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All signs point to Middleton's Richard Benjamin playing vs. Spoto

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Thu. September 22, 2011 | Eduardo A. Encina

All signs point to Middleton's Richard Benjamin playing vs. Spoto

TAMPA – During Middleton’s walk-through Thursday afternoon, Tigers three-way standout Richard Benjamin showed no effects of the scary knee injury he sustained a week ago.

Benjamin, one of the bay area’s top Class of 2013 recruits, returned kicks and lined up at receiver without a brace on his left knee. Middleton coach Alonzo Ashwood, who earlier this week expected to sit Benjamin out this week, said Benjamin would be a game-time decision Friday night Class 5A-8 district game at Spoto.

But all signs point to Benjamin playing against the Spartans. Even Benjamin said he will play.

Benjamin was carted off the field in the third quarter of Middleton’s 27-0 district loss to Lennard which what many – including Benjamin -- believed was a serious knee injury.

“I thought it was the end of it,” Benjamin said. “I thought I had broke something or torn something. I couldn’t move it at all.”

But early this week, he was diagnosed with a deep knee and leg bruise and test revealed no structural damage. On Wednesday, he was cleared to return to practice. On Thursday, all swelling had gone down.

“A minor miracle,” Ashwood said.

Ashwood said Benjamin would be limited regardless – especially since back-to-back district games against Lakewood and Blake loom large in the next two weeks before the Tigers’ off week Oct. 14.

“If he does play, he will play on defense first,” Ashwood said.

Benjamin, who averaged nearly 28 yards a catch last season, has started the last two games at quarterback for the Tigers and came in at quarterback in the second quarter of the season opener against Hillsborough. And even Ashwood said the move is more out of necessity.

The Tigers (0-3) have been outscored 82-6 through the first three games of the season.

Reach Times staff writer Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@sptimes.com and follow him on Twitter at @EddieHometeam

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