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River Ridge taking baby steps under Benjamin

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Tue. August 16, 2011 | Matt Baker | Email

River Ridge taking baby steps under Benjamin

River Ridge’s first week and a half of football practice has celebrated a series of firsts under new head coach Ryan Benjamin, from the first time running an offensive set to the opening moments of a new defensive scheme.

“When I came in, we really had the mindset of building this program from the ground up,” Benjamin said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

One of the latest building blocks for the 70-man roster was a field goal unit.

When Benjamin played for the Bucs and USF, he might have considered that lineup and formation automatic. But in his opening days of his head coaching career, putting a new special teams unit on the field is a big deal.

“We installed the field goal team one day, and the next day we’re putting in the punt unit,” Benjamin said. “Every day we’re a step closer to where we need to be. It’s all coming together nicely.”

Some key returning players are helping Benjamin’s adjustment. Benjamin said quarterback Josh Maisel is “looking good.” The junior and returning starter threw for 779 yards and five touchdowns last fall.

Running back Austin Schwarz continues to be a workhorse out of the backfield, and two-way lineman Kevin Harris has also impressed Benjamin, a former Bucs long snapper.

“We have our main guys – obviously they perform and we know what they can do,” Benjamin said. “Some others come out and surprise you a little bit.”

Like Malik Moore, who has played basketball at River Ridge but is new to the football team. Coaches have experimented by placing him at defensive back, linebacker and defensive end but aren’t sure where he’ll end up when the Royal Knights open the regular season at Fivay.

“Right now we don’t know,” Benjamin said. “We need to find a spot for him, because he’s doing pretty good out here.”

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