Geibel will be one of nine teams competing in the Class A Tri-County South.

“We have good kids who aren't afraid to work, and they are buying what we are selling,” Benjamin said.

What Benjamin is selling is a no-holds-barred approach, especially on offense.

“I like wide-open football,” Benjamin said, noting that he is a fan of the way many of the teams in the Big 12 play at the collegiate level. “We like the spread offense.”

Running the spread will be junior quarterback Brandon Kushnar.

“This will be his first year starting at quarterback, and he wants to learn,” Benjamin said. “He has stepped up and taken a leadership role.”

For Kushnar, staying focused is a primary key.

“It's a learning process, but my expectations are pretty high,” Kushnar said.

Senior letterman Martin Berish will be part of a running back group that also includes senior Jake Ciaccia and freshman Dawson McIntyre.

“Even though it's a small team, we have a dedicated group,” Berish said. “We all know what we want, and that is winning. We'll just do the best we can. I'm not saying what we can and can't do. Only time will tell.”

In addition to playing running back, Ciaccia, a three-year letterman, will play wide receiver along with junior Patrick Teich, sophomore Brent Plisko and freshman Teddy Phillippi.

Seniors Jon Nace and Peter Tarka, along with sophomores Mario Ruggieri and James Cox as well as freshmen Jacob Nace and Ray Paris, will play on the offensive line and defensive front. Sophomore Matt Mammarella will handle the kicking.

“We're a young team,” Benjamin said, “but that's OK because they will learn the way we want them to play.”

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